Sociology and Criminology

Critical Perspectives on Terrorism

Module code: L4110B
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module will take an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the sociology of terrorism. To achieve this, the module draws on a variety of critical sociology, criminology and social psychology theories, interspersed with empirical evidence. 

We will begin by discussing and debating the definitions of certain key terms, such as terrorism, extremism, and violent extremism. This provides you with a platform to engage with the module's core arguments and enables you to develop an appreciation of the implications for policy and practice.

Some of the core topics of the module will include:

  • exploring how and why some people become interested in ideologies and/or groups considered to be extreme
  • the value of culture, subculture, and masculinity within extreme movements
  • how group bonds and influence facilitates deeper commitment to groups
  • how complex methods of persuasion and wrap around social control enables the potential for the mortification and reconstruction of people's perceptions of self and social identity
  • how through processes of conversion, some people go on to change their worldviews and begin to internalise extremist ideologies.

In addition, the sociology of violence will also be covered. The module will conclude by bringing together the various political, religious, social, cultural, and subcultural arguments. We use them to look at the political environment of counter-terrorism, with a specific focus on policy influence, construction and implications.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach, through the use of theoretical concepts and empirical evidence, to examine the concept of terrorism, and how and why some people become terrorists.
  • Develop and sustain theoretical and conceptual arguments pertaining to critical perspectives on terrorism.
  • Demonstrate a detail knowledge and systematic understanding of relevant contemporary and established research in this area, including an appraisal of its limits, ambiguities, and uncertainties.
  • Recognise, and be able to discuss key arguments around the definitional complexities of key terms covered in the module, such as 'terrorism', 'extremism', and 'radicalisation'.
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically analyse policy documents in relation to the themes covered in the module, where empirical evidence is used to substantiate arguments.