Course Syllabus

Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism from a European Perspective DIS Logo


Semester & Location:

Summer 2022, session 2 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Summer Course

Core Course Study Tours:

Munich, Germany 

Major Disciplines:

International Relations, Political Science

Faculty Members:

Steen Kjærgaard

Program contact:

Embla Thorsdottir

Time & Place:

Daily, 0900-1300 (Break 1030-1130)

Fi44-Kosmo 405


Description of Course

Terrorism and counter-terrorism have been European security concerns for decades. However, with the terror bombings in New York on 9 September 2001 the magnitude and implications of jihadism as a driver for terrorism became apparent to the world and now lies at the very heart of governments, security authorities and scholars globally. Lately, the rise of right-wing extremism in Europe has added to the worry. While the predominant terrorism threat in Western Europe still comes from militant Islamist actors, far-right extremists pose a potentially increasingly significant threat to a smaller target set - namely religious and ethnic minorities, individuals and groups with opposing political views and people identifying as LGBT+. The Christchurch shootings on 15 March 2019 evidence that Right-wing extremism, as Norway saw with the Oslo Massacres in 2011, bear the potential for being a further driver for terrorism on European soil and thereby adds to the concerns. 

Nonetheless, European countries have had a very long history of dealing with terrorism. Terror groups in Countries like Northern Ireland (IRA), Spain (ETA), Italy (Red Brigades) and Germany (RAF) fought for a multitude of national ends, e.g. separatism or left-wing communism. However, with the Palestinian Black September group's attacks on the 1972 Munich Olympic games, the use of terror methods for political ends became internationalized. In contemporary times terror attacks continue to occur in Europe. The most prominent terror attacks have happened in countries like Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. The result has been robust counter-terrorism operations, bolstered legal frameworks and comprehensive social anti-radicalization programs. Simultaneously, international efforts to defeat and destroy The Islamic State and like-minded groups operating out of the Middle East and Northern Africa is a top European priority due to the direct links to terrorism on European soil. 

This course is a study of terrorism - its causes, aims, and forms – with a particular focus on counter-terrorism and the measures introduced by the international community and individual states. The course examines the implications of terrorism for European politics and the different approaches to countering it in the 21st century.

By attending this course, you will gain insight as to why terrorism occurs, how terrorists organise and operate and the dilemmas and problems which comes with counter-terrorism in a democratic state in peacetime. You furthermore have studied a terror organisation in depth, have conducted briefings, simulations and produced a study paper in which you have demonstrated your ability to synthesise the content of the course in a specific context.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of historical and contemporary European conflicts where terror has been a key element, which will strengthen the student’s abilities to use comparative analysis.
  • Understand the causes and drivers of terrorism.
  • Gain valuable insights into aspects such as intelligence and the role of digital media and democratic dilemmas of counter-terrorism both in a domestic and in a European context.
  • Be able to analyse, assess and present orally and in writing the phenomenon of terrorism and counter-terrorism and related aspect.


Steen Kjærgaard.

Steen is a Military Analyst at the Royal Danish Defense College. His work revolves around hard security issues, such as military security,  Counter-Terrorism and International Law.  Steen has a teaching background from being an instructor at the Danish Military Academy.  Steen holds valuable experiences from service at the Danish Defense Intelligence service and more international deployments.

Command and Staff College (MA) 2010. Master of Arts in “International Security” from the University of Leicester (UK), 2018.

External lecturer with DIS since 2018


Textbook- To be picked up during the arrivals workshop

  • Hoffman, Bruce, Inside Terrorism. Third Edition. NY: Columbia U Pr, 2017 (To be picked up at library during book pickup)


The 2021 Global Terrorism Index (GTI 2021)

2021 Threat Assessment Danish Defence Intelligence Service

Danish Institute for Human Rights, “Practical Guidance Paper on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights”, 2012

Scholarly articles:

Bellamy, Alex (2006) ´ No Pain, No Gain? Torture and Ethics in the War on Terror

Daniel Byman (2014) The Intelligence War on Terrorism

Byman, Daniel ´Why drones work´ or Byman / Daniel. "Do targeted killings work?" Foreign Affairs (2006): 95-111.

