The enduring partnership between the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence and Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies in Washington, DC provided me with the unique opportunity to study abroad in St. Andrews for the Spring 2015 term. While both of these programs are at the top of their class in the field of international security and terrorism studies, my time at CSTPV broadened and refined my perspective on global security dynamics and its relationship to counterterrorism efforts. In particular, I greatly benefited from courses that offer instruction from alternating experts to effectively cover the spectrum of political violence. The scholarship at the CSTPV is pertinent and timely, the administration unceasingly helpful, and the faculty widely renowned and highly specialized in their respective fields. Consequently, weekly events draw academics and practitioners of the highest caliber to engage with students and share their experiences and insights. I feel truly privileged to have taken part in the exchange program and experienced the superior scholarship, wonderful community, and spectacular atmosphere that the CSTPV has to offer.
Having completed my undergraduate degree in International Relations at the University of St Andrews, there was no doubt in my mind about wanting to return and complete my MLitt in the CSTPV. The MLitt programme offers a strong background in terrorism studies on a theoretical, methodological and practical level.
The staff at the Centre are not only experts in their field, but compassionate and supportive individuals who show a genuine interest in their students’ academic development. The Centre embodies a real team spirit approach. I have found that the door is always open to meet with any member of staff, whether it be to discuss course content, essays, or just general topics of interest.
The Centre also provides students with unrivalled opportunities to engage with their studies outside of class. Their regular symposiums and lectures have given me the chance to not only hear from, but also talk to, and engage with, some of the leading scholars in terrorism studies.
I cannot think of a better place to be completing my MLitt. The expertise within the Centre, combined with the friendly atmosphere created by both staff and students alike, has provided me with a highly fulfilling experience.
I am absolutely fascinated by the MLitt program in Terrorism Studies here at the CSTPV. From what I read during my bachelor’s program I was aware that a significant number of well-known scholars in the field has ties to the CSTPV, and the master’s program came highly recommended. So I came to St Andrews with quite high expectations, and the program more than lived up to them.
It is amazing how the lecturers manage to impart their top-notch knowledge, but at the same time talk to the students as equals, creating a friendly and constructive atmosphere. Even when they disagree with me, they encourage (and support) me to pursue my own approaches wherever feasible. The same applies to my fellow students who are inspiring discussants and – equally important – generally great people to spend time with.
Due to the way it balances tutoring and self-dependent working, expertise and general knowledge on issues like methods and ethics, I feel that the MLitt program is the best preparation for an academic career in Terrorism Studies that I can possibly get.
I started studying the MLitt in Terrorism Studies with St Andrews in 2009, after completing the certificate course. As well as the positive experience of the certificate, the opportunity to study at a distance and over an extended period was very attractive, as I was in the midst of major career change.
I found the course hugely informative and useful, providing a sound understanding of the current issues and discussions within the field of Terrorism, but the history, development and many other important issues, which are often neglected in the current focus on violent Islamist groups. Alongside this, the modules on research skills and methods, for planning, collecting and analysing my own research data, both academically and within work.
However, perhaps just as useful as the course material itself was the freedom to engage with and discuss ideas, both with the staff, but just as valuably, with fellow students. The breadth and depth of experience they contributed complemented that of the staff, providing valuable and fascinating insights.
Overall, I found the MLitt a great experience, expanding my knowledge and equipping me with practical research skills. It’s a course of study I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone.
I first came to St Andrews in 2012 to study for the MLitt in Peace and Conflict Studies, a year I thoroughly enjoyed. Because of my previous positive experiences, both with teaching at the school of International Relations and the student life in St Andrews in general, deciding to come back here for my PhD studies was not difficult. The CSTPV as well as the wider school of IR benefits from a broad range of expertise amongst its staff, be it history, psychology, philosophy, or classical political science. This fact makes interdisciplinary studies at St Andrews extremely rewarding. Moreover, studying at the CSTPV allows you to work together with the experts in the field of terrorism studies and political violence, experts who not only have something to say but are also approachable towards their students. St Andrews is a very friendly place with a collegial atmosphere. All this creates an environment for PhD work that is both and intimate and thought-provoking and has no equal in the United Kingdom.
