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Security from Below


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.

  • This course only offers a place to a maximum number of 40 students.


When we think of “crisis”, “security”, and “management” we tend to think of states, IOs, or NGOs. But primarily we think about states: how states define crisis, how states securitise issues, and how states manage both. That is not an analytically neutral move, nor is it self-evidently a descriptively useful move. Indeed, it could be empirically misleading and normatively dangerous. This class flips the analytical perspective. It asks: how we can think of citizens, residents, migrants, and the global poor as the primary agents of security and crisis management? It then asks: what are the theoretical and policy implications of this different perspective?

There are good reasons to take this alternative perspective. Consider remittances. Today, the global migrant community—some 200+million people—may send upwards of €1 trillion annually to their families and communities “back home”. Remittances dwarf overseas development assistance, exceed foreign direct investment, and are crucial lifelines for the wellbeing of recipients, recipient families, communities, and countries. On a variety of issue—war, peace, global justice, post-war reconstruction, health, violence, development, education, etc.—remittances are crucial. Quantitatively and qualitatively, state-led security and crisis management pales in comparison. And yet, in studies of security this titanic global network of support usually goes without comment.

The first task (week 1) of this class is to begin to address this enormous gap in our empirical understanding of the phenomenon of bottom-up security and crisis management. We will do so through a consideration of the recent empirical literature and through various case studies. This empirical foundation points us towards two kinds of theoretical puzzles. First, how and why does the empirical evidence of bottom-up security clash with (or problematise) traditional approaches to security and crisis management? Second, how can we theorise securitisation from below? Global migrants are crucial agents in real-world security, but how can we positively understand that contribution and why haven’t other theoretical frameworks “captured” that data?

The final task (week 7) of this course is to start thinking about relevant policy considerations. How can bottom-up security networks be protected? How can they be augmented? Where do these questions fit into to traditional policy debates about security policy?

Between those bookends the course will focus on various themes (e.g., civil war, peace, justice, health, famine) and related case studies (e.g., Haiti, Ghana, Somalia, the Mediterranean) (weeks 2-6).

This is a mixed methods course. However, this is not a methods course and participants will not need any prior methods training. We will consider quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic, and perhaps experimental research and we will spend some time learning about the advantages and disadvantages of various methods.

Course Objectives

After finalising this course, students are able to:

  • understand, critique, criticise, and apply relevant theory;

  • analyse and use relevant empirical data;

  • understand some of the advantages and disadvantages of different research methods;

  • use their theoretical and empirical knowledge to evaluate policy;

  • write an argumentative paper.


On the right side of programme front page of the e-Prospectus you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

This course consists of 7 meetings and will include lectures, seminars, and presentations.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss more than one session if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

Total study load 140 hours:
21 Contact hours
119 Self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.

Assessment method

  • Research Proposal (15% of final grade).
    Grade can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

  • Final research paper (85% of final grade).
    Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

  • Participation (pass/fail). Participants can expect to be tasked with leading a discussion on a particular topic (e.g. of a case, an article, a method, a theory, etc.).

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
Students are also permitted to re-sit the assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2021-2022 are no longer valid during year 2022-2023. All students are expected to enroll for an elective via mystudymap on a first come first serve basis.

Reading list

Articles, book excerpts, and case studies will be made available.


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams). Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Registration for this course is possible from Wednesday 8 March 13.00h.

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

After registration for an exam you still need to confirm your attendance via MyStudymap. If you do not confirm, you will ultimately be de-registered and you will not be allowed to take the exam.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.

Please note: guest-/contract-/exchange students do not register via MyStudymap but via uSis. Guest-/contract-/exchange students also do not have to confirm their participation for exams via MyStudymap.


J.M. Hoye