Radicalism: From suffrage to terrorism

Course content

Since the inception of the term ‘radicalism’ in Enlightenment era Britain, it has taken on many meanings: from referring to the universal suffrage movement to environmental activists and national separatists through to the ‘new radicalism’ of homegrown terrorism and foreign fighters. The variation in how the concept of ‘radicalism’ is applied leaves it open to a critical investigation into its meanings; does it describe certain causes and positions, or does it relate to the manner of application? Is it possible to define ‘radicalism’, or is what is thought of as ‘radical’ determined by context?


In the first part of this course we will examine a variation of expressions of ‘radicalism’ and understandings of the ‘radical’ within political theory, in order to build up analytical perspective for, in the second part, discussing current academic and political debates around the ‘new radicalism’ of today.


Bachelor student: 10 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


SRM students has priority

Learning outcome


  • Knowledge of radicalism as a theoretical and political concept
  • Knowledge of conceptualisations of ’radical’ in modern history
  • Knowledge of different expressions of radicalism and their contexts
  • Insight into current academic debates on definitions of radicalism and radicalization.



  • Analyse interpretations of radicalism in recent modern history
  • Reflect on the wider relevance and implication of ’the new radicalism (politically and academically)
  • Independently formulate a research question relating to the subject of the seminar; conduct an analysis drawing on course as well as empirical material; present a clear argument based on the analysis; and reflect on its implications
  • Relate critically to concepts such as politics, terror, ethics, violence, radicalization, radicalism, religious extremism, as well as the political and academic consequences of such an approach
  • Prepare and carry out field visits and interviews
  • Analytical skills in interpretation and deconstruction.



  • Competencies to study, analyse and relate critically to political concepts
  • Present academic work in oral and written form, as well as give feedback to the presentation of others


Lectures, guest lectures, field trips and group work

A full reading list will be made available prior to the course, and will consist of:

  • Introductions to theoretical, historical and conceptual approaches to radicalism
  • Introductions to interpretation and deconstruction as analytical strategy.
  • Background literature on various expressions of radicalism and their political contexts
  • Primary sources from ‘radical’ positions
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28