Groundbreaking terrorism course launched

Wednesday 7 November 2007

Academics hope to increase the understanding of terrorism around the world, by launching a groundbreaking internet-based course on the subject.

The new distance-learning course in terrorism, which will provide an inside view of terrorist organisations and their support groups, has been launched by experts at the University of St Andrews.

The postgraduate programme, developed and run by world-leading researchers at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), is unique in that it will be delivered entirely through e-learning, with students interacting with tutors and fellow students via the web.

Drawing on the CSTPV’s international expertise, the MLitt in Terrorism Studies seeks to develop an understanding of the latest thinking on terrorism.  Aimed at policy makers and security professionals, as well as those looking to develop careers in the area, the programme will include in-depth studies of terrorist incidents around the world.

Organiser Professor Max Taylor is a leading authority on the psychology of terrorism.  He said, “We decided to launch the new course by e-learning to make it available to busy professionals working in the area.  In recognising the global nature of the contemporary threat of terrorism, we are taking our expertise at St Andrews to the doorsteps of students around the world.”

Between twenty and thirty students will be recruited and, with the advantage of flexible learning, the course can potentially be completed within two and a half to five years.

The new course is authored by leading experts at St Andrews and supported by some of the best minds in the field such as Sir David Veness, Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security of the United Nations, who has contributed to a module on counter terrorism.

Professor Taylor continued, “One of the advantages of offering the course online means that students can not only pace themselves but will have access to the best experts in the world at the click of a mouse.”

Modelled on the traditional format, the course includes both structured course work and a dissertation on a specialist topic.  Students will have access to online tutors, online tutorials, a student forum and other interactive and multi-media resources, which will enable them regular opportunities to interact with staff and fellow students.

The programme will take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of terrorism and political violence, including an in-depth analysis of the social, psychological and political factors which contribute to terrorist attacks, using profiles of the most active terrorist groups.

“The programme will enable students to develop a critical understanding of terrorism as a concept, and the main factors influencing its emergence as a method of waging war,” explained Professor Taylor.

The CSTPV, part of the School of International Relations at St Andrews, was established in 1994, making it Europe’s oldest centre for the study of political violence.  Previous research by the centre has included a study into how prepared the United Kingdom is for future terrorist attacks.  Other important research focuses include aviation and maritime security, along with Northern Ireland’s terrorist fronts and the peace process.

The development of e-learning is one of the centre’s current priorities, with the new course being supported by the appointment of a specialist who will examine the use of the internet by terrorists as a mode of communication.

The MLitt in Terrorism Studies will be available to students early next year (February 2008).



Further details are available online at:



For further information or to arrange an interview with Professor Taylor, please contact Julie Middleton on 01334 461940.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]
Ref:  Elearning terrorism 081107
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