nl en

Security in Historical Perspective

Vak 2014-2015

Entry requirements

Students must be enrolled in the CSM Master program


What does security mean and when did it emerge as object of unified, centralized state policy? In this course we will historicize the concept and practices of security in the sense that we will map security through time, embed various security thoughts and philosophies in their respective timeframes and analyze its scope, object and subject, as well as its impact on society. We will study security on three different levels. First of all, we will focus on the main threats, wars and conflicts in modern history. Second, we will analyze how these events shaped government policies and public attitudes towards security and its corresponding practices. Third, we will provide an overview of the main academic perspectives and theories on security throughout history. Our focus will be on the modern era, ranging from the 19th century until the present day.

The course will start with providing an overview of the 19th and 20th century perspectives until today and mark the most important events and corresponding developments in security theories and thinking. Security as a field of study cuts across disciplinary scientific boundaries and thus, can be viewed from different perspectives. In the second part of the course we will take a number of theoretical perspectives on security from different disciplines in order to shed light on a number of case studies. We will concentrate on the West and more specifically: Europe and The Netherlands.
Students are asked both to read primary materials, conduct research on security issues and adopt the concepts and theoretical perspectives provided in the course to their work.

Learning objectives

After completing the course the student will be able to:
• Understand how the idea of security as a state’s objective and prerogative emerged and how it changed over time, since the 19th century up until the present
• Explain major historical developments in security thinking and practices
• Analyze the complex and ever-changing phenomenon of security policy and agenda setting
• Operate theoretical and critical concepts to better understand evolving security practices
• Compare different security regimes in terms of threat perceptions, government policies and public attitudes
• Historicize security: they have acquainted themselves with some crucial security breaches, incidents, failures and shifts in modern European history
• Autonomously collect, interpret and analyze primary and secondary source materials
• Conduct an independent analysis of historical or present day security practices by writing a scientific paper based upon the concepts and theories adopted in this course



Methods of instruction

The sessions are dedicated to lectures. This course is compulsory.

Study load

  • total study load 5 EC x 28 hrs. = 140 hrs., of which: – contact hours: 3 hrs. per week x 7 weeks = 21 hrs. – self-study hours: 119 hrs.

Method of assessment

  1. Outline paper (25%)
    In week 4, students are required to hand in an outline for their final paper. The outline contains the following elements: an introductory description of the chosen topic (case study), its relevance in light of the course, a clear research question or statement, an outline of the theoretical framework, a proposed methodology and an overview of the literature and sources that will be used.

  2. Final paper (75%)
    In week 7, students are required to hand in a referenced paper to complete this course. The paper should consist of max. 4.000 words (excluding front page, footnotes and literature list) and should be driven by a central idea or thesis which grounds the research. The paper should either pose a statement, supported by arguments, or a question, answered through the analysis of primary and secondary source evaluation. In your paper, you will apply a theory to a selected case study.

  3. Participation and peer-reviewed assessments
    Students are required to read the assigned literature for each week and are asked to actively participate in class discussions. In week 3, students will hand in a peer-reviewed assignment of max. 2 pages, posing a statement or question based on the literature of week 1-3 in which they clearly demonstrate their understanding of the assigned literature. In week 6, students will do the same (hand in a second peer-reviewed assignment) for the literature of week 4-6. Completing the peer-reviewed assignments are a requirement for receiving a final grade for the paper.

The resit takes the same form.


Yes, the course page will be made available two weeks before the course starts

Other course materials/literature

(To be completed)


Registration for every course and exam in USIS is mandatory. For courses, registration is possible from four weeks up to three days before the start of the course.
For exams, registration is possible from four weeks up to ten days before the date of the examination.


Constant Hijzen: / 071-5272159/ Johan Huizinga building, Doelensteeg 16, 2311 VL, Leiden, Room 1.72a / Office hours: make an appointment by email

Liesbeth van der Heide: / 070-8009517 / Stichthage Offices, Koningin Julianaplein 10, 2595 AA, Den Haag, Room 12.50 / Office hours: make an appointment by email


Master program Crisis & Security Management (CSM)