Terrorism studies, reading course

Since 9/11 terrorism has become a major global issue of significance. Understanding what drives and motivates terrorism in different contexts and time periods, as well as how to respond to the multiple challenges of terrorism are very complex tasks indeed. This course provides an advanced understanding of terrorism as a strategy in a historical as well as a sociopolitical

The first part of the course presents different, and sometimes competing, theoretical approaches to studying and analysing terrorism and violent extremism. The course also provides analytical tools to understanding how terrorism has been shaped historically by different ideologies, groups and asymmetrical strategies. It examines indepth how the evolution of different ideologies throughout history have fuelled terrorism, conflict and violence.

Moreover, the course examines the specific challenges and problems that liberal democratic states face in countering terrorism. It unpacks the range of counterterrorism options available and their various consequences. The course readings also address issues related to the role of the Internet, women’s role in terrorism, as well as the phenomenon of “lone actor” terrorism.


Dr. Magnus Ranstorp is Research Manager at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS) and Associate Professor of Political Science at Åbo Akademi University. He was the Quality Manager for the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network – Centre of Excellence.

His research focuses on terrorism, counterterrorism, violent extremism, and the politics of the Middle East. His publications include Hizballah in Lebanon (1997), Mapping Terrorism Research (2007), Unconventional Weapons and International Terrorism (2009), Understanding Violent Radicalisation (2010), Terrorism Learning and Innovation (2013), Swedish Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq (2017), Contextualising Salafism (2020). He is an elected member of the Royal Swedish
Academy for War Sciences.

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