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Case study Syria and Iraq


Admission requirements

Core course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies


The current conflict in Syria and Iraq, which emerged from the fall out of the Arab Spring and the War in Iraq, may perhaps present the most pressing security threat both in the region and at an international level. This irregular conflict is an example of an intentional threat (security) and has security implications at a national, regional and international level.

This course will provide an introduction into the Syria and Iraq conflict, and explores its dynamics and security implications. Students will examine and discuss how the conflicts developed in both Syria and Iraq and how they became inter-connect with the rise of ISIS.

Students will explore the Syria and Iraq case by applying knowledge and methods from relevant disciplines. By following the logic of interdisciplinary thinking, students will learn how to understand and explain the Syria & Iraq conflict in terms of causes, factors driving and sustaining the conflict, as well as the effects and implications for governments and citizens. Students will learn to review an event, or set of events, through the lenses of various academic disciplines and gain the ability to apply this skill in other cases.

Course objectives

  • Students will acquire knowledge and comprehension of several basic concepts and/or methods in: (1) Public Administration, International Relations and Law; (2) Economics; (3) Sociology and Psychology.

  • Students will acquire knowledge and all-round understanding of irregular conflict and the security threats affecting vital interests in modern societies (security).

  • Students will be able to select, weigh and integrate concepts and methods from relevant disciplines in order to gain a deeper understanding of a real-life security case.

  • Students will be able to carry out an interdisciplinary assessment of a security case and present findings in an academic paper.

  • Students will be able to show awareness of social and cultural differences and ethical dilemmas in this case study.


The complete schedule, as well as links to uSis and Blackbopard can be found on the right side of the introductory page of the Bachelor Security Studies.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and self-study.

This course is mandatory.

Course Load

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 42

  • Self-study hours: 235

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

  • Written exam (mid-term): 40%

  • Academic paper (final): 60%

More information will be available on the Blackboard page.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have a grade lower than 5,5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resits will take the same form.


Course page will be available one week in advance.

Reading list

Book: Nikolaos van Dam (2017) Destroying a Nation: The Civil War in Syria (London: IB Taurus)
Articles: To be announced on Blackboard.


To be announced by OSC staff.


Dr. Mr. E.E.A. Dijxhoorn