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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools Winter Schools

Illicit Trade

large piles of money

The Illicit Trade Winter School course pierces the veil of secrecy around issues related to the dark side of globalization and teaches students about illicit financing and trading; not only through theory and book study, but by learning the actual practices and techniques criminals, terrorists, and dictators use to obscure their profits and evade accountability for their actions, and the corresponding techniques to counter them.

This exciting winter course is the first of its kind in teaching illicit trade in a holistic and practically useful way. Students will learn how to set up offshore companies and bank accounts, obscure the beneficial ownership of assets, exploit the loop-holes of dual-use goods legal systems, and identify vulnerabilities in particular institutions, countries, and jurisdictions. The winter school includes academic and practical learning about illicit finance, trafficking, and trade, and expert examination into strategies and practices about how to combat illicit trade.

The Winter School on Illicit Trade is planned to offer students and practitioners an intercultural experience in this challenging time. We devised the structure of the classes in a way that anyone with internet access can join regardless of the time zone. The lectures and seminars will take place from 3-7 pm CET. This is to create a 12-hours cycle during which students and practitioners can attend the classes, plan their workload to a time that is most suitable, and interact with other students to complete the assignments. We welcome and encourage students that live outside of Europe to apply and take advantage of our global Winter School on illicit trade, unique in its genre.

Practical information

Dates 25 - 29 January 2021

University of Groningen students and staff: € 400
Other participants: € 450

Academic coordinators Dr. Francesco Giumelli
Dr. Tim Wittig
Dr. Pim Geelhoud



The winter school is designed for undergraduate students in their final year (BA), graduate students (MA), PhD students as well as professionals who are interested in learning more about illicit trade.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language that allows them to participate actively in the discussions and present their own work.

Learning outcomes & workload

After this course you will be able to:

  • Display knowledge about Illicit Trade.
  • Evaluate research in a critical and substantiated manner, as well as in a way that respects scientific, social and ethical responsibilities.
  • The ability to present conducted research and express yourself in a clear and coherent manner, both in oral and in written/typed form, using understandable and correct English.
  • Become self-reliant and reliable in the execution of the tasks belonging to this course unit.


- Attendance of seminars: 17 hrs.
- Preparation for seminars: 32 hrs.
- Group work: 12 hrs.
- Final Capstone: 8 hrs.

Students who wish to fulfil the equivalent work of 3 ECTS will need to deliver a written assignment within one month after the end of the Winter School.

- Paper: 15 hrs.

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Winter School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 84 hours / 3 ECTS (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Course schedule

Each day will contain a 4-hour schedule from 15:00 until 19:00 (Central European Time). The first part of the day consists of a lecture from both an academic and practitioners’ perspective, including interactive discussions. The second part will focus on the teaching of a specific set of skills and conclude with a practical assignment that the participants can keep working on afterwards with students from both similar and different time zones, depending on when students are online in their part of the world.

Day 1: Overview
Day 2: Trade and Trafficking
Day 3: Money and Money Trafficking
Day 4: Responses
Day 5: Final Capstone

Dr. Francesco Giumelli

Francesco Giumelli holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florence and is associate professor in the Department of International Relations and International Organization at the University of Groningen. He has been Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute and Fellow at the Kroc Institute of Notre Dame University. He wrote the ‘Success of Sanctions: Lessons Learned from the experience of the EU’ with Routledge/Ashgate, and ‘Coercing and Constraining and Signalling: Explaining UN and EU Sanctions after the Cold War’ with ECPR Press. He also authored reports for the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Policy Centre among others and gave talks at various international think tanks, such as Chatham House, the German Council on Foreign Relations and the Italian Institute for International Affairs.

Tim Wittig
Dr. Tim Wittig

Tim Wittig holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews, and is a research fellow at the University of Groningen. His research focuses on identifying and researching the social determinants of illicit trafficking, threat finance, and transnational organized crime, and how they intersect with other issues of international and environmental security. He is the author of numerous publications on these topics, including the book Understanding Terrorist Finance (Palgrave: 2011). In parallel to his academic work, Dr. Wittig has extensive experience as a practitioner, having worked for several years in the NGO sector on counter wildlife trafficking initiatives, in the defense/national security sector on counter threat finance and related issues, and as a consultant to public, private, and charitable sector clients. Prior to Groningen, Dr. Wittig has held a variety of university research and faculty positions, including at Johns Hopkins University, U.S. National Defense University, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of St Andrews.

Pim Geelhoed
Dr. Pim Geelhoed

Pim Geelhoed is an assistant professor in criminal law and criminal procedure, holding a PhD from Leiden University. He specializes in EU criminal law. Among his interests are international cooperation in criminal matters, prosecutorial decision-making, and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Alongside his position at the University of Groningen he is also a deputy judge in the Court of Appeal of Arnhem-Leeuwarden and a member of the influential Meijers Committee. During the summer school Dr. Geelhoed will guide us through the legal trends when it comes to illicit trade and organized crime.

Application procedure

The deadline for applications has passed. Selected participants have been informed.

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Last modified:19 February 2021 11.00 a.m.