Terrorism and Modern Society - SOCI5940

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The curriculum for the module will cover a range of theoretical concepts relating to 'terrorism' in a sociological context with an indicative range of topics being given below:
• What is Terrorism?
• Researching Terrorism: Challenges, Dilemmas and Perplexities
• Explaining Terrorism: The Master Narratives
• Terrorism and Moral Disengagement
• Does Terrorism Work?
• 9/11 and the Rise of Religious Terrorism
• Suicide Terrorism
• What is Radicalization?
• Jihadist Videos


Contact hours

Contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


Optional module for
Criminology single and joint honours bachelor degrees
Sociology single and joint honours bachelor degrees
Social Policy single and joint honours bachelor degrees

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework – essay (3000 words) – 50%
Examination – 2 hours – 50%

Reassessment methods

100% coursework

Indicative reading

Atran, Scott (2006), "The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism," The Washington Quarterly, 29(2): 127-147.
Abrahms, Max (2006), "Why Terrorism Does Not Work," International Security, 31 (2).
- (2008), “What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy,” International Security 32(4).
Bandura, Albert (1990), “Mechanisms of Moral Disengagement,” in Walter Reich, ed., Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind. Washington: The Woodrow Wilson Centre Press.
Coady, C. A. J. (2004a), “Defining Terrorism,” in Igor Primoratz, ed., Terrorism: The Philosophical Issues. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Cottee, Simon, (2017), “Religion, Crime and Violence,” in A. Liebling, L. McAra and S. Maruna, eds., Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford University Press.
Cottee, S. and Hayward, K.J. (2011), “Terrorist (E)motives: The Existential Attractions of Terrorism,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 34:963-986.
Gambetta, Diego (ed.), Making Sense of Suicide Missions. New York: Oxford University Press.
(2006), Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press.
Juergensmeyer, Mark. (2001), Terror in the Mind of God. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Neumann, Peter (2013), “The trouble with radicalization,” International Affairs, 89 (4), 873–893.
Wood, Graeme (2015), “What ISIS Really Wants,” The Atlantic, March.

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:

8.1 Understand the key concepts in relation to terrorism and political violence;
8.2 Recognise and interpret a range of theoretical accounts of terrorism and radicalizaton
8.3 Recognise how terrorism functions in variety of different social and national contexts;
8.4 Understand the social, political and cultural (including in many cases the religious) dimensions of some of the main terrorist movements
(both contemporary and historical);
8.5 Situate terrorist and extremist action within the context of contemporary social theoretical debates about late/post modernity
8.6 Understand the changing nature of terrorist action (including introductions to the concepts of 'cyber-terrorism' and 'hyper-terrorism')
8.7 Understand basic counter terrorism measures, including the importance of accurate risk assessment

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

9.1 Demonstrate skills in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in utilization of research and empirical data;
9.2 Synthesis items of knowledge from different schools and disciplines of enquiry;
9.3 Understand the particular theoretical relationships between the academic research on terrorism, criminology and sociology
9.4 Have acquired research skills through library investigation, critical debate and essay writing.
9.5 Have developed an ability to read and disseminate complex theoretical material


  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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