nl en

Human Security: Civil War and Violence


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

None, but Institutions of Governance and Development is recommended.


This interdisciplinary course introduces students to key academic and policy debates on human security. We will focus on the scientific explanations for major human security issues linked to civil wars and violence. These issues include the root causes of civil wars and both the direct and indirect impacts of wars on populations, such as public health crises, population displacement, declines in trust and societal cohesion, human rights violations, and economic disruptions. We will also study the impact of terrorism and organized crimes on human security. The ways in which sexual violence and human trafficking critically compromise human security will be explored. We will delve into the interplay between economic and food insecurities. Climate and health insecurities will also be discussed. Furthermore, we will examine the achievements and challenges of both international and local actors in mitigating the consequences of civil wars and addressing human security issues.

The central questions that we will examine throughout the course include the following: What is human security, and how does it differ from national security, human development, and human rights? Why are civil wars and violent conflicts so widespread in today's world, and how do they undermine human security? What are the major threats to human security in the 21st century? How does the human security approach enhance efforts to address the broad range of insecurities faced by vulnerable communities in both developed and developing countries? And what are the strengths and weaknesses of current international and local approaches in mitigating the consequences of civil wars and addressing human security issues? This course will demystify these questions by exploring the intersections among academic fields and policy practices, including International Development, Peace and Conflict Studies, Global Politics, as well as Human Rights and Humanitarian Action. We will utilize a combination of lectures, tutorial discussions, case studies, and interactive group exercises to highlight the linkages between theory and practice.

The course is divided into three modules. In the first module, we will lay important intellectual foundations and delve into the key debates surrounding the concept of human security in relation to national security, human development, and human rights. The second module will focus on the major threats to human security in the 21st century, such as civil wars and violence, terrorism, sexual violence and human trafficking, and the interplay of economic and food insecurities, as well as climate and health insecurities. In the final module, we will examine the various initiatives that states, non-state actors, and international organizations have developed to enhance human security. As you can see, this course is designed to challenge you intellectually, question your assumptions, ignite your passion, and enrich your critical thinking, reading, writing, speaking and problem-solving skills.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to

  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the human security framework.

  • Identify the main theoretical explanations for the causes of violent conflict, understand the principal consequences for human security, and recognize the range of human security responses.

  • Apply human security frameworks to evaluate various policies and practices using case studies.

  • Apply their knowledge to current debates and emerging issues in human security, demonstrating both sophistication in argumentation and awareness of real-world limitations.

  • Analyze and synthesize diverse information across fields including human security, peace and conflict studies, international development, global politics as well as crisis and security management.

  • Demonstrate skills in critical thinking, reading, writing, speaking and problem solving.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

There are two main teaching methods used in this course: lectures and tutorials.

Lectures: The instructor will deliver a lecture based on the required readings. Lectures will provide an overview of the dedicated topic for the week in question. Each class will begin with a brief question and answer period related to the readings or to previous lectures. This period will be followed by the lecture for the day. At the end of each lecture there will also be a brief period for questions from students. Come prepared to engage with the instructor, your fellow students, and the material to be discussed.

Tutorials: The instructor’s lectures, presentations, readings, and in-class debates will be complemented with tutorials. The goal of tutorials is to provide a forum for students to discuss their thoughts and ideas in a seminar style. Tutorials often closely follow the Socratic method, where the student presents his or her findings and the professor rigorously questions every assumption made by the student while also drawing the other students into the discussion. Two students will be in charge of leading each tutorial discussion, and every student will have the opportunity to be a discussion leader. During the tutorial session, the discussion leaders will guide the discussion and the presentation. The discussion leaders will also need to make sure the discussion stays on topic and that the group does not lose track of the task. In short, the discussion leaders should consider themselves as the lead presenters. The discussion leaders are positions that you can volunteer for on a weekly basis. This is a fun task, but if you find no other motivation please note that it counts positively and significantly towards your participation grade. In the rare event that there is no volunteer, the instructor can assign students to take on these roles.

Assessment Method

  • Participation: 10%

  • Tutorial Presentation: 15%

  • Critical Reflection Memos: 15%

  • Book Review: 20%

  • Human Security Report Project: 40%

Reading list

The list of readings will be made available upon commencement of the course.


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,


Dr Ayokunu Adedokun