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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5570M Terrorism

30 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Alex Waterman

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

Our module provides students with a sophisticated understanding of the issue of terrorism and the key challenges academics face in establishing an effective definition. Students will engage in a critical assessment of its possible causes as well as the relationship between media and terrorism as an act of communication. Building on an overview of earlier forms of modern terrorism, we will investigate claims about the emergence of a new, qualitatively different type of terrorism in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS and similar organizations. The discussion of terrorist tactics such as suicide bombings will allow us to delve deeper into the political and academic debates surrounding the rationality of terrorism and the threat it does or may pose to developing and developed countries alike.


This module aims to provide:
1. A sophisticated understanding of the issue of terrorism and the key academic debates surrounding its definition and causes.
2. A critical appreciation of the relationship between media and terrorism.
3. Analytical awareness of the changes and continuities in the character of terrorism and thus the ability to contribute to the academic debate over the possible emergence of a ‘new’ form of terrorism.
4. An advanced investigation into the motivations behind the use of terrorist violence including tactics involving suicide bombings at the individual and organizational level.
5. The opportunity to develop transferable skills such as the appreciation of different interests and the ability to defend a point of view in the seminars.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate:
1. An understanding of the context and history of terrorism;
2. A sophisticated understanding of the academic state of the art relating to the study of terrorism including the merits and pitfalls associated with different methodological approaches and theoretical assumptions.
3. An ability to appreciate the changing nature of terrorism and consider possible future directions of the phenomenon.
4. A nuanced appreciation of various academic arguments relating to the use of high-profile terrorist tactics.


- Terrorism: Definition and Concepts
- Terrorism and its causes
- Terrorism and the Media
- Terrorism and Guerrilla War: The British and French Experiences
- Ethno-nationalist terrorism 1: Palestinian groups and strategies
- Ethno-nationalist terrorism 2: IRA and ETA
- Left-Wing Terrorism
- Lone Wolf Terrorism and Right Wing Movements
- Al-Qaida and ISIS as a ‘new’ type of terrorism
- Terrorist tactics: Suicide Bombing

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

In addition to researching and writing one end-of-term essay of 4,000 words, students are required to engage with the required readings for weekly seminars. This means that students need to plan for a weekly reading of roughly four hours to prepare fully for our group discussions in seminar.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored via weekly seminar discussions as well as the week eight essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4000 End of Term essay (2,000-word formative submission due week 8)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Student progress will be monitored via weekly seminar discussions as well as formative feedback on an early 2,000 word version (submitted mid-term) of the 4,000 word end-of-term essay.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 02/10/2019


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