module specification

SC6052 - Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (2014/15)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2014/15
Module title Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Research Report , 3000 words
Running in 2014/15
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module examines extreme political violence in the form of ‘terrorism’ and the responses of states and international organisations. Students will be encouraged to examine critically the phenomena, reflecting upon how motivation, tactics and strategies of groups employing extreme political violence have changed over time.  The module explores the theoretical justifications of political violence, contrasting the presupposition that political violence is ‘rationalist’ with the presupposition that it is ‘pre-rational’. The second half of the module considers the impact of the threat posed by Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups and the UK’s legislative and policing response in the context of the global “war on terror”.

Module aims

The module aims to:
1. examine the debate over of the origin of a variety of forms of ideological, nationalist and religiously motivated violence in the form of 'terrorism'.
2. explore the dimensions of the new ‘terrorist’ threat.
3. examine the contemporary range of counter terrorist agencies and policies in the
nationaland international context.


Following an introductory session the module will address the following topics:
• Ideological and academic positioning in defining and studying
• ‘terrorism
• The concept of state terrorism.
• Ideological and national/separatist terror: typologies, motivation and trends
• The ‘new terrorism’ thesis: Islamist extremism and indigenous radicalisation
• The financing of terrorism and its wider support.
• Key theoretical approaches to understanding terrorism
• Contemporary counter-terrorism policy and practice in the UK
• The international response to terrorism and its national impact
• The policing of terrorism in the UK –Intelligence led?
• The policing of terrorism in the UK –community led?

Learning and teaching

The module is taught through lectures, seminars and workshops and includes contribution(s) from one or more guest speakers with relevant practitioner experience.   The module draws on a range of resources including those of reputable research bodies and quality media organisations.  Key resources are provided on Blackboard including relevant hyperlinks.  Students are encouraged to reflect on their own interests and beliefs and also to be mindful that other students may have diametrically opposed views.

Students are expected to spend approximately 7 hours per week in independent research and writing.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Compare and debate key theoretical explanations for why terrorist acts are committed.
2.Describe and critically evaluate aspects of the current terrorist threat to the UK and the national policing and legislative response.
3.Identifydiffering perspectives and approaches to the study of political violence.

Assessment strategy

Students write a report of 3,000 words on a ‘terrorist’ group of their choice, evaluating its theoretical underpinnings, its motivations and the effectiveness of the law enforcement response.


Aldrich, R. (2010)  GCHQ: the uncensored story of Britain’s most secret intelligence agency, London: Harper Press
Atran, S. (2006) The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism
Atran, S. (2010) Talking to the Enemy: violent extremism, sacred values and what it means to be human, London: Penguin Group
Braddock, L. & Horgan, J. (2011)   Terrorism Studies: a reader, London:Routledge
Bjorgo, T. (ed.) (2005)  The Root Causes of Terrorism, London:Routledge
Devji.F. (2001) The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: militant Islam and global politics, Hurst: London
Gellner,E. (1993) Nations and Nationalism, Oxford:Blackwell
Grisset, P. & Mahan, S. (2003)  Terrorism in Perspective, California:Sage
Hoffman, B.  (2006) Inside Terrorism, New York: Columbia  Press
Ormand, D. (2010)  Securing the State, London:Hurst and Co.
Pape, R.  Dying to Win: the strategic logic of suicide terrorism, New York:Random House
Silke,A. (2011) The Psychology of Counter-Terrorism,  New York:Routledge