Some of this MSc will be delivered at Cranfield University at Shrivenham located on the Defence Academy of the United KingdomSecurity clearance will be required as part of the application process. Please refer to our entry requirements section for more details, or see further about security clearance for Cranfield at Shrivenham.

Please be aware of the following application deadlines: 12th June 2023 (International) / 21st July 2023 (UK)..

The MSc Counterterrorism, Risk Management and Resilience is a specialist course designed particularly for those working in the risk management and risk mitigation sectors. Cranfield has a long history of specialising in defence and security subjects and boasts unique facilities for teaching and research in these areas. This course brings together a distinctive mix of different subjects, providing students with the fundamental knowledge, core expertise and evidence-based methodological tools and approaches necessary to understand, analyse, prevent and mitigate terrorism.


  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationFull-time: MSc 11 months, PgDip and PgCert one year; Part-time: MSc three years, PgDip and PgCert two years
  • DeliveryTaught modules 60%, research project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Why this course?

The MSc Counterterrorism, Risk Management and Resilience pathway is specifically tailored for students interested in developing a career in the risk management or insurance sectors with a focus on protective security against terrorism and related threats. This pathway should appeal particularly to candidates who are either serving or recently retired from government, military or policing agencies, or those who are already in the risk management or insurance space who want to specialise in counterterrorism risk management and protective security.

Course details

The taught modules are delivered from October to April.

 Teaching methods vary from module to module but include lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and individual supervision. The emphasis is on student participation and small group work within a supportive learning environment.

Our education philosophy is led by the basic principles of:

             Research led teaching – through a course team that are active researchers or practitioners

             Learning through assessment methods - we view assessment as part of the learning process, with a variety of assessment methods extending the curriculum and transferable skills

Students on the part-time programme complete all of the compulsory modules based on a flexible schedule that will be agreed with the Course Director.

Course delivery

Taught modules 60%, research project 40%


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Introductory Studies

Module Leader
  • Peter Masters
    The aim of Introductory Studies is to prepare you for your subsequent programme of study on the assessed modules, and to introduce you to the requirements of your respective degree. Attendance is mandatory even though the module carries a formal credit rating of zero. The objective of the module is to assess the utility of diverse learning and research methods enabling you to select the appropriate means through which to successfully complete your studies.

    The emphasis in Introductory Studies is on fundamentals and subjects are covered at first-degree level. Topics include:

    • Study skills and research methods,
    • MSc themes,
    • Computing services and library briefings,
    • Research ethics,
    • Library resources and referencing,
    • Explosives’ awareness,
    • Healthy and safety.
Intended learning outcomes

Introductory Studies is designed to enable students to revise, consolidate and expand their skill and knowledge base so that they can derive maximum benefit from the course.

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Assess the quality of sources and their suitability and relevance to produce oral and written academic work at MSc level,
  • Identify fitting methodologies and skills for effective study and research,
  • Organise material and communicate arguments effectively and persuasively,
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the University’s conventions for referencing and for appropriate presentation of academic work,
  • Manage your studies using a range of IT,
  • Work in accordance with University Health and Safety policy.

Understanding Terrorism & Counter-terrorism

Module Leader
  • Dr Anastasia Filippidou

    The aim of this module is to introduce students to the fundamental debates relating to terrorism and counterterrorism. It will address a range of key issues, including definitions, root causes, history & evolution, and major theories. This module will also introduce students to the research methods and data analysis used to understand and assess terrorism and counterterrorism.

    • Defining ‘terrorism’
    • Exploring the history and evolution of terrorism and counterterrorism
    • Major theories and debates on terrorism and counterterrorism
    • Research approaches and methodologies
    • Psychology of terrorism & counterterrorism
    • Root causes of terrorism
    • Case studies of terrorist groups and conflicts
    • Fundamentals of counterterrorism
    • The terrorism/counterterrorism dynamic
    • Case studies of counterterrorism policies

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Analyse the major theoretical, academic and substantive debates from a range of disciplines relating to terrorism and counterterrorism.
  • Critically examine and appraise research, evaluate and assess models and explanations of terrorism, and the range of counterterrorism options to these.
  • Examine and critically assess several case studies of terrorism and counterterrorism campaigns.
  • Critique the evidence base for understanding terrorism and which underlies counterterrorism initiatives and policies.
  • Construct and formulate an argument and communicate it effectively in writing.


