New free online course on ‘Terrorism and Counterterrorism’

The entire world can follow the lectures given by Edwin Bakker, Leiden Professor of Terrorism and Counterterrorism. Is terrorism becoming more deadly? Is deradicalisation possible? These are questions that Bakker wants to address in his Massive Open Online Course, which is accessible to everyone.

International public

Edwin Bakker

Edwin Bakker

Over 16,000 participants have already enrolled for Bakker’s course on ‘Terrorism and Counterterrorism: comparing theory and practice’. There is no limit to the number of participants who can take part and anyone who is interested can still enrol, even after the course starts. This new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is being offered via Coursera, a free online platform that offers courses from top international universities. Bakker: ‘I am hoping for an international audience that is willing to engage with me in a debate on terrorism. I am curious about how participants from places such as Japan or Iran will react to my possibly rather Western perspective on this phenomenon.’

Is deradicalisation possible?

The online course lasts five weeks and will take participants between four and six hours a week. The first part focuses on terrorism as a tool for achieving certain goals. Is terrorism becoming more deadly with time? And why is one and the same person a freedom fighter to some and a terrorist to others? In the second part, Bakker and his course participants will focus on studies that have been carried out on terrorism. Since 9/11 there has been a rapid increase in the amount of research on terrorism. Can terrorism best be dealt with from a holistic perspective or is that a myth? Is deradicalisation possible? The participants will also be investigating whether there is a link between terrorism and poverty.

Distinguishing fact from fiction

Bakker will also be critically examining popular assumptions about terrorism. ‘Together with the course participants, I want to distinguish fact from myth.’ In the last part of the course the implications and the possibilities for creating policy play a central role. Does 'decapitating' terrorist organisations work? Should there be more focus on the anti-Western section of the population? The participants will also be considering whether and how terrorists can be recognised.


This course was developed by the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism in collaboration with experts in online learning from the Centre for Innovation of Campus The Hague. Leiden University will in future further expand on this innovative way of teaching and launch a number of new MOOCs in the coming year. Bakker: ‘Coursera is a fantastic way of displaying the breadth of knowledge available in Leiden, showing that we are willing and able to serve a wide audience, and that we aim to play a pioneering role in new teaching methods.’


Enrol at Coursera

Earlier this year, Leiden University was the first Dutch university to offer a MOOC via Coursera. The course ‘Law of the European Union: An Introduction’ by Leiden Professor of European Law Stefaan van den Bogaert attracted over 43,000 students from around the world. An advantage of MOOCs is that you can join irrespective of your location, time zone and prior education. Anyone interested in the subject can enrol for free. The course consists of video lectures of 15 minutes. Participants can test their knowledge and understanding by means of video quizzes and multiple-choice questions. Participants who complete the course successfully are awarded a certificate.

(19 September 2013)

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Laatst Gewijzigd: 17-10-2013