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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice by Universiteit Leiden

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650 reviews

About the Course

Terrorism has arguably been one of the defining factors of our age. It frequently makes headlines, threatening or attacking governments, private business and ordinary citizens. And in many parts of the world, it has been one of the most important threats to peace, security and stability. But what does this exactly mean? What is the nature of this threat? Who or what is threatened, how, by whom and why? What can be done about it or how can we at least limit the impact of terrorism and make sure that terrorists do not make headlines and manage to scare us? These are just a handful of questions that will be addressed in this course that consists of three parts. First it focuses on the essence of terrorism as an instrument to achieve certain goals, in addition to an exploration of this phenomenon and the difficulties in defining it. The second part provides an overview of the state of the art in (counter) terrorism studies. Since ‘9/11’ terrorism studies have grown exponentially, reflecting the rise in perceived threats. But what has academia come up with? What theories, assumptions and conventional wisdom has it produced that could be of help in understanding terrorism and dealing with it? The most interesting results are examined and compared with empirical evidence with the aim to either stress their importance or to debunk them as myths. The final part looks into the implications and possibilities for policy making. The course ends with a module specifically designed to address one of today's most topical issue: the foreign fighter phenomenon....

Top reviews

May 22, 2016

This excellent, balanced course uses a great combination of concise videos and additional reading. I enrolled hoping to better understand this hot-topic and Prof. Bakker's course was perfect.

Sep 20, 2017

Useful and well done. This course is an example how to boost resilience in our society with knowledge. At the end of the day is a brick of our holistic counter terrorism actions. Thank you.

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26 - 50 of 630 Reviews for Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice

By María M B A

Oct 24, 2015

My opinion about the course is without doubt positive. It is geared to both college-educated people and for those people without previous knowledge course. The course allows different levels of depth; both can be used to acquire general knowledge about terrorism and counterterrorism, to elaborate on specific aspects, because it offers the student a varied and useful bibliography and recommended readings.

As far as the platform is concerned, it is very intuitive and easy to handle, even an online course.

My feeling has been to meet not only the vastness of the subject, the platform can be part of the course and the ability to communicate through forums with students sharing concerns and seek solutions.

It's an easy course to follow although it online because it is well structured and has a good organization.

This does not mean that the course is exceeded without hard work, as the estimated 5/6 hours a week of dedication is pretty accurate.It is not the typical course online almost testimonial. You have to work hard if you want to get a good result.

So maybe it's the most rewarding thing I have done. From what I have learned and by the possibilities I see this field.

It has also been rewarding by Professor Dr. Edwin Baker and his team for their skill and dedication, they have been tremendously didactic. If it were not for them, I would not have been able to finish. And fellow students from all countries, from forums and debates that have exposed enriching opinions. Thanks to all.

By m. l

Nov 2, 2020

I would like to thank professor Edwin Bakker and Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn for this outstanding MOOC Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice! I have learned quite a lot from this comprehensive study. It must be said, if the student is serious about the course, it will take many more hours than indicated. But is it absolutely worth the time and efforts.

Professor Bakker is, amongst others, promoting different communications with the public in case of a terror attack. The day after I completed the course, the attack in the Nice cathedral took place. I would have loved to hear how professor Bakker would evaluate the communication efforts from the authorities and media. What difference will it make for instance to team up with local representatives of involved minorities, when there are global communications about the terror attack?

Further, the study is indeed comprehensive. That for I am puzzled how it is possible that Iran is totally left out of the equation.

Finally, the establishment of the Caliphate. According to professor Bakker this was already established by IS, which was looking for a Caliphate in the Levant. I wonder why Professor Bakker ignores the fact that the ultimate goal is a worldwide Caliphate with Islam the universal religion.

I am sure Professor Bakker has an answer to all these questions. If not, this review might challenge him to look into these aspects.

By Colleen L

Sep 17, 2015

When discussed in popular media, terrorism is a topic that is quite sensationalized. In contrast, Professor Bakker offered a very balanced view of terrorism in this course, tackling common perceptions of terrorism and counterterrorism in an organized fashion, and backing up his claims with arguments from both sides as well as hard data collected by scholars in the field.