The MLitt in Terrorism Studies degree has exceeded all of my expectations, and deciding to pursue a Masters with the CSTPV has easily been one of the best decisions I have made. The CSTPV offers a phenomenal quality of academic education. The lecturers and staff are all extremely friendly, interesting, engaging, and really care about their students; making time for you at any point of the week to meet with them to discuss ideas for essays, advice on coursework, and even just to enquire further about areas of interest. The course is a perfect blend between theoretical and historical study, and contemporary, practical relevance. Alongside this, the CSTPV attracts visiting speakers with extremely rare experience and expertise – both practical and academic – including many of the most influential names in the field.
I have also been extremely fortunate to take advantage of the semester-long opportunity to study at Georgetown University, Washington DC; gaining a rare chance to study an unusual range of fascinating modules at one of the most highly respected courses and institutions in the USA. The CSTPV’s reputation extends to the States too though, where it is regarded as one of the most high-calibre, prestigious centres in the field of terrorism and political violence.
St Andrews is a very special place, in which students are offered an unrivalled academic experience, and a great quality of life. I could not recommend studying at the CSTPV more highly.
“CSTPV combines the best of academia – a thorough grounding in the historical literature on terrorism and political violence – with the most current in terms of practitioner experiences and expertise. Moreover, CSTPV draws from a range of disciplines, including history, political science, philosophy, sociology, criminology etc., in order to provide students with a comprehensive study of terrorist and counter-terrorist actors and methods. CSTPV lecturers have demonstrated a constant interest in my research and have arranged outstanding international conferences and seminars. During my three years as a PhD student, I have had unique access to the world’s leading terrorism scholars in a truly collegial atmosphere.”
“I have just completed the Certificate in Terrorism Studies with St Andrews University. I chose Cyberterrorism, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Homeland Security along with Key Issues in International Terrorism, the core module for the course. Having had an interest in Global Terrorism for some time now the course presented the facts, rationale and impact of terrorism, and its rapid growth, in a well structured and easy to follow way. The assignments not only made me analyze certain terrorist attacks, but they also focused my attention on their wider global impact and how they might relate to my own environment.
The course content, subject matter and the support I received were all absolutely first class throughout and the tutor feedback, as you would expect from a prestige institution like St Andrews, was exceptional. I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone that has an interest in this area; it is a fantastic start point for their studies. I am already switching my attention to the MLitt as my next step”
“I found the Certificate in Terrorism Studies at The University of Saint Andrews to be outstanding!
I could have gone with various programs in the United States, but, I specifically chose this course because of the prestige of the University, being one of the oldest in Europe.
The peer-to-peer discussion group sections provided thoughtful insight from others taking the modules from around the world. This diversity in the students and opinions was one of the exceptional benefits for me and helped me understand and analyze the material from different points of view. Assignments were graded quickly and fairly, and with good comments from the instructors.
Overall this was a very good experience for me on a topic which I have been interested in for over 20 years. I learned a great deal. I would highly recommend this Certificate program; and in fact I’m thinking of continuing further with my studies here.”
Arthur Pantelides, PhD, is the Director of Strategic Planning & Control, Sumitomo Corporation of America
“ I first came to St Andrews to study for an MLitt in Terrorism Studies in 2010. I really enjoyed studying at the University and living in St Andrews, and I developed great connections both within my group of fellow students, and with the staff. As a result I felt that CSTPV was the perfect place for me to continue my research when I applied to study for my doctoral thesis. Throughout my time as both a taught and a research student, I have been impressed with the calibre of teaching, the strength of community amongst the staff and students, and the events organised - bringing in academic sand practitioners at the top of their fields to work closely with the students. Additionally, I have benefited from the opportunities the Centre provides, allowing me to undertake an exchange with another institution in the United States. The experience I have gained from studying at St Andrews and interacting with the academic community has been invaluable, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here.”
“Since my enrolment in the IBC Academy & CSTPV Saint Andrews distance study program in Terrorism Studies I have found the course materials to be extremely well prepared, detailed and informative. The offered courses are current and have proven to be extraordinarily beneficial in my current endeavors.”
