Politics of Terror POLITIC4172

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces students to discourses and practices of terror, terrorism and counter-terrorism, examining their relationships and significance.


This course may not be running this year. For further information please check the Politics and IR Moodle page or contact the subject directly.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry requirements to Honours Politics or International Relations.

Excluded Courses





Critical review, 1000 words (20%)

Essay, 3500 words (70%)

Participation (10%)

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses


Course Aims

- To introduce students to the origins, histories and meanings of terms 'terror', 'terrorism' and 'counterterrorism' and their relationships to other key concepts and categories in international relations including territory, sovereignty and the nation state

-To familiarize students with key theoretical and political debates surrounding 'terror', 'terrorism' and 'counterterrorism' including questions about definitions, typologies, causes and psychological/political motivations

- To identify the multiple ways in which 'terror' and 'terrorism' have been managed/governed at multiple scales (municipal, national, international, global) through military operations and the production of expert knowledge and evaluate the consequences of these interventions

- To equip students to understand the multiple and highly contested meanings and classifications of terror, terrorism and counterterrorism as well as how these have emerged and transformed over time

- To train students to evaluate key empirical dynamics related terror, terrorism and counter-terrorism through an examination of a number of key case studies

- To enable students to critique policy interventions related to 'terror', 'terrorism' and 'counterterrorism'

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- To identify, compare, and contrast the key theoretical and political debates related to 'terror', 'terrorism' and 'counterterrorism'

- To explain why, despite recurring challenges to develop consensual definitions of these terms and associated phenomena, they remain central to conduct of local and global politics and international relations

- To evaluate whether and/or to what extent counter-terrorism policies and practices fulfil their self-described aims and explore the limitations of measuring success and failure

- To situate the academic discussions about terror, terrorism and counter-terrorism in the broader context of international relations scholarship on conflict, political violence, policing, peace and security

-To develop independent inquiry, research design, and writing skills necessary to identify and assess key debates about terror, terrorism and counterterrorism

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.