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Security: Policing Studies


Admission requirements

  • Only students of the MSc Crisis and Security Management can take this course.

  • This course only offers a place to a maximum number of 38 students.

  • Students can only register for one elective.


Policing is often referred to as “activities carried out by the police”, but this is a misgiving. As Button (2002) describes it, “… policing is a function of society that contributes to a particular social order, carried out by different bodies and agents.” The police is certainly the most-well known of the public actors carrying out policing functions, but it is not the only one. Nevertheless, as the main body that carries out the monopoly of violence held by the State, it deserves further attention.
This course will first give an overview of the different policing functions, and how they are carried out by both public and private actors. It then goes into the public police as a main actor, describing different approaches to how the police is viewed in relation to society, different police systems and different police models. Subsequently, it delves into theories how decision making processes of individual police officers are formed. Finally, the overall governance structure of a police force is looked at, and how this has repercussions in regard to issues such as integrity and inclusion. This is linked to current societal debates such as police funding, use of violence by the police and use of violence against the police.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course:

  • Students are able to able to identify the different policing functions and the actors responsible for carrying these out. They are able to evaluate the governance structure consisting of law enforcement and other public and private stakeholders

  • Students are able to analyse how different police bodies within and between countries are situated in relation to society, the historical development of policing, what kind of systems exist, and what models are being employed.

  • Students are able to understand the impact of technology on both individual decisions by police officers, police organizations and the policing landscape as a whole.

  • Students are able to evaluate how police officers and organizations respond to a variety of questions about their functioning, revolving around the legitimate use of force, inclusion and diversity, and levels of trust in the police.

  • Students are able to relate the different findings in the course to ongoing societal debates and the challenges facing police in the 21st century. They develop critical thinking and analytical skills to evaluate research and policy related to policing.


On the right side of programme front page of the studyguide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of Instruction

This course consists of seven compulsory seminars. In addition, online learning material in the form of short videos will be provided before each session, which the students have to watch in preparation.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are only allowed to miss more than one session 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: 140 hours

  • Lectures: 21 hours

  • Self-study: 119 hours
    Self-study consists both of reading the material provided, watching the videos, and writing the assignments.

The corresponding Brightspace course will become available one week prior to the first seminar.

Assessment method

Assessment for this course is based on two assignments:

Midterm group assignment

  • 25% of final grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade must be compensated in case of a fail (grade < 5.50)

Final individual paper:

  • 75% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

The calculated overall course grade must be at least 5.50 in order to pass the course. If the calculated overall course grade is lower than 5.50, students are also permitted to resit the 75% paper.

In the case of written assessment methods, the examiner can always initiate a follow-up conversation with the student to establish whether the learning objectives have been met.

Transitional Arrangement
Passed partial grades obtained in year 2022-2023 are no longer valid during year 2023-2024. All students are expected to enroll for an elective via MyStudymap on a 'first come first serve' basis.

Reading list

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


Register yourself via MyStudymap for each course, workgroup and exam (not all courses have workgroups and/or exams). Do so on time, before the start of the course; some courses and workgroups have limited spaces. You can view your personal schedule in MyTimetable after logging in.

Registration for this course is possible from t.b.a..

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in MyStudymap you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.

More information on registration via MyStudymap can be found on this page.


Prof.dr. Monica den Boer

Dr. J. Matthys