Applied Counterterrorism


    The aim of this module is to provide students with an evidence-based understanding of the history and modern nature of counterterrorism. The module will focus on different forms and arenas of counterterrorism and will provide a critical assessment of the effectiveness and flaws of different CT strategies and tactics. The module will also focus attention on several detailed case studies to illustrate the role and impact of counterterrorism policies and practices, and the lessons that can be learnt from them.

  • Counterterrorism theories and models
  • Ethics and Human Rights 
  • Critical debates in counterterrorism
  • Deradicalisation and disengagement
  • Evaluating impact and effectiveness
  • Prevention and deterrence
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Risk mitigation
  • Resilience

Intended learning outcomes
  • Be able to engage with and critique the evidence base underlying counterterrorism theory and models 
  • Be able to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of different counterterrorism strategies and tactics, and their suitability in different circumstances
  • Be able to critically appreciate the role of experts, practitioners, politicians and the general public in the development and application of counterterrorism policy and practice
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the design and evaluation of counterterrorism policies and initiatives
  • Display a detailed knowledge of several case studies of major counterterrorism campaigns. 

Strategies, Ideologies and Tactics of Terrorism


    The aim of this module is to explore the drivers and decision-making behind terrorist tactics, strategies and target selection. The module will make use of Cranfield’s explosives and firearms facilities to examine different types of terrorist tactics, looking into the role of ideology and other factors, as well as the impact of countermeasures on the evolution of terrorist strategies. The module will also consider possible future trends in terrorist tactics and strategy.

    • Exploring the history of terrorist strategy and tactics
    • Terrorist tactics and strategies in contemporary context
    • Understanding terrorist target selection
    • Terrorist psychology and decision-making
    • Innovation and learning in terrorism
    • Case studies of terrorist campaigns

Intended learning outcomes
  • Critically understand terrorist strategy, ideologies and tactics in the UK and abroad
  • Critically analyse what academic research tells us about terrorist tactics and strategy
  • Critically assess the impact of ideology in motivating terrorists, and examine the interpretations of events from multiple perspectives
  • Explore the link between a terrorist organisation’s ideological structure and framework, the target selection, the tactics adopted, recruitment and training
  • Examine the impact of state responses on terrorist tactics, and possible future tactics Demonstrate an understanding of the drivers of the evolution and innovation in terrorist tactics and strategy

Terrorism Risk Management and Mitigation


    This module will enhance your knowledge and understanding of the development and functioning of risk management and mitigation in the context of terrorism and counterterrorism. The module will outline methods for assessing vulnerabilities associated with those threats, assessing specific risks, and how to make decisions about how to manage and mitigate these. The scope of the methods includes reducing direct and indirect damage across a range of different attack risks.

    • The concept, development and characteristics of risk management and resilience,

    • Risk assessment and risk management techniques,

    • Understanding terrorist threats, decision-making and attack planning,

    • Insights & lessons from situational crime prevention,

    • Case studies in terrorism risk management,

    • Risk mitigation and resilience in the context of terrorism threats,

    • Future trends and issues for terrorism risk management and mitigation.

Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Critically examine terrorism risk management through an assessment of risk identification, measurement, management and mitigation,
  • Critically analyse the nature and importance of effective risk management processes,
  • Assess the techniques associated with risk identification, estimation, evaluation and management in the context of terrorism and related threats,
  • Evaluate the opportunities and challenges in applying techniques of risk management and mitigation with regard to terrorism and related threats,
  • Construct and formulate argument and analysis, and communicate these effectively in a form suitable for specific target audiences.

Risk, Crisis and Resilience

Module Leader
  • Dr Edith Wilkinson

    The aim of this module is to critically examine the concepts of risk, crisis and resilience. In this module students assess the meaning of resilience (appreciating its origins, its development and the limits to its implementation). The concepts of risk and crisis will be examined as they are integral to the understanding of resilience. Risk and crisis management practices will be explored and debated in the context of their application as contemporary decision-making framework specifically in the fields defence and security.

