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Security: Policing Studies


Admission requirements

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


Policing is often referred to as “activities carried out by the police”, but this is a misgiving. As Button (2002) describes it, “… policing is a function of society that contributes to a particular social order, carried out by different bodies and agents.” The police is certainly the most-well known of the public actors carrying out policing functions, but it is not the only one. Nevertheless, as the main body that carries out the monopoly of violence held by the State, it deserves further attention.
This course will first give an overview of the different policing functions, and how they are carried out by both public and private actors. It then goes into the public police as a main actor, describing different approaches to how the police is viewed in relation to society, different police systems and different police models. It then goes into theories how decision making processes of individual police officers are formed. Finally, the overall governance structure of a police force is looked at, and how this has repercussions in regard to issues such as integrity and inclusion. This is linked to current societal debates such as police funding, use of violence by the police and use of violence against the police.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course:

  • Students are able to able to identify the different policing functions and the actors responsible for carrying these out.

  • Students are able to analyse how different police bodies within and between countries are situated in relation to society, what kind of systems exist, and what models are being employed.

  • Students are able to understand how individual decisions by police officers are formed as a result of organisational constraints and personal characteristics, in line with the ideas of street level bureaucracy

  • Students are able to evaluate the governance structure of police organisations, and understand how this impacts their response to questions of integrity and ethics.

  • Students are able to relate the different findings in the course to ongoing societal debates.


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

Mode of Instruction

This course consists of seven compulsory seminars. In addition, online learning material in the form of short videos will be provided before each session, which the students have to watch in preparation.

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

  • Lectures: 21 hours

  • Self-study: 119 hours
    Self-study consists both of reading the material provided, watching the videos, and writing the assignments.

The corresponding Brightspace course will become available one week prior to the first seminar.

Assessment method

Midterm group assignment (policing reform proposal):

  • 25% of final grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)

Final individual paper:

  • 75% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

A retake is only possible for the final paper. A passing grade can be obtained by incorporating the feedback of the first chance. For more than a passing grade, a new topic needs to be selected for the retake (assignment is still the same).
The final grade of the course is established by determining the weighted averages of the partial grades and needs to be 5.5 or higher to pass the course.

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

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


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.
The corresponding Brightspace course will become available one week prior to the first seminar.

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.


Dr. J. Matthys