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Terrorism and Counter Terrorism


Admission requirements

Mandatory course for students enrolled in the bachelor’s programme Security Studies.


The threat of terrorism remains a priority on political agendas worldwide. Yet, for all the attention that this phenomenon has gained, many aspects of terrorism and counterterrorism remain poorly understood. This course has two main objectives. First of all, it aims to provide students with a thorough introduction to the most pertinent aspects of 20th and 21st century terrorism and counterterrorism. Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the field, students will acquire an understanding of key issues ranging from an historical overview of modern terrorism to the macro, meso and micro-level causes of involvement in this form of political violence. Secondly, the course will familiarize students with the various opportunities and obstacles for conducting interdisciplinary research on these subjects. The overall goal is to enable students to critically assess and participate in ongoing debates on terrorism and counterterrorism from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives.

The course begins by providing an overview of what terrorism is, focusing on the subjectivity at the heart of many interpretations of the concept and attempting to gain clarity through comparisons with others forms of political violence. This conceptual discussion is complemented with a detailed look at terrorism’s recent historical development. Building on this basis, each subsequent week of the course will focus on a particular aspect of terrorism and counterterrorism. The course progressively introduces a broader array of topics and deepens students’ understanding of both the issues at stake and recurring concerns related to the production and interpretation of knowledge on those subjects.

Throughout the course, active student participation is expected in order to engage in critical reflection on the subjects being discussed.

Course objectives

  • The student has acquired knowledge and an all-round understanding of current manifestations of (international) terrorism and counterterrorism;

  • The student has acquired knowledge and understanding of several basic concepts and/or methods in:

    • International Relations & Political Science
    • Sociology and Psychology
    • Law and Criminology
    • Communication and media
    • Public Policy and Governance
  • The student is able to critically assess and reflect on current terrorism-related phenomena;

  • The student is able to analyse the specific methodological, theoretical and conceptual challenges in researching terrorism and counterterrorism;

  • The student has an understanding of the state-of-the-art of contemporary research on (counter)terrorism;

  • The student can construct and articulate arguments about terrorism and counterterrorism in both professional, public and academic settings.


On the right side of programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

14 plenary lectures
4 course labs in smaller groups (attendance is mandatory)

Course Load

Total study load of 280 hours:

  • Contact hours: 54

  • Self-study hours: 223

  • Examination: 3

Assessment method

  1. Individual paper (40%)
  2. Written exam (final) (60%)

Both sub grades must be at least 5,50 to pass the course.
The calculated final grade must be at least 5,50 to pass the course.
More information will be available on the Blackboard page.


Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have a grade lower than 5,50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resits will take the same form.


Course page will be available one week in advance.

Reading list

Information on readings will be announced on Blackboard


To be announced by OSC staff.


Dr. Bart Schuurman, course coordinator
Dr. Johannes Vüllers