Terrorism and Political Violence - POLI6290

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


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 addressed with a special focus on methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 24
Private study hours: 126
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Essay, 3000 words, 50%
Exam, 2 hours, 50%

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Bennis, Phyllis, Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the War on Terrorism (Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucs: Arris, 2003)

Martin, Gus, Understanding Terrorism, Challenges, Perspectives and Issues (Sage Publications, Second Edition, 2006)

Martin, Gus, The New Age of Terrorism (Sage Publications, 2004)

Primoratz, Igor ed. Terrorism: The Philosophical Issues (London: Palgrave, 2004)

Sinclair, Andrew, An Anatomy of Terror: A History of Terrorism (London: Macmillan, 2003)

Weinberg, Leonard and Pedahzur, Ami, Religious Fundamentalism and Political Extremism (London: Frank Cass, 2004)

Weiss, Thomas G., Crahan, Margaret and Goering, John (eds.) The Wars on Terrorism and Iraq: Human Rights, Unilateralism and U.S. Foreign Policy (London: Routledge, 2004)

Weinberg, Leonard and Davis, Paul, Introduction to Political Terrorism (New York: McGraw, 1989)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1: understand the epistemological difficulties involved in the use of the word "terrorism" and definitional problems posed by the concept of terrorism

2: be familiar with different theories which attempt to identify the causes of terrorism and political violence

3: understand the historical background of the modern phenomenon of terrorism, by tracing the development of terrorist tactics from the antiquity to the present

4: understand the emergence of terrorism and political violence in different parts of the world, including the United Kingdom

5: understand the main features of Islamic radicalism and its relationship to terrorism and political violence

6: understand the logic of counter-terrorism and its impact of democracy and human rights

7: understand various methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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