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Law and Security


Admission requirements

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


This course presents students with an overview of a number of key principles, insights, theories and lenses on safety and security from the field of law and legal science. Law and regulation are central themes for security and safety professionals. On the one hand, they guide practises of understanding and reducing risk – they are part and parcel of risk management processes. Law and regulation play a preventative role when it comes to addressing risk. In this respect they also have a governance and a political role to play. On the other hand, laws and regulations also come in when risks turn inadvertently into incidents: they are used in the aftermath of crisis and disasters to deal with the consequences thereof.

The course first of all provides students with an understanding of the roles of law in relation to security and how these relate to other forms of regulation. The general framework of different levels and bodies of law and regulation builds upon the roles of law. This is done by narrowing in on national legislation including the concepts of sovereignty and jurisdiction, international law and the branches of law (public international law, private international law and supranational law). Questions concerning conflicts of laws, which state has jurisdiction in a cross-border case and how this is decided will be touched upon. Relevant regional agreements and the mandate and functioning of international bodies that play an important role in security are also covered.

Key legal principles for dealing with risk - e.g. regulatory prudence and the precautionary principle - are elaborately discussed using scholarly papers as well as real life examples. This is followed by an in-depth study of guiding principles in law and security. Examples are drawn from terrorism and counter-terrorism, criminal law, national security and law in/of cyberspace and include the legality, necessity and proportionality principles.

The course concludes by bringing together the above topics in discussing specific dilemmas related to law and regulation in the field of safety and security, e.g. tensions with international relations (states), privacy and freedom of expression (citizens) and gathering of personal data.

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will:

  • have acquired knowledge and understanding of the role of law in relation to security in our modern-day world, and the historical roots of this role;

  • have acquired knowledge of key principles, frameworks and ideas in relation to the legal landscape surrounding safety and security;

  • be able to assess the regulatory and legal aspects of approaching incidents and threats to safety and security;

  • be able to think independently, responsibly and critically and are aware of social and cultural differences and ethical dilemmas; 

  • be able to identify and evaluate different legal and regulatory approaches and
    value their applicability for different safety and security challenges;

  • be able to identify and construct informed, considered and logical arguments (in oral and written form) about law and regulation in relation to safety and security challenges in both professional and academic settings.


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

Course Load

Total study load of 140 hours

  • Contact hours: 33

  • Self-study hours (including assignment): 104

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

  • Participation to course labs (equals 10% of the total grade).

  • Written Assignment (equals 20% of the total grade).

  • Written exam (equals 70% of the total grade).
    Attendance for the course labs is mandatory. Missing more than 1 session will lead to a fail. In case of a fail no grades will be given, only a fail. This implies that a resit will not lead to a pass.
    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 5.50. 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 resit it.

This implies only the written assignment (20%) can be compensated by the written exam (70%) and not vice versa. The calculated grade must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.

Students will be permitted a resit of the written exam if they have a grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The resit exam will take the same form.

Due to its nature it is impossible to resit the 10% participation grade.

Transitional arrangement:
Students who participated in the course “Law and Security” in academic year 2018-2019 but did not manage to pass the course will take part in the following transitional arrangement:

Passed partial grades obtained in year 2018-2019 remain valid during year 2019-2020. Failed partial grades be obtained in 2019-2020 and cover the course content offered in year 2019-2020. The calculation strategy of year 2018-2019 will be applicable to the new, final grade.
Students who failed the course labs in 2018-2019 need to attend the course labs in 2019-2020 but do not need to obtain the 10% participation grade.


Course page will be available one week in advance

Reading list

Information on readings will be announced on Blackboard


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.

Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted there.


dr. Els De Busser, Course coordinator