I also like that the course was kept current with added discussion on Syria. The lectures on Syria were a bit less clear and organized than the previous ones, but then again, hindsight is 20/20, and the Syria conflict is a current event.

By and large, I liked that Professor Bakker did not "preach" his thoughts on terrorism, e.g. making leaps of faith and then expecting us to take unproven assumptions as the basis for a further argument. If I had to make one suggestion on how to improve the course, I would say that the handful of videos by external speakers were not properly contextualized in the course. In particular, I didn't understand why there was a video of a woman from Amnesty International talking about drone strikes and urging political action, since it was not referenced at all by other lectures.

By Peter J

Jun 21, 2017

This well-organized course is presented in a series relatively short and focused video segments that are devoted to aspects of its half dozen or so major themes. Professor Bakker's lectures in each of those videos are clear, thorough and deceptively simple. One realizes in retrospect that Bakker has not only smoothly covered major theoretical issues about terrorism but he has also woven considerable historical detail as well as some academic controversy into the overall narrative. An important strength is that Dr. Bakker is careful to promote objectivity as he discusses point after point, but he is not shy about offering his opinion, particularly concerning the many controversial matters that come up. However, he is always entirely candid about his position when he does so, and that candor reinforces the scholarly tenor of the entire course. This is a valuable entry into a subject of great contemporary relevance, confusion, and need for sound policy-making; it will help to enhance one's ability to come to rational judgments about how terrorism can be understood and responded to.

By Vickram R

Nov 12, 2016

This is a very well balanced course, in that it focuses on many different views on the research of terrorism, from many different platforms, both academic and non-academic, from all parts of the world. Even within the scope of academic, it focuses on the study through the sociology, psychological, political science and many other discipline's lenses.

It also has a wide variety of activities and assessments, such as the essays, discussions, hang out and multiple-choice questions, which sustain the attention and interest of us students.

Another very important plus-point for this course is that it is offered quite frequently, and allows students to suspend 1 session and continue in the following sessions (and the next 3 to 4 sessions are already on display) which allows a very sizeable amount of flexibility and allows us to plan our calendar accordingly.

Flexible, interesting, holistic and updated

By Lynn-Marie H

Sep 27, 2015

This is a really interesting course with current information about the state of terrorism and counterterrorism studies today and with an updated module on ISIS and what is happening in Syria at the moment. The history is an important aspect ,so having finished the course I feel I have a good overview of where we are and where we are coming from with an acknowledgement of the future. I wasn't sure that I would finish since one of the quizzes was so tricky but I got through it and learnt to revise well for the final exam. The videos are very well presented by Dr. Bakker and guests and the essential and supplementary readings very pertinent and enlarging.I wish I still had access to those materials as I didn't read everything I would have liked to but know I can at least refer to Perspectives on Terrorism online whenever I want to for current articles.

By Kris K D A

Sep 5, 2016

Este Curso es una introducción ordenada al tema. Con perspectivas interdisciplinarias. Y otorga a quién lo estudia la posibilidad de profundizar posteriormente de forma individual, el aspecto que más le interese.

Además el profesor Edwin Bakker está interesado por las diversas perspectivas según especialidades de los estudiantes. Lo cual además de interesante para una cuestión tan difícil de definir como es el Terrorismo. Es por mi parte una postura necesaria para entender mejor este fenómeno tan presente meditaticamente para la mayoría y presencial lamentablemente, para otros. Pero que ya se ha convertido en un tema de interés general.

Por mi parte no me quedas más que agradecer a la Universidad de Leiden y al Profesor Bakker por hacer accesible al público en general, un estudio tan importante como este.

By João M

Apr 21, 2016

In my opinion, this course is great. I'm doing my MSc in Forensic Psychology and I did this course to learn more about terrorism.

The professor does a very good job at keeping the audience interested and he speaks clearly and slowly enough for everybody to understand.

For a 7 week course, you get tons of information and, most importantly, it is well organized, going through modules in a systematic and thoughful way. Every week you have about 3 or 4 required readings, which will deepen your knowledge about the subjects addressed during the videos.