Crone, Manni  (2016) ´Radicalization revisited: violence, politics and the skills of the body´

Cronin, Audrey ´Why drones fail´ Foreign Affairs (2013).

Doward, (2015) ' Media Coverage of terrorism´ leads to further violence

Greenwood, M  (2019)' Local and globalist Foreign Fighters'

Greenwood, Maja Touzari. “When Foreign Fighters Come Home: The Story of Six Danish Returnees.” Perspectives on Terrorism, vol. 13, no. 4, 2019, pp. 27–38. JSTOR, Accessed 19 Jun. 2022.

Gurr, Ted: Why Men Rebel, Princeton, NJ: PUP 1970

Kane&Lonsdale, Understanding Contemporary Strategy, Intro to Terrorism pp. 224 - 237

Ravndal, J., & Bjørgo, T. (2018). Investigating Terrorism from the Extreme Right: A Review of Past and Present Research. Perspectives on Terrorism, 12(6), 5-22.


Moe, Louise Wiuff (2017) ’The Politics of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’ 

Rogers, Paul. "Security by ‘Remote Control’ Can It Work?." The RUSI Journal 158.3 (2013): 14-20.

Field Studies

This course consists of two field studies which will show students different aspects of counter-terrorist operations and the challenges imposed in these.

  • Field Study 1: Visit the Shia Muslim Mosque, ’The Imam Ali Mosque'
  • Field Study 2: Visit the Danish Institute for International Studies and the Danish War memorial.

Guest Lecturers

Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. (Esben Jensen)

Global Terrorism Index presentation (Serge Strobants) via zoom.

Approach to Teaching

This course will be a combination of lectures and a discussion-based course using case studies as well as group work. The teaching will facilitate a reflective learning process as well as critical and constructive feedback, that aims to sharpen the analytical skills as well as the overall academic methodology of the students.

Expectations of the Students

As the course is partly a discussion-based course and case studies, a high degree of student participation, preparation and engagement are required. Throughout the course, you will also have to develop and practice your own critical thinking by analyzing texts, concepts as well as specific cases to understand the complexity of the field of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Study Tours

Study tours are an integral part of the core course as we take the classroom on the road and see how the theory presented in the classroom is translated into practice in the field. You will travel with your classmates and DIS faculty/staff on a study tour to Brussels (Belgium), Cologne and Munich (Germany).

 Expectations for study tours:

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university and DIS in a positive light

 While on a program study tour DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), approx. 2 meals per day and entrances, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination. You will receive a more detailed itinerary prior to departure.

Travel policies:

You are required to travel with your group to the destination. If you have to deviate from the group travel plans, you need approval from the program director and the study tours office.   


(1) Critical participation and engagement in class and study tour participation.          

(2)  Individual Reflective journal and individual presentation.

(3)  Final Exams. Personal presentation

For further instructions, go to assignments in Canvas.                                                          




Student Engagement          20%
Individual Reflection    40%
Exam Group presentation    40%

Study Tour Information

 Study Tour

The Study Tour in this course take place on:

26 - 30 June in  Munich and Nuremberg.


The Study tour aims to provide students with the first-hand experience of the key political/operational approaches and dilemmas of counter-terrorism in one of Europe’s central cities which has experienced terrorism.


Munich is the capital of the Bavaria region of Germany, in the Catholic part of Germany. Until 1871 Bavaria was an independent kingdom which held tremendous political and economic power in central Europe, a feature it still holds in the German federation.

The core focus of the visit to Munich is to gain a deeper understanding of the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in parts of Europe.  We explore the phenomenon through the lenses of the Nazi movement and political takeover during the 1930s and World War II. To this end, we will visit the KZ Dachau concentration camp.  Furthermore,  we will visit the Olympic Village which saw the 1972 terror attacks, often referred to as the event which internationalized the phenomenon of terrorism. Finally, we will explore the richness of Bavarian culture.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

Course Enrollment and Grading


Coursework, Exams, and Final Grade Reports


Policy on late papers

Late papers will be accepted, but your grade for the paper will be reduced by 25% for each day that it is late.

Use of laptops in class

I expect a professional classroom etiquette of presence during the sessions. You will need to bring a laptop for the class assignments. 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due