BSSn4451 Conceptualisations of Terrorism

Faculty of Social Studies
Autumn 2021
Extent and Intensity
1/1/0. 6 credit(s). Type of Completion: zk (examination).
Taught in person.
Monika Gabriela Bartoszewicz, MA, MLitt, PhD (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
Monika Gabriela Bartoszewicz, MA, MLitt, PhD
Department of Political Science - Faculty of Social Studies
Contact Person: Mgr. Lucie Pospíšilová
Supplier department: Division of Security and Strategic Studies - Department of Political Science - Faculty of Social Studies
Tue 14:00–15:40 U42
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
Course objectives
This course focuses on several major themes in the study of international terrorism with particular attention given to different strategic and tactical approaches to this form of political violence. It is organised in a seminar format and requires that students read assigned materials prior to each class and make occasional oral presentations to facilitate discussion.
Learning outcomes
The course is designed to help students to:
✓ Develop a knowledge and understanding what terrorism is;
✓ Gain an understanding of the diverse aims, motivations and justifications of contemporary terrorist movements;
✓ Differentiate between various forms of modern terrorism;
✓ Gain the ability to present and critique competing scholarly arguments as well as engage with the academic and non-academic literature on political terrorism;
✓ Pursue the connections between the general and the specific through the production of substantial, analytical study informed by familiarity with the appropriate methodologies;
✓ Formulating lucid, precise and concise explanations and assessments of international processes in both written and oral presentations;
✓ Promote critical engagement with the security studies literature and enable you to display this engagement by developing an ability to present, substantiate and defend complex arguments.
Transferable skills gained/developed: identifying, locating, and organising relevant source materials, self-management, problem solving, teamwork and communication, analytical thinking.
  • One could say that since the tragic event of 9/11 terrorism has ceased to be something extraordinary and became a part of daily political life. This course examines some of the key dimensions and issues of contemporary international terrorism and asks what consequences, if any, terrorism has for contemporary world affairs.
  • This module begins by examining what terrorism is and what distinguishes it from other forms of conflict and warfare in the international system. It identifies the difficulties surrounding the complex nature and identification of both the concept and phenomenon of terrorism.
  • Cases of particular terrorist types (e.g. left-wing, right-wing, ethno-nationalist, religious, etc.) are then explored in detail. A separate class is devoted to gendered conceptualisation of terrorism. Simultaneously, the attention is given to psychological issues in understanding both terrorism and the terrorist – in particular how individuals make decisions at all stages of the process of involvement in terrorism and how to factor this rationale in the security analyses.
  • Finally, during the course we will examine how different conceptualisations of terrorism limit and sometimes even determine counter-terrorist options and policies. Specifically, the effectiveness of political, economic, military and judicial instruments will be examined. Counter-terrorist policies will also be discussed in the context of the civil liberties debate.
Teaching methods
Students will be required to do the required readings, to attend class sessions, and to write a regular journal accounting for terrorism-related events in world politics. Individual research is going to be presented both in writing and verbally during classes. Group activities are included in this course.
Assessment methods
Students will receive a final grade for the semester based on the following components:
1. Individual Class Presentation: Students will be assigned to present one terrorism organisation/movement for a 15-20 minute presentation. Presentations start in the second month of the course to give you proper theoretical foundations and time to prepare. The goal of the presentations is to inform your classmates of hallmark traits and characteristics of a particular form of political terrorism in the context of theories discussed during the course, facilitate class discussions, and help you and your classmates to prepare for readings-based questions on exam. Therefore, the presentation should provide the brief factual overview, indicate the most important features, personas and events and indicate the impact on the world affairs. Students will be graded based on the accuracy of your summary as well as the organization and clarity of your presentation. You must provide a one-page outline of your presentation to be distributed to the entire class before your presentation. Sign-up sheet will be circulated during the first class.
2. Current Event Journal: Students will be expected to create a weekly current events journal, which will be due each week. The purpose of the assignment is so that students will become expertly associated with events related to the topics and themes we discuss in class. Each week, you should find 3-5 news articles to include in your journal. Please include the title of the article, the weblink, and a brief paragraph (100 words) for each article, explaining how the article demonstrates a particular theme of the course. This assignment is not a summary! Students should rather demonstrate how the article is related to thematic issues we discuss in the course. Journals must be submitted in print each week according to the standard formatting (Times New Roman font, size 12, single spaced, regular margins). Points will be subtracted for formatting that does not comply with these requirements. The following websites may be helpful, depending on your country:,,,,,
3. Final Exam: There will be a final in-class oral exam, consisting of three questions: two theory-based pertaining to the required readings and discussions in class and one focusing on various issues of contemporary political terrorism. Each question is worth 5 points. During the oral exam the following criteria will be taken into consideration:
✓ knowledge of the main theories and debates;
✓ knowledge of the core readings and main arguments presented therein;
✓ ability to support one’s claim with additional readings and/or case studies;
✓ ability to present logical argumentation;
✓ critical analysis of the problem supported by references to current issues pertaining to various security issues.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
The course is taught annually.
Teacher's information
Readings: There is no basic textbook required for this course. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary to read all the assigned specific readings (articles or book chapters) for each class. All reading material will be made available for the students beforehand to allow them time to prepare accordingly.
The course is also listed under the following terms Autumn 2020.
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