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Governing Threats: Risk, Vulnerability and 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 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 on what causes crises and what societies do to prevent and prepare for them. It is relevant for students interested in working in risk management or crisis prevention/preparedness. It has two interrelated goals.

Firstly, the course analyses the causes of crises, and what actions societies and organisations take to avoid them and their disastrous consequences. Students will learn to critically analyse and discuss the various processes that lead to crises as wel as the policies and actions that seek to prevent and mitigate them. The course will examine key concepts such as risk and vulnerability and discuss related social science theories. Students will learn about the different ways to identify and assess vulnerabilities and risks. They will learn about the various concepts and professional methods to prevent and prepare for crises (prevention, mitigation, preparedness).

Secondly, in line with the CSM approach, the course focuses on one research skill: using a particular research design to collect meaningful data. It instructs students how to design a survey experiment, collect data online, and conduct appropriate analysis. It discusses how to ensure data quality and validity. These are transferrable skills that are useful and needed in many professional settings. In the context of this course, students will focus on gathering data to empirically assess risks and risk perceptions, vulnerabilities, and strategies to prevent and prepare for crises. Finally, students will learn to present and communicate research results to a professional audience.

Course Objectives

After finalising the course, students will be able to:

Academic skills:
1. Understand and 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; empirically identify the different policies and approaches used to prevent and prepare for crisis; assess how dynamics of risk and vulnerability lead to disasters; discuss the benefits and pitfalls of each kind of policy (risk management, vulnerability reduction, preparedness).

Research skills:
3. Practice the steps of doing research by completing a small research project
4. Learn the basics of designing a survey experiment
5. Collect, analyse, and reflect on the data

Professional skills
6. Work in a team, collaborate to produce knowledge and confront different insights and sources to answer questions and develop collaborative solutions.
7. Communicate research results in an appropriate format to a professional audience8. Self-evaluate and reflect after interactive in-class work and individual assignments
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

The course combines interactive lectures and workgroups. It offers 14 sessions (2 per week). In the workgroups, students will apply key research skills, concepts and methodologies discussed in the lectures. Workgroups also feature formative (non-graded) assignments to prepare students for the summative (graded) assignments.

Attending the workgroups is essential as students will have to work together on their group assignments.

Course load
Total study load: 280h

  • contact hours: 42h (sessions and consultations)

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

Assessment method

The calculated grade of the assignments must be at least 5.5 in order to pass the course.

Research project report

  • 30% of the final grade

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (5.5 or lower)

  • Resit not possible

Individual final paper

  • 60% of the final grade

  • Grade cannot be compensated; a 5.5 is required to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Group research poster

  • 10% of the final grade

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (5.5 or lower)

  • Resit not possible

Students will also be permitted to resit the 60% individual paper if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2022-2023 remain valid during year 2023-2024.

Reading list

A selection of books and articles, to be announced on Brightspace.


Register for every course and workgroup via MyStudymap or uSis. Registration for courses is possible from 12 July, 13.00h. 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. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. Lydie Cabane

Dr. Andrea Bartolucci