History of Terrorism

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. The times and dates of these classes vary by session.

To find out more, please email terrorismstudies@csu.edu.au.

International terrorism did not begin with the September 11 attacks, and indeed, its legacy spans centuries. The History of Terrorism provides you with foundational knowledge of terrorism throughout time and space, and introduces you to the strategies and concepts exploited by terrorists to threaten civil society. Through the examination of pre-modern terrorism and the French Revolution, you will gain an understanding of precursors to modern terrorist violence. You will examine terrorism across the ideological spectrum to understand the complex nature of the threats, including left wing terrorism, right wing terrorism, religious terrorism, and lone actor terrorism. Finally, you will assess the efficacy of historical counter terrorism approaches to understand the challenges in countering terrorist movements


Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • Be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of the history of terrorism, with reference to the emergence, evolution, and end of terrorism campaigns, in order to evaluate past counter terrorism approaches
  • Be able to critically analyse theory, concepts, and threats throughout the history of terrorism, in order to make extrapolations on contemporary threats
  • Be able to select and apply appropriate research methods to investigate historical terrorism to substantiate assessments
  • Be able to demonstrate professional objectivity, in order to contextualise previous practice
  • Be able to clearly communicate complex knowledge regarding the history of terrorism in order to inform specialist and non-specialist audiences

Indicative assessment

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • Key insights and Takeaways – 10%
  • Propaganda Briefing – 30%
  • Case Investigation – 60%


The set text for this course is:

Hoffman, B. Inside Terrorism. 3rd edition, New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.
Law, R. Terrorism: A History (Themes in History). 2nd edition, UK: Polity Press, 2016.

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

  • Schmid, A.P. ‘Frameworks for Conceptualizing Terrorism.’ Terrorism and Political Violence 16, 2, (2010). 197-221.
  • Crenshaw, M. (2011). 'The Logic of Terrorism', in Explaining Terrorism: Causes, Processes, and Consequences. New York, Routledge, pp. 111-123.
  • Jensen, R. ‘Daggers, Rifles and Dynamite: Anarchist Terrorism in Nineteenth Century Europe.’ Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 16 (2004). 116-153.
  • Gerges, F.A. ‘The Rise of Transnationalist Jihadis and the Far Enemy’ in The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 119-151.

subject availability

academic year 2023

Online MODE