The Politics of Terror (M1014S)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

This module offers an advanced-level introduction to terrorism and political violence in modern societies. Through attention to case studies, academic literature and various sources you'll focus on:

  • the conceptual and analytical challenges of defining and understanding terrorism and political violence
  • terror as a political instrument
  • the relationship between state and non-state terror
  • the historical development of terrorism and counter-terrorism
  • the organisational, ideological and strategic dynamics of terrorist organisations
  • the policy dilemmas faced and principle methodologies employed by democratic and other states in countering terrorism
  • the role of media, mass communication and 'public discourse' in political violence.

The curriculum is divided into two sections.

The first is Studying Terrorism: Historical and Conceptual Issues, which offers:

  • a thematic exploration of terrorism considering its historical development in modern societies
  • relation to other forms of organised violence
  • some of the animating ideas historically associated with the use of terror for political purposes
  • the phenomenon of 'suicide terrorism'
  • the ideas, organisations and practices used by states in their efforts to counter terrorism.

The second section, Cases and Contexts, situates terrorism and political violence within the changing context of state power, international and global politics, exploring the historical and contemporary relations between them.

The course concludes by looking at how terror campaigns end.


100%: Seminar


25%: Coursework (Essay)
75%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 36 hours of contact time and 264 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2018/19. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: