PIR-30114 - Understanding Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
Coordinator: Naveed Sheikh Room: CBB2.019 Tel: +44 1782 7 33400
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2022/23


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2022/23

This module introduces students to key analytic debates regarding the concept of terrorism and the mindsets, motives, strategic logic, tactical considerations, root causes and enabling factors in relation to terrorist actors. In the course of this module, we will eclectically apply variant disciplinary perspectives to the study of terrorism, such as sociology, psychology, theology, media studies, in addition to critical historical and political science approaches. Topics include the history of terrorism, terrorism as war-fighting, terrorism and ethical theory, the role of religion and ideology in the making of terrorism, the symbolic aspects of terrorism, the social bases of terrorism, the process of radicalization (and counter-radicalization), the organizational aspects of terrorist actors, gender and terrorism, media and terrorism, the 'new terrorism', and appropriate means of counter-terrorism and other policy responses. We will examine the different kinds of terrorism, both state terrorism and various forms of vigilante terrorism, such as religiously motivated terrorism, revolutionary terrorism, and suicide terrorism. Historical and contemporary examples of terrorism will be explored, based on case studies from Europe, North Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

The module aims to enhance the student's critical understanding of key methodological, conceptual, and policy debates on the sources, characteristics, and objectives of terrorism and related forms of political violence. The module additionally aims to develop students' research-based knowledge of key terrorist organizations, their ideology, history, and organizational structures.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes


Study hours

seminars: 10 x 2-hour seminars (20 hours)
preparation for seminars: 10 x 4 hours (40 hours)
preparation for non-assessed presentation: (10 hours)
preparation for profile presentation: (5 hours)
researching and writing research report: (25 hours)
researching and writing essay: (50 hours)

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Research Report weighted 40%
A Fact-File Research Report
This assessment will be a 1,200 word Research Report on a terrorist organization. The student must choose an organization from a list provided in the Module Guide.

2: Essay weighted 60%
This assessment is a 1800-word essay on a set essay question. Students may choose between a theoretical or policy-related problem