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Introduction to Security and Safety


Admission requirements

Mandatory course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies.


Security is a key to survival for any living organism; life is full of perils and threats, both physically, environmentally and socially. Thus, it is vital that organisms construct mechanisms to maximise their security, such as generating a stable food supply, optimizing environmental conditions to promote growth and wellbeing, and creating shelter.
This course aims to lay the foundations for this Bachelor programme by providing students with a solid conceptualisation of the notions of security and safety, and by exploring these concepts through the lenses of a wide range of disciplines. The course will also teach students to apply this knowledge to modern-day challenges.
The course begins with a general introduction into the (social) sciences and the notions of disciplinarity, multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. Thus, students are gently introduced to the academic context in general, and this particular Security Studies program in particular. Next, the notions of security and safety are contextualised. The key scientific disciplines that have studied these concepts are discussed, and main lenses and methods are presented. The changing meaning of security and safety is also addressed: these concepts have changed significantly throughout history, in light of cultural, societal and technological developments. What it meant to be secure in the past differs greatly from what it means to be secure today. This also entails that security and safety challenges have changed for governments and other actors responsible for their governance, as we will discuss.
The notions of security and certainty both build on particular conceptions of uncertainty and risk. In the second half of the course we delve into these notions, and the disciplinary lenses that have been developed to study them, especially in Safety Science. We will see discuss strengths and weaknesses of dealing with, or responding to, risks through the most commonly used approaches, most notably risk management.
Next, we will contrast this with common understandings of risks from Classical Security Studies, explaining the history and dominant paradigms in this field as developed in International Relations.
We will end this course by integrating findings, concepts and methods from Safety Science and Security Studies, laying the groundwork for a unified perspective on security and safety, which is at the heart of this Security Studies programme.

Course objectives

After this course students are able to:

  • Acquire knowledge and understand centrality of the concepts of security and safety, as well as of their current role in a globalised world.

  • Acquire knowledge of theories, models, principles, and empirical data relating to security and safety from the disciplines of (1) philosophy, (2) public administration, (3) international relations and political science, and (4) computer science.

  • Identify which types of actors are relevant to the study of safety and security in a globalised world, and understand how actors, consequences and impact are interlinked in relation to security and safety.

  • Identify new trends and threats relating to security and safety, and to contextualise these within a broader societal context.

  • Make constructively critical judgements with respect to security as a theme.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide Bachelor Security Studies you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

14 lectures and self-study.

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 42

  • Self-study hours: 232

  • Examination: 6

Assessment method

Mid-term exam

  • 20% of final grade

  • Grade must be compensated

  • resit not possible

Final exam

  • 80% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit of a fail is possible.

  • Resit will take the same form

Transitional Arrangement

Passed partial grades obtained in year 2019-2020 remain valid during year 2020-2021.

Reading list

Collins, A. (2016). Contemporary security studies. Oxford university press.

Information on journal articles and other readings will be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis.
Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrollment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Drs. Daan Weggemans