Terrorism and Political Violence - PO629

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR Y Voller







This module introduces students into the study of terrorism and political violence, and thereafter deepens their knowledge of the controversial aspects of this subject. The initial lectures will deal with definitional problems involved in the concept of "terrorism" and various theories about the causes of political violence in its different forms. With a point of departure in a chronological review tracing the origins of the phenomenon long back in history, the module will later study the emergence of political terrorism during the second half of the 19th century. This will be followed by a study of state and dissident terrorism in different parts of the world. The module will also address the relationship between religious radicalism and different forms of political violence, including "new terrorism" and possible use of weapons of mass destruction. Then, the focus of attention will be shifted to implications of various counter-terrorism strategies and "The War on Terrorism" for democracy and human rights. These issues will be addressed with a special focus on methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

150 hours including 22 hours lecture/seminar; 128 study hours

Method of assessment

50% coursework (essay of 3,000 words), 50% exam (2hr)

Indicative reading

Martin, G Understanding Terrorism, Challenges, Perspectives and Issues (Sage Publications, 2nd edn., 2006)
O'Kane, Rosemary, Terrorism (Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2012)
Whittaker, David, Terrorists and Terrorism (London: Routledge, 2004
Whittaker, David, Terrorism Reader (Oxen: Routledge, third edition, 2007)
Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
• understand the epistemological difficulties involved in the use of the word "terrorism" and definitional problems posed by the concept of terrorism
• be familiar with different theories which attempt to identify the causes of terrorism and political violence
• understand the historical background of the modern phenomenon of terrorism, by tracing the development of terrorist tactics from the antiquity to the present
• understand the emergence of terrorism and political violence in different parts of the world, including the United Kingdom
• understand the main features of Islamic radicalism and its relationship to terrorism and political violence
• understand the logic of counter-terrorism and its impact of democracy and human rights
• understand various methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence

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