SC557-7-SP-CO:
Critical Perspectives on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

The details
2020/21
Sociology
Colchester Campus
Spring
Postgraduate: Level 7
Current
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
20
29 June 2020

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

MA MF9112 Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security,
MSC MF9012 Organised Crime, Terrorism and Security

Module description

Since 9/11 there has been unprecedented interest in terrorism across political, media and academic discourses. Indeed, regarding the latter, in 2008 The Guardian reported a 23-fold increase in academic articles citing 'terrorism' since 2001. Despite this proliferation of research, analysis and commentary, a number of interconnected problems persist in the study and understanding of terrorism.

An axiom in this debate is the notion that the definition of 'terrorism' is highly contested. Often, this is articulated by the simplistic notion of the terrorism versus freedom fighter cliché, which, although this does much to highlight the moral relativism of terrorist action, is close to conceptually useless.

This is due to a number of reasons. First, as Weinberg (2005:2) correctly argues, the maxim 'simply confus(es) the goal of terrorism with the activity'. What does this have to say about essentially guerrilla groups that occasionally adopt terrorist tactics, such as the LTTE, for example?

Moreover, the terrorist/freedom fighter opposition does little to highlight the diversity of terrorist activity, which is often tied to specific action and thus whether they are deemed justifiable. It fails to grasp the nuances and complexity of 'just causes' that lie beyond mere moral relativism and, crucially the internal complexities and changes in strategies and activities during the evolution of terrorist campaigns.

Finally, this relative approach to the definition of terrorism does not account for the role of the state as a terrorist actor. This latter concern has led to the 'emergence' of critical terrorism studies which positions itself against what they perceive to be the orthodox standpoint of much mainstream scholarship on the issue. In particular, critical terrorism scholars point to the state, rather than dissident groups being the principle source of insecurity.

Module aims

Starting with debates surrounding the definition and discourse of terrorism, this module examines the both the enduring themes and contemporary debates relating to the conceptualisation, commission and control of terrorism.

Module learning outcomes

In doing so the module is structured over three main areas of enquiry: analysing terrorism, dimensions of terrorism and counter-terrorism. Classes will comprise of three distinct parts: a formal lecture, group discussion and student presentations. Topics and groups for student presentations will be assigned during the first class. Come to classes prepared, become informed through reading, form opinions and be prepared to debate.

Module information

Please note that assessment information is currently showing for 2019-20 and will be updated in September.

The module is structured over three main areas of enquiry:

PT1. ANALYSING TERRORISM

1. Defining and Conceptualising Terrorism
2. Perspectives on Terrorism

PT2. DIMENSIONS OF TERRORISM

3. Political Ideology and Terrorism
4. Animal Rights Extremism
5. Religious extremism: Al Qaeda, violent Islamism and suicide missions


PT3. COUNTER TERRORISM

6. Surveillance
7. The war on terror, state crime, and human rights (
8. Policing terrorism, communities and legitimacy
9. Law

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.

Bibliography*

This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay     100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Peter Fussey, email: pfussey@essex.ac.uk.
Peter Fussey
Michele Hall, Graduate Administrator, Tel: 01206 873051 Email: socpgadm@essex.ac.uk

 

Availability
Yes
No
Yes

External examiner

Prof Paul Stretesky
The University of Northumbria at Newcastle
Professor of Criminology
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 18 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).

 

Further information
Sociology

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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