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Introduction to security and safety


Admission requirements

Core course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies


Security is a key to survival for any living organism; life is full of perils and threats, both physically, environmentally and socially. Thus it is vital that organisms construct mechanisms to maximise their security, such as generating a stable food supply, optimising environmental conditions to promote growth and wellbeing, and creating shelter.

This course aims to review the historical development of the concepts of security and safety, explore the concepts through the lenses of a wide range of disciplines and, apply this knowledge to modern day challenges.

The course begins with a historical overview of the notion of security. It plots the way this concept has changed throughout history, in light of cultural and societal developments.What it meant to be secure in the past differs greatly from what it means to be secure today.

Understanding security entails not only that we understand its historical genealogy, but also its place within a wider set of interrelated concepts, for example uncertainty, risk, safety, threats, vulnerabilities, danger and violence. The second part of this course sheds light on this web of interrelated concepts.

Finally, security is a multidisciplinary topic. It is studied in different disciplines, each with their own focus, and for good measure: security has an impact on a wide variety of different aspects of society and thus deserves academic underpinnings and research in diverse fields.

Course objectives

  • Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of the historical and cultural development of the concepts of security and safety, as well as of their current role in a globalised world.

  • Students will acquire knowledge of theories, models, principles, and empirical data relating to security and safety from the disciplines of (1) philosophy, (2) public administration, (3) International Relations and political science, and (4) computer science.

  • Students will be able to identify which actors are relevant to the study of safety and security in a globalised world, to understand which consequences and impact security and safety incidents may have, and to understand how actors, consequences and impact are interlinked in relation to security and safety.

  • Students will be able to identify new trends and threats relating to security and safety, and to contextualise these within a broader societal context.

  • Students will be able to make constructively critical judgements with respect to security as a theme.


The complete schedule, as well as links to uSis and Blackbopard can be found on the right side of the introductory page of the Bachelor Security Studies.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and self-study.

This course is compulsory.

Course Load

Total study load of 280 hours

  • Contact hours: 42

  • Self-study hours: 232

  • Examination: 6

Assessment method

  • Written exam (mid-term): 20%

  • Group paper: 10%

  • Written exam (final): 70%

Failed partial grades weighing less than 30% should be compensated by a passed partial grade weighing more than 30%. The calculated grade must be at least 5,50 to pass the course.

More information will be available on the Blackboard page.

Students will be permitted to resit the final written exam if they have a grade lower than 5,5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

The resit for the written exam will take the same form


Course page will be available one week in advance.

Reading list

  1. Buis, J., Post, G., and Visser, V., 2016. Academic Skills for interdisciplinary studies. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
  2. Collins, A., 2016. Contemporary security studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Information on journal articles and other readings will be announced on Blackboard.


To be announced by OSC staff.


Dr. R.S. Prins