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Unit of study_

GOVT3999: Terrorism and Organised Crime

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

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.

Unit details and rules

Unit code GOVT3999
Academic unit Government and International Relations
Credit points 6
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
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Madison Cartwright,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Tutorial participation
10% Ongoing Whole semester.
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Mid-semester quiz
25% Week 07
Due date: 20 Apr 2021 at 10:00
1 hr
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Briefing paper
40% Week 11
Due date: 18 May 2021 at 23:59
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial quiz Final online quiz
25% Week 13
Due date: 01 Jun 2021 at 10:00
1 hr
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

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

For more information see guide to grades.

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.

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.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 What is terrorism? Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 02 Network analysis and dark networks Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 03 Dark networks, society and the state Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 04 Why do people become terrorists? Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 05 Islamism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 06 Lone actor terrorism Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 07 Mid-semester exam/Slavery and human trafficking Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 08 Maritime piracy Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 09 Illicit financing Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 10 Drug trafficking Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 11 Mafias Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 12 Nuclear trafficking Lecture and tutorial (3 hr)  
Week 13 Final Exam Lecture (1 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;
  2. Robert Pape, ‘The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism’, American Political Science Review, 97, no. 3 (2003), pp. 343 – 361;
  3. Weinberg, L., Pedahzur, A., & Hirsch-Hoefler, S. (2004). The challenges of conceptualizing terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence, 16(4), 777-794.

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. David Bright, Chad Whelan & Shandon Harris-Hogan (2020) On the Durability of Terrorist Networks: Revealing the Hidden Connections between Jihadist Cells, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 43:7, 638-656, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2018.1494411

Week 4: Dark networks, society and the state

  1. Kimberly Marten, Warlords: Strong-arm Brokers in Weak States (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), Chapter 3, pp. 31 – 63.
  2. Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), Chapter 6, pp. 173 – 196;
  3. Mia Bloom, ‘Palestinian Suicide Bombing: Public Support, Market Share and Outbidding’, Political Science Quarterly, 119, no. 1 (2004), pp. 61 – 88;

Week 5: Why do people become terrorists?

  1. Edward Newman, ‘Exploring the “Root Causes” of Terrorism’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 29, no. 8 (2006), pp. 749 – 772;
  2. Süleyman Özeren, Murat Sever, Kamil Yilmaz & Alper Sözer (2014) Whom Do They Recruit?: Profiling and Recruitment in the PKK/KCK, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 37:4, 322-347,
  3. Thomas Hegghammer, ‘The Recruiter’s Dilemma: Signalling and Rebel Recruitment tactics’, Journal of Peace Research, 50, no. 1 (2012), pp. 3 – 16;

Week 6: Islamism

  1. Brett, D. (2017). Evolution and Rise of Contemporary Jihadism: From the Muslim Brotherhood to IS. In Terrorism Revisited (pp. 83-108). Springer, Cham.
  2. Bassam Tibi, Islamism and Islam (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), Chapter 2, pp. 31 – 53;

Week 7: ‘Lone Actor terrorism

  1. David C. Hofmann (2020) How “Alone” are Lone-Actors? Exploring the Ideological, Signaling, and Support Networks of Lone-Actor Terrorists, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 43:7, 657-678, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2018.1493833
  2. Bart Schuurman, Lasse Lindekilde, Stefan Malthaner, Francis O'Connor, Paul Gill & Noémie Bouhana (2019) End of the Lone Wolf: The Typology that Should Not Have Been, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 42:8, 771-778, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2017.1419554
  3. Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch

masjidain on 15 March 2019 (2020) Volume Two: The Terrorist (pp. 165-171; 188-196, 231-234).

Week 8: Slavery and Human Trafficking

  1. Mende, J. (2019). The concept of modern slavery: Definition, critique, and the human rights frame. Human Rights Review, 20(2), 229-248.
  2. Justine Nolan & Gregory Bott (2018) Global supply chains and human rights: spotlight on forced labour and modern slavery practices, Australian Journal of Human Rights, 24:1, 44-69

Week 9: Maritime Piracy

  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 (2018), ‘Corruption, Organised Crime and Money Laundering’, in Kaushik Basu and Tito Cordella, eds., Institutions, Governance and the Control of Corruption (Cham: Springer International Publishing), Chapter 4, pp. 75 – 111;
  2. Teichmann, F. M. J. (2017). Twelve methods of money laundering. Journal of money laundering control, 20:2, pp. 130-137.
  3. Templon, J., et. al. (2020) ‘How To Find A Company That Barely Even Exists’, Buzzfeed News,
  4. Leopold, J., et. al. (2020), ‘The FinCEN Files’, Buzzfeed News,


Week 11: Drug Trafficking

  1. Bichler, G., Malm, A., & Cooper, T. (2017). Drug supply networks: a systematic review of the organizational structure of illicit drug trade. Crime Science, 6(1), 2.
  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. Balatsky, G. I., & Severe, W. R. (2019). Illicit Trafficking of Radioactive and Nuclear Materials. In Nuclear Safeguards, Security, and Nonproliferation (pp. 357-387). Butterworth-Heinemann.

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

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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