A History of Terrorism and Political Violence

Griffith University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    A History of Terrorism and Political Violence

  • Host University

    Griffith University

  • Location

    Gold Coast, Australia

  • Area of Study

    History, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Course Description
    In today's world, terrorism is one of the inescapable worldwide forces that defines, shapes and reshapes our age. This course will put terrorism and political violence into broad historical context, exploring the experiences of terrorism through the ages and how societies responded to the threats of political violence. From antiquity, through the Middle Ages to the global terrorism of today, this course will unravel the meaning of terrorism and how it was experienced throughout history.

    Course Introduction
    For many, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on 11 September 2011 are defining moments in history. These attacks were undeniably seminal events in contemporary history, and we find commentators and scholars talk in terms of "before" and "after" 9/11. Not surprisingly, terrorism is a topic that seemingly remains ever-present in our collective minds. As the authors of Terrorism: A Critical Introduction state: "In the twenty-first century, terrorism, it seems, is everywhere. It is in the headlines and stories of our newspapers, websites and nightly television news, an din the plotlines and characters of films, TV programmes and plays we watch, and the thriller novels and comics we read" (R. Jackson et.al., 2011: p. 1).

    It is, of course, important to place contemporary terrorism in historical context, to understand how political violence has manifested itself throughout history, what impact it had on communities and how societies dealt with the threat. By looking at the history of terrorism, this course will explore the broad & shifting contours of political violence from ancient times through to the rise of modern-day Jihadist terrorism. The course will introduce students to moments of terrorism within a broad chronological and geographical framework. It will challenge students to consider the definition of terrorism and the notion of 'one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter', while exploring the key questions of how, why and with what consequences terrorism has been constructed.

    Course Aims
    This course is designed to introduce students to the history of terrorism and political violence from ancient times through to the present day. From the Jewish Zealots of the 1st century AD, through medieval & early-modern justifications of tyrannicide, to Jihadism and the modern-day 'war on terror', this course will chart how and why political violence manifested itself in a wide range of societies and time periods. While exploring moments of terrorism throughout history, this course will encourage students to think conceptually & critically about such questions as: What is the definition of terrorism? Are there different types of terrorism? What impact does terrorism have on communities & how should societies respond to acts of terrorism?

    The main aims of the course are:

    • To impart an understanding of the narrative of the history of terrorism and political violence;
    • To develop students' abilities to reflect critically upon different perspectives & interpretations of terrorism;
    • To develop a conceptual & empirical understanding of the forces & processes that lead to moments of political violence; and
    • To foster a sense of informed citizenship through a global perspective on the history of terrorism.

    Learning Outcomes
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:

    1  Explore and articulate your knowledge of the narrative of the history of terrorism and political violence as well as the changing meanings of terrorism.
    2  Evidence your conceptual and empirical understanding of the forces as well as the processes that lead to political violence.
    3  Reflect critically upon different perspectives and interpretations of terrorism.
    4  Evaluate and interpret a wide range of scholarly literature to construct and support an argument on political violence in a historical context.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.