Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

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 assess the different definitions and manifestations of terrorism, and their relationship to other forms of violence and political action

- Apply the main theoretical perspectives on the state and the international system to the issues surrounding contemporary terrorism

- Demonstrate an insight into the constructedness of the conventional distinctions between state and non-state, military and civilian, war and terrorism

- Display an insight into the linkage between the development of terrorism, the modern state and the international system

- Critically evaluate the causes, ideologies, social make-up, structures, political economy and methods of any organisation employing terrorism

- Discuss and evaluate the core ethical issues surrounding terrorism and state responses to terrorism

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the nature, ethics and rationale of contemporary terrorism and counter terrorism measures, within the framework of the main theoretical perspectives on terrorism, the state and the international system.


This module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of contemporary terrorism: its different causes, rationales and clienteles; its relationship to other forms of violence (including warfare and criminal activity) and social protest; its embeddedness in the structures of the modern state and the international system; state responses to terrorism; and the ethical and practical dilemmas surrounding both terrorism and counter-terrorism. Through the prism of terrorism, students will be given the opportunity to apply and test theoretical perspectives on the state, the international system, political protest, war and the ethics of war. Students are expected to gain a critical understanding of the problematic surrounding the very concept of terrorism, and the constructedness of conventional conceptual distinctions between state and non-state, military and civilian, war and insurgency.


The module is broadly divided into three subject areas. First, students will be given an understanding of terrorism as an historically specific and socially constituted form of violent political action, which evolved in interaction with the development of the modern state and the international system. Students will examine different typologies, sociologies and political economies of terrorist organisations, and study the structural, ideological and psychological factors that encourage people and states to employ terrorism, within the framework of the various theoretical approaches to state, power, legitimacy and the international system. Section two will critically assess military, legal, political and economical state responses to terrorism, with a particular view to their efficiency or self-perpetuating nature. The third section will focus on ethical issues surrounding terrorism and counter-terrorism, from the tension between ends and means, to issues of human rights and civil liberties, and the inevitable complicity of the media.

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. Students will also be expected to work in groups, both in terms of seminar preparation and in seminar discussions. 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

Recommended Text
Crenshaw, Martha (ed.) (1995) Terrorism in context /edited by Martha Crenshaw. Primo search Della Porta, Donatella (ed.) Social movements and violence :participation in underground organizations /volume editor, Donatella Della Porta. Primo search Lia, Brynjar Causes of Terrorism: An Expanded and Updated Review of the Literature FFI Report, 2005 Richardson, Louise What terrorists want :understanding the terrorist threat /Louise Richardson. Primo search White, Jonathan Randall. Terrorism :an introduction /Jonathan R. White. Primo search Zulaika, Joseba. Terror and taboo :the follies, fables, and faces of terrorism /Joseba Zulaika and William A. Douglass. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7