Sarah Marsden

Sarah Marsden is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews. She joined St Andrews after five years in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University.

Her research and teaching takes an interdisciplinary approach to radical and violent politics; looking at transnational social movements, violent militant networks, grassroots activists, and those practicing everyday forms of resistance from a range of ideological positions including militant Islamists, anti-fascists, radical environmental activists, and far-right religious nationalists. She is published widely on these subjects in journals including Terrorism and Political Violence, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and the Journal of Strategic Studies.

Her work on political contention takes a participatory approach, engaging with a wide range of stakeholders including government bodies, arts organisations, charities, and community-led groups to develop real-world solutions to complex social problems.

Current projects include a body of work on violent extremism through the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats with a focus on counter-extremism, reintegration and disengagement processes, and foreign fighters, and Remembering Resistance, a transdisciplinary programme of research, events, and collaborations that looks at the relationship between protest, power and place in women’s activism.

Email address:            

Office number:                     TBC

Office phone number:         TBC

Office hours:                         By appointment


  • Violent Legacies: Why Militant Movements Endure. Under contract. McGill-Queen’s University Press.
  • Reintegrating Extremists: ‘Deradicalisation’ and Desistance. Palgrave Macmillan. (2017).

Journal articles

  • Defining Terrorism: Communities and Contexts. Contemporary Voices in International Relations. Forthcoming, 2020.
  • Examining Terrorism’s Persistence: A Relational Approach. Contemporary Voices in International Relations. Forthcoming, 2020.
  • Radicalisation: Policy, Research and Trajectories. International Journal of Conflict and Violence. Forthcoming, 2020.
  • A Social Movement Theory Typology of Militant Organisations: Contextualising Terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 28(2016): 750-773.
  • Conceptualising ‘Success’ with those Convicted of Terrorism Offences: Aims, Methods and Barriers to Reintegration.  Behavioral Studies of Terrorism and Political Aggression 7 (2015): 143-165.
  • Leaderless Global Jihadism: The Paradox of Discriminate Violence. Journal of Strategic Studies, 38 (2015): 579-601. With G. Ramsay.
  • Forest Jihad: Assessing the Evidence for ‘Popular Resistance Terrorism’. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 37 (2014): 1-17. With D. Marino and G. Ramsay.
  • Media Metrics of Success and Failure in the Global War on Terror: A Comparison of Western and Arab Media Perspectives. Perspectives on Terrorism 7 (2013): 10-26.
  • Radical Distinctions: A Comparative Study of Two Jihadist Speeches. Critical Studies on Terrorism 6 (2013): 392-409. With G. Ramsay.
  • ‘Successful terrorism’: Framework and Review. Behavioural Sciences of Terrorism and Political Violence 4(2012): 134-150.

Book chapters

  • Disengagement and Deradicalisation Programmes. In Contemporary Terrorism Studies, edited by Diego Muro and Tim Wilson. Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
  • The Effectiveness of Terrorism. In The Routledge Handbook on Terrorism and Counterterrorism, edited by Andrew Silke. Routledge, 2018.
  • Negotiating difference: Extremism, critical thinking and an ethics of care. In Education and Extremisms: Rethinking Liberal Pedagogies in the Contemporary World, edited by F. Panjawi et al., Routledge, 2017.
  • Reintegrating Radicals: A Strengths-Based Approach to ‘Deradicalisation’. In Victims and Perpetrators of Terrorism: Exploring identities, roles and narratives, edited by Orla Lynch and Javier Argomaniz, 2017.
  • How Terrorism Ends. In Terrorism and Political Violence, edited by Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Gordon Clubb and Simon Mabon, 199-225. Croydon: Sage, 2015.
  • Typologies of Terrorism. In Handbook of Terrorism Research: Research, Theories and Concepts, edited by Alex P. Schmid, 158-200. London & New York: Routledge, 2011. With A. P. Schmid.
  • Furthering the Counter-Narrative via Educational and Social Grassroots Projects. In Edited Volume on Counter-narratives, edited by Erik Akerboom, 132-143. Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism: The Hague, 2010. With T. Qureshi.
  • What Role Does Punishment Play in Deterring Crime? Practical, Theoretical and Ethical Perspectives. In Forensic Psychology: Concepts, debates and practice, (2nd Ed), edited by Joanna R. Adler and Jacqueline M. Gray, 445-465. London: Willan, 2010.



IR5902: Research Methods

Media profile

  • Outlets featuring my work include: BBC News, BBC Radio 4, STV, TV3, The Independent, The Times, The Scotsman, Sunday Herald, Sunday Express, DR2, Agence France-Presse, O Globo, and Middle East Eye.
  • New media contributions include: The Conversation; CREST Security Review; LSE Politics and Policy; openDemocracy; Political Studies Association; Policy and Politics Journal; RadicalisationResearch

Submission of expert evidence

  • House of Lords Committee on Communication Inquiry into Children and the Internet, 2017: oral evidence.
  • Home Affairs Committee on Counter Extremism 2016: written evidence.


