• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest History
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Ben Mercer
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2015
    See Future Offerings

Terror, terrorist acts and terrorism is as old as human history.  Individuals, sects, cults, despotic rulers, revolutionaries, political organizations, independence movements, ‘freedom fighters’ and modern nation states have for millennia used terror (violence, fear and intimidation) to advance their interests.  Despite this, acts of terror when they occur continue to shock and surprise the community, society or nation in which they take place.  Each generation it seems views terror and terrorism as something unique, frightening and new.

This course will explore the modern history of terror and terrorism.  Beginning with the birth of modern terrorism — ‘The Terror’ of Revolutionary France — it will examine how terror has been used, justified, fought, changed, surged, ebbed and periodically reappeared since 1793.  A series of case studies will look at different categories of terror and terrorism: revolutionary terror, anarchist terrorism, nationalist (and anti-colonial) campaigns of terror, the terror of totalitarianism, surrogate terrorism, and the use of terror methods by modern nation states and those who challenge their power.  The Jacobin terrorists of 1793 were very different from the anarchist Narodnya Volya who assassinated Tsar Alexander II with a bomb in 1881, but both could claim to be acting in the interests of the greater good.  And the Zionist Irgun members who blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, and the Palestinian Black September militants who took eleven member of the Israeli Olympic team hostage and subsequently murdered them in Munich in 1972 could both claim to be fighting for a homeland in the Middle East.  The scale of the terrorist threat may have changed since Al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on 11 September 2001, but one should not assume that terrorism itself has changed.  One of the aims of this course will be to explore the continuities, ironies, and marked differences to be found in the history of terror over the last two centuries.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. The course will provide students with an understanding of how terror and the use of violence to provoke fear and intimidate societies, governments and nations has been employed over the last two centuries.

2. Students will be given an understanding of the different types and evolving nature of Terror.

3. Students will gain an understanding of the different theories of terrorism and how the perpetrators of acts of terror have attempted to justify their actions.

4. Students will be taught the basics of historical inquiry and historical analysis.

5. Students will be taught how to use evidence, apply theory, formulate arguments and express their views in both oral and written form.

Indicative Assessment

1,000 word document exercise (15 %)

2,000 word essay (35 %)

Tutorial participation and performance (10 %)

Final examination (40 %)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The course will be offered on campus via lectures (which will be streamed) and tutorials.
There will be two one-hour lectures and one hour-long tutorial per week.  Lectures will be digitally recorded.

Apart from the three formal contact hours, students will also be expected to spend an average of seven additional hours a week preparing for tutorials and researching and writing the document analysis and essay, and preparing for the final exam.

Prescribed Texts

Charles Townsend, Terrorism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2002

There will also be a reading brick containing all tutorial reading.  The reading brick will be made available to students electronically via WATTLE.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2366 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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