This symposium emerged as a response to three recent developments in the field of terrorism studies. The first development has been the tremendous growth in terrorism related research and teaching activities since the attacks of 11 September 2001. Since then, terrorism studies has been transformed from a minor subfield of security studies to a large stand-alone field with its own dedicated journals, research centres, leading scholars and experts, research funding opportunities, conferences and university study programmes. As a consequence, it is now one of the fastest expanding areas of research in the Western academic world, with literally thousands of new books and articles published over the past few years, significant investment in terrorism-related research projects and increasing numbers of postgraduate dissertations and undergraduate students. A second concurrent development has been a growing dissatisfaction with the state of the field and its voluminous output by senior scholars, security practitioners and sections of the public. As detailed in the papers that follow, a number of authoritative scholarly reviews have noted that much of what passes for terrorism research lacks rigorous theories and concepts, is based primarily on secondary information, lacks historical context and is heavily biased towards Western and state-centric perspectives. Related to this, it is possible to discern a growing and deep-seated unease about the overall lack of progress in the ‘war on terror’ and the direction of domestic counter-terrorism policies – policies that are to a large degree based on orthodox terrorism studies research.