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Economics of Security


Admission requirements

Mandatory course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies.


In this course students learn some of the tools used in Economics in order to understand issues in the design and provision of security (products) and learn how we can overcome some of these issues. In addition students learn how insights from behavioral economics can help us in overcoming security challenges.

We will study why some security services are provided publicly (police, the military) while others are only provided privately (alarm system, firm alarm in houses etc.) from an economic perspective. Key concepts we study are the concepts market failures and externalities. In addition, we will study how information asymmetries will lead to suboptimal investments in security products/services and how we can overcome these issues.
Recently, behavioral economics has found ways that help people make the “right” decision. In an Economics and Security context this could mean nudging people in order to persuade an individual not to commit a crime, or to report criminal behavior (or others). We will study the power and limitations of these type of interventions.

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge of the economic dimensions of security and safety in terms of cause, effect, and impact on individual, group and societal level

  • Basic knowledge and understanding of economic dimensions of governing security and safety in terms of governance strategies, practices and dilemmas

  • Apply basic concepts of (behavioural) economics to security and/or safety challenges and governance strategies

  • Identify and evaluate the economic dimensions of security challenges and strategies and construct a logical judgement about these

  • Construct informed arguments on economics of security in both academic and professional contexts


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

Mode of instruction

7 plenary lectures
4 course labs in smaller groups

Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed. Being absent more than once may likely lead to expulsion from the course.

Course Load

Total study load of 140 hours:

7 lectures of 3 hours
4 course labs of 3 hours

Assessment method

2 group assignment, (25% each)
1 final written exam (50%)

Compensation rule: Only assessments with the weight of 30% and lower are compensable. This means that one does not have to pass an assessment if it weighs less than 30% in order to pass the course, if the average of all assessments combined is at least a 5.5. In addition, assignments with less than 30% are not re-sitable, meaning that if one failed an assessment of less than 30%, one is not allowed to redo it. The resit takes the same form.


Course page will be available one week in advance.

Reading list

Information on readings will be announced on Blackboard.


To be announced by OSC staff.


Course coordinator: Dr. Max van Lent
Tutors: Moniek Akerboom MSc and James Hewitt MA