    • Key risk theories (including Psychological theory and Risk Perception, Cultural theory and social amplification, Risk homeostasis, Precautionary Principle),
    • Risk management tools and methodology (including RM cycle, matrix, and registers),
    • Crisis management frameworks (including decision-making under uncertainty),
    • Notions of risk and Crisis communication,
    • Components of resilience approach in the resilience in the UK and its relation to National Security,
    • Societal implications of prevailing risk awareness and its relationship with resilience thinking (including points on the politics of resilience),
    • Resilience from a perspective of Complex adaptive systems (social ecological literature),
    • Case-studies, classroom activities.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Review the concept of risk through the examination of its evolution, its application in practice and its limitations. Consider the contemporary risk environment and the implication in terms of culture,
  • Critically analyse the development of academic theory and its application to the management of crises. Relate risk and crisis management tools, processes, and frameworks, and critically evaluate them. Discuss organisational structures and individual skills and knowledge necessary to manage crises effectively (including risk and crisis communication),
  • Review the multifaceted meaning of the resilience concept and its key tenets and discuss its origins and evolution; Relate risk and crisis management frameworks to contemporary resilience strategies principally from the perspective of security,
  • Introduce systems theory and its relevance to risk, crises and resilience and the repercussions on understanding the politics of resilience.

Elective modules
One of modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Protecting Critical National Infrastructure


    This module focuses on the protection of critical national infrastructure (CNI). It outlines current risks to critical infrastructure and key resources posed by terrorism and related threats. Key concepts covered include how security vulnerabilities are analysed. Students will learn about the critical infrastructure protection cycle as well as risk assessment and risk management plans relevant to CNI.

    • The concept and characteristics of critical national infrastructure (CNI),
    • The nature of terrorist and related threats to CNI,
    • Terrorist decision-making and attack planning on CNI,
    • Protection of CNI and key resources,
    • Considering CNI in the context of both public and private sectors,
    • Case studies in CNI targeting and responses,
    • Comparative analysis of CNI protection,
    • Risk mitigation and resilience in the context of CNI,
    • Understanding emerging CNI and future threats and risks.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse the nature and vulnerabilities of critical national infrastructure (CNI),
  • Examine and assess the history and evolution of terrorist and related attacks and plots targeting CNI,
  • Critically evaluate policies and measures implemented to protect CNI, showing awareness of legal, ethical and sector issues,
  • Systematically engage with and critique the evidence around the roles for risk management, risk mitigation and resilience in the context of CNI.



    This module will outline the concept of cyberterrorism and provide an introduction to the threat landscape of cyberspace and potential ways to mitigate these threats. The module will outline the ways in which terrorists and related actors use cyberspace. It will provide an overview of the technology of the Internet and through the use of case studies will explore some of the major types of cyber-attack.

  • Defining and classifying cybercrime, cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism,
  • The nature and scale of terrorist use of cyberspace,
  • The role of state actors in cyber threats,
  • Characteristics of cyberterrorism,
  • Relationship between cybersecurity and cyberterrorism,
  • Core debates in cybersecurity,
  • NGOs and public private partnerships,
  • Risk mitigation.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Critically analyse cybersecurity and online threats related to terrorism,
  • Critically evaluate and assess the characteristics of cybercrime, cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism,
  • Examine and evaluate the challenges posed by cyberterrorism with regard to legal frameworks and policy responses,
  • Critically evaluate the response of government, enforcement agencies and NGOs to the threat and risks posed by cyberterrorism,
  • Analyse principles of resilience and risk management in developing responses to cyberterrorism.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism


    This module looks at the development of CBRN weapons and assesses the appeal of such weapons to terrorist and related actors. Case study analysis of prior attacks and plots will be used to assess terrorist decision-making and capability in this area and to examine how they acquire and fabricate materials. Also assessed will be the effectiveness of government countermeasures in countering and mitigating the CBRN threat.

  • Terrorist attack planning and decision-making
  • Barriers and facilitators to terrorist use of CBRN weapons
  • Psychological elements to CBRN attacks
  • Case study analysis
  • Detection of CBRN operations
  • Preventing CBRN attacks
  • Mitigation of CBRN threats
  • Future risk of CBRN terrorism

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse the nature and scientific basis of CBRN terrorism threats, including with regard to the production, delivery and impact of such weapons,
  • Critically evaluate and assess the risk factors associated with CBRN terrorism including those related to decision-making processes, capability, resources, sponsorship, intent and ideology,
  • Examine and critically assess several case studies of CBRN terrorism attacks and plots,
  • Critically evaluate the evidence base used to understand CBRN terrorism as well as the countermeasures for preventing and mitigating such attacks,
  • Assess and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of government agency and international responses and countermeasures to CBRN terrorism.

