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Britain and the War on Terror (PO380)

The War on Terror intersects almost every day with our lives, most notably in our airports, which transformed into security fortresses following 9/11. This module endeavours to understand, analyse and evaluate all the ways the War on Terror has changed Britain in the 21st century and permitted the state to come into contact with its citizens in a national security context. This will be examined from the massive extension of national surveillance and bulk collection domestically to the continued deployment of British Armed forces internationally, including recent reported SAS (special forces) ground deployments in Syria.

By exploring the War on Terror in relation to Britain, questions of war and its changing nature; civil liberties; the use of torture, rendition and assassination; the role of international law; and Britain’s imperial and colonial history will be considered. Some of those questions will be explored by analysing government sources, like the Chilcot Inquiry and the UK’s CONTEST counter-terrorism strategy. Other questions will be dissected theoretically, applying Just War Theory to the monumental and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lastly, selected questions will be assessed by delving into detail-rich case studies, like the targeting of the Hamoudi family with precision-guided munitions and the death of Baha Mousa.

PO380_2As the War on Terror continues, so does its analysis within this module. Recent lone wolf attacks in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge will be explored and evaluated and perhaps the most important questions of all will be reflected upon: can the War on Terror be won? Are the current domestic counter-terrorism policies working? And are international measures, including the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, worth it?

Programme content

Academic aims:

  • To develop a comprehensive understanding of the main issues and debates relating to Britain's participation in the war on terror;
  • To enhance student skills in terms of research and analysis through a detailed examination of a range of primary documentation on government policy in the war on terror;
  • To develop student abilities to present a well-made, coherent and logically consistent argument in relation to UK’s participation in the war on terror;
  • To encourage critical thinking about both the domestic and international implications and consequences of Britain's role in the fight against global terrorism in terms of security, stability and human rights;
  • To provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the UK’s 21st century counter-terrorism strategy through a theoretical, historical and comparative analysis.


Module Director:

Akinyemi Oyawale


This module is worth 30 CATS.