The Political Economy of Terrorism and Counter-terrorism

Nore: registrations for this course are closed

What do we know about the roots and motivations of ISIS, the KKK, al-Qaeda, or the Lord’s Resistance Army beyond speculation, snippets of incomplete information, and stereotypical assessments? This course considers modern-day terrorism from a theoretical and especially from an empirical perspective. First, we study whether, when, and why terrorism has been successful to varying degrees. Second, we turn to the intimate relationship between terrorism and the media; exploring whether and how news coverage is likely so crucial for terror groups; and what this means for a free press. Third, we consider the role of religion in terror movements and radicalization (e.g., for Islamist extremism). Fourth and final, we evaluate counterterrorism strategies, exploring a few successful and unsuccessful cases for which empirical evidence is available.

Course days11-15 January 2021 - registrations for this course are closed
Course levelMaster, PhD candidates and professionals from all disciplines 
Coordinating lecturerAssociate Professor Michael Jetter
Other lecturerstba
Forms of tuitionOnline workshops (lectures and learning sessions)
Forms of assessmentPresentation and/or essay
Credits3 ECTS
Contact hours30 hours
Tuition feeRead all information about our tuition fees and what's included here
How to applyFind our application form here

All Master’s and PhD students - A basic background in Econometrics (an understanding of regression analysis) is welcome but not crucial. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please contact us: [email protected]

Although the phenomenon of terrorism has been studied extensively, many of its underlying motivations and dynamics remain difficult to pin down. The US alone has spent trillions of dollars on the ‘War on Terror,’ only to harvest widespread hostility across many Middle Eastern countries.

What you’ll learn (learning objectives): 

• What sets terrorism apart from more traditional types of warfare. 

• How the public, commentators, and researchers assess and interpret terrorism. 

• What constitutes ‘success’ for a particular group, understanding the consequences of terrorism. 

• The extraordinary role of media attention for terror groups. 

• The role of religious and cultural perspectives in terrorism.

• The theoretical background and empirical success of counter-terrorism strategies.

During this course, we will encounter examples for empirical strategies to isolate causal relationships from correlations, such as natural experiments, instrumental variables, and identification through regression discontinuity design (RDD). The aim is to have a better understanding and knowledge about the operations of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as the IRA, ETA, the KKK, and white supremacists. 

Active participation, intellectual openness, critical thinking, and dialogue constitute key elements in this course.


Instructions would be online via zoom; 25hrs of online study, e.g., 5hrs per day for 5 days. Some segments may be dedicated to dividing students into groups and preparing presentations, depending on the final number of students enrolled.

Michael Jetter works at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Being originally from Germany, he received both his B.A. (2007) and his Ph.D. (2011) in Economics from the University of Memphis (USA). From 2011 to 2015, he worked at the Universidad EAFIT in Medellin, Colombia, first as an Assistant Professor and then as a Full Professor.

Michael's primary research interests are related to Political Economy, Public Economics, Behavioral Economics, and Media Economics. His current projects focus on better understanding terrorism and armed conflict, as well as issues related to the power of the media and gender differences in competitiveness and preferences.