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Learning and Accountability


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘Governance of Crisis’, can take this course.


Western societies and governments often struggle to recuperate from crises, such as natural disasters, riots and terrorist attacks. What happens following the immediate crisis response in order to arrive at a restoration of stability? Post-crisis politics involve long-term dynamic processes of accountability characterised by formal inquiries, blame games, political manoeuvring, media scrutiny and crisis exploitation. The pressure on learning in order to improve future safety gives rise to official investigations and reform proposals. Also, society needs to bounce back and victims receive psycho-social care in the aftermath of crises and disasters. While most agree on the ambition to hold governments accountable and to learn from crises, we see that in post-crisis debates time horizons shift, data are used selectively, and inferences about 'good' and 'bad' are drawn. Meanwhile, policy makers and political executives struggle to improve their policies based on evidence in order to prepare for future crises.

This course teaches students to critically review existing research. By exploring different conceptualisations and explanatory theories in academic literature combined with reviewing and discussing empirical research, students will learn about the dynamics, consequences and challenges of post-crisis governance. The seminar series will build on a mix of academic studies, case examples, investigation reports and policy documents. The seminar has an interactive set-up and includes guest lectures from crisis professionals. Evaluating existing research and reports is an invaluable skill for practitioners in crisis and security management, such as in the process of policy-making in the safety and security domain.

Course Objectives

After finalising this course, students are able to:

  1. Critically evaluate existing research in the area of expertise, based on advanced academic knowledge and understanding of the principles of academic research, by assessing research design, methodologies, and validity and reliability of empirical data;
  2. Identify and engage with the main theories on learning and accountability in the aftermath of crises and disasters;
  3. Understand the main methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches taken in the field of the study of the Governance of Crises;
  4. Understand the challenges of functioning in a complex academic or professional environment in a research, advisory, or executive position, such as in regulatory agencies, inspectorates, investigation authorities, that play an important role in the aftermath of crises and disasters;
  5. Function in teams for group assignments and interactive in-class work aimed at presenting arguments and analyses in a format appropriate for a broader professional audience and as input to expert groups;
  6. Identify and analyse the specific role and responsibilities of leaders in the public sector after a crisis or disaster, and how leaders deal with the post-crisis challenges related to political accountability and learning;


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

Interactive lectures with in-class exercises (two sessions per week). The course will, amongst others, consist of in-class assignments, team performances, peer review and exercises and feature several (non-graded) in-class assignments that will help the student prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss a maximum of two sessions 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.

10 ects course.

Total study load: 280 hours
Contact hours = 42 hours
Self-study hours = 238 hours

Assessment method

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

  • Individual critical review assignment, 40% of final grade
    Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

  • Individual essay assignment, 30% of final grade
    Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

  • Group research paper assignment, 30% of final grade
    Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

Additional formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of the course.

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade.

Reading list

A selection of articles and/or books, 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 14 December 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.


dr. Wout Broekema