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Leiden University

Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice

Leiden University via FutureLearn


Explore terrorism and counterterrorism studies

Terrorism has arguably been one of the defining factors of our age. It frequently makes headlines, threatening or attacking governments, private businesses, and ordinary citizens. In many parts of the world, it has been one of the most important threats to peace, security, and stability – but what does this mean exactly?

On this six-week course from Leiden University, you’ll explore the essence of terrorism and discover why it is so difficult to define.

Unpacking its history and the theory of the waves of terrorism, you’ll analyse both the theoretical approaches and practical applications of terrorism and counterterrorism in the real world.

Analyse terrorism and counterterrorism myths in line with academic research

There are many assumptions that cloud the subjects of terrorism and counterterrorism. These myths are often created and intensified by individual bias, the government, and the media.

On this course, you’ll discover different assumptions about terrorist identities and motivations, as well as the efficiencies of various counterterrorism efforts. You’ll then compare this with academic research to investigate the truth behind these assumptions.

Explore the impact of terrorism on society and assess counterterrorism policy

In your exploration of the impact of terrorism, you’ll delve into the culture of fear created by terrorism, as well as the success of counterterrorism policies to limit and manage its impact on society.

In the final stage of this course, you’ll reflect on trends and developments in terrorism and counterterrorism.

You’ll assess current academic research as well as what could be studied in the future to help identify under-researched topics in terrorism studies.

This course is suitable for anyone interested in the study of terrorism and counterterrorism.

The course will also be specifically beneficial for professionals in journalism, policy, counterterrorism services, or related fields.


  • Definition of terrorism
    • Welcome!
    • What is terrorism?
    • Weekly quiz
  • Researching terrorism and counterterrorism
    • Start of Week 2
    • How did we get here?
    • Weekly quiz
  • Assumptions on terrorism
    • Start of Week 3
    • Truth or Myth? Assumptions on terrorism
    • Weekly quiz
  • Assumptions on counterterrorism
    • Start of Week 4
    • Truth or myth? Assumptions on counterterrorism
    • Weekly quiz
  • Dealing with the impact of terrorism
    • Start of Week 5
    • How do we deal with the impact of terrorism?
    • Weekly quiz
  • Trends and developments in (counter)terrorism
    • Start of Week 6
    • What can we expect in the future?
    • Final exam
    • Closing remarks

Taught by

Edwin Bakker


5 rating at FutureLearn based on 11 ratings

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