Contemporary Terrorism


contemporary Terrorism GPM418

A 16 point post-graduate subject delivered by the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security

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We offer this subject online, with an approximate workload of 15 – 20 hours per week.

We also offer an optional 5-day classroom-based intensive class in Canberra. The times and dates of these classes vary by session.

To find out more, please email

This subject will develop and enhance knowledge and understanding of contemporary terrorism and expand and refine understanding of the complex contemporary context of terrorism and other related security issues. Students will develop a critical and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of contemporary terrorist groups, tactics and strategies, as well as an appreciation for the context within which these threats manifest and persist. Students will critically consider existing terrorist practice, doctrine, and organisational structure. Additionally students will analyse and consider the importance of technology, innovation, and adaptation for terrorist organisations. Students will be encouraged to synthesise their knowledge and understanding through the production of extensive and sophisticated research based assessments.


Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • Possess specialised knowledge of contemporary international terrorism and be capable of applying existing approaches to the researching and analysing of terrorist threats, particularly as it pertains to al-Qaeda and associated movements, and other entities in the international terrorism environment
  • Possess high-level skills in relation to the collection, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge and understanding pertaining to contemporary international terrorism
  • Be capable of critically analysing contemporary international terrorist groups, tactics and strategies, and of evaluating the complexity of the current international terrorism environment, and emerging terrorism threats
  • Appreciate the importance of strategic doctrine and organisational structure to terrorist organisations, and of the associated costs and benefits of various types of terrorist organisations
  • Develop an advanced insight into the importance of technology and innovation to contemporary terrorist organisations
  • Be capable of making high level, independent assessments, and providing sophisticated, empirically based analysis of current and emergent terrorism threats in scholarly, law enforcement, intelligence, military and other related contexts.

Indicative assessment

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • Intelligence Brief – 40%
  • Research Essay – 60%


The set text for this course is:

Ryan, M.W.S. (2016). Decoding al Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America, Columbia University Press.

Fishman, B. (2017). The Master Plan : ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory, Yale University Press.

Note that all of these texts offer something different and come at the subject from a different perspective, but all are by well-regarded experts in their field. Various chapters from these texts will readings within the subject, and will subsequently be made available electronically.

reading list extract

  • Cronin, A.K. (2002-2003). Behind the curve:
    Globalization and international terrorism. International
    Security, 27(3), pp. 30-58.
  • Rudner, M. (2013). ‘Al Qaeda’s Twenty-Year Strategic Plan: The Current Phase of Global Terror.’ Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 36(12), pp. 953-980.
  • Perliger, A. & Pedahzur, A. (2011). ‘Social Network Analysis in the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence,’ PS: Political Science & Politics, 44(1), pp 45-50.
  • Ingram, H.J. (2014). ‘Three Traits of the Islamic State’s Information Warfare’. RUSI Journal, 159(6), 4-11.

subject availability

academic year 2018

INternal MODE (CBR)


Distance MODE