Module Identifier IP35420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Jeroen W Gunning  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Lecture   15 Hours (15 x 1 hour)  
  Seminars / Tutorials   7 Hours (7 x 1 hour)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 words essay  40%
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.100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will be able to:

i) Critically assess the different definitions and manifestations of terrorism
ii) Describe the main theoretical perspectives on the state and the international system and apply these to the issues surrounding contemporary terrorism
iii) Display an insight into the linkage between the development of terrorism, the modern state and the international system
iv) Display an insight into the problematic surrounding the concept of terrorism, and the conventional distinctions between state and non-state, military and civilian, and war and insurgency/terrorism on which it is based
v) Critically evaluate the causes, ideologies, and methods of organisations and states employing terrorism
vi) Discuss and evaluate the core ethical issues surrounding terrorism and state responses to terrorism
vii) Display an insight into the historical origins and development of the main trends in Islamism, and their varying attitudes towards different forms of terrorism

Brief description

During 2003/04 this module is ONLY AVAILABLE TO SECOND YEAR STUDENTS.

This module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the nature, ethics and rationale of contemporary terrorism and counter terrorism measures; the nature and historical origins of general Islamism; and the relationship between terrorism and particular, radical forms of Islamism.


This module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the nature, causes and rationale of contemporary terrorism, with particular reference to the events surrounding September 11 and the Middle East. To understand September 11 and its aftermath, it is necessary to understand both the development of terrorism and counter terrorism in the 20th century, the development of the modern state and the international system, and the particular circumstances within which radical Islamism developed. Terrorism will be studied within the context of the development of the state, the post-colonial state and the international system. Radical Islamism will be examined against the evolution of Islamism in general, with a particular focus on the structural and ideological factors that shaped its different manifestations. Students are expected to gain a critical understanding of the problematic surrounding the concept of terrorism.


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 developed in interaction with the development of the modern state and the international system. In this section we will examine different types of terrorism, the causes and ideologies that led people and states to employ terrorism, and different theoretical perspectives on the state and the international system. Second, students will be introduced to the historical, structural and ideological developments that have shaped the different types of Islamism, with a particular focus on their relationship to the post-colonial state and their varying attitudes to political violence. We will study two examples of radical Islamism - in the contexts of Afghanistan and the Arab-Israeli conflict - and their different attitudes to terrorism. Section three will deal with state responses to terrorism, within the conceptual framework of Just War Theory, International Law and the notions of human rights and civil liberties. The US and Israeli responses to September 11 will be studied against this framework, with a particular emphasis on both the ethics and the (f)utility of these responses.

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 analytical skills and practice listening, explaining and debating skills. Oral and written skills will be developed through seminar presentations, discussions and written assignments. 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 the involvement of students in the selection of case studies for seminar discussion. 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.

10 ECTS credits

Reading Lists

Alexander, Yonah (1990) Terrorism & The Media: Dilemmas For Government, Journalists & The Public London: Brassey's (US)
Coleman, Janet (1990) Against The State : Studies In Sedition And Rebellion. London: BBC Books
Cooley, John K (2000) Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism new. London: Pluto Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6