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Learning and Accountability


Admission requirements

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


Western societies and governments often struggle to recuperate from crises such as natural disasters, riots and terrorist attacks. What happens following the immediate crisis response in order to arrive at a restoration of stability? 'Post-crisis politics' involves longer term dynamic processes of accountability characterised by formal inquiries, blame games, political manoeuvering, media scrutiny and crisis exploitation. The pressure on learning in order to improve future safety gives rise to official investigations and reform proposals. Also, society needs to bounce back and victims receive psychosocial care in the aftermath of crises and disasters.
While most agree on the ambition to hold governments accountable and to learn from crises, we see that in post-crisis debates time horizons shift, data are used selectively, statistics get manipulated, inferences are drawn and apples and oranges are often compared. Meanwhile, policy makers and political executives struggle to improve their policies based on evidence.

This course teaches students to critically review existing research and how it is used. By exploring different conceptualisations and explanatory theories in academic literature combined with reviewing and discussing empirical research, students will learn about the dynamics, consequences and challenges of post-crisis governance. The seminar will build on a mix of academic studies, case examples, investigation reports and policy documents. The seminar has an interactive set up and includes guest lectures from practitioners. Evaluating existing research and reports is an invaluable skill for professionals in crisis and security management, such as in the process of policy making in the safety and security domain.

Course Objectives

After finalizing this course, students are able to:

  1. Critically evaluate, based on advanced academic knowledge and understanding of the principles of academic research, existing research in the area of expertise, from a conceptual, theoretical and methodological viewpoint by assessing research design, methodologies, and validity and reliability of empirical data;
  2. Identify and engage with the main theories on learning and accountability in the aftermath of crises and disasters;
  3. Understand the main methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches taken in the field of the study of the Governance of Crisis;
  4. Understand the challenges of functioning in a complex academic or professional environment in a research, advisory or executive position such as in regulatory agencies, inspectorates, investigation authorities, that play an important role in the aftermath of crises and disasters;
  5. Function in teams for group assignments aimed at presenting arguments and analyses in a format appropriate for a broader professional audience and as input to expert groups;
  6. Identify and analyse the specific role and responsibilities of leaders in the public sector after a crisis or disaster, how leaders deal with post-crisis the challenges related topolitical accountability and and learning;
  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

A combination of interactive lectures and activating workgroups (two sessions per week). In the lectures, students will learn the key principles of research, and the relevant concepts and methodologies. In the workgroups, students will practise research design and methods by applying the concepts, testing theories, and analysing empirical material. The workgroups will, amongst others, consist of in-class assignments, team performances, peer review and exercises and feature several compulsory formative (non-graded) assignments that will help the student prepare for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss a maximum of two sessions 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: 280 hours
Contact hours = 42 hours
Self-study hours = 238 hours

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

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.

  • Individual essay assignment, 35% of final grade
    Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

  • Individual essay assignment, 35% of final grade
    Grade cannot be compensated, a 5.50 is required to pass the course

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

Additional, formative (non-graded) assignments are an obligatory part of 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 35% assignment(s) 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. Wout Broekema