Illicit Networks


GPM513 Illicit Networks

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

To find out more, please email

The twenty-first century has been characterised by networks. The physical, information, and communication networks which have shaped contemporary society have been adopted and adapted by subnational actors, including terrorists and criminals, to serve their own ends. In this subject, you will explore the illicit networks of terrorists and criminals to comprehend the scale and complexity of the modern threat. You will explore conceptual frameworks and operational terminology, models and influences, and organisational and operational principles. You will be exposed to the real world strengths and weaknesses of illicit networks, and the various tools used to counter illicit networks. Finally, you will assess the strategic logic underlying diverse contemporary counter approaches.


Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of Illicit Networks, with reference to organisations, principles, and emerging networks, in order to make threat assessments
  • be able to critically analyse the strategic logic of past Illicit Network counteractions, in order to provide insight and inform contemporary counter approaches
  • be able to select and apply appropriate research methods and tools to identify and investigate Illicit Networks research in diverse terrorism and security contexts
  • be able to objectively evaluate existing approaches to Illicit Networks in order to inform professional practice and empirically-driven decision-making
  • be able to communicate a complex understanding of Illicit Networks clearly and comprehensively to specialist and non-specialist audiences

Indicative assessment

  • Key insights and Takeaways – 10%
  • Network Analysis – 30%
  • Network Strategic Assessment – 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 2024

Online MODE