Terrorism and Modern Society - SO825

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 20 (10) DR SR Cottee







Following the events of September 11 public concerns surrounding the related threats associated with terrorism have inevitably deepened. This course will provide a general introduction to the terrorism and pose a series of questions that rarely feature in mainstream criminological and sociological discourse. A central aspect of the course will be an examination of the actual risk posed by international terrorism and whether or not the threat is enhanced by the fears and anxieties generated by a risk-averse culture.

Lecture list:
1. Introduction: a brief overview of key historical perspectives (KH)
2. Approximating the problem of terrorism: contested definitions (FF)
3. ‘True Lies’: conspiracy and secrecy in an age of uncertainty (KH)
4. Fanaticism 1: fundamentalist cultures (KH)
5. Fanaticism 2: the ‘psychology’ of the terrorist (KH)
6. Reading Week
7. Polarized moralities: culture wars and extremism from Oklahoma City to the ‘Brixton Bomber’ (KH)
8. Uncertainty and risk: terrorism and the revolt against change in a globalized world (FF)
9. Living with the terrorist threat: public perceptions, ‘hyper terrorism’ and the media (FF)
10. Resilience and Vulnerability: How communities respond to terror (FF)
11. Review lecture: Framing fear post 9/11 (FF)


This module appears in:

Contact hours

21 hours in total
11 hours of lectures
10 hours of seminars (no seminars in Week One or Reading Week)

Method of assessment

Students write a course work essay of 5000 words maximum (excluding quotations, footnotes and bibliography) that will be assessed and form 100% of the final module mark.

Preliminary reading

Jenkins, P. (2003) Images of Terror: What We Can and Can’t Know about Terrorism,
(Aldine de Gruyter : New York),
White, J. R., (2002) Terrorism: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Hewitt, C., (2003) Understanding Terrorism in America: From The Klan to Al Qaeda.
London: Routledge.
Furedi, F., (1997) Culture of Fear: Risk Taking and the Morality of Low
Expectations, Cassell.
Hayward, K. J., and Morrison, W. (2002) ‘Locating ‘Ground Zero’: caught
between the narratives of crime and war’ in Law After Ground Zero, edited by
Strawson, J., London: Cavendish.
Whittaker, D. J., (Ed) (2001) The Terrorism Reader. London: Routledge.
Griset, P.L. and Mahan, S., (2003) Terrorism in Perspective, London: Sage
Martin, G., (2003) Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues,
London: Sage
Worcester, K., Bermanzohn, S. A., and Ungar, Mark (Eds) (2002) Violence and
Politics: Globalization’s Paradox. London: Routledge.
Walker, C., (2002) Blackstone’s Guide to the Anti-Terrorism Legislation. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Hagan, F. E., (1997) Political Crime: Ideology and Criminality. Needham Heights,
MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Sorkin, M., and Zukin, S., (2002) After the Word Trade Centre: Rethinking New
York City. London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
• Critique to a level appropriate with postgraduate study the key concepts associated with the sociology of fear and terror;
• Critically evaluate a range of theoretical accounts of terrorism and political crime;
• Analyze and critique the functions of terrorism in variety of different social contexts;
• Critically evaluate the social, political and cultural (including in many cases the religious) dimensions of some of the main terrorist movements (both contemporary and historical);
• Illustrate an advanced ability to situate terrorist and extremist action within the context of complex contemporary social theoretical debates about modernity;
• Locate the changing nature of terrorist action (including introductions to the concepts of ‘cyber-terrorism’ and ‘hyper-terrorism’), and the key concepts associated with the sociology of fear and terror against the back drop of social theoretical debates about late modernity;

The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme learning outcomes

• Demonstrate skills commensurate with postgraduate study in presentation and debate, both verbal and written, and in utilization of research and empirical data (in relation to Key Skills 1 and 4);
• Be able to synthesis complex theoretical items of knowledge from different schools and disciplines of enquiry (in relation to Key Skills 6);
• Be able to gather library and web-based resources appropriate for postgraduate study; make critical judgments about their merits and use the available evidence to construct a developed argument to be presented orally or in writing (in relation to Key Skills 1, 3 and 6);
• Be able to synthesize and evaluate complex knowledge and theoretical material from different schools and disciplines of enquiry (in relation to Key Skills 5 and 6).

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