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Security and the Rule of Law


Admission requirements

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


Democracies today continue to wrestle with shifting and rapidly evolving threats stemming from conflicts, state coercion, and a variety of security concerns. Differently from other political systems, societies upholding the rule of law require policy and legal responses to respect balances and protect civil, social and human rights. Hence, how can states ensure safety while respecting democratic legal framework? What kind of powers and responsibilities characterise democratic security governance?

The aim of this course is to bring together different theoretical and methodological approaches in order to address these questions, both domestically and internationally. Specifically, this course first introduces students to the rule of law framework. From a political and legal-sociological perspective, it addresses how political and legal institutions - should - govern security, guarantee safety or handle crises, while simultaneously protecting the rule of law in a democratic society. The notion of security is problematised and used to address key dynamics in the policy making cycle. The students are familiarised with basic concepts and theory used in mainstream socio-legal and security governance literature. Students are exposed and learn about the potential tensions between freedom and security, addressing political theory literature on the very basis of the social contract while also discussing the impact of security and emergency legislation on human rights and the organisation of legal systems. The course also addresses the empirical role of law enforcement agencies discussing related questions such as incident- and risk management, conflict resolution but also big data and surveillance. Students will learn and problematise the relationship between internal and external security by addressing links between national legal system and practices with international affairs.

Course Objectives

After finalizing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Reflect critically, based on advanced knowledge, on the general notion of rule of law and its dilemmas, specifically in relation to the conceptualisation of social control and the balance between legitimate monopoly of the use of violent means and democratic rule and accountability.
  2. Discuss the main challenges and opportunities that relevant stakeholders in the field of crisis and security are confronted with in a multi-actor and multi-level context, with a special emphasis on the rule of law.
  3. Address concepts as social control and social change based on advanced knowledge and understanding of social-legal studies and differentiate between different national and international actors in their use of the rule of law to address crisis and security challenges
  4. Reflect upon the relation between internal and external security by addressing key issues in connecting foreign policy and domestic legal and political practices and apply the acquired practical knowledge about the different roles and responsibilities of institutions enforcing law and ensure safety
  5. Reflect on relevant normative and ethical issues, and on side effects and unintended consequences of the governance and management of crisis and security issues, within the framework of democracy and the rule of law.
  6. Access, communicate and apply legal knowledge through in class debates and simulation, in order to develop presentation and writing skills.
  7. 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

This course consists of seven seminars (potentially including guest lectures) and a class debate.

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:

  • contact hours: 21.

  • self-study hours: reading, preparing (guest)lectures, assignments:119.

In this 5 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.

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

  2. Final paper: 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. Silvia d’Amato
E-Mail address TBA