Counterterrorism and Intelligence

Module Leader
  • Dr Anastasia Filippidou

    To enable participants to analyse and explain current conceptual thinking regarding the nature of terrorism, its origins, motivations and manifestations, together with an in-depth knowledge and critical awareness of the counter-terrorism approaches and intelligence approaches and strategies adopted by states. Within the context of counterterrorism, the module also examines the role of intelligence in combatting terrorism, the relationship between intelligence and secrecy and its impact, as well as the ethical issues in the use of intelligence. 


    Indicative module content:

    • definitional issues,
    • conceptual approaches to terrorism,
    • the origins and use of terrorism throughout history,
    • the nature and causes of terrorism,
    • understanding terrorists: the origins, motivations and manifestations of terrorist groups.terrorist organisations and networks,
    • the process of radicalisation,
    • assessing the success and failure of terrorist groups,
    • counter-terrorism approaches and strategies: assumptions, aims, frameworks and principles,
    • evaluate the purpose and structures of intelligence function,
    • identify and assess categories of intelligence. (sources, disciplines, organisations),
    • assess the influence of culture, history, power, and human factors upon the effectiveness of intelligence. assumptions, aims, frameworks and principles,
    • CT strategies, globally, regionally and nationally,
    • the CT ‘toolkit’.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

 • demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current conceptual thinking regarding the phenomenon of terrorism and the threat that it poses, graphically, orally and in writing,
• evaluate terrorist groups in terms of their type, techniques, manifestations and success or otherwise, both today and in the past,
• critique extant counter-terrorism approaches and strategies and evaluate their relative merits in the context of democratic values and human rights,
• analyse the use of intelligence as an integrated tool of policy-making and evaluate the existent frameworks that prevent intelligence from becoming a political tool,
• evaluate how terrorist organisations attempt to develop their intelligence capabilities and how counter-intelligence can effectively mitigate against this threat,
• demonstrate creativity and originality in the development of policy relevant recommendations in the fields of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Terrorism and the Law


    To enable you to evaluate and explain authoritatively the ways in which law operates and is used, within the international and domestic contexts, to respond to terrorism.

    • Legal paradigms for dealing with terrorism,

    • Legal definitions of terrorism at the domestic and international levels,

    • Principles of State criminal jurisdiction and extradition,

    • Principles of criminal liability,

    • The Special Tribunal for Lebanon,

    • Self-defence and the use of armed force against terrorism,

    • Terrorism and the law in armed conflicts,

    • Basic principles of human rights law,

    • Terrorism and derogations from human rights.

Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Critically assess the different forms of international and domestic legal response to terrorism,
  • Analyse and evaluate contemporary terrorism-related events and developments with reference to international and domestic criminal and human rights law,
  • Demonstrate the ability to articulate the complexities of legal debates surrounding the application of international and domestic criminal justice and the protection of human rights in cases involving terrorist-type offences in terminology appropriate to the subject, but in a clear manner that can be readily understood by a non-expert audience.

Courtroom Skills

Module Leader
  • Professor Peter Zioupos

    The module will provide an understanding of the role and responsibilities of expert witnesses in domestic and international criminal and civil cases and how they can present their evidence to the court effectively. You will also apply knowledge gained in previous modules to strengthen arguments presented in expert witness reports.

    • Role and legal responsibilities of the forensic expert,
    • Civil and criminal procedure rules,
    • Excellence in report and statement writing,
    • Presentation of evidence in court,
    • Preparation for examination-in-chief and cross-examination.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast between the various legal systems and the concepts of criminal prosecution and civil litigation,
  • Evaluate and compose in the role and with the responsibilities of an expert witness,
  • Construct, formulate and appraise an effective expert witness report in compliance to legal requirements for such a document,
  • Construct a case to present oral evidence in court effectively and respond successfully to cross-examination, with an insight into how cross-examination is prepared.

Introduction to Fire Investigation


    Understand the nature of fire, its basic principles, and the application of fire investigation in the criminal and civil judicial process. Appreciate the application of fire investigation skills in real world applications and investigations.

    • The basic principles of fire chemistry,
    • Principles of Fire investigation,
    • Photography of fire scenes/dark environments and associated techniques,
    • Ignition sources and their viability,
    • Case studies,
    • Basic crime scene packaging, evidential continuity and recovery of fire scene samples,
    • Basic fire scene debris analysis,
    • The effects of fire on common household items,
    • Practical fire scene investigation and origin and cause determination.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Evaluate the principals of fire,
  • Assess the area of origin and cause of a fire,
  • Examine and analyse fire spread and fire damage patterns,
  • Assess the scientific principals and bias within fire investigation,
  • Evaluate a basic practical fire investigation including photography, packaging, excavation and note taking.

Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Capability

Module Leader
  • Stephen Johnson

    The aim of the C-IED Capability course is to educate industry, military and civilian MoD C-IED and Counter Threat professionals in a system engineering & critical thinking approach to the Counter IED/Threat systems with emphasis on supporting capabilities and technology.

    Subjects covered will include:
    • The C-IED approach in accordance with JDP 3-65(AJP-3.15(C)) and other civilian and military approaches,
    • Understand the development of IED threats based on historical perspective and how these have been countered,
    • Technologies involved in C-IED across Detect, Neutralise, Mitigate and Exploit,
    • Incudes roles of ISTAR and ECM,
    • How to advise senior and specialist staff on C-Threat,
    • The importance of ‘Understand’ and information management to maintain effectiveness,
    • Application of influence activities to C-Threat,
    • Analysing adversary weapon systems and identifying points of influence and effect.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate the benefit of C-IED activities (Predict, Pursue, Prevent, Detect, Neutralise and Mitigate and Exploit) with respect to Prepare the Force, Attack the Network and Defeat the Device,
  • Predict the impact of new technologies on threat,
  • Analyse the development of IED threats,
  • Recommend a strategy to counter an adversary’s IED/Threat systems.

Forensic Exploitation and Intelligence

Module Leader
  • Stephen Johnson

    To provide an understanding of the principles and practical applications of the major forensic analytical techniques used in Forensic Intelligence (FORINT) and exploitation.

    • Role of intelligence processes and data management,
    • FORINT in Long term policing strategy,
    • Exploitation and Military Intelligence,
    • Pattern analysis, GIS and mathematics in forensic intelligence,
    • Technical exploitation,
    • Forensic exploitation,
    • Planning and direction of forensic intelligence,
    • Collection, processing, production, management and dissemination of FORINT,
    • Forms of output and report from FORINT.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Distinguish evidential types for use in court and for intelligence purposes,
  • Evaluate the levels and range of forensic exploitation techniques,
  • Manage and prioritise the exploitation of forensic intelligence derived from people, places and vehicles,
  • Critically assess how forensic intelligence interfaces with other intelligence sources,
  • Establish and maintain a FORINT exploitation policy within the frameworks of forensic best practice and the recognized intelligence cycle.

Trauma Weapon Effects

Module Leader
  • Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant
  • Dr Richard Critchley

    Understand the nature of different weapon types used in criminal activity. Evaluate the construction of improvised weapons and their wounding potential in real life scenarios.

    • Discuss and evaluate commonly used weapons by examining case studies,
    • Blunt Trauma and the biomechanics of tissue damage,
    • The effect of body armour on wounding potential of weapons,
    • Use and interpretation of wounding data,
    • Microscopy and micro CT analysis,
    • Practical use of stab/slash/blunt trauma rigs to examine the effect of a variety of weapons,
    • Use of tissue simulants,
    • Weapon identification from wounding patterns in historical cases.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse wounding patterns by individual weapons,
  • Assess trauma patterns in soft tissue and bone,
  • Evaluate the construction of improvised weapons used in criminal activity,
  • Identify and discuss the suitability of tissue simulants,
  • Identify weapon type by wounding patterns.

Your career

We have entered an era where society faces critical issues in relation to terrorism and the fight against terrorism. The MSc Counterterrorism provides a rigorous, evidence-based qualification which will assist graduates to start careers in a wide variety of fields, including those related to security, policing, military, government policy, and international work. Beyond this, the MSc will help assist the careers of graduates who are already working in these and related fields.

Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Cranfield’s Career Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

How to apply

Click on the ‘Apply Now’ button to start your online application.

There is a non-refundable application fee of £75 for this course for 2024-25 entry onward.

Find out more about the application fee and how to pay it.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.