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Global Security and Collective Action


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

A 200-level course from the same track or permission from the instructor

Recommended course(s):



“no single country is able to tackle today’s complex problems on its own”. This sentence, which was already central to the European Security Strategy in 2003, is still very much relevant nowadays. Armed conflict, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, refugee ‘crisis’... all of these have the potential to strongly destabilize our societies and the global order as a whole.

The objective of this course is to assess the means available to the international community in order to address these challenges in a coordinated manner.

The course will be construed around different thematic security threats and will critically assess the way in which the international community attempts to address these issues. The role of the UN Security Council will of course be crucial in this context but it is not the sole actor that might be of relevance when addressing security related issues. Since the starting point of the assessment remains a legal one, this course is not only about what ideally should be done, but also what can lawfully be done under international law.

Course Objectives


  • Analyze treaties, UN Security Council resolutions and other official documents.

  • Be able to formulate a well-construed argumentation both orally and in writing

  • Discern relevant facts and apply legal principles to those facts

  • Advice governmental and/or non governmental organizations on difficult and technical issues relating to global security issues.


  • Define the concept of collective security and understand the history behind it

  • Critically reflect on the main security threats the world is currently facing

  • Have a comprehensive knowledge of the functioning of the UN system, and especially the UN Security Council, in the framework of the UN’s role in relation to peace and security.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Seminars will form the main body of this course, and a Brightspace site will support in-class discussion and debate as well as host readings and related multi-media material. Students are required to take an active part in seminar discussions and may be called upon to present readings in class.

The policy brief exercise that will take place during the course will allow students to learn how to advice governmental and/or non-governmental entities on difficult issues relating to global security issues and how a collective action response could/should be provided to these issues. It will encompass both a written as well as an oral component. The written component will consist in the writing of a policy brief and the oral component will take the form of a simulated televised interview.

Assessment Method

In-class participation and discussion of core readings – 10% – Ongoing Weeks 1-7
Policy Brief – 31% - Week 6
Simulation of a televised interview – 19% - week 7
Final essay – 40% – Week 8

Reading list

Students are highly encouraged to read Paul Kennedy, The Parliament of Man. The United Nations and the Quest for World Government, London, Penguin Books Ltd, 2007, 384p as a contextualization and starting point for the course.

For the rest, the course will rely on primary and secondary sources as well as on official documents the link to which will be provided on Brightspace. Given the variety of issues addressed there is no single textbook covering all the relevant issues addressed during the course, hence the need to rely on different sources.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,