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Cultures of Conspiracy

In a world overflowing with suspicion, traditional anchors of knowledge (scientists, politicians, mainstream media) are no longer taken for granted. How do we differentiate between healthy skepticism and dangerous paranoia?

In this course, we take a curiosity-driven approach to understanding conspiracy theories. How do we define and delineate them? What is their rhetorical and emotional appeal? And what are their real-life repercussions? We explore to what extent current conspiracy cultures are historically unique and investigate the complex interdependencies between their social, psychological, and political dimensions. Which individuals and groups are susceptible to conspiracy thinking and how is their suspicion co-opted for (populist) politics in different national contexts?

We also look at cultural and technological mediation, as conspiracy theories now typically come to us through social media. Does online communication amplify and accelerate (global) conspiracy thinking, or does it merely render the conspiratorial worldview more visible? Can we distinguish new, tech-enabled variations from its offline predecessors?

Discussing these and other questions with experts from various fields, we explore new, interdisciplinary understandings of conspiracy theories and ways to respond to them.


Dr. B. Noordenbos


You can find the timetable on Datanose

Entry requirements

This course is open to second-year and third-year UvA Bachelor's students and Master’s students (when available).


Registration is open from 5 December until one week prior to the start of the course. For students registration proceeds through the GLASS registration rounds. Master’s students can send a short motivation to keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl

If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl.


Prices can be found on the IIS website.

More information

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website.

Facts & Figures
Mode Short-term
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission Open
Starts in February