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Introduction to Terrorism Studies

Module titleIntroduction to Terrorism Studies
Module codeSOC2112
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Lewys Brace (Convenor)

Mrs Katharine Boyd (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This Q-Step module will expose you to the controversial topic of terrorism and how research is conducted on this subject. You will learn about the history of political and religiously motivated violence, the subjective and debated definition of terrorism, as well as rates and trends of terrorism. You will learn about major data sources used to analyze the subject, and you will be introduced to quantitative methods. You will be taught basic statistical analysis with terrorism data. This module is suitable for specialist and non-specialist students and has no prerequisite modules.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module is an introduction to terrorism studies. We will discuss the major data sources used to empirically examine terrorism, the rates and trends in terrorism cross-nationally, whether groups differ in how they operate, the geopolitical factors that influence terrorism, as well as policy implications.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of terrorism: the history, as well as rates and trends over time
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of data sources used to study terrorism
  • 3. Assess how rates of terrorism differ among groups and across countries

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate understanding of key concepts pertaining to political and religiously motivated violence
  • 5. Demonstrate understanding of theories and arguments in the field
  • 6. Demonstrate a familiarity with the different methods of research in the field and their implications for relevant policy

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Engage in group work to prepare presentations for class discussion
  • 8. Demonstrate knowledge of descriptive statistics using quantitative data and statistical tools
  • 9. Demonstrate written analytical skills by producing an essay on deadline

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following themes:

  • Definition debate
  • History of modern terrorism
  • Collecting data on terrorism
  • Analyzing terrorism data
  • Theoretical explanations for terrorism
  • Radicalization
  • Terrorist groups
  • Brief case study: Waves of Al Qaeda
  • Geopolitical factors
  • Research methods for the study of terrorism
  • Terrorism incident databases
  • Terrorism rates and trends
  • Counterterrorism implications
  • ISIS case study: group history, propaganda, violence trajectory

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2222 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2211 x 2 hour tutorials
Guided Independent Study90Reading assignments
Guided independent study48Preparing for seminar
Guided independent study118Preparation for essays


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Presentation10 minutes1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8Verbal, written
Poster presentation1 poster of statistical analysis for essay preparation2, 3, 6, 8Verbal
Participation in seminarsActive participation based on readings1-7Verbal

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
ELE-based in-class test401 hour test1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9Written Feedback
Essay453,000 words3, 4, 5, 8, 9Written Feedback
Quantitative Data Collection Assignment151,500 words1, 2, 4, 9Verbal class feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ELE-based in-class test1 hour test 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9August/September reassessment period
EssayEssay(3,000 words)3, 4, 5, 8, 9August/September reassessment period
Quantitative Data Collection Assignment1,500 words1, 2, 4, 9August/September reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessment will be calculated and weighted in the same manner as assessment during the regularly schedule.  Note: a separate, but comparable, examination will be provided for re-assessment.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Andrew Silke. (2004). Research on Terrorism: Trends, Achievements and Failures. Routledge Press.

Brian Forst. (2008). Terrorism, Crime, and Public Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenco. (2011). Friction: How radicalization happens to them and us. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gary LaFree and Laura Dugan (2007). Introducing the Global Terrorism Database. Terrorism and Political Violence. 19:181-204.

Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger (2015). ISIS: The State of Terror. Harper Collins Publisher. 

Marc Sageman. (2008). Leaderless Jihad. University of Pennsylvania Press

Robert Pape. (2003). The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. American Political Science Review 97(3): 343-361.

Steven M. Chermak, Joshua D. Freilich, William Parkin, and James P. Lynch. (2012). American terrorism and extremist crime data sources and selectivity bias: An investigation focusing on homicide events committed by far-right extremists. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 28(1): 191-218.

Victor Asal and J. Wilkenfeld (2013). Ethnic conflict: An organizational perspective. Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs 2(1): 91-102.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Quantitative methods, terrorism 

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date