Skip to main content
Unit of study_

GOVT3999: Terrorism and Organised Crime

The unit serves as a rigorous investigation of the politics of violent and criminal non-state actors. It will start with a conceptual discussion of such groups, focusing on analysis of their structure and behaviour and the roles that globalisation and technology play in non-state threats, before moving on to specific types of dark networks. The dark networks that may be covered include terrorist organisations, non-state nuclear proliferation networks, and various forms of organised crime, including maritime piracy, drug trafficking, mafias, mundane smuggling, and money laundering.


Academic unit Government and International Relations
Unit code GOVT3999
Unit name Terrorism and Organised Crime
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

12 credit points at 2000 level in Politics or 12 credit points at 2000 level in International Relations or 12 senior credit points from Government and International Relations
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Madison Cartwright,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Final online exam
20% Formal exam period 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Tutorial participation
10% Ongoing Whole semester.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
In-semester test Mid-semester Exam
20% Week 05
Due date: 26 Mar 2020 at 11:00
1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Briefing paper
50% Week 10
Due date: 07 May 2020 at 23:59
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 02 What is terrorism? Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 03 Network analysis and dark networks Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 Dark networks and their environment Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 Causes of terrorism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 Islamism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 Terrorist recruitment and training Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 Suicide terrorism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 Maritime piracy Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Illicit financing Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 11 Drug trafficking Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 Mafias Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 13 Nuclear trafficking Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture recording: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on the LMS. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: What is Terrorism?

1. Anthony Richards, Conceptualising Terrorism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), Chapter 4, pp. 51 – 66; Electronic copy;

2. Willem Schinkel, ‘On the concept of terrorism’, Contemporary Political Theory, 8, no. 2 (2009), pp. 176 – 198;

Week 3: Network Analysis and Dark Networks

1. Calvert Jones and Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, ‘Assessing the Dangers of Illicit Networks: Why al-Qaida May Be Less Dangerous Than Many Think’, International Security, 33, no. 2 (2008), pp. 7 – 44;

2. Miles Kahler, ‘Collective Action and Clandestine Networks: The Case of al Qaeda’ in Miles Kahler, ed., Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015), Chapter 6, pp. 103 – 124; electronic copy;

3. Brad McAllister, ‘Al Qaeda and the Innovative Firm: Demythologizing the Network’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 27, no. 4 (2004), pp. 297 – 319;

Week 4: Dark Networks and Their Environment

1. Kimberly Marten, Warlords: Strong-arm Brokers in Weak States (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), Chapter 3, pp. 31 – 63; electronic copy.

2. Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), Chapter 6, pp. 173 – 196; electronic copy;

Week 5: Causes of Terrorism

1. Martha Crenshaw, ‘The Causes of Terrorism’, Comparative Politics, 13, no. 4 (1981), pp. 379 – 399;

2. Edward Newman, ‘Exploring the “Root Causes” of Terrorism’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 29, no. 8 (2006), pp. 749 – 772;

Week 6: Islamism

1. Anders Strinberg and Mats Wärn, Islamism: Religion, Radicalisation and Resistance (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), Chapter 3, pp. 43 – 68; See Canvas E-Reserve;

2. Bassam Tibi, Islamism and Islam (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), Chapter 2, pp. 31 – 53; Electronic copy;

Week 7: Terrorist Recruitment and Training

1. Kasmil Yilmaz and Alper Sozer, ‘Whom do they recruit? Profiling and Recruitment in the PKK/KCK’, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 37, no. 4 (2014), pp. 322 – 347;

2. Thomas Hegghammer, ‘The Recruiter’s Dilemma: Signalling and Rebel Recruitment tactics’, Journal of Peace Research, 50, no. 1 (2012), pp. 3 – 16;

Week 8: Suicide Terrorism

1. Robert Pape, ‘The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism’, American Political Science Review, 97, no. 3 (2003), pp. 343 – 361;

2. Robert Brym and Badar Araj, ‘Suicide Bombing as Strategy and Interaction: The Case of the Second Intifada’, Social Forces, 84, no. 4 (2006), pp. 1969 – 1986;

3. Mia Bloom, ‘Palestinian Suicide Bombing: Public Support, Market Share and Outbidding’, Political Science Quarterly, 119, no. 1 (2004), pp. 61 – 88;

Week 9: Maritime Piracy

Discussion: What are some of the implications of seeing maritime piracy as a business?

1. Justin Hastings and Sarah Phillips, ‘Maritime Piracy Business Networks and Institutions in Africa’, African Affairs, 114, no. 457 (2015), pp. 555 – 576.

2. Sarah Percy and Anja Shortland, ‘The Business of Piracy in Somalia’, Journal of Strategic Studies 36, no. 4 (2013), pp. 541 –578.

Week 10: Illicit Financing

1. Susan Rose-Ackerman and Bonnie J. Palifka, ‘Corruption, Organised Crime and Money Laundering’, in Kaushik Basu and Tito Cordella, eds., Institutions, Governance and the Control of Corruption (Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2018), Chapter 4, pp. 75 – 111; electronic copy;

2. Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones, ‘Regulatory Regionalism and anti-money laundering governance in Asia’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 69, no. 2 (2015), pp. 144 – 163;

Week 11: Drug Trafficking

1. Mark Shaw, ‘Drug Trafficking in Guinea-Bissau, 1998 – 2014: The Evolution of an elite protection network’, Journal of Modern African Studies, 53, 3 (2015), pp. 339 – 364.

2. Justin V. Hastings, ‘The Economic Geography of North Korean Drug Trafficking Networks’, Review of International Political Economy, 22, no. 1 (2015), pp. 162 – 193.

Week 12: Mafias

1. Francesco Calderoni, ‘The Structure of Drug Trafficking Mafias: The ‘Ndrangheta and Cocaine’, Crime, Law, and Social Change, 58, no. 3 (2012), pp. 321 – 349.

2. Ming Xia, ‘Organizational Formations of organised crime in China: Perspectives from the state, markets and networks’, Journal of Contemporary China, 17, no. 54 (2008), pp. 1 – 23.

Week 13: Nuclear Trafficking

1. Justin V. Hastings, ‘The Geography of Nuclear Proliferation Networks: The Case of AQ Khan’, The Non-Proliferation Review, 19, no. 3 (2012), pp. 429 – 450.

2. Lyudmla Zaitseva, ‘Illicit Trafficking in the Southern Tier and Turkey since 1999: A Shift from Europe?’, The Non-Proliferation Review, 9, no. 3 (2002), pp. 168 – 192.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate a clear understanding of the theoretical and analytical approaches used in the study of violent and criminal non-state actors
  • LO2. delineate between the different problems associated with dark networks from an applied analysis of general trends of globalisation and technology
  • LO3. assess cogently and concisely the structure, behaviour, and threats posed by dark networks.
  • LO4. understand how academic concepts can provide insight into pressing global issues

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.