UCL Summer School


Understanding and Countering Radicalisation and Terrorism

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session Two
Module leader
Dr. Amy Thornton, Dr. Lu Lemanski, Dr Paul McFarlane
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Presentation (25%), Essay (75%)
Download syllabus (PDF)
Understanding and Countering Radicalisation and Terrorism

Module overview

This module will provide an introduction to the phenomena of radicalisation and terrorism; including key definitions, causal accounts, empirical trends, past and present manifestations, current groups, and tactics.

Through successive case studies, students will familiarise themselves with the following five approaches to prevention and disruption: Efforts to anticipate and prevent terrorism acts through situational measures; enforcement measures used to disrupt, disable or suppress the activities of terrorist networks; interventions aimed at the individual actor, their risk factors, belief systems and pathways out of terrorism involvement; removal of the economic basis for terrorist activities by attacking organised crime; and strategies which focus on the "root causes" of terrorism and radicalisation.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand terrorism and radicalisation from a distinctive security and crime science perspective
  • Understand ‘what works’ in preventing and disrupting radicalisation and terrorism
  • Be able to critically reflect on the conceptual and methodological issues involved in studying radicalisation and terrorism as concrete scientific problems
  • Have the ability to consider what a scientific approach implies for the design and implementation of preventative or disruptive social technologies.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). Students must have completed one year of undergraduate study. No prior subject knowledge is required for this module, but students are expected to have a keen interest in the area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • 10-minute presentation (40%)
  • 2,500-word essay (60%)

Module leader

Dr Amy Thornton has almost a decade’s experience researching radicalisation, terrorism and counter-terrorism. Having worked on the EU-funded FP7 PRIME project and VOX-Pol network of excellence, Amy has published impactful research used by practitioners across the globe. She has worked with the UK and Canadian governments on the issue of understanding and countering radicalisation, which formed the topic of her PhD at UCL. She is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the department of Security and Crime Science, teaching and supervising dissertations on the topics of radicalisation, counter-terrorism and evaluating evidence for crime prevention initiatives.

Dr Paul McFarlane has recent experience from being a senior manager in UK law enforcement; working with international agencies to successfully build cyber and real-world operational capability to detect and disrupt international terrorist networks. Presently, he is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the department of Security and Crime Science at University College London, teaching and supervising research in criminal investigation and intelligence. Paul’s research interests relate to the question of how covert human intelligence methods can be used more effectively to prevent and detect crime and acts of terrorism.

Dr Lu Lemanski is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Security and Crime Science at UCL. Applying her knowledge of Forensic Psychology, she has contributed to a number of international, cross-disciplinary research projects in partnership with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START; a US Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence), the UK Centre for Defence Enterprise (MoD), and the EPSRC, on a variety of topic areas, including bombing behaviours, single-issue terrorism, and intelligence. She currently teaches in Forensic Psychology and research design in the department.

Application information

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