nl en

Introduction to Safety Science


Admission requirements

Intended for all BA3 students who successfully completed their first year-programme (propedeuse)


Introduction to the field of risk and safety/ security based on various texts (book, scientific papers and book chapters). In the course, safety and security are considered from multiple perspectives (industrial safety, transport safety, organisational safety, societal safety, occupational safety, fire safety, structural safety, physical security, cyber security). Methods and techniques will be taught to model the factors which influence safety and security in these domains (technical-, human-, and organisational factors), by adopting a decomposition approach of the overall socio-technical system.

Methods and techniques of safety-by-design and security-by-design principles for systems and processes are taught to inherently reduce risks of failure during the life cycle of these systems and processes. Examples of fault-tolerant design, fail-safe design, fool/hufter-proof design in the above domains are discussed.

Course objectives

In this course, students will be introduced to safety and security risk management as it is applied in multiple domains. The focus is on how responsible decisions on safety and security, using the concepts of risk, can be made, in particular in the design phase of systems and processes.

Students learn to understand and use the concept of risk in safety and security settings, being aware of its benefits and limitations. They acquire practical knowledge and skills that allow them to describe the safety and security in qualitative and quantitative terms, to investigate the factors which have an impact on safety and security, and to derive and analyse decisions on safety- and security measures, made by risk managers.

The course starts with safety risk first (accidents), and then extends its scope to security risks (threats and attacks).

The following topics will be covered:

  • Introduction of important safety and risk concepts, such as probability, frequency, hazard/ threat, vulnerability, impact/ consequence

  • Short history of safety and risk thinking

  • The management of risk and safety in public and private organisations

  • Similarities and differences between safety and security risks

  • Quantitative and qualitative assessment of safety and security risks

  • Several risk analysis techniques such as fault/ attack trees, hazard–barrier–target HBT-model and bowties

  • The psychology of safety and security, human error

  • A systems view on safety/ security

During the course various reports on risk/ safety topics in media will be discussed.

After this course, students are able to:

  • Understand, apply, and quantify risk and related concepts in safety and security settings, as well as reasoning about these

  • Explain the similarities and differences between safety and security risks and their assessment

  • Understand the tasks and responsibilities of the safety/ risk manager or professional

  • Apply several safety and security risk analysis techniques such as fault and attack trees

  • Make well-founded decisions regarding safety or security issues and countermeasures, explain these choices and communicate them


The timetable can be found in the right menu, under files

Q2, once per week plenary lectures

Mode of instruction

  • Plenary lectures (mandatory)

  • Exercises (carried out in small groups of 4-5 students)

Course Load

Total course load 3 EC x 28 hours = 84 hours

  • 24 hours: Lectures

  • 60 hours: Study of compulsory literature & assignments

84 hours

Assessment method


One group assignment, to be published in a written report, and to be presented in a 30 min. presentation, followed by Q&A with the teaching staff and students.

Closed-book exam (individual).

For students following the Minor 'Responsible Innovation', student attendance and participation is required and all assignments/exercises have to be fulfilled in order to receive a passing grade. Only one lecture can be missed. If a second lecture is missed, an assignment will be given to compensate. If a third lecture is missed, a passing grade can no longer be obtained, unless permission is granted from the Board of Examiners (with consent of the Course Coordinator).


40% for the group assignment and 60% for the individual exam.


The students are allowed one re-sit per examination. It is not allowed to re-sit an examination or assignment for which they have received a pass (6,0 or higher). It is allowed to re-sit an examination or assignment which they haven't done during the first occasion. The re-sit format needs to be discussed with the teacher of the course in line with examination regulations.

In case the student is granted an extra re-sit by the Board of Examiners, this re-sit has to take place within study year 2019-2020. This means the students have to complete the minor within one study year.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


In this course, Blackboard is used to present course information, notify of changes to the course and to make course materials available. Students can access Blackboard with their Leiden University (guest) accounts.

Reading list

  • Bernardus (Ben) Ale (2009). Risk: An introduction. Abingdon: Routledge (or e-book)

  • Additional material (including scientific papers, book chapters and videos) will be made available through Blackboard/ Brightspace


Students need to register for the minor at their home university and in uSis Leiden, and for each individual course in uSis Leiden.

Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Prof. dr. ir. P.H.A.J.M. (Pieter) van Gelder


Not applicable.