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Introduction to Security and Safety


Admission requirements

Mandatory course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies.
Only students enrolled into the bachelor’s programme Security Studies can follow this course. This course is also open for inbound exchange students. Exchange students must be admitted by the FGGA International Office prior to the start of the course.


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, optimising 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 programme 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-guides 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 is not possible

Final exam

  • 80% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher

  • Resit of a fail is possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Students will also be permitted to resit the final exam (80%) if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50.

Transitional Arrangement

Passed partial grades obtained in year 2021-2022 remain valid during year 2022-2023.

Reading list

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


Students who follow this course do not need to register for the lectures and exams themselves. This will be done by the study coordinator.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

Access to Brightspace is necessary because the syllabus and other information about this course can be found here. Furthermore, announcements and modifications will be communicated via Brightspace. Students have the responsibility to stay informed and are thus advised to regularly check Brightspace for updates.


Drs. Daan Weggemans


For exceptions, please contact the Board of Examiners.