Terrorism: Shifting Paradigms

Subject SOCI20007 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two x 1-hour lectures and 1 x one hour tutorial per week for 10 weeks. The lecture and tutorial programs are staggered and cover the 12 weeks of semester.
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:

Sociology, Politics and International Studies or Criminology at Level 1

Non Allowed Subjects:

166-216 Terrorism: Shifting Paradigms

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr. David McDonald


Subject Overview:

This subject examines the various dimensions of terrorism and its manifestations. This includes the nation state's capacity to authorise and to create the conditions for the practices known as terrorism. In this subject we interrogate the role of the nation state and the rhetoric/s of anti-terrorism that both produce and contain acts known as terrorism. We look at the psychology of both the nation state and the terrorist through a psychoanalytic approach to identifications with ideology, and we apply political theory to understand the role of political, legal and military structures in producing the terrorist. To this end we examine the function of different terrorist acts - including suicide bombing in Iraq, Israel/Palestine, London and New York, assassinations and bombings in Northern Ireland and England, and practices of state terror in the context of acts of genocide, disappearance and torture. All of these examinations are used to assist in trying to think about a new way of conceptualizing violence performed by the state, the individual and the group.


On completion of this subject students should:

  • be able to identify and analyse social, political and psychological processes involved in the rise, transformation and decomposition of different terrorist movements;
  • be able to analyse the relationship between types of terrorism and wider patterns of social, cultural and political change, in particular contemporary globalization;
  • be able to use psychoanalytic, political and socio-legal frameworks to analyse responses to terrorism;
  • demonstrate an ability to use political theory to critically explore primary source material developed by terrorist groups and/or the nation state;
  • be able to use political or psychoanalytic theory to explore the relationship between objective and subjective dimensions of contemporary forms of terrorism.

A Research Essay of 2,000 words (50%) due mid-semester and a 2,000 word Take-home Exam (50%) due in the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: This subject has a minimum Hurdle Requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • be able to demonstrate critical thinking and analytic skills, through research and written communication.
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically, both orally and in writing.
  • display awareness and understanding of the social, ethical and cultural contexts of research and of our place as researchers.

Available as a Breadth subject to non-Bachelor of Arts students

Related Course(s): U21 Diploma in Global Issues
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Criminology
Criminology Major
International Studies Major
Political Science Major
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Social Theory Major
Socio-legal Studies Major
Sociology Major

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