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Sharing Scarcity: Water


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

None. Please note that 100-level courses do not mean “less work” but “less preparation” (as in no prerequisite courses needed). This is not a course for students who do not have time to study!

Recommended course(s):

Academic writing


Around the world, more countries and communities face increasing scarcity of clean water, which leads to economic, environmental, social and political dilemmas. In this course, we will explore the definitions of scarcity and shortage, the market and non-market costs of scarcity, and different means of addressing scarcity. We will also discuss how politics, culture and climate disruption interact with existing policies regarding water use. As you can tell, these discussions will be interdisciplinary due to water's complex interaction with many dimensions of life.

NB: The Netherlands is often seen as possessing abundant water, but it is subject to both scarcity (droughts) and abundance shocks (floods), so these ideas also apply here.

Course Objectives


  • Students will have skills in applying interdisciplinary insights to addressing scarcity from cultural, technical, legal, economic and moral perspectives.


  • Students will be able to recognize scarcity, explain how behavior and/or policies affects scarcity, and estimate the economic and social damages resulting from scarcity.

  • Students will be able to explain the various dimensions and impacts of scarcity using interdisciplinary perspectives.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to participate in both large and small group discussions; present and defend their ideas within an academic setting; and take part in group projects. The instructor will facilitate and ensure the efficient running of the discussion, but students are responsible for its quality.

Assessment Method

Class participation: 10% (continuous weeks 1-7)
Study team: 10% (continuous weeks 1-7)
Weekly exercises: 10% (weeks 2-6)
Blog post: 10% (due week 4)
Peer reviews: 2x10% (due week 6)
Individual Presentation: 10% (due week 7)
Case study paper: 30% (due reading week)

Reading list

Living with Water Scarcity (Zetland 2014) plus 12-15 academic papers (350-400 pages)


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


David Zetland (
Leiden University College, Room 4.37