Robert L.Jones is the Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Missing Persons Affairs and Prisoners of War
Robert L. Jones
“My experience with the University of St Andrews started by enrolling on the Certificate in Terrorism Studies, in May 2008. The e-learning methodology made sense, as I was based in the Middle East. On completion of the course, I enrolled on the first PG Dip / MLitt programme as a non-graduate.
Academically, the MLitt was very thought provoking, and in many ways, I think the Route 3 students add huge value by bringing their experience into the academic arena, allowing staff to also benefit. The writing of the MLitt dissertation was most rewarding; I was encouraged throughout by a most wonderfully strict and professional supervisor.
In March 2013, four months after graduating from the MLitt, I enrolled on the PhD programme, largely based away from St Andrews, but still going to the university for the "GradSkills" programmes, the excellent library, seminars, and for supervisor visits.
In summary, study in the CSTPV at the University of St. Andrews has been a superb experience and opportunity. ”
“CSTPV is a deeply enriching educational institution for its students, that manages to strike the difficult balance of being both inclusive in the broad church of academics and professionals that it draws its students and staff from, and exclusive in its research focus and clarity.
I studied the part time, distance learning MLitt in Terrorism Studies at CSTPV from 2010 to 2013 and can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experienced and have been deeply personally and professionally enriched by the experience.
The course was challenging and highly engaging, the content of which provided a ‘breath of fresh air’ from the standard Al Qaeda centric monotone of the discourse on Terrorism.
Even though I was a part time, distance learning student during my MLitt studies I felt fully integrated into CSTPV and post graduate student life in general at St Andrews. I think a large part of this feeling of connective stemmed from the easy to use online learning resources, easy accessibility of tutors (1 day email reply time on average) and annual on-site conference for all students within the department.
“After many years of hearing about the terrorism research at St. Andrews, I resolved to apply to study in the first full-time enrolment for the MLitt program in Terrorism Studies at the CSTPV. I knew of course that the Centre had already begun the distance learning MLitt, but having recently retired from one career, I was able to take advantage of the resident programme.
Although the inaugural class of ’08-’09 was very small, being just three of us resident students plus one distance learner, I could not have been more satisfied with the experience. Being an American from the mid-Pacific state of Hawaii, there were needless to say many transitions to be made in terms of academic systems, everyday life in a different country and clime, and the amount of challenging, illuminating, and novel materials we read in the mixed methods programme. The teaching and support received from the Centre faculty and staff were exemplary.
My time with CSTPV ignited a passion for empirical research, terrorism studies in general and democratic state responses to terrorism in particular. I was certainly well prepared to undertake PhD studies and research with the larger School of International Relations here at St. Andrews. I’ve recently completed that work and have begun teaching at a university back home.
“During my time in CSTPV, studying for the MLitt Terrorism Studies in 2012 / 13, and beginning a PhD in International Relations this year, I have been consistently impressed by the excellent levels of teaching, resources and opportunities offered by the department. The Terrorism Studies course was endlessly fascinating and stimulating, and a real sense of camaraderie grew out of heated discussions, after-class lunches and celebratory nights out with every deadline passed. I have never enjoyed education so much as at St. Andrews, which manages to cut a perfect balance of intellectual freedom, high standards, and kinship, and in so doing, provides an ideal atmosphere for cutting edge research and discourse. The staff in the department are the reason for this success: across the board they are engaging, interesting, and with cautionary tales and anecdotes that make Terrorism Studies lectures eventful and memorable like no other. Their dedication to the students, combined with fascinating research subjects, makes for an exceptional education.”
From a collegiate and academic perspective, the MLitt at CSTPV is in a league of its own. On top of that, studying at St Andrews is special and, without a doubt, has been a privilege and a learning experience second to none. What singles it out is its familial approach, a core group of professors around which research in this field is revolving and its ancient and modern history – with the Handa Centre, St Andrews has become one of the leading think-tanks on Terrorism today.
As someone who graduated from the course last year I would highly recommend it. It was my second distance learning degree, I also did Security & Risk Management at Leicester but there was no comparison. St Andrews exceeded expectations. The access to the worlds leading figures in Terrorism Studies was phenomenal. The course work allowing me to reach a level of critical thinking and analysis that I did not think possible at the outset. Its not for the faint hearted though, you have to earn your degree from St Andrews.