Sarah Marsden

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

My research and teaching take an interdisciplinary approach to radical and violent politics. I look 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. I have published widely on these subjects in journals including Terrorism and Political Violence, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and the Journal of Strategic Studies.

My 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. 

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Email address:            

Office number:                     TBC

Office phone number:         TBC

Office hours:                         By appointment

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  • 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.



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IR5902: Research Methods

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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.

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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.

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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


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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