State, Violence and Terrorism

image modified from aim of this final-year module is to develop a better understanding of terrorism and political violence by examining a variety of past and present case studies, and by discussing definitions of terrorism, causes of political violence, and the roles played by the state and the media in connection to it.

Topics covered include: historical trends in terrorist violence; definitions of terrorism; causes of political violence; ‘just war’; theories of the state; dissident terrorism; state terrorism; religion and political violence; the media and political violence; counter-terrorism; and non-violent dissent.

The coursework in this module (as of 2016-17) consists of two essays. In the first essay (3500 words now, 3000 words before 2016-17), students are asked to critically analyse a case of terrorism or political violence of their choice, using a chosen report of it as a starting point for their discussion. Some of the best essays are available below.

A further essay (of 2000 words) was introduced in 2016-17, asking students to critically discuss their preferred definition of ‘terrorism’ using examples to demonstrate your argument. Some of the best essays are also available below.

Also copied below are some of the useful online resources recommended for more information and analysis in the module. A recent version of the reading list is available here. I also use Twitter (hashtag #euc604) to share news and information on themes related to this module. Feel free to share more resources using that hashtag or by emailing me or commenting on this page.

Top student essays on defining ‘terrorism’ (from 2016-17):

  1. ‘An act of violence or threatened violence perpetrated by non-state actors, which targets randomly chosen or symbolic non-combatant victims in order to create a climate of extreme fear in a wider audience for political, social or religious motives.’ – By Malte Jütting (2016-17)
  2. ‘The illegitimate use of premeditated force or violence, with the intention to cause harm to, or fear amongst, non-combatants, in pursuit of political, religious and/or ideological change, conducted by a person, persons, group or state’ – By Emily Hill (2016-17)
  3. ‘The negative perception of the use or threatened use of force to bring about ideological change.’ – By Niamh O’Brien (2017-18)
  4. ‘The use of symbolic acts of violence, often excessive, against soft targets, driven by political, religious, or other ideological motives, with the intention of impacting a wider audience and coercing it into making political changes.’ – By Ryan Bolton (2017-18)
  5. ‘The use of violence for political aims against civilian targets by non-state actors’ – By Natali Dimitrova (2016-17)

Top student essays analysing a case study:

  1. Afghanistan – ‘Kabul attack: ISIS claims responsibility after “suicide bombing” kills 80 and injures hundreds’ (Independent, 2016) – By Daniella Genillard (2016-17)
  2. Colombia – ‘Colombian Rebels Hijack Plane and Kidnap Senator’ (NY Times, 2002) – By Jonathan Hicks (2014-15)
  3. Colombia – ‘Rebel Attacks on Oil Sites Threaten Peace Talks in Colombia’ (LA Times, 2015) – By Emily Maddox (2015-16)
  4. France – ‘Charlie Hebdo attack: France’s worst terrorist attack in a generation leaves 12 dead’ (Telegraph, 2015) – By Dominic Dyer (2016-17)
  5. France – ‘Charlie Hebdo attack: Three days of terror’ (BBC, 2015) – By David Nti (2016-17)
  6. France – ‘Manhunt for Charlie Hebdo suspects enters third day’ (France 24, 2015) – By Natali Dimitrova (2016-17)
  7. France – ‘Nice terrorist attack on Bastille Day: everything we know so far’ (Telegraph, 2016) – By James Innocent (2017-18)
  8. France – ‘Why has France been targeted again?’’ (Telegraph, 2015) – By Harry Eagles (2016-17)
  9. India – ‘At least 100 Dead in India Terror Attacks’ (NY Times, 2008) – By Priya Patel (2012-13)
  10. Israel & Lebanon – ‘Israeli Ground Forces Push Deeper Into Lebanon’ (Fox News, 2006) – By Renée van Diemen (2011-12)
  11. Israel – ’19 killed by Jerusalem suicide bomb’ (Guardian, 2002) – By Kelly Bailey (2011-12)
  12. Israel – ‘Human-bomb mother kills four Israelis at Gaza checkpoint’ (Guardian, 2004) – By Cameron Heath (2017-18)
  13. Israel – ‘Palestinian children pay price of Israel’s Summer Rain offensive’ (Guardian, 2006) – By Christopher George (2010-11)
  14. Israel – ‘Suicide bomb kills 16 Israelis in hotel’ (Guardian, 2002) – By Lauren Edgeley (2010-11)
  15. Israel – ‘Tel Aviv bus bomb injures at least 10 people’ (Guardian, 2012) – By Amy Whitehead (2013-14)
  16. Kenya & Tanzania – ‘Bombs Explode at 2 U.S. Embassies in Africa. Scores Dead’ (Washington Post, 1998) – By Thomas Hadji (2013-14)
  17. Kenya – ‘Al-Shabab militants hijack bus in Kenya, kill 28 non-Muslims on board, police say’ (Fox, 2014) – By Neda Ardehali (2014-15)
  18. Kenya – ‘Gunmen Kill Dozens in Terror Attack at Kenyan Mall’ (NY Times, 2013) – By Ahmed Gerashi (2014-15)
  19. Kenya – ‘Terror in Nairobi: The Full Story behind al-Shabaab’s Mall Attack’ (Guardian, 2013) – By Malte Jütting (2016-17)
  20. Kenya – ‘Terror in Nairobi: The Full Story behind al-Shabaab’s Mall Attack’ (Guardian, 2013) – By Timothy Holland (2016-17)
  21. Nigeria – ‘Boko Haram leader calls for more school attacks after dorm killings’ (Guardian, 2013) – By April Williams (2013-14)
  22. Nigeria – ‘Boko Haram slaughter 150 Nigerian Muslims’ (Daily Mail, 2015) – By Scott Johnson (2015-16)
  23. Nigeria – ‘Chibok abductions in Nigeria: “More than 230 seized”‘ (BBC, 2014) – By Jane Adelakun (2014-15)
  24. Nigeria – ‘In Nigeria, 86 people shot, burned to death in village, refugee camps’ (The Washington Post, 2016) – By Keziah Green (2016-17)
  25. Russia – ‘Russia School Siege ends in Carnage: Hundreds Die as Troops Battle Hostage Takers’ (Washington Post, 2004) – By Matthew Prowse (2014-15)
  26. Somalia – ‘Mogadishu truck bomb: 500 casualties in Somalia’s worst terrorist attack’ (Guardian, 2017) – By Zara Heathcote (2017-18)
  27. Spain – ‘Spain gripped by mass protest against the ETA gunmen’ (Independent, 1997) – By India Sanders (2017-18)
  28. UK – ‘London Bombs “were first British suicide attacks”’ (Guardian, 2005) – By Benjamin Wakefield (2015-16)
  29. UK – ‘The Bomb hit right where it was placed: at Omagh’s heart’ (Guardian, 1998) – By Louise Kelly (2015-16)
  30. USA – ‘Burning Words of the Press on the Bombing of “The Times”’ (LA Times, 1910) – By Michael Farquharson (2011-12)
  31. USA – ‘Eco-Terrorists Suspected of Causing $2 Million in Arson Damage at Dakota Pipeline Site’ (Daily Caller, 2016) – By Rachel Dowie (2016-17)

Online resources:


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