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Online Course

Understanding Terrorism and the Terrorist Threat

University of Maryland, College Park via Coursera


The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence housed at the University of Maryland, offers a course looking at the who, what and how of Terrorism Studies, by introducing students to cutting-edge research from the social and behavioral sciences and the experts investigating these topics.

The course will begin with a unit looking at widely held myths about terrorism and utilizing empirical data to discuss the realities of broad trends and patterns in terrorist attacks over time. The course will then review the psychological factors at play in individual radicalization and recruitment into terrorism, followed by an analysis of terrorist group dynamics. The course will next look at terrorist group operations, including their attacks and some of the supporting behaviors that allow them to carry out attacks, including use of media, financing, recruitment, and training. The course will conclude by looking at the factors that drive terrorist group persistence or endurance versus terrorist group desistance, and will bring the varied course concepts together through a detailed look at the case of Al-Qa’ida.

Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to study and work with the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the largest database of terrorist incidents in the world, learning its capabilities and developing basic skills in searching and displaying terrorism data.

Taught by

Gary LaFree and Bill Braniff


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3.7 rating, based on 6 reviews

Start your review of Understanding Terrorism and the Terrorist Threat

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I think this course suffered from coming after the Terrorism and Counter-terrorism course from the University of Leiden. Their delivery was slick and professional with a large range of examples and case studies from around the world. This then attracted a lot of the same students who were disappointed to find a badly delivered, frustrating and often confusing USA-centric course, beset by technical difficulties. A lot of people dropped out because of it. I gather that the University listened to student's complaints and have updated and re-recorded some of the lectures. I hope the changes are wholesale.
  • MAMartin

    MAMartin completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    Wide-ranging. Included a more detailed case study which was good. Tried to cover a lot of ground and to offer what seemd like a complete package. A criticism is that some of the guest (?) presenters' skills of delivery and presentation let them down - rushed, monotone, reading from a text without any idea of an actual audience.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Good course, took it few years back, can recommend to anyone interested in the concepts of terrorism and how terrorists operate. Too bad counter-terrorist education seems reserved to law enforcement..
  • Sergey Monin

    Sergey Monin completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Not as good as Leiden course but ok. Some guests, especially from the NATO, were pretty bad. The ISIS part was pretty good. Cant do tests for free, you have to pay. Leiden course you can do everything for free!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

  • Dawn D Shaw completed this course.

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