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PEAC507 Critical Terrorism Studies

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

A critical understanding of contemporary terrorism and security issues through the theoretical framework of critical terrorism studies, and the intersections between peace studies and terrorism studies.

PEAC 507 is an elective paper that explores the central issues related to terrorism and counter-terrorism in the international system today. The aim is to provide the student with a set of analytical tools through which to critically evaluate and understand contemporary events in the field of terrorism and security and to provide students with a broad and integrated understanding of past and present perspectives on issues of terrorism, counter-terrorism and peaceful conflict resolution.

Paper title Critical Terrorism Studies
Paper code PEAC507
Subject Peace and Conflict Studies
EFTS 0.2500
Points 30 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,047.25
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,209.25

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PEAC 407
Limited to
Suitable for graduates of all disciplines interested in issues of contemporary security and terrorism, as well as professionals and interested members of the public
Teaching staff
Professor Richard Jackson
Paper Structure

The first part of the paper focuses on questions surrounding the nature and causes of terrorism. Important topics considered here include:

  • The nature and definition of terrorism
  • The terrorism industry
  • Culture and terrorism
  • The rise of critical terrorism studies
  • The terrorism threat
  • The question of state terrorism
  • Types of terrorism, including new terrorism and religious terrorism
  • The causes of terrorism

The second part of the paper focuses on the evolving nature of international and domestic responses to terrorism. In this section, we consider some of the important questions related to counter-terrorism, including:

  • Different approaches to dealing with terrorism
  • The ethics and dilemmas of counter-terrorism
  • Drones, torture and rendition
  • The peaceful resolution of terrorism
  • The nature and impact of the global war on terrorism
  • Counterterrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand

Assessment is fully internal and includes a book review, a research essay, a group project and a weekly learning log.

The paper will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction - What is terrorism, anyway?
  • The study of terrorism - orthodox and critical approaches
  • The social construction of terrorism - media, gender, culture
  • Types of terrorism - new terrorism, religious terrorism, violence
  • The problem of state terrorism
  • The terrorism threat and the politics of fear
  • The causes of terrorism - religion, politics, states, groups
  • Responding to terrorism with force, coercion and law
  • Evaluating the global war on terrorism
  • War on Terror and counter-terrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Responding to terrorism peacefully - reform, dialogue and conciliation
  • Changing the discourse - counter-hegemony and resistance
  • Conclusion - The future of terrorism
Teaching Arrangements
Weekly 3-hour seminars combining seminar-style discussions, exercises, interactive activities and problem-based learning.

The paper makes extensive use of the following texts:

  • Jackson, R., Jarvis, L., Gunning, J., and Breen Smyth, M., 2011. Terrorism: A Critical Introduction, Palgrave-Macmillan
  • Jackson, R., and Pisiou, D, eds., 2018. Contemporary Debates on Terrorism, 2nd edition, Abingdon: Routledge
  • Jackson, R., M. Breen Smyth and J. Gunning, eds., 2009. Critical Terrorism Studies: a new research agenda. London: Routledge
  • Zulaika, J., and Douglