Universiteit Leiden

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War and Peace Studies (MSc)

Programme structure

This one-year, English-taught Master's programme offers insights on general developments as well as the specific challenges in the field of the governance of crisis and security, with in-depth knowledge of sub-fields of crisis and security management.

Programme outline

The CSM programme consists of three common courses of 5 or 4 ECTS each. Additionally, you take part in four specialisation courses of 10 ECTS each and one elective of 5 ECTS. The final 1 ECTS can be obtained in the Portfolio course. 

First semester

Security Challenges in a Globalizing World (4 ECTS)

In this course, students get acquainted with the underlying social, economic, political and cultural changes of late-modernity that influence perceptions of (in)security and critically discuss the concept of ontological security. This course addresses transformations in society that produce ontological insecurity, like globalisation and hybrid threats. Further, the course will look into the renewed search for ontological security, as manifested in populism, identity politics, re-territorialisation, nationalism and nostalgia.

Security: Actors, Institutions and Constellations (5 ECTS)

The provision of security has increased in complexity over time. The public provision of security is divided amongst several public entities, the pure public provision of security is deemed an illusion, and citizens demand a role in this framework as well. The very concepts of internal and external security become fluid as well, not in the least because of the growing importance of cyber security. Lastly, this multi-actor approach plays in a multilevel setting. In this course, students discuss the different theories on how security can be provided in the most effective way, and what repercussions this has for the organisational structure of security actors.

War Studies: History, Theories and Concepts (10 ECTS)

This course will focus on the history of thinking about war, on theories used in contemporary war studies, and on studying concepts that may help us in understanding the complexity of war and warfare. In doing so, the course will put an emphasis on especially the military dimension of international security, and will constantly look at, and incorporate, current events. 

Applied Issues in War Studies (10 ECTS)

This course focuses on the societal aspects of contemporary armed conflict. The course will teach students different ways of analysing and understanding a very complex human phenomenon: war. Students will study how various modern societies think about war and security policies, they will study security cooperation and the (international) legal implications of war and contemporary means of warfare. 

Second semester

Security and the Rule of Law (5 ECTS)

Democracies today continue to wrestle with shifting and rapidly evolving threats stemming from conflicts, state coercion, and a variety of security concerns. Differently from other political systems, societies upholding the rule of law require policy and legal responses to respect balances and protect civil, social and human rights. Hence, how can states ensure safety while respecting a democratic legal framework? What kind of powers and responsibilities characterise democratic security governance? The aim of this course is to bring together different theoretical and methodological approaches in order to address these questions. Specifically, the seminars are designed around seven dilemmas related to security and the rule of law addressing both national and international politics.

Elective (5 ECTS)

In Block 4, students are required to pick one elective of 5 ECTS. Find the overview of the electives offered in 2023-2024 here

Peace Studies: History, Theories and Concepts (10 ECTS)

This course is an advanced introduction to the history, core concepts, and scholarly debates related to the academic field of peace studies. You will study the concept of peace and its various dimensions as analysed by core peace thinkers and you will examine how peace is conceived of by multiple policy actors in practice. Empirical topics covered on the course include the protection of civilians (POC), the role of the UN in promoting peace and gender in peacemaking and peacekeeping.  

Applied Issues in Peace Studies (10 ECTS)

This course applies the theories and concepts taught in the previous course to real-life cases of peacebuilding and peacemaking through a combination of exercises and a wide range of debates. You will gain a better understanding of why promoting and sustaining peace can be so incredibly difficult, but also find out what we can learn from successful examples of peace promotion. This course is about the practice of promoting peace by a variety of actors, including the UN, regional organisations, national governments, and non-governmental actors.  

Portfolio (1 ECTS)

You will acquire substantive knowledge and (research) skills throughout the CSM-programme, especially in the specialisation courses where assignments are tailored towards testing specific research skills: literature review, data collection, analysis of complex situations and phenomena, and critical review of standing research.

In your portfolio, you include assignments produced during the specialisation courses and common courses, showing the (research) skills and competencies acquired.
The portfolio also functions as a showcase for future employers: you can not only show to employers skills obtained, but also the research papers they produced. The portfolio therefore is also part of the labour market preparation in the CSM-programme. 

Additionally, the portfolio has to be accompanied by a reflection paper and problem analysis assignment. In the specialisation courses and common courses you have to produce short interim reflection papers, that serve as the basis for the final reflection paper.
In the final reflection paper, you reflect on your learning pathway in terms of (research skills) and general insight in Crisis and Security Management as developed during the programme. That way, you show your competency of self-directed learning and the ability to critically reflect on their competencies and achievement as a (future) reflective, academically trained security professional.

A defense meeting in which the portfolio, reflection paper and problem analysis assignment will be presented and discussed, is part of this course and function as the formal final step in order to graduate.

Please note: As of 2025 we will only offer a limited February intake: only the specialisation Governance of Violence will be open for registration in February 2025. If you would like to follow one of the other specialisations please consider applying for the September 2024 or the September 2025 intake.

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