Syllabus for HLS-500



This course examines the phenomenon of terrorism as it relates to the United States as well as to American interests in other countries, primarily in the time period from the Cold War to the present. The attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and the subsequent adoption of a formal U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be examined in the context of the global terrorist threat and the more general concept of homeland security. Emphasis is on the identification and understanding of appropriate definitions and concepts so that students may critically evaluate the threats present and the range of responses available in our democratic society. Appropriate historical foundations, as well as essential components of a mechanism for homeland security, will be presented. Other key topics include the relationship between homeland security and preparation; terrorism response and recovery mechanisms; and goals, objectives, and strategies. The importance of coordinating various plans and strategies among local, state, and federal government response organizations will be stressed.


  1. Defining terrorism
  2. Causes of domestic, international, state, dissident, and religious terrorism
  3. Violent ideologies and emerging terrorism environments
  4. High-value targets and common terrorist tactics
  5. The role of the media in terrorism
  6. Responses to terrorism: now and in the future


The primary goal of this course is to provide an understanding of the motives, origins, and rationales for extremist beliefs and terrorist behavior and at the same time to explain how governments respond to these phenomena.  You will be challenged to critically assess extremist ideology and the practice of terrorism. You will also be challenged to evaluate the notion that the practice of terrorism is limited exclusively to the "lunatic fringe"; put another way, is one person's terrorist another person's freedom fighter?  After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Identify, define, explore, and discuss aspects of the origin, history, and elements   comprising terrorism.
  2. Identify, examine, and evaluate challenges involving terrorism and homeland security that face U.S. government officials and the various agencies responsible for addressing terrorism and providing domestic homeland security.
  3. Explain, assess, and describe the specific law enforcement and national intelligence agencies comprising homeland security within the United States who are responsible for addressing terrorism and providing domestic homeland security.
  4. Examine, evaluate, and discuss the methods used by law enforcement and national security agencies to address the various problems involving domestic and international hate crimes and terrorism.
  5. Discuss, synthesize, and explain  the various theories that attempt to address the origins of extremist beliefs related to terrorism and then differentiate between terrorism from above (state terrorism) and terrorism from below (dissident terrorism) in a coherent and comprehensive manner.
  6. Describe, explain, compare, and discuss terrorist activities against United States interests since World War II and the core issues that contributed to the spectrum of terrorist activities.
  7. Describe, discuss, and assess the motivations, ideologies, and rationales of terrorist groups along with the common methods, tactics, and execution of terrorist activities.
  8. Appraise, assess, and evaluate various types of legal, administrative, and procedural changes that have occurred in response to terrorism in the United States since 9/11.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Texts

  • Martin, Gus. Understanding Terrorism; Challenges, Perspectives, and Issues. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2016.

ISBN-13: 978-1483378985

  • The National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States. The 9/11 Commission Report. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2004.
    ISBN-10: 0393326713 (paperback)


Terrorism and Homeland Security In The U.S. is a three-credit online course, consisting of six modules. Modules include an overview, topics, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums and complete written assignments, web exercises, and a final project. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete six written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the courses modules.

Each module contains one written assignment (total four written assignments). For each, you must prepare and submit an essay from 3 – 8 pages in length (double spaced, 12 point type) as directed in the assignment. All citations included in your response(s) must follow APA format guidelines and submitted as a Microsoft Word document file. If you do not have Word, submit the document as an .rtf (rich text) file so it can be read.

Discussion Forums

You are required to participate in six graded discussion forums. Discussion forums are on a variety of topics associated with the courses modules.

Web Exercises

You are required to complete five web exercises assignments. The web exercises are on a variety of topics associated with the courses modules.

These exercises are designed to help students delve deeper into the subject matter by using the recommended Web sites to answer questions on chapter topics.  Key words are also provided for more in-depth research on terrorism.

Final Project

You are required to complete a final project. Final project will be 18-20 pages in length.  See the Final Project area of the course website for more details.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:


















Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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