Terrorism and Insurgency

Subject POLS90050 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught online/distance.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: As this subject offered entirely online, this consists of watching recorded lectures, writing posts for online discussion on LMS, completing readings, writing papers.
Total Time Commitment:

170 Hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Some knowledge of international relations or history.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Sarah Logan



Subject Overview:

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.

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.
  • Discussion of readings on LMS (10 weeks x 100 words) (20%), due weekly, from weeks 2 - 11 of Semeter.
  • Timed essay delivered via LMS, 1 hour, 1,000 words (20%), available on LMS during weeks 2-12 of Semester.
  • Research Paper 3,000 words (60%), due during the examination period.
Prescribed Texts:
  1. Inside Terrorism (2nd edition), Hoffman (Digital edition, $7.78)
  2. ISIS: The State of Terror, Stern and Berger (Digital edition, $12.79)
  3. Guerilla Warfare, Guevara (Digital edition, $2.99)
  4. The Accidental Guerilla, Kilcullen (Digital edition, $7.79)
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

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.
Links to further information: http://ssps.unimelb.edu.au/
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of International Relations

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