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6ABLCF04 Terrorising London

Module convenor: George Legg
Credits: 15
Pre-requisites: none
Teaching pattern: 2-hour seminar, weekly

Module description:

For many, London is the “epicentre” of a now global terrorist threat. But the story of terrorism in London is long and complex. Beginning in the 19th century, this module moves chronologically across a distinct set of violent events that have all been labelled acts of ‘terrorism’. While some incidents are situated in a lengthy history of political struggle, others appear as random, often arbitrary, attacks. Yet whatever its form, London’s terrorism has been a cause for crises of the state, media spasms on a seismic scale and dramatic reconfigurations of the urban landscape. Indeed, so vivid is its impact that writers, filmmakers and visual artists have all been drawn to London as a site for terrorism’s restaging and retelling.

This module charts terrorism’s shifting signature by examining its impact upon London’s modernisation. Students will discover a city that has been subjected to rapid technological change and new political ideas. They will encounter London as a symbolic target for post-colonial violence and a fulcrum through which terrorist action and state policy converge. We will approach London’s terrorism through a variety of cultural texts (from novels to films, photographs to monuments), and a range of London archives will be used to contextualise each terrorist incident we examine.

Module aims:

This module aims to:

  • Provide students with a theoretical understanding of terrorism as a category of violence.
  • Assess the extent to which terrorism offers a framework for understanding London’s modernisation.
  • Investigate terrorism’s changing signification across a variety of disciplinary perspectives (e.g. philosophy, geography, literature, history, film, digital culture, politics). 

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, students will:              

  • Gain knowledge of the diverse contexts surrounding prominent incidents of modern terrorism in London.
  • Translate theorisations of terrorism onto London’s landscapes and archives.
  • Conduct fieldwork around a particular topic, identifying and analysing relevant primary and secondary sources.
  • Obtain digital literacy through the use of an e-learning platform for assessment.
  • Create engaging content that communicates findings and theoretical thinking in a clear and accessible manner.

Core reading: 

Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (New York: Zone Books, 2017).

Martha Crenshaw, Explaining Terrorism: Causes, Processes and Consequences (London: Routledge, 2011).


E-portfolio (100%)


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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