• Class Number 5450
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Ben Mercer
    • Dr Ben Mercer
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
    • Michelle Staff
    • Rhys Williams
    • Tess Gardner
SELT Survey Results

Terror, terrorist acts and terrorism are 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, terrorism and counter-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, and the use of terror methods by modern nation states and those who challenge their power. We will also examine how terror and terrorism is shaped by the transformations of technology and media. Terrorism may appear ubiquitous today, but one should not assume that terrorism itself has changed. This course will explore the continuities, transformation and ironies 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:

  1. critically analyse 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. demonstrate an understanding of the different types and evolving nature of terror;
  3. evaluate the different theories of terrorism and how the perpetrators of acts of terror have attempted to justify their actions; and
  4. use evidence, apply theory, formulate arguments and express their views in both oral and written form.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction: What is Terrorism?
2 The French Revolution and Birth of State Terror
3 Anarchism: Propaganda by the Deed
4 Tsarist Russia: Terror and Revolution
5 Thugs, Fanatics and Terror in Colonial India Document Exercise Due
6 Lynching: Vigilantism, Terror and Mob Justice
7 The Second World War: Terror Bombing
8 Algeria: Decolonization, Torture and Counter-terrorism
9 Israel and Palestine
10 Northern Ireland: How Terrorism Ends?
11 ‘New Terrorism’: 9/11 and the War on Terror Essay Due
12 White Power and Lone Wolves

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Documentary Exercise 15 % 23/08/2021 1,4
Essay 35 % 18/10/2021 1,3,4
Take-Home Exam 30 % * 1,2,3,4
Lecture Responses 10 % * 1,2,3
Tutorial Participation 10 % *

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


A student's tutorial participation (performance and attendance) is worth 10%.


Tutorial performance is the mark a tutor gives the student for their contribution to tutorials. The tutor will be looking for evidence that the student has done the tutorial reading, and is willing to share ideas, listen to other students and participate in group discussion. Although attendance at tutorials is obligatory, allowance will be made for absences caused by illness or personal circumstances provided the tutor is informed in time. More than two unexplained absences will significantly affect the participation mark.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 23/08/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,4

Documentary Exercise

Word Limit: 1250 words.

Value: 15%

This task asks you to analyse a set of documents to answer a specific question. Make an argument in answer to your question, using your sources as evidence. To do this, you will need to put those sources in context, understand why they were written - the author's intentions, and their audience, but also the author's assumptions, world-view and beliefs, and evaluate them for their meanings, for what they do and do not reveal about the past. Further instructions on Wattle.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 18/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4


Word limit: 2250 words

Value: 35%

This course is organised around a set of case studies: The Terror of the French Revolution, anarchist terrorism, Russian Revolutionary terrorism, colonial India, Lynching, aerial bombardment, Algeria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Northern Ireland, White Power movements or the war on terror. Using one of these case studies, answer ONE of the questions below. You may also write your essay on a case study of terrorism that is not covered in detail in the course, but please consult with your tutor and the convenor, who must approve your choice.


1. Explain when, how and why the decision to use terrorist violence occurs in your case study.

2. Are ‘terrorists … “turbulent and unbalanced,” “hysterical” or “suicidal” and … “completely abnormal”’ (Anna Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill, p.170)? What motivates individuals to become terrorists in your case study?

3. How successful was the terrorism in your case study? Why?

4. How successful was counter-terrorism in your case study? Why?

5. When, how and why does terrorism come to an end in your case study?

6. ‘Women terrorists are more fanatical and have a greater capacity for suffering.’ (Walter Laqueur, The New Terrorism, p.38) Discuss with reference to one case study.

7. How fundamentally has technology transformed the phenomenon of terrorism?

8. How is terrorism and its perception shaped by the mass media?

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Take-Home Exam

Word Limit: 1500 words

The examination will be a take-home exam, and will be due at a date TBA during the exam period. You will have a minimum of a week to write the exam, which will cover the entire semester. You will be expected to synthesise the materials you have read and discussed throughout the semester, and to think synoptically about the course and the subject matter.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Lecture Responses

The lecture forums are designed to help you engage with the lectures materials and broad themes of the course: to identify what’s important from lectures, to learn from each other and to get clarifications (from the lecturer or from each other).

You are expected to post each week to the lecture forum, but there is no penalty if you miss two to three weeks. The forums will close one week after the lecture.

Your contribution may take a number of different forms. You can

-      Respond to one of the posted questions about the lecture.

-      Post what you think is a key point to take-away from the lecture.

-      Ask a question (was there something you didn’t understand? A topic raised but not gone into in depth in the lecture?)

-      Answer or comment on another poster.

-      Annotate or comment on a lecture slide.

Aim to write 50-100 words (this is a guide rather than a word limit – the point is to engage meaningfully but concisely with the lecture, not to create a burden in the form of lots of words.

Try to avoid repeating points others have made, and keep your posts relatively short and to the point – this is meant to be an informal and free-flowing environment. Feel free to engage in conversation and comment on others’ posts, but as always, remember to keep the discussion polite and respectful.

Your participation will be graded (this component is worth 10%). The criteria for marking will be 1) whether you have posted to the forum most weeks and 2) the relevance of your contribution – whether you’ve engaged with the lecture material, with another student’s post, or added relevant material to the discussion. Try to use evidence or examples when answering a question, or show critical thought about the topic – evaluating an argument, weighing evidence, thinking through an argument.


Assessment Task 5

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 

Tutorial Participation

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Ben Mercer

Research Interests

Dr Ben Mercer

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Ben Mercer

Research Interests

Dr Ben Mercer

By Appointment
By Appointment
Michelle Staff

Research Interests

Michelle Staff

Rhys Williams

Research Interests

Rhys Williams

Tess Gardner

Research Interests

Tess Gardner

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions