Terrorism, Risk, and Security Studies
The School of Criminology offers a professional master of arts (MA) in Terrorism, Risk, and Security Studies (TRSS). This program combines coursework in terrorism studies, computation and big data, risk assessment, decision analysis, and public policy to address security issues from a variety of diverse, yet complimentary, disciplinary perspectives.
Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulation 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. The TRSS graduate admissions committee may offer, at its discretion, MA admission to students without an undergraduate degree. A student may be admitted with lower formal qualifications than stated in Graduate General Regulation 1.3.3. when there is significant professional experience relevant to the proposed area of scholarship.
This program consists of coursework and a project for a minimum of 30 units.
Students must complete the following courses
The dynamic nature of terrorism creates multiple issues around understanding the threat environment, the perpetrators, causes, and solutions. As an advanced introduction to contemporary terrorism, specific emphasis will be placed on understanding: the specific threat environment (e.g. right wing terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism); emergent issues (e.g. homegrown terrorism, foreign fighters, lone wolves, women in terrorism); particularly salient issues (e.g. cyberterrorism, weapons of mass destruction); the dynamics of terrorism (radicalization, social media, social networks). These issues are all addressed in the context how they relate to, and can inform, methods of preventing and responding to terrorism. Themes and specific topics will be updated every year to reflect the dynamic nature of contemporary terrorism.
Among the most important questions for terrorism studies are “Why and how do individuals become involved in terrorism?” The mechanisms of radicalization and recruitment are varied and diverse, and may be influenced by the interplay of psychology, social psychology, group dynamics, and broader cultural contexts. This course will provide an introduction to the wide variety of perspectives. Regardless of the specific motivational dynamics, contemporary theorizing conceptualizes radicalization as a process. This course will review these approaches. Finally this course will examine the policy implications of the various approaches to radicalization. How can what we know about radicalization be used to arrest or reverse the process?
This course introduces students to the basics of risk management, which includes both risk assessment and risk treatment. Risk management will be approached from a broad perspective, and terrorism will be considered as one possible context for the application of risk management principles. Students will gain an appreciation of a wide variety of risk assessment methodologies, and learn how to evaluate these methodologies in varying contexts. This course will also highlight other important aspects of the risk management process, including understanding organizational risk culture, risk communications, risk monitoring, and reporting to governance.
Reviews psychological theory, research, and practice as it relates to assessment of risk for terrorism and other forms of group-based violence. The overarching goal is to help students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct evidence-based assessments of group-based violence, as well as to critically evaluate, interpret, and act on assessments conducted by others.
This course addresses the tensions between individual rights and national security. It attempts to address how democracies attempt to balance civil liberties against concerns raised by global terrorism. Various legal responses to terrorism are analyzed in the domestic, comparative and international contexts.
Decisions involve trade-offs among optimal rationality, legal and political acceptability, and managerial and operational feasibility. The incomplete, ambiguous, and at times contradictory nature of information forms a growing challenge given the often fluid developments of threats in this policy area. The values and interests at stake for the decision maker constitute a second layer of challenge as threats blend between domestic and international and values compete among security and democratic liberty. The cognitive, small-group, and diverse organizational environments that manage these layers of challenge are themselves subject to bias and competition and may add potential distortions at both the policy and implementation levels. Impediments to optimal decision making include insufficient range of alternatives considered, false consensus, selection bias, rigid option selection, outdated standard operation procedures, conflation of parochial and policy goals, analogical reasoning, wishful thinking, bureaucratic rivalry, and low-probed choice.
CRIM 740 is an introductory course designed to familiarize students with the fundamentals of quantitative analysis. Students will become familiar with the basic quantitative approaches that are used in social science research, with an emphasis on analysis and interpretation. Students will hand-in assignments based on a dataset that will be supplied by the professor. In this course, students will be expected to apply a variety of analytic techniques. Lab periods will be devoted primarily to learning to code, analyze, interpret and represent data using SPSS.
The cyber domain is a new environment where we see both security threats and terrorist activities taking place. Indeed, addressing these threats through the lens cyber security will be of utmost importance. This course will introduce students to online communities of extremists and hackers, on both web-forums and social media, where threats/attacks against Canada, Canadians, and critical infrastructure are discussed. This course will also introduce methods for analyzing data from online communities, in particular text data and social network data. This course is for social science students and as such does not require a background in computing science.
and a project
Taken during the final semester of study, the Master’s Project (Research Report) is required for graduation. The PRP is an extended essay conducted under the auspices of a cohort supervisor. Students are expected to conduct a comprehensive and critical review of pertinent literature. The Project is reviewed by two readers, who will provide feedback as well as a final grade. Prerequisite: Successful completion of 24 credit hours in TRSS program.
Students are expected to complete the program requirements in nine terms.
The project will not normally exceed 50 pages in length.
The candidate's progress is assessed once per year by the school (spring). A student who performs unsatisfactorily is not permitted to continue in the program, subject to the review procedure described in Graduate General Regulation 1.8.2.
Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations
All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.