Security Studies


Course Objective

Upon completion of the course, the student should
1) have a thorough knowledge and understanding of
a) key concepts in the social scientific study of international
security, including
o security
o anarchy
o security dilemma
o ethnopolitical conflict
o international regimes
o liberal peace and hybrid peace
o peacekeeping and peacebuilding
o humanitarianism
o international crimes
b) contemporary theories of international security, as developed in
political science (especially IR theory)
2) be capable of
a) identifying and applying theoretical approaches from political
b) Independently setting up a political argument in the area of
international conflict and security;
c) Critically reflecting on research results and relating those results
to theoretical debates within international security
d) writing a research paper in which the student conducts a scientific
analysis of a practical case study in which the student applies the
theoretical knowledge and reflection skills gained in the course

Course Content

The course introduces students to the main concepts, theories and
debates in the social scientific study of international security. We
follow a broad understanding of international security that is not
limited to military conflicts between states but also includes violent
ethnopolitical conflicts (such as the civil wars in the former
Yugoslavia or today’s Syria). An important starting point in this course
is therefore the discussion of security as a concept. This includes
considering security to be more than just physical or state security, by
including human security, environmental security, economic security and
urban security. The broad understanding of security also allows actors
to securitize certain issues to be able to take extraordinary measures
to counter a threat, which is also a topic that we will explore in the
first week. We will then discuss the security dilemma as a fundamental
challenge to the provision of security in the international system (as
well as in weak and civil war torn states) and we will introduce
students to the most important strategies and approaches to mitigate or
even overcome the security dilemma. These approaches include the
establishment of international institutions (e.g. the non-proliferation
regimes for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons), and the notion
that democratic norms and institutions constrain governments in using
armed force. Our discussion will include prominent critical
perspectives, e.g. critics of so-called liberal peacebuilding and
research on the wars and military interventions by democracies. The
course also provides a critical perspective on the way in which
international norms influence debates on international security.
Attention also goes out to how this resulted in the institutionalisation
of certain norms under the umbrella of humanitarianism, e.g. by means of
the Responsibility to Protect doctrine. We will furthermore discuss how
our understanding of international crimes and the political response to
these crimes have developed throughout the 20th and 21st century. To
provide a more practical perspective to the theory discussed, we will
invite practitioners to give guest lecturers towards the end of the

Teaching Methods

interactive lectures

Method of Assessment

writing assignments


A selection of articles and book chapters, to be announced on Canvas.

Target Audience

This course is only open to students of the programme Law and Politics
of International Security.

General Information

Course Code R_SecStud
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Law
Course Coordinator prof. dr. W.M. Wagner
Examiner prof. dr. W.M. Wagner
Teaching Staff prof. dr. W.M. Wagner
dr. M. Hoijtink
mr. dr. H.M. Sprik

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture