Due to the Corona virus it is unclear how the programmes will take place. For the latest news please check the course page in Blackboard/Brightspace.


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Terrorism and Counterterrorism


Admission requirements

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


The threat of terrorism remains a priority on political agendas worldwide. Yet, for all the attention that this phenomenon has gained, many aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism remain poorly understood. This course has two main objectives. First of all, it aims to provide students with a thorough introduction to the most pertinent aspects of 20th and 21st century terrorism and counterterrorism. Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the field, students will acquire an understanding of key issues ranging from an historical overview of modern terrorism to the macro, meso and micro-level causes of involvement in this form of political violence. Secondly, the course will familiarize students with the various opportunities and obstacles for conducting interdisciplinary research on these subjects. The overall goal is to enable students to critically assess and participate in ongoing debates on terrorism and counterterrorism from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives.

The course begins by providing an overview of what terrorism is, focusing on the subjectivity at the heart of many interpretations of the concept and attempting to gain clarity through comparisons with others forms of political violence. This conceptual discussion is complemented with a detailed look at terrorism’s recent historical development. Building on this basis, each subsequent week of the course will focus on a particular aspect of terrorism and counterterrorism. The course progressively introduces a broader array of topics and deepens students’ understanding of both the issues at stake and recurring concerns related to the production and interpretation of knowledge on those subjects.

Throughout the course, active student participation is expected in order to engage in critical reflection on the subjects being discussed.

Course objectives

  • The student has acquired knowledge and an all-round understanding of current manifestations of (international) terrorism and counterterrorism;

  • The student has acquired knowledge and understanding of several basic concepts related to Terrorism and Counterterrorism and/or methods in:

  • International Relations & Political Science

  • Sociology and Psychology

  • Law and Criminology

  • Communication and media

  • Public Policy and Governance

  • The student is able to critically assess and reflect on current terrorism-related phenomena;

  • The student is able to analyse the specific methodological, theoretical and conceptual challenges in researching terrorism and counterterrorism;

  • The student understands the state-of-the-art of contemporary research on (counter)terrorism;

  • The student can construct and articulate arguments about terrorism and counterterrorism in both professional, public and academic settings.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

14 plenary lectures
4 course labs in smaller groups (attendance is mandatory)

Attendance for the course labs is mandatory. Missing more than 1 session will lead to a fail. In case of a fail no grades will be given, only a fail. This implies that a resit will not lead to a pass.

Course Load

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 54

  • Self-study hours (including assignment): 223

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

  1. Written paper (40%)

  2. Final exam (45%)

  3. Individual presentation (15%)
    The calculated final grade must be at least 5.50 to pass the course.
    More information will be available on the Blackboard page.

Eligibility for a resit on the written paper and/or the final exam depends on two criteria:

1) Students will be permitted to resit an examination only if they have a grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.
2) Students are only eligible for a resit if they participated in the first offering of the examination and did not submit a pro-forma entry, or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Compensation rule
Only assessments with the weight of 30% and lower are compensable. This means that one does not have to pass an assessment if it weighs 30% or less in order to pass the course, if the average of all assessments combined is at least a 5.50. In addition, assignments weighing up to and including 30% are not re-sitable, meaning that if one failed an assessment of 30% or less one is not allowed to redo it and that assessment must be compensated by the other assessment(s).

Resits will take the same form. There is no resit for the presentation.

Transitional Arrangement
Students who participated in the course “Terrorism and Counter Terrorism” in academic year 2018-2019 but did not manage to pass the course will take part in the following transitional arrangement:
1. Students who did not pass the individual paper, group paper, and the exam in the academic year of 2018-2019 will follow this year’s rules regarding the assessment methods for this course.
2. Students who passed the written paper (40%) but not the exam can keep their grade for the written paper and will be given an extra question on their final exam to make sure the weighing will be equal with the last academic year (60%). They do not have to do an individual presentation.
3. Students who did not pass their written paper (40%) but did pass the exam (60%) will keep their passed grade for the exam but write a new paper. They do not have to do an individual presentation.


Course page will be available one week in advance.

Reading list

Information on readings will be announced on Blackboard.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.

Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted there.


dr. Bart Schuurman, course coordinator b.w.schuurman@fgga.leidenuniv.nl