SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHL426543
Module Leader Xander Kirke
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Politics
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Normally successful completion of a level 3 politics module or equivalent.

Summary of Content

Discussions about terrorism have played a crucial role in shaping modern-day political debates. Fighting it has led to an array of controversial political decisions, including the invasion of Afghanistan and often the suppression of human rights in favour of security. But what exactly is terrorism and can it ever be defined? Who counts as a 'terrorist'? Why do people become terrorists? Can terrorism ever be defeated? Are there some instances where terrorism can be justified? This module explores global terrorism in a contemporary and historical context. It outlines key ideological commitments and discourses offered by terrorists of the political left, right, and religious movements across the globe. It also critiques the role of the state in the creation and sustaining of terrorism, asking whether the state itself could sometimes be considered a terrorist actor. Students will have the opportunity to explore terrorism in a variety of context beyond the traditional media, including representations in popular cultural sites such as TV shows, films, and video games. Overall, the module asks students to engage with some difficult moral questions and to broaden understandings of terrorism as a social and political phenomenon. The module will adhere to PRME: develop a critical ethical and socially responsible understanding of terrorism and radicalisation.


Indicative syllabus: The module begins by discussing key ways in which terrorism has been defined and studied. It introduces students to more orthodox studies of terrorism and critical responses. The module ensures that students are made aware of the contemporary and historical conceptualisations of terrorism with a strong focus on a variety of empirical examples. Earlier in the module, students will encounter the discourses and language of/about far-right and far-left extremists, religious terrorist movements, the process and politics of 'radicalisation', and the gendered dimension of terrorism, state terrorism, and eco-terrorism. The latter part of the module focuses on terrorism as it is produced through diverse media sources. These include the mainstream news media, but also in sites of popular culture such as films, TV shows, and video games. Students will learn about how terrorist movements have sought to use the internet in order to recruit people who will go on to commit acts of exceptional violence. Finally, the module asks broader questions about the morality of terrorism and how it can, if ever, be defeated. Overall, students will leave the module having gained a strong theoretical knowledge of terrorism debates and the consequences different perspectives bring. This will be supplemented by an empirical base that discusses terrorism and terrorist movements given less attention by the mainstream media. Weekly seminars will give students the opportunity to reflect on the subjects from the previous weeks, and allow students a forum to discuss these issues.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1 Understand key theoretical debates in the study of terrorism.2 Have strong empirical knowledge of a variety of global terrorist movements throughout history.3 Critically assess mainstream discourses about terrorism.4 Understand the social and historical contexts related to terrorism.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module will be taught primarily through lectures and seminars. There will be two lectures a week that cover theoretical backgrounds and empirical studies of terrorism. Students will have one seminar per week where they will have an opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the previous lecture and course material. There will be an opportunity for students to view multimedia material on GCULearn that they can draw upon for their seminars. Students will be asked to bring examples of debates about terrorism across the globe. This will have a strong international focus and will not be restricted to the UK. Support will be offered for the essay through two online lectures that will be available on GCULearn. Drop in sessions will also be offered for both the essay and exam.

Indicative Reading

-567 Textbooks: Lutz, J. & Lutz, B (2013). Global Terrorism, Third Edition, (Oxon: Routledge). Jackson et al, (2011). Terrorism: A Critical Introduction, (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan). -567 Books and articles: Awan, M. (2010). 'Global Terror and the Rise of Xenophobia/Islamophobia: An Analysis of the American Cultural Production since September 11'. Islamic Studies, Vol 49(4): 521-537 . Baker-Beall, C., Heath-Kelly, C., Jarvis, L. eds (2014). Counter-Radicalisation: Critical Perspectives. (London/New York: Routledge). Biebly, C. (2010), 'Remembering the Red Army Faction'. Memory Studies, Vol. 3(2): 137-150 . Blakeley, R. (2018). 'Drones, State Terrorism and International Law." Critical Studies on Terrorism, Vol. 11(2). Cronin, A.K. (2009) How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press). Fangen, K. (2007). 'Separate or equal? The Emergence of an all-female group in Norway's rightist underground'. Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol 9(3): 122-164 . Gardell, M. (2014) 'Crusader Dreams: Oslo 22/7, Islamophobia, and the Quest for a Monocultural Europe', Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 26(1): 129-155. Gunning, J. & Jackson, R. (2011) 'What's so "Religious" about Religious Terrorism?' Critical Studies on Terrorism, Vol. 4(3): 369-388 . Hellmich, C. (2011). Al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise, (London, Zed Books). Huey, (2015) 'This is not Your Mother's Terrorism: Social Media, Online Radicalization, and the Practice of Political Jamming. Journal of Terrorism Research, Vol 6(2): 1-16. Jackson, R. (2005), Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics, and Counter-Terrorism. (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Kimmel, M. (2003). 'Globalization and its Mal(e)Contents: The Gendered Moral and Political Economy of Terrorism. International Sociology, Vol. 18(3): 603-620 . Kundnani, A. (2012), 'Radicalisation: The Journey of a Concept', Race & Class, Vol 54(2): 3-25. Laqueur, W. ed. (2004), Voices of Terror: Manifestos, Writings, and Manuals of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Other Terrorists from Around the World and Throughout the Ages, (New York: Reed Press). Lehane, O et al. (2018). 'Brides, Black Widows and Baby-makers; or not: an analysis of the portrayal of women in English-language magazine image content.' Critical Studies on Terrorism. Vol. 11(3): 505-520. MacDonald, E. (2001) Shoot the Women First. (New York: Random House) . Meisels, Tamar (2006) 'The Trouble with Terror: The Apologetics of Terrorism - a refutation. Vol. 18(3): 465-483 . Ranstorp, M. ed. (2010) Understanding Violent Radicalisation: Terrorist and Jihadist Movements in Europe, (Abingdon/New York: Routledge). Rapoport, D. C. (1984) 'Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions', The American Political Science Review, Vol 78(3): 658-677 . Schmid, A. 'Terrorism: The Definitional Problem', Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol 36(2): 375-420 . Schulzke, M. (2013). 'The Virtual War on Terror: Counterterrorism Narratives in Video Games.' New Political Science, 35(4): 586-603 . Walzer, M. 'Terrorism and Just War', Philosophia, Vol 34(1): 3-12 . Wilkinson, P. (1981), 'Can a State be "Terrorist"?' International Affairs, Vol, 57 (3). -567 Online sources:

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: -360b7 Carrying out assignments and effectively organising time b7 Developing written and oral communication skills; enhancing critical analysis and thinking skills; b7 Debating skills .

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Assessment (FT) 18.00
Independent Learning (FT) 146.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 40.00 n/a online exam 2 1000 word questions
Course Work 01 n/a 60.00 n/a An essay question which encourages individual research will be set. Words: 2500 words