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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Terrorism and Counterterrorism (PLIT10147)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryWhat is terrorism? What causes groups to engage in terrorist activities? And how can terrorism best be fought? This course examines debates related to terrorism and various strategies of counterterrorism. It draws on a range of case studies to address these and related questions. Case studies include international terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as domestic organisations such as the IRA, Boko Haram and the Red Army Faction.
Course description The course examines issues related to terrorism and counterterrorism, which have (re)emerged as prominent issues in international relations. It aims to develop students' ability to critically understand and assess a variety of challenges associated with terrorism and their implication for counterterrorism measures. The course addresses debates surrounding the definition of terrorism, the history of the concept and possible causes. Other topics discussed include issues such as gendered terrorism and state terrorism. Different counterterrorist strategies, such as war models, criminal justice models, prevention, and de-radicalisation efforts, are analysed to evaluate ways of addressing terrorist threats. The course will make extensive use of case studies that represent a diversity of issues and questions. The course will not only explore global terrorism and responses to it, but will also engage with domestic and regional actors (e.g. IRA and Boko Haram) that require different responses.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the compulsory pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  45
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Policy brief (1500 words) 30%
Essay (2500 words) 60%
Seminar participation 10%

The policy brief is the first assessment of the course and provides an alternative to traditional academic essays. It allows students to engage with the course's main issues in a different manner by asking them to apply largely academic/theoretical debates to concrete examples.
Feedback The Policy Brief will be returned before the essay deadline to give students feedback on their writing before the next assessment is due.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical understanding of the principal theories and concepts related to terrorism and counterterrorism.
  2. Engage critically with the work of terrorism scholars, and evaluate their arguments.
  3. Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues related to terrorism and counterterrorism.
  4. Demonstrate their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments surrounding historic and contemporary issues pertinent to understanding controversies related to terrorism and counterterrorism.
Reading List
Blakeley, Ruth (2009) State Terrorism and Neoliberalism, Routledge

Jackson, Richard, Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning (eds.) (2009) Critical Terrorism Studies - A New Research Agenda. Routledge

Nacos, Brigitte L. (2016) Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Routledge

Silke, Andrew (ed.) (2018) Routledge Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Routledge
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:
- Critical analysis and evaluation of evidence.
- Ability to effectively formulate and articulate a line of argument.
- Ability to identify and critically engage with arguments in scholarship and public discourse.
- Effective written communication skills.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrea Birdsall
Tel: (0131 6)50 6974
Course secretaryMs Alison Lazda
Tel: (0131 6)51 5572
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