Module Information

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 17 x 1 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 1 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,500 word essay  40%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   60%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Evaluate the theoretical and conceptual difficulties of studying an Islamist movement such as Hamas.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the main theoretical strands within social movement theory, Islamism studies and 'terrorism' studies and situate them within the broader fields of Political Studies and International Relations.
3. Critically discuss different theoretical accounts of the creation and evolution of social movements, Islamist movements and violent movements.
4. Evaluate the applicability of social movement theory, Islamism studies, and 'terrorism' studies to the study of Hamas, and, through this, to Islamist, social or violent movements more generally.
5. Demonstrate, through written work and in seminars, an ability to apply these theoretical perspectives to the specific case of Hamas.
6. Explain the wider political and socio-economic factors against which Hamas emerged and evolved, with a particular emphasis on developments within Palestinian society, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wider region.
7. Demonstrate an ability to situate the evolution of Hamas within relevant wider global trends.


This module adds to Departmental provision in the area of International Politics. It will combine a discussion of theoretical approaches (and their associated methodologies) to studying social movements, Islamism and violent organisations, with an in-depth case study of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. It complements existing provision in this area and allows interested students to gain specialist knowledge of contemporary debates in the study of Hamas and the various fields associated with studying it.

Brief description

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the development of Hamas, and through this with the key theoretical and methodological debates in the fields of Palestine-Israel studies, social movement theory, Islamism studies, and terrorism/political violence studies (both traditional and critical), and how they relate to developments in the social sciences more generally. It will discuss different conceptual accounts of the formation, evolution and transformation of social movement organizations, Islamist movements, and organizations using political violence and apply these theoretical perspectives to the case of Hamas. It will explore the strengths and weaknesses of different conceptual approaches and their concomitant methodologies as they apply to Hamas, and Palestine-Israel studies more generally, and use the case of Hamas as a prism for studying wider developments both in the region, and globally. It will consider changes in the international system, including the global resurgence of 'political religion', the end of the Cold War, globalization, the War on Terror, and the internationalization of social movements, and what effect these may have had on a movement such as Hamas.


- Difficulties of conceptualizing and theorizing the key conceptual terms to be used in the module, including 'Islamism', 'social movements', 'terrorism'.
- Brief overview of histories of social movement theory, Islamism studies, and 'terrorism' studies, their strengths and weaknesses, and how their trajectories relate to significant historical changes and paradigm changes in mainstream intellectual traditions.
- Consideration of different explanations of why and how social movement organizations, Islamist movements, and violent organizations emerge, and their applicability to studying a Palestinian Islamist organization employing both political violence and electoral strategies, raising such issues as the cross-cultural transferability of paradigms, the tension between cultural specificity and universal applicability, and the biases inherent in social science paradigms (particularly as they relate to the phenomena of violence and religion).
- Application of the different theoretical models to the case of Hamas; in-depth study of Hamas' origins, its evolution and how this relates to wider structural political and socio-economic changes in Palestine-Israel, the wider region and the international system, such as the global resurgence of 'political religion', the weakening of traditional power structures as a result of modernization/globalization, the impact of the dynamic of violence between state and non-state actors, and the effect of (partial) democratization on Islamist movements using violence.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to 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 the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of students¿ 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