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Topics of Law and Security


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Security, Safety and Justice, taught at The Hague by a lecturer from Leiden University. The course can only be taken within the framework of participation in the minor SSJ.


Security and (international) law are very interlinked. Terrorism, cyberattacks, military interventions, cross border criminality, all entail a reaction by states and have the potential to redefine the relation between government and society. In addition, new technological breakthroughs enable security measures to become more refined and commonplace, but also lead to ethical questions. The rule of law offers a framework in which citizens and government can agree on rules, so that government can play its role.

The central theme in this course is the dilemma that government faces more and more often: the dichotomy between providing security while respecting civil, social and human rights. Since the 9/11 attacks, this tension has become even more visible in both international and domestic counterterrorism measures. Are these necessary measures that have to be taken even by democratic countries where the rule of law is maintained? What kind of consequences these measures can have on the way democratic rule of law works in principle?
This tension is also visible in many other security issues, such as for example the “regular” fight against criminality. What about ethnic profiling, the right of free speech, even if this speech is inflammatory, the use of special surveillance techniques?

This course will highlight these and other dilemmas, and will offer theoretical and practical insights into them. Students will become familiar with the primary tenants of the rule of law, and their link with security policies. They will be invited to think critically about the tension between security and law.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the central tension between security and law in a theoretical way.

  • Identify the relationship between the citizen and the state in a historical perspective, and analyse it critically. Particular attention will be given to security issues and the implications for the rule of law.

  • Produce knowledge on the basis and the functioning of European states, as different examples of ‘Rechtstaat’

  • Analyse a concrete example of the dilemma between providing security and respecting human rights, and provide a policy advice on this example.


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

The course consists of seven classes.

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:

  • contact hours: 14

  • self study: 126

Assessment method


  • 20% of total grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated

Final exam

  • 80% of total grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

The Course and Examination Regulation Security Studies and the Rules and Regulation of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs apply.

Reading list

Will be made available via Brightspace


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
Institute of Security and Global Affairs
Wijnhaven building
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP Den Haag
Room tbc E-mail


All sessions will be in English.
All assignments need to be written in English.
Lectures take place at The Hague.
Resits will be organised in January.