PIR-30114 - Understanding Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
Coordinator: Naveed S 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 2019/20

Criminology Combined Honours (Level 6)
Criminology Major (Level 6)
Criminology Single Honours (Level 6)
International Relations Combined Honours (Level 6)
International Relations Major (Level 6)
International Relations Minor (Level 6)
International Relations Single Honours (Level 6)
Liberal Arts Single Honours (Level 6)
Liberal Arts Single Honours (Masters) (Level 6)
Politics Combined Honours (Level 6)
Politics Major (Level 6)
Politics Minor (Level 6)
Politics Single Honours (Level 6)

Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2019/20

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

Engage critically, in writing as well as oral discussion, with the various academic debates relating to the sources, motivations, characteristics, and forms of terrorism.:
Evaluate the conceptual and methodological differences in the various approaches to the study of terrorism.:
Evaluate the different perspectives on the historical formation and evolution of terrorism as a strategy.:
Explain in a sophisticated manner the nature of leadership, strategic choices, social bases, and political objectives of a number of terrorist organizations.:
Engage in both theoretical and comparative forms of qualitative analysis, effectively employing their critical and analytical capacities.:

Study hours

seminars: 10 x 2-hour seminars (20 hours)
preparation for seminars: 10 x 4 hours (40 hours)
preparation for presentations: (10 hours)
researching and writing essay/research report: (80 hours)

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 50%
This will be a 2500-word essay on a set essay question. Students may choose between a case study and a theoretical or policy-related problem

2: Research Report weighted 35%
A Fact-File Research Report
This assessment will be a 1,500 word Research Report on a terrorist organization. The student must choose an organization from a list provided in the Module Guide.

3: Oral Presentation weighted 15%
One twenty-minute presentation
The students will be required to present twice in the course of the semester. The presentations will be assessed on the basis of contents, delivery, presentation hand-out, and response to questions.