Terrorist Operations and Praxis


GPM517 Terrorist Operations and Praxis

An 8 point post-graduate subject delivered by the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security

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This subject will be delivered in intensive mode over a 1 week period. Specific dates will be provided once confirmed.

Terrorists represent a dynamic threat due to their ability to learn and innovate methods for strategic violence. These innovations are capable of fundamentally altering the atmosphere of counter terrorism in the Western world. This can be due to technological simplicity, such as September 11, 2001; technological expansion, such as Tokyo 1995; or strategic innovation, such as Munich in 1972. This subject uses real world case studies of significant terrorist attacks, and explores the enduring impact they had on counter terrorism policy internationally. You will undertake a structured operations analysis of prominent attacks in order to develop theories regarding future terrorist threats.


Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge of Terrorist Operations and Praxis, with regards to the impact subnational terrorist operations have had on counter terrorism approaches and policies
  • be able to critically assess the strategies behind Terrorist Operations and Praxis, to evaluate operational evolution, and to make assessments regarding past praxis and recent developments
  • be able to select and apply appropriate research methods to investigate Terrorist Operations and Praxis, and exploit open source intelligence to substantiate assessments
  • be able to objectively evaluate Terrorist Operations and Praxis in order to inform professional practice with empirically-driven decision-making
  • be able to clearly communicate complex theories regarding Terrorist Operations and Praxis appropriately, to inform specialist and non-specialist audiences

Indicative assessment

  • Key insights and Takeaways – 10%
  • Operational Assessment – 30%
  • Future Attack Scenario Analysis – 60%


The set text for this course is:

Cronin, A.K. (2020). Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists. Oxford: Oxford 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

  • Sugg, S. (Director). (2019). Slaughterbots. Dust. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-2tpwW0kmU&t=2s.
  • Horowitz, M.C. (2010). ‘Nonstate Actors and the Diffusion of Innovations: The Case of Suicide Terrorism,’ International Organization, 64(1), 33-64.
  • Gartenstein-Ross, D. Shear, M. & Jones, D. (2019). Virtual Plotters. Drones. Weaponized AI?: Violent Non-State Actors as Deadly Early Adopters, Valens Global.
  • Rassler, D. (2017). ‘Drone, Counter Drone: Observations on the Contest Between the United States and Jihadis,’ CTC Sentinel, 10(1), 23-28.

subject availability

academic year 2024

Online MODE