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Security Challenges in a Globalizing World


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.


A general feeling of insecurity and anxiety has settled in parts of society and ‘security’ has become a catch word that defines a range of situations and developments that society considers problematic or threatening – and by that, security has been broadened and deepened, encompassing a diverse range of (perceived) crises and security threats, to include for instance radicalisation, transnational terrorism, climate change, pandemics, natural disasters, violent crime, industrial accidents, cyber security risks and unregulated international migration.

Ontological Security refers to the need of a sense of order and continuity in life, facilitating positive self-identification and a sense of belonging. Started as a concept applied in psychology at the individual level, by now the concept of ontological security is being used as a theoretical and analytical lens to study (in)security at the local, national and global level and explain changes in the way societies define, experience and counter (in)security.

In this course, students will get acquainted with the underlying social, economic, political and cultural changes of late-modernity that influence perceptions of (in)security and critically discuss the concept of ontological security. As fluidity and uncertainty are central notions of ontological security, this course will address transformations in society that produce ontological insecurity, like globalization, deterritorialization, transboundary networks of information and power, hybrid threats and weaponisation of information. Further, the course will look into the renewed search for ontological security, as manifested in populism, identity politics, re-territorialisation, nationalism and nostalgia.

Course Objectives

After finalizing this course, students are able to:
1. Identify and discuss, based on advanced knowledge, key theoretical and conceptual frameworks related to ontological security and apply it to real-life cases and phenomena in a conceptually and methodological rigorous manner.
2. Reflect on the concepts of crisis and security as a political, social and mental construction and critically evaluate the effect of the social, political and cultural context and complexity on the perception of crisis and security issues.
3. ‘Read’ society and identify and analyse in a timely manner new developments and phenomena related to ontological security.
4. Seek evidence and draw from empirical or theoretical materials for an informed (and, when applicable, critical) judgement.
5. Engage in public debates about the issues related to (the study of) crises and security issues.
6. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments.


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

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss one session if there are special, demonstrable personal circumstances. The Board of Examiners, in consultation with the study advisors, will decide on such an exceptional exemption of mandatory attendance.

Total study load: 140 hours

  • Lectures: 21 hours

  • Self-study: 119 hours

In this 4 ects course, 1 ects is specifically reserved for the assignment that is going to be part of the portfolio of students, including working on their interim reflection paper as preparation for the final reflection paper. Specific information on the portfolio assignment and the intended learning outcomes that are being acquired will be published in the syllabus of this course.

Assessment method

Students are not obliged to hand in an assignment at the first opportunity in order to make use of the re-sit opportunity. The re-sit assignment will test the same course objectives, but will be different in terms of topics, cases or substance.

Group assignment: 30% of final grade.
Course can be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50), resit not possible.

Individual paper assignment: 70% of final grade
Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course.
If a student passed an assignment, it is not possible to participate in a re-sit in order to obtain a higher grade. Students are only permitted to resit the 70% assignment if they have a calculated overall course lower than 5.50.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis.
Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course. 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.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrolment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


dr. Jelle van Buuren