I would strongly recommend this course to anyone who wants to have someone very knowledgeable guide you through an interesting and current topic. Thumbs up to Coursera as well, everything went perfectly.

By Mikhail A

Mar 18, 2019

I found this course to be a very useful one to refresh already received knowledge as well as to understand how interconnected theory and practice in counter-terrorism are. Therefore, it is not only useful for academics, but for practitioners as well. Being the latter I was able to analyze in a very short time-framework the amount of materials that would take me months to systematize and only then isolate the needed material for analyzing. Kudos to Professor Bakker for a very intensive, yet not boring history of terrorism from anarchists to FTFs (this part of the course is especially appreciated from my side). Recommended to anyone who is interested in learning about this phenomenon.

By John K

Sep 22, 2019

Excellent work. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies with Henley Putnam University and I wanted to express my gratitude towards the course syllabus, reading materials, and all the wonderful scholarly articles that have enabled me and provided much food for fodder towards my degree program. Thank you, Edwin Bakker, and yes I have purchased your book Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies - Comparing Theory and Practice on the first day I started this course. A very big thank you to guest lectures like Alex Schmid and others for providing so much insight on the topics of Counterterrorism. Once again, excellent course and excellent instructors.

By Ricardo P A

Dec 22, 2015

Bom Dia

sou jornalista do terceiro site mais acessado do Brasil nas redes sócias na categoria geopolítica, o nome do meu site e Assuntos Militares ( ) e minha 6 tentativa de finalizar esse curso, que seria de extrema importância a no meu currículo, mais infelizmente não estou conseguindo, gostaria de deixa registrado

Ricardo Pereira Azevedo

Journalist and Photographer

Site Assuntos Militares (Military Affairs)

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Apr 14, 2017

What skills did I learn in this course?

The history of terrorism, its main causes, several terrorist groups that I did not know and several events that have occurred in past decades that I did not know. I also learned a lot of literature and many literary and academic sources that are based on international research and gave me a broader view of terrorism history, myths, policies and trends. On the other hand I was updated in modus operandi of different groups and statistics that helped me to understand the phenomenon.

Excellent course. Many thanks to the teachers, directors, classmates, and all those who have made this course possible. Especially Edwin thanks

By Manuel E M

Nov 16, 2016

I have been very interested in this course since the beginning, and although it has been an additional effort to the language of the language and to have to make it compatible with my working life, I have not thrown the towel and I have put a special effort to finish it. I have learned to approach this problem from a professional perspective thanks to the approach and structure that Professor Bakker has given to this course and has also served me to document extensively as well as to learn to investigate terrorism and counterterrorism. My most sincere congratulations to the professor and to the whole team of the University department.

By Yves B T

Jul 4, 2018

I really enjoyed and got lots of concrete advantages in taking part in this course, mainly because West Africa where I am living, has been daily targeted by violent extremism ( Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, etc.), and it was great time for me to understand more the origins, consequences and acceptable strategies , plans and measures states, communities and individuals can put in place to reduce the impact of these violent actions on our lives and futures. Huge thanks for have given me chance to access such a wide range of knowledge, skill and practical tips on Terrorism and Counterterrorism. Merci beaucoup!!!

By D P

Apr 24, 2019

Interesting way of explanations on terrorism, very detailed in such a small amount of time. could be said it has touched some of the essences of studies on the subject and can be considered as an appetizer to go for the large scale studies on the subject.

Missing some deeper root causes and factors causing terror to be extreme but we all know that there is a problem to reach to all material needed for this research - the need for security clearance is not granted to many researchers, and if yes then their research is never published only for government.. eyes so to say.

Thank you very much, nice made videos and added literature.

By Slatina A

Nov 4, 2016

I think it is significant to spread results of academic researches on topics connected with (counter-)terrorism and real facts. At first, it promotes popular myths deflation; secondly, it encourages listeners to create and can conduce new openings. The most insightful lessnos for me was the ones about modern groups in Syria, assumptions on T and CT and also about problems of terrorism definition consensus.

It is also sad that there are almost no duscussions on the forum (excluding the first weeks).

Thanks to this course lecturer, professor Bakker, for the scope of information and easily understandable English!

