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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

Course Load

Total study load of 140 hours

  • Contact hours: 33

  • Self-study hours (including assignment): 104

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

Assignments (50%)
Final written exam (50%)

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.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have a grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resits take same form

Transitional Arrangement
Students who participated in the course “Economics of Security” in academic year 2018-2019 but did not manage to pass the course will take part in the following transitional arrangement:
1. Students who did not pass the group assignments and the exam last year, will follow this year’s rules regarding the assessment methods for this course.
2. Students who passed the group assignments but not the exam can keep their grade for the group assignments and will participate in the new final exam.
3. Students who did not pass their group assignments, or passed one, but did pass the exam will keep their passed grade for the exam, but will resit the (group) assignment as per the rules for the assignment in the academic year of 2019-2020 (as grades below 30% are not resitable, the whole grade will have to be retaken).


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.


Course coordinator: dr. Max van Lent