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Human Security: Civil War and Violence


Admission requirements

Required course(s):


Recommended course(s):

  • Institutions of Governance and Development (IGD)


This course provides an introduction to academic and policy debates about human security. We will focus on the scientific explanations of major human security issues associated with civil wars and violence (such as human rights violations, genocides, refugees and human trafficking, sexual violence, and child soldiers), and the human toll that wars have on a population. The central questions that we examine throughout the course include the following: What factors account for the many violent conflicts around the world today? What are the human consequences of violent conflicts? What does it mean when we label a social, economic, health or political problem a ‘human security’ issue? What is human security and how does it relate to development? How did human security emerge as a new framework in the post-Cold War era? What are the major threats to human security in the 21st century? What tools exist for promoting human security? Is human security at odds with national security or human rights? And what is the added value of the human security approach in addressing the broad range of insecurities faced by vulnerable communities in both the developed and developing countries? This course will demystify these questions. We will explore the intersection between the academic fields and policy practices of development, peace and security studies, as well as human rights. The course will combine lectures, tutorial discussions, case studies and interactive group exercises to highlight the linkages between theory and practice.

The course consists of three modules. In module one, we will lay important intellectual foundations and explore key debates about the concept of human security in relation to national security and human rights. In model two, particular attention will be given to the key threats to human security in the 21st century, especially concerning new wars, old wars and protracted conflict. In the final module, we will conclude by examining the various initiatives developed by states, non-state actors, and international organizations to enhance human security.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the human security framework;

  • Identify the main theoretical explanations of the causes of violent conflict, the principal consequences on human security, and the range of peacebuilding responses;

  • Apply human security frameworks to evaluate various policies and practices through case studies;

  • Demonstrate analytical thinking, reading, writing and speaking skills.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

There are two main teaching methods used in this course: lectures and tutorials.

Lectures: The instructor will deliver a lecture based on the required readings. Lectures will provide an overview of the dedicated topic for the week in question. Each class will begin with a brief question and answer period related to the readings or to previous lectures. This period will be followed by the lecture for the day. At the end of each lecture there will also be a brief period for questions from students. Come prepared to engage with the instructor, your fellow students, and the material to be discussed.

Tutorials: The instructor’s lectures, presentations, readings, and in-class debates will be complemented with tutorials. The goal of tutorials is to provide a forum for students to discuss their thoughts and ideas in a seminar style. Tutorials often closely follow the Socratic method, where the student presents his or her findings and the professor rigorously questions every assumption made by the student while also drawing the other students into the discussion. Two students will be in charge of leading each tutorial discussion, and every student will have the opportunity to be a discussion leader. During the tutorial session, the discussion leaders will guide the discussion and the presentation. The discussion leaders will also need to make sure the discussion stays on topic and that the group does not lose track of the task. In short, the discussion leaders should consider themselves as the lead presenters. The discussion leaders are positions that you can volunteer for on a weekly basis. This is a fun task, but if you find no other motivation please note that it counts positively and significantly towards your participation grade. In the rare event that there is no volunteer, the instructor can assign students to take on these roles.

Assessment Method

  • Participation: 10%

  • Tutorial Presentation: 15%

  • Critical Reflection Memos: 15%

  • Book Review: 20%

  • Human Security Report Project: 40%

Reading list

The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


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,


Dr Ayokunu Adedokun