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Political Violence and Terrorism


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6

Module description

During episodes of political violence, where the state and its legal apparatus break down, abundant opportunities arise for massive use of force and violence. When we talk about political violence, a preliminary distinction has to be borne in mind: the distinction between authorised force (war) and unauthorised force (terrorism). The concept of ‘the use of force and violence’ has long been discussed in criminological literature. However, it is extraordinary that this literature has omitted political violence from criminology despite political actors collectively opting to use violence for expressing their demands.

Criminology and criminal justice students, particularly those seeking to work in these fields as practitioners, ought to become familiar with the criminological dynamics of war and violence.

This module will provide an introduction to political violence, or politically motivated violence, such as war and terrorism. It will provide definitions and will examine characteristics and theories of the elements of war and terrorism. It will critically analyse the changing nature of war and terrorism and discuss these within a criminological framework.

The module will examine the impact of technological advances on the natures of war and terrorism. It will examine the differences between crimes in war and war crimes and evaluate victimisation and diffusion of responsibility where it concerns perpetrators of abuse, rape, violence, torture and destruction thus, grounding political violence in criminological theory.