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IR3077   The Motives and Enablers of Terrorist Violence

Academic year(s): 2023-2024

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF level 9

Semester: 2

Planned timetable: Fri 10am - 12 noon

This unique module examines the challenges of understanding terrorist violence and its enablers. It emphasises analysis at the micro- (unit/individual), meso- (social surrounding/group), and macro- (broader societal and political environment) levels. Students will learn how all three levels have facilitated terrorism for over a century and why all three are necessary to understand and potentially counter terrorism today. Whereas the module shall introduce students to state-based terrorism as an understudied area, the focus shall be terrorism as the weaker side’s expedient. Accordingly, the module shall examine terrorism within the repertoire of contentious politics that pose individuals and groups against governments. As part of a robust analytical process, the module shall employ not only terrorism studies literature but also scholarship from different disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, history and political science. Via this multi-disciplinary approach, students shall be exposed to war studies, social movement theory and social-psychological approaches to studying the causes, conduct and experience of terrorism. However, far from being solely theory-focused, weekly classes shall also employ dozens of curated case studies at all three levels of analysis. Students are encouraged to bridge the gap between theory and practice by learning from these case studies as illustrative storytelling mechanisms.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass IR2006

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: One 1-hour lecture (x11 weeks) and one 1-hour tutorial (x9 weeks).

Scheduled learning hours: 20

Guided independent study hours: 265

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: Coursework = 100%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 0%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 100%

Re-assessment: 3-hour Written examination = 100%


Module coordinator: Dr A E Omeni
Module teaching staff: Dr Akali Omeni

Intended learning outcomes

  • Understanding of human violence, inhibitions to its use, and ways in which these may be overcome.
  • Knowledge and understanding of terrorists’ motivations, and the roles in this of identity, imagination, pleasure, the search for meaning, and ideology.
  • Insights to how the study of other manifestations of violence can illuminate terrorists’ use of violence.
  • Insights from the above explorations to help consider what will and will not be constructive in determining policies and practice to counter terrorism.
  • Assess critically a diverse body of scholarly research on this topic.
  • Improve their written and oral skills through essays and tutorial presentations.