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Crisis Preparedness


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management, enrolled in the specialisation ‘Governance of Crisis’, can take this course.


Environmental disasters, technological catastrophes, climate disruptions, epidemics, terrorist attacks: crises are everywhere and regularly take the centre stage of media and politics. Many aspects of our complex, interconnected, global and yet fragile world have the potential to turn into a full-blown crisis with devastating consequences. This course focuses precisely on what causes such crises and how we can avoid them. It is relevant for students interested in working in risk management, or crisis prevention and preparedness.

The course has two interrelated goals. First, the course analyses what causes crises, and what actions societies and organisations take to avoid crises and their potential disastrous consequences. Students will learn to critically analyse and discuss the various processes that lead to crises, and the policies and actions that seek to prevent and mitigate them. The course will discuss key concepts such as risk and vulnerability, and provide an introduction to social science theories that explain crises. Students will learn about the different ways to identify and assess vulnerabilities and risks, and to navigate different concepts and professional methods to prevent and prepare for crises (e.g., prevention, mitigation, preparedness). They will reflect on whether and in what cases crises can be prevented and when we should prepare for worst case-scenarios.

Second, the course introduces students to selected research methods to collect and analyse data. It instructs students how to use these methods to empirically assess risks, vulnerabilities, and strategies to prevent and prepare for crises. Students will get familiar with several social sciences methods to gather, generate, and analyse data. In particular, students will learn how to conduct qualitative interviews and surveys. They will do so by (1) elaborating and implementing different data collection strategies; (2) by using theoretical and conceptual insights to analyse empirical cases; (3) by inferring recommendations from their results and communicating relevant findings in a form accessible to a professional audience. These are transferrable skills that they will be able to use in professional contexts.

Course Objectives

After finalizing the course, students will be able to:

Academic skills:
1. Understand and to critically analyse the various concepts of risk, vulnerability, prevention, mitigation, and preparedness; identify and discuss the main theories explaining the causes of crises and disasters.
2. Apply theories and concepts to specific empirical cases; identify empirically the different policies and approaches used to prevent and prepare for crisis; identify how dynamics of risk and vulnerability lead to disasters; and discuss the benefits and pitfalls of each kind of policy (risk management, vulnerability reduction, preparedness).

Research skills:
3. Design a (small) research project; ask a relevant research question, and choose accordingly the appropriate design and method; reflect on the limits and ethics of their research project.
4. Seek evidence, and to identify relevant empirical material; perform data collection in a rigorous way, using selected research methods (for this course: interviews, surveys) and reflect on the validity and reliability of their data.
5. Analyse data by identifying empirical patterns from collected data, and perform elementary analysis and link back their results to academic concepts and theories.

Professional skills
6. Work in team, collaborate to produce knowledge, and confront their viewpoints to develop collaborative solutions.
7. Transfer academic knowledge to professional settings, communicate their research results in an appropriate format to a professional audience and draw conclusions, make judgments and/or provide solutions to real-life problems or societal issues based on empirical data.
8. 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 includes 14 sessions. Sessions will involve both lectures and group work and will be offered remotely. Several on-site meetings are planned and will take place depending on the situation related to the COVID-19 virus.
Digital attendance is necessary, as during the sessions students will have to work in teams on their group assignments.

Total study load: 280h

  • contact hours: 42h (sessions and consultations)

  • self-study (reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.): 238h

In this 10 ects course, 4 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

  1. Research question & design proposal (Individual, 20% of the final grade)
  2. Data collection portfolio & discussion of results (Group, 30% of the final grade)
  3. Policy brief (Individual, 40%)
  4. Policy briefing (Group,10%)

Grading: Failed partial grades weighing less than or 30% can be compensated with other partial grades. The calculated overall grade must be at least 5.5 in order to pass the course.

Resit: Students are only permitted to resit assignment 3 (40%). Resit will take shape of an individual paper.

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. Andrea Bartolucci

dr. Honorata Mazepus


Please check the Brightspace page regularly as due to the COVID-19 changes to the course might occur on short notice.