By stefano c

Oct 5, 2015

Very interesting course. I found the reading material sources particularly relevant without exceeding unnecessary in quantity and issues. Professor Edwin Bakker didactic approach is especially suitable to my ideal concept of how a teacher should communicate with his/her audience. Together with Moral Foundations of Politics held by Professor Ian Shapiro, I would rate these two the most attractive and expectations matching courses I've ever come across online.

Thanks to Coursera, Leiden University and all the people who makes this miracle of quality online teaching for free ever possible.


By Scott A S

Jan 5, 2016

I am enjoying this course very much, it is informative and very well organized and presented. I highly recommend it to anyone with an internet in the topic as it provides an excellent overview and includes current academic and non academic (mass media, world leaders. etc). perspectives. The video lectures are exciting and I look forward to the time I spend viewing them, the core readings are relevant and there are good suggestions for those wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the material. Dr Edwin Bakker the professor for this course is an excellent educator.

By Roger K

Feb 4, 2020

Ich habe dieses Thema vorher an der University of Georgetown absolviert. Ich bin froh diesen ausgewogenen Kurs an der Universität Leiden absolviert zu haben. Ich habe nun eine genauso fundiertere, aber weniger einseitige Sicht auf das Thema und insbesondere auf das Phönomen der foreign fighters.

I have previously completed this topic at the University of Georgetown. I am happy to have completed this balanced course at the University of Leiden. I now have an equally profound, but less one-sided view of the subject and in particular the phenomenon of foreign fighters.

By Ruben D

Mar 13, 2017

Excelente curso. Creo que es una muy buena manera de aprender sobre uno de los temas más importantes en las agendas políticas del mundo. Lecciones que se caracterizan por su claridad y concisión, y que brindan la posibilidad de acceder a una amplia bibliografía sobre terrorismo y contraterrorismo. En mi opinión, es un curso que debería ser tomado por todos aquellos que trabajan en relación con los medios de comunicación, ya que ayuda a conocer mejor este fenómeno y dejar de lado muchos mitos que distorsionan la visión que las sociedades tienen del mismo.

By Débora B e S

Oct 21, 2017

The course "Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice" provides important subsidies for those who would like to better understand these phenomena, with a strong theoretical background and excellent didactics. I was interested in the course because I am finishing my degree in International Relations and my monograph required me to understand better about it.

I can say that this goal has been achieved. I read the articles suggested by Professor Bakker and attest to the great quality of the course.

Thank you and until next time!

By Рекина А

Mar 22, 2017

The course is extremely well organized. Theoretical part is presented in a comprehensible way. Mainstream views, their flaws and possible solutions are given, the author always mentions counteragruments and does not try to impose his personal thoughts. Individual tasks allow to get deeper into the studied cases. I also admire external invited partisipants of the lectures, as it provides more diverse perspectives. And last, but not least, it`s great that the course evolves with current agenda.

Thank You for this wonderful work!

By Sagnik G

Sep 8, 2015

An extremely informative and well designed course, I had a wonderful experience learning from Prof. dr. Bakker, his team and colleagues and all the guest scholars who gave their valuable time to this course. I think this curse is a shining example of the wonderful novelty of coursera in providing quality education to people literally across the globe!

It's been a pleasure doing this course and I recommend it to all my friends interested in this field and look forward to working on many other courses in the future!

By gregory y

Feb 29, 2016

I found this course to be very interesting. In the US you hear many things from our politicians and media but very little of it has to do with actual numbers and statistics. Now understandably some of those numbers have changed since this course was put together but I think the general idea that terrorism is a constantly evolving entity was presented well. Although I had several distractions tugging at me during this course the information presented has motivated me to continue my study in this area. Thank you.

By Anatolii S

May 14, 2017

Dear sirs and madams! Thank you very much for this interesting and useful course. It contains a lot of information and reading materials which help to get deeper understanding of phenomenon of terrorism. It helps to aproach to different acts of violence from different perspectives. Also for for those course participant whoes country is ivolved in some armed conflict it helps to get deeper and more attantive aproach to classification of people being involved in conflict and deal respectively with them.