Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Concepts, Controversies, Countermeasures

  • Studiepoeng10
  • UndervisingssemesterVår
  • EmnekodeSAMPOL202
  • Talet på semester1
  • Språk


  • Ressursar

Studienivå (studiesyklus)




Mål og innhald

Since 9/11 2001 terrorism and counterterrorism has been high on the national and international agenda. Hardly a day passes by without news reports on new terrorist atrocities, counterterrorist efforts to foil attacks or new policy initiatives to counter terrorism.

Though not a new phenomenon, terrorism and how to fight terrorism is more forcefully present on today¿s political agenda than ever before. What is the nature of terrorism compared to other forms of political violence or conflict? How serious is the terrorist threat and how has it developed over time? Are Western democracies more exposed to terrorism than other regime types? How do counterterrorist policies affect democracy? This course will acquaint students with concepts, research approaches, and positions on key issues and debates necessary to understand and engage in contemporary debates on terrorism and counterterrorism.

First, the course will focus on conceptual issues, research paradigms and data sources fundamental to understanding what terrorism is, what we can know about terrorism and how terrorism has been approached and analyzed in traditional and critical approaches. Secondly, the course is structured around a set of key issues on which there are diverging positions in the literature. Among topics covered are issues such as whether states or governments can be terrorists, the role of media, old versus new terrorism, root causes of terrorism, the relationship between religion and terrorism, as well as categories of counterterrorist policies and the effects of these, especially in terms of how civil liberties, the rule of law and state of democracy are affected.

The course is organized in a series of sessions combining lectures with student presentations. Student groups are organized to present and discuss opposing views on key issues based on course readings. Through this the course aims at stimulating critical thinking, reconsideration of currently held views, and encouraging understanding of opposing arguments and why these are found on key issues.


A student who has completed his or her qualification should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student should be able to

  • demonstrate knowledge of conceptual debates concerning terrorism and what distinguishes terrorism from other forms of political violence
  • explain different perspectives in terrorism research and account for opposing positions on key issues in research on terrorism and counterterrorism


The student should be able to

  • identify, analyze and reflect upon arguments and positions put forward in contemporary debates on terrorism and counterterrorism
  • assess claims made by researchers as well as politicians, officials and others concerning terrorism and counterterrorism
  • critically relate concepts and perspectives on terrorism and counterterrorism to new situations, statements and developments, and engage in debates with others on implications, solutions and recommendations.

General competence

The student should be able to

  • combine theoretical and empirical knowledge
  • engage in critical and independent thinking
  • work in groups to process and critically evaluate information derived from different sources
  • handle and present information and data in a coherent argument/narrative in cooperation with others
  • generate new perspectives and arguments in cooperation with others

Krav til forkunnskapar


Tilrådde forkunnskapar


Krav til studierett

The course is open for students at the University of Bergen

Undervisningsformer og omfang av organisert undervisning

Lectures incorporating student presentations.

Obligatorisk undervisningsaktivitet

Participation in group work consisting of one oral presentation in class and one assignment as discussants. Both must be completed to be able to take the take home exam.


Take home exam (3 days, maximum 3000 words)


The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Fagleg overlapp





The course is to be evaluated according to guidelines found in Handbok for kvalitetssikring av universitetsstudia.


Department of Comparative Politics