Illicit Networks


Illicit Networks GPM513

An 8 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 8 – 10 hours per week.

We also offer an optional 3-day classroom-based intensive class in Canberra. The times and dates of these classes vary by session.

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This subject examines the nature and character of illicit networks and the various mechanisms by which they can be understood and analysed. It considers the underpinning social and technological dynamics which make network structures appealing to illicit actors, and the benefits they obtain from these organisational structures. The subject will develop an understanding of the primary techniques available for understanding and analysing illicit networks, and introduce students to a variety of tools that are frequently relied on in professional contexts.


Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • Be able to demonstrate specialised knowledge of illicit networks and network analysis techniques
  • Demonstrate the capacity to research and analyse illicit networks in the context of law enforcement, intelligence, and national security
  • Be capable of analysing and synthesising understandings of social networks in countering illicit activity, particularly as it pertains to terrorism
  • Be able to communicate an understanding of key policy responses to illicit networks, informed by an appreciation of the limits and strengths of social network analysis
  • be capable of to making high level, independent assessments, and providing sophisticated, empirically based analysis of illicit network threats in a scholarly, law enforcement, intelligence, or military context

Indicative assessment

  • Network data analysis – 40%
  • Illicit network report – 60%


The set text for this course is:

There is no set textbook for this subject.

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

  • Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, M. and C. Jones (2008). ‘Assessing the Dangers of Illicit Networks: Why al-Qaida May be Less Threatening than Many Think,’ International Security 33(2), 7-44.
  • Provan, K. G. and P. Kenis (2008). ‘Modes of Network Governance: Structure, Management, and Effectiveness.’ Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 18(2), 229-252.
  • Morselli, C., et al. (2007). ‘The Efficiency/Security Trade-off in Criminal Networks, Social Networks 29(1), 143-153.
  • Farah, D. (2013). ‘Fixers, Super Fixers, and Shadow Facilitators: How Networks Connect,’ in Miklaucic, M. & Brewer, J. (eds.), Convergence: Illicit Networks and
    National Security in the Age of Globalization, Washington, DC: National Defense University Press: 75-96.

subject availability

academic year 2018

INternal MODE (CBR)


Distance MODE