Universiteit Leiden

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Security Studies (BSc)

About the programme

As a student in Security Studies you are a socially engaged critical thinker eager to study real-life security cases in an academic setting. You focus not just on the broad context of these issues but also on the role of government, institutions and media.

In this bachelor programme you will also study various crises and crisis management. Crises are unforeseen situaties which require impactful decisions in times of stress and chaos. How do govenments and private actors work together to prevent, response to, and recover from crises such as natural disasters and pandemics? For example, in the course Case study: Fukushima, students will look into the Fukushima nuclear disaster that happened in 2011 in Japan and in the course Vital interests we will further discuss the SARS epidemic. 

Joris van Buiten

Student Ambassador

Joris van Buiten

‘’Security Studies helps you to get a better understanding of all types of safety and security issues from around the world, from the war in Syria, to the Sendai earthquake and the following nuclear incident in Fukushima, from cyber-attacks to organised crime. Through its interdisciplinary approach, you will get a deeper understanding of these challenges and learn to combine different disciplines. By combining disciplines such as political science, psychology, economics, history and many more into one lens, you will be able to find the best solution for all types of safety and security issues from around the world.’’

Sascha Zell

Second year student

Sascha Zell

"My choice to study Security Studies was the best decision I’ve made. A programme dealing with global security challenges of our time that helps one devise strategic solutions in a complex world? That is what I wanted! From the courses I’ve taken, perhaps Vital Interests would be my favourite. It’s taught by highly enthused professors, and discussions about balancing the individual sovereignty of countries and the vital interests of the global public excite me. I’ve wanted to be an airline pilot my whole life, yet this programme has opened me up to many more possibilities - while not giving up my initial dream. With Security Studies, you can go into the fields of intelligence, cybersecurity, aviation and more. You might even dream of going into politics after attending Case Study Fukushima lectures on crisis governance. If you have your sights set on making the world a better place, then this is the programme for you."

Chiara Barbeschi


Chiara Barbeschi

"If modern global safety and security is a topic that intrigues you, then Security Studies is a bachelor programme that would suit you. What makes me enjoy this course is mostly the unique approach it takes; after learning about essential Security and safety concepts, the first year applies them to real-world situation through case studies. The case study on Syria was my favorite as it is an on-going issue.

The discussions in the Course Labs stimulated critical thinking and helped us reflect on the functioning of the world through modern security issues. This interdisciplinary course includes the following courses in second year; Cybersecurity, Vital Interests, War and Peace, Terrorism and Cyberterrorism, Economics of Security, that will help you find the security field that fits your interests."

Programme overview

After a broad introduction to security and safety in modern society, you gain insight into different vulnerabilities and threats, the actors involved, and approaches to safety and security issues. You study two complex real life cases with local, national, regional and global dimensions: Syria, and Fukushima. You begin to acquire and improve such academic and professional skills such as: critical thinking, writing, communication, research, teamwork, intercultural skills, organisational & leadership skills.

During the Skills Labs you develop both academic and professional skills in small groups of about 15 international students. Guided by a tutor you learn to analyse texts, construct arguments, reflect on your work, give and receive feedback and practice leadership and teamwork skills.

In your second year you learn about the strategies necessary to protect the vital interests in society and to ensure stability, welfare and prosperity. As part of this process, you will study three security and safety challenges: Terrorism & Counter-terrorism, Cyber Threats and War & Peace Building. You will also explore the underlying themes of Law and Security and Economics of Security. 

Each security and safety challenge and underlying theme in this year is taught through plenary lectures and Course Labs. These Course Labs are connected to the subjects and aim to provide deeper understanding of the lectures in an interactive way.

You have freedom to tailor your studies to your goals in year three, enabling you to qualify for a specialised master’s programme, or to prepare for entering the labour market. You have the opportunity to study abroad; to do an internship; to choose a minor programme at Leiden or elsewhere, and you can choose to do electives, either at Leiden University or another university in the Netherlands. Whether you want to qualify for a specialised Master’s programme or go into the labour market, use your third year strategically.

You conclude the programme by writing an individual thesis.

Detailed programme

Below you can find an overview of the curriculum. For a detailed description of the courses, check the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, the curriculum for next year may differ slightly.

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