Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour combined lecture/seminar sessions


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Seminar performance  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.

1. Discuss problems in defining terrorism and terrorists, and issues of civilian/combatant distinctions
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the contexts in which terrorism occurs
3. Describe how terrorism is contextually constructed, reshaped and defined, with reference to its historical development
4. Demonstrate, through written work and in seminars, an ability to critique contemporary accounts of terrorism
5. Analyze a variety of perspectives on the causes of terrorism
6. Discuss the role of individual versus collective factors in the process of becoming a terrorist
7. Explain the variety of roles played by state and non-state actors in the production of terrorism
8. Illustrate the effectiveness of a range of responses to terrorism, and discuss their intended and unintended outcomes


This module supplements existing Departmental provision on terrorism, and in particular complements existing coverage of political violence, social movement theory, democratization studies, Security Studies, Strategic Studies, Third World politics, intelligence and (international) political theory. It offers students the opportunity to learn about the diversity of approaches to, and definitions of, terrorism, historically and contemporaneously. Teaching will be illustrated with examples drawn from a range of societies and contexts where political terror has been manifest.

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the epistemological issues related to terrorism. It considers a diversity of approaches to terrorism, including historic and contemporary debates about political violence. The course reconceptualises a number of commonly-held views and introduces a number of alternative approaches. The aim of this course is to de-mythologise, de-mystify, and deconstruct the dominant policy, media, and academic discourses about terrorism. Specifically, the module aims to provide the necessary analytical tools for a critical assessment of the discourses on terrorism, including the current ‘war on terrorism’, and the ways in which it has been constructed in policy, media, and academic discourses. The course will consider the threat posed by terrorism, the assessment of such threats, and the variety of responses to them by states, in the form of legislation, strategies and military action. The course considers both the intended and unintended consequences of these responses. The course will also consider the ways in which the dominant discourses of terrorism have allowed states to pursue a range of geo-political objectives and expand their powers.


- What is terrorism? Who are the terrorists? Civilian/combatant distinctions & the ‘New Terrorism’ debate.
- Assessing the threat, and the politics of security and fear.
- Causes of terrorism: competing explanations
- Becoming a terrorist: contexts, identities and motivations
- State and non-state actors; is it terrorism when the state is the actor?
- Terror and counter-terror; physical force versus counter-radicalisation
- Effectiveness of responses to terror, human rights implications, ethics of war
- Gender and Terrorism; Women’s participation in political violence
- Collective memory; the politics of remembering terrorism
- Critical and Traditional Approaches to studying terrorism

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be expected to evaluate statistical data on demographic change, attitude surveys and other quantitative evidence presented as part of the course material.
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE.
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable students to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of students' ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills The submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of students. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable students to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualize and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Ability to evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques - Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and political problems
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module learning experience.


This module is at CQFW Level 6