Organisational engagement through invited talks, knowledge exchange events and consultation

  • HM government departments: Cabinet Office; Commission for Countering Extremism; Department for International Development; Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service; Home Office; London Mayor’s Office; National Offender Management Service; Office for Security and Counterterrorism; and UK Security and Intelligence Agencies.
  • International organisations: International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates; CENTCOM; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Public Safety Canada; United Nations Development Programme.
  • Cultural organisations: Pankhurst Museum; People’s History Museum; Sheffield Museums; Working Class Movement Library.

Invited Talks

  • Violent legacies: Terrorism’s organisational, political and cultural outcomes. Terrorism: Its Past, Present and Future. University of St Andrews. November 2019.
  • Reintegration or Deradicalisation. Transforming Dangerousness? Reintegration Foreign Fighter Returnees.Centre for Security Studies, University of Leeds. May 2019.
  • Remembering Resistance: Northern Women. Political Radicalism and Dissent in the Early 20th Century. Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster. November 2018.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of deradicalisation programmes. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, June 2018.
  • Foreign fighter reintegration. Foreign fighters: New directions and challenges. Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington, USA. March 2018.
  • Education and extremisms. Centre for Research in Race and Education, University of Birmingham, February 2018.
  • Deradicalisation and desistance. Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence Research Seminar, University of St Andrews, December 2017.
  • A strengths-based approach to ‘radicalisation’ and ‘deradicalisation’. Terrorism and Political Violence Association, Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Society, Identity and Security. Leeds University, July 2016.
  • Radicalisation and the mind. Brainwashing and hidden persuasion? A workshop on models of the mind and de-radicalisation. Birkbeck University, London; December 2015.
  • What should schools do about radicalisation? Westminster Faith Debates, Royal United Services Institute, London; July 2015.
  • Kahane Chai? Understanding the legacy of Israel’s early radical right. University of Edinburgh, Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, Edinburgh; March 2015.

[/et_pb_tab][et_pb_tab _builder_version=”4.5.3″ _module_preset=”default” title=”PhD Supervision” hover_enabled=”0″]

PhD Supervision:

I would be happy to collaborate with students in the following areas: terrorism and political violence with a particular focus on militant Islamism and religious nationalism; ‘radicalisation’ and the psychological and sociological processes associated with involvement in violent politics; social movements, activism and protest, in particular the role of ideology and identity in political contention.

Current research students:

  • Rosamund Mutton: Performing Gendered Extremism: A gender critical comparative analysis of women’s roles within violent extremist groups. ESRC/CREST funded.
  • James Lewis: How Schools ‘Do’ PREVENT: Analysing the Enactment of the PREVENT Duty in Secondary Schools in England. ESRC funded.
  • Kristine Endsjø: The roles of affect and emotion in online radical milieus. ESRC/CREST funded.

Recent Funding Awards:  


  • Campbell systematic review: Countering Violent Extremism: Case management interventions. Public Safety Canada. £122,000
  • Knowledge management across the four counter-terrorism ‘Ps’. Home Office. £50,000


  • A Woman’s March Through Time: Virtual Reality Experience. Department for Culture, Media and Sport. £4,000
  • Mobilise! Co-Designing Tools for Social Change. ESRC Impact Acceleration Award. £14,895
  • Disengagement: Research to practice. Home Office, Office of Security and Counter Terrorism £6,455


  • Desistance and Disengagement II. Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, Home Office. £6,150
  • Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats +2. ESRC Centre grant. £1.36 million. Co-Investigator
  • Remembering Resistance: A Century of Women’s Protest. Heritage Lottery Fund. £65,000


  • Desistance and Disengagement I. Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, Home Office. £6,100
  • Countering Violent Extremism: Guide to Good Practice. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. £15,770. Co-Investigator

Personal Awards: 

  • Reintegrating Extremists: ‘Deradicalisation’ and Desistance. Palgrave Macmillan. (2017). Longlisted for the Airey Neave Book Prize, 2017.
  • Excellence in Teaching (Postgraduate) Award: University of St Andrews, 2014


Book series editor

  • Protest, Power and Resistance: McGill Queen’s University Press.


Editorial board membership

  • Terrorism and Political Violence
  • Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
  • International Journal of Conflict and Violence
  • Journal of Deradicalisation
  • Contemporary Voices: St Andrews Journal of International Relations

Advisory board membership & affiliations

  • European Consortium on Political Research Standing Group on Political Violence
  • Journal of Deradicalisation
  • Terrorism and Political Violence Association
  • International Consensus Guidelines Committee for the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremist Violence, Public Safety Canada: Expert Consultant
  • Associate Researcher: Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research