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University of Leeds Terrorism Module International Relations

I am taking a module on Terrorism this year as part of my masters at the University of Leeds.
My classmates and I are struggling to understand the layout of the lessons. It is a topic which is very important within the IR field, but we are having problems understanding where our lecturer is coming from.

The lecturer has given us a 'working definition' of terrorism. And we are told to work off of the definition. Firstly that is extremely limiting as I would prefer to argue the fact that the definition to terrorism changes, and in the US government alone, each sector has a different definition.

The working definition / criteria to define a terrorist group is as follows:
Non-state actor
Use of threat and violence
Targets innocent people
Goal is to change policy
Persuade an audience

The working definition our lecturer provides, and says we must use, also states that we are only classing terrorist acts as violence carried out by 'non-state actors'. Where I would argue that State Terrorism is way to rife and important to brush over.

For example, take Peru in their internal conflict. Following my lecturers definition, the state does not fit into her working definition and therefore their acts of kidnapping of innocent civilians would not be considered terrorism (or state terror in this instance). Yet the opposition, the Shining Path had (and did) commit acts of terror as they are a non-state actor?

If anyone has done this module, or come across something similar, any understanding you have would be useful to hear.
I also am scared I will get marked down if I class a group as an insurgency / revolutionary group, rather than a terrorist group.

Using this definition also confuses me in the sense of historical instances such as the French Revolution. Using her definition, they should be considered terrorists as they tick all the boxes (innocent people being the children of the monarchs they guillotined).

I feel so trapped and confused with this definition! I feel like we should be able to analyse, not be told to stick to a definition.

Any advice would be great :smile:

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