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The study of political violence by non-state actors has assumed a renewed importance because of the growing threat of terrorism in Australia and because of Australian participation in armed groups overseas. This subject provides an overview of why and how these actors use violence and the threat of violence to attain political goals. We follow the continuum from terror attacks by small groups to full civil wars waged by rebel insurgencies and the logic behind the steps inbetween, including the use of suicide attacks, gendering political violence, transnational mobilization of foreign fighters, media strategies, mercenary vs idealistic motivations for fighters, and approaches to counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. We will examine the history of terrorism and insurgency globally, but will provide an emphasis on the jihadi movement of recent decades.
This subject is offered online, which provides students with great flexibility but also requires a greater commitment to participation. Asynchronous learning affords students to opportunity to listen to pre-recorded lectures at their convenience. Reading will be intensive, and students are required to post their reactions to discussion boards and to comment on other student postings weekly. In addition to a research paper on an approved topic due by the end of the final week of classes, students must also write a timed policy paper online in response to a provided topic.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- articulate the different characteristics of terrorists and insurgents and the continuum between the types of activity; and
- explain the strategies behind terror attacks and implications for counter-terrorism; and
- evaluate competing theories of insurgency mobilisation and activity and implications for counter-insurgency; and
- develop skills in analysing contemporary security policy, and preparing policy advice.
Student who successfully complete this subject should:
- apply theory to analyse current events; and
- write analytic documents for policy consumers in limited time frames; and
- evaluate claims by competing theories and analytic frameworks for greatest explanatory power.
Last updated: 3 November 2022