Module Information

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. (1 x 2 hour seminar per week)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 3,000 words  40%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   60%
Supplementary Exam Students may, subject to Faculty approval, have the opportunity to resit this module, normally during the supplementary examination period. For further clarification please contact the Teaching Programme Administrator in the Department of International Politics. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

- Critically apply the different definitions of, and approaches to, terrorism to particular instances of terrorist and counter-terrorist activity, its causes, ideological justifications, sociologies, structures, political economies and methods

- Illustrate, in given contexts, the embeddedness of terrorism in specific developments in state, society and the international system and evaluate the impact of systemic and ideational changes on the rise or decline of terrorism

- Demonstrate insight into the interconnectedness of terrorism and state responses to terrorism

- Display an insight into the role of terror in state maintenance and state influence extension on both peace and war contexts

- Demonstrate a practical understanding of the core ethical issues surrounding terrorism and state responses to terrorism in particular instances

- Demonstrate insight into the way organisations employing terrorism or counter terrorism shape their policies

Brief description

Through case studies, this module aims to provide students with both a critical and a practical understanding of the nature, ethics and rationale of contemporary terrorism and counter terrorism, with a particular emphasis on the interconnectedness of terrorism, state and international system, and the processes by which terrorist and counter terrorist strategies are shaped.


This module aims to provide students with geographical and thematic case studies to apply and test the theoretical approaches discussed in the module 'Critical Approaches to Terrorism' (IPM1930). The module seeks to illustrate conceptual strengths and weaknesses in existing models, focussing in particular on the way organisations (state or non-state) employing (counter-)terrorism shape their policies; the role structural, ideological and psychological factors play in both the decision-making process and the success or failure of these policies; and the way these organisations interact with the larger society. Emphasis will be given to establishing the systemic and ideological circumstances, which encourage or discourage organisations to desist from terrorism. A further theme will be the ethical dilemmas surrounding both terrorist and counter-terrorist measures. All cases will be examined in the light of the different main theoretical approaches to terrorism, the state and the international system.


With the help of comparative case studies, students will be given an in-depth understanding of the problematic surrounding existing definitions, explanations and theoretical approaches discussed in 'Critical Approaches to Terrorism'. Students will examine specific terrorist methods such as hostage taking and self-martyrdom operations, on why these methods were chosen, how states chose to respond to them, and how actions and responses were justified. Case studies will include anti-state movements in democracies; freedom-fighters and their relationship with the `people? they claim to represent; state and state-sponsored terrorism; terrorism within war; international terrorism; and organisations who have decided to desist from terrorism. Underlying themes will include the linkage between state development, state response and terrorism, the process by which, and the circumstances within which, terrorism was chosen as a means, and the nature of the relationship between those employing terrorism and their 'constituencies'. The course will end with a reflection on the future of conflict, the state and the international system, the threat of weapons of mass destruction, and finally, the analytic usefulness of the term 'terrorism'.

Transferable skills

Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. Throughout the module, students should practice and develop their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as self-management. In seminars, students enhance and develop their oral and analytical skills through presentations and discussions, and practice listening, explaining and debating skills. Essay writing encourages students to practice independent research, writing and IT skills and the examination will test these skills under time constraint conditions. Personal initiative will be encouraged through students having to decide (under guidance) the direction of their essay topic. Transferable skills will be developed through the use of information technology, the use of various research resources and techniques, as well as the requirement to present work in a consistent and scholarly manner. Computer literacy will be facilitated by the extensive use of websites related to the topics covered in this module.

Reading List

Grenshaw, Martha (1995) Terrorism in Context University Park, Pa, Pennsylvania State University Press Primo search Walter Reich (1990) Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Primo search Weinberg, Leonard & Paul Davis (1989) Introduction to Political Terrorism New York: McGraw - Hill Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7