nl en

Human Security



[BSc], GED, ID, PSc

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: students must have completed a 100 and 200-level course within the ID and/or PSc Majors. Moreover, having completed courses in quantitative research methods will be helpful, as will a basic understanding of institutional analysis.

Course description

Violence. One of the most fundamental challenges to stable and productive ways of living, or ‘development’, and arguably the most important determinant of human security. Yet, paradoxically, our current levels of wealth and prosperity could not have been possible without it. Violence is terrible, and it is fascinating, and sometimes it helps to bring about huge social change. But why do people fight? What brings them to risk everything they have, pick up weapons against their neighbours, and even commit atrocities? This course will allow you to engage with state-of-the-art theories on this question, as well as explore a wide range of case studies and statistical evidence. Moreover, through its focus on explaining violence, the course will help you to develop your research skills, including your skills to evaluate the strength of your arguments based on your methodological choices. It will challenge you to reflect critically on the (policy) means available to us to address the challenge of violence, and the evidential basis on which we use these means. Most importantly, this course will show you some of the ways in which social science can really help to understand and address a fundamental challenge like violence – and the places where, thus far, it falls short.

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will:

  • be able to describe the main social scientific theories explaining collective violence and compare and evaluate them critically;

  • use case studies to illustrate, formulate, enhance, or test theories that explain collective violence or its absence within the constraints of short essays;

  • have presented their analysis of a case of collective violence;

  • have reflected actively on the course content through discussions and other class activities.