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International Security



Objective: 1. Enable students to think critically beyond state-centered conceptions of security.
Objective: 2. Locate the study of international security within a broader sociological context.

Security is not only a central concept of International Relations; it has taken an ever-increasing role in our everyday lives. The concern for collective security has been at the center of the creation of international institutions such as the United Nations, NATO or the European Union. But security is also invoked in the checks at the airport, in the introduction of biometric identity documents and in the proliferation of CCTVs. Security is both what democracies argue they provide their citizens with, and what dictatorships invoke to repress their populations. So what do we mean when we speak about security? Who and what is the object of security, and is security necessarily a common “good”? Has the state security the same value as human security? Should we balance liberty and security? Is there such a thing as the security of a nation, a community or an identity? Traditional security studies typically focus on inter-state relations, discussing issues of nuclear proliferation, deterrence and balance of power. While this course will not ignore these issues, the emphasis will be on approaches that question the traditional assumptions of state-centered theories. The course will articulate theoretical discussions (what is security, what is “critique”?) with detailed case studies, addressing among other issues, international migration and border controls, the impact of 9/11, terrorism and counter-terrorism, technologies of security and surveillance (drones, biometrics, CCTVs, databases, internet surveillance), the development-security nexus, the military-industrial-media-entertainment network (war games) and environmental security. The course will conclude on the ethical and political implications of thinking critically about security, and on the possible articulations of theory and practice.

Methods of Instruction

The course will normally be divided into two, two-hour sessions each week. The classes are almost exclusively lectures. Workgroups combine review of the lecture material, close reading, help with written assignments, student debates and simulations.

Study Material

Course materials include a textbook, Book chapters, journal articles, and online materials, including films and newspapers.

Peoples C and Vaughan-Williams N (2014) Critical security studies : an introduction (2nd edition). London ; New York: Routledge.


Final exam (80%) and workgroup attendance and intermediate assignment (20%).

First opportunity for a written exam
Wednesday 20 May 2015, 13.00-16.00 in the USC (Universitair Sports Centre)

Second opportunity for a written exam
Wednesday 17 June 2015, 13.00-16.00 in the USC

Exam registration

Student must register for each exam through uSis. This is only possible from 100 until 10 calendar days before the exam. More information on exam registration


Monday 30 March until 11 May, 11.00-13.00 hrs in SC01 (no lectures on 6 & 27 April)
Wednesday 1 April until 13 May, 15.00-17.00 hrs in SC01 (no lecture on 15 and 22 april)
Thursday 16 April, 9.00-11.00 hrs in Gorlaeus 2**
Tuesday 28 April, 17.00-19.00 hrs in SC01


  • Workgroup 1: Friday 10 and 17 April, 9.00-11.00 hrs in 5B16
    Friday 24 April until 8 May, 9.00-11.00 hrs in F103*

  • Workgroup 2: Friday 10 and 17 April, 9.00-11.00 hrs in 1A12
    Friday 24 April untl 8 May, 9.00-11.00 hrs in E002A* (except 8 May in 1A27 FSW building)

  • Workgroup 3: Friday 10 and 17 April, 11.00-13.00 hrs in 5B16
    Friday 24 April until 8 May, 11.00-13.00 hrs in F103*

  • Workgroup 4: Friday 10 and 17 April, 11.00-13.00 hrs in 1A24
    Friday 24 April until 8 May, 11.00-13.00 hrs in E002A (except 8 May in F104*)

  • Workgroup 5: Friday 10 April until 8 May, 13.00-15.00 hrs in 1A24

  • Workgroup 6: Friday 10 April until 8 May, 13.00-15.00 hrs in SA37

  • Workgroup 7: Friday 10 April until 8 May, 15.00-17.00 hrs in SA31

  • Van Steenis building, Einstreinweg 2 Leiden

    • Gorlaeus, Einsteinweg 55 Leiden

Admission requirements