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Collective Violence


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Violence Studies, which falls under the interdisciplinary programme Social Resilience and Security, and also available as an elective. This is an interdisciplinary minor, and as such it is suitable for students from a variety of social science disciplines, including security studies, law, criminology, psychology, and related subjects. If you want to take part in the minor but are unsure whether it suits your background, please contact the coordinator (contact information below).


This course focuses on collective forms of violence, that is, violence involving groups. Group violence is an issue that we come across again and again in current affairs, ranging from gang violence, to riots and hate crimes. Given its destructive nature, people often find collective violence difficult to understand. Why would a person join a violent group? How do groups that are normally non-violent become involved in violence?

During the course, students will become acquainted with the most prominent theoretical frameworks on collective violence, derived from the psychological, sociological/anthropological, and criminological literature. We will reflect on the similarities and differences between collective violence and interpersonal violence. We will learn about the different approaches researchers have used to study collective violence, and what they discovered as a result. Although violence is often thought of as anti-social – we will see that violence can be motivated and influenced by very social concerns, like the desire to belong, and the desire to support and protect others.

The course will be composed of weekly contact hours, including lectures and guest lectures. The assessment will be based on an assignment, and a final exam (see below for details).

Course Objectives

After completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and discuss the main theoretical perspectives on collective violence

  • Apply these perspectives to better understand “real-world” events;

  • Extract core ideas from the literature

  • Communicate core ideas to others

  • Present your work in a clear and professional way.


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 14 lectures, including guest lectures.

Total study load for 10 ECTS = 280 hours:
28 hrs lecture

3 hrs exam
249 hrs self-study: reading, preparing lectures, working on assignment, revision for the exam, etc.

Assessment method

Poster, 25% of final grade
Grade can be compensated (through the final exam at the end of the course), resit not possible
For this assignment, students are required to make a scientific poster, based on a paper related to one of the lectures.
Students will present their poster at the half day seminar, in this seminar students will verbally discuss their posters with fellow students and staff.
Attendance at the seminar is a mandatory part of the course. Further details on the assignment are given in the course syllabus.

Written exam, 75% of final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.5 is required to pass the course

Transitional arrangements
Grades obtained for this course in previous academic years are no longer valid in academic year 2023-2024

In the case of written assessment methods, the examiner can always initiate a follow-up conversation with the student to establish whether the learning objectives have been met.

The Course and Examination Regulation Security Studies and the Rules and Regulation of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs apply.

Reading list

To be announced on Brightspace. The corresponding Brightspace course will become available one week prior to the first seminar.


To be announced by OSC staff.


dr. J.A. van Breen


This course takes place in The Hague.
Resits will be organised in January.
All sessions and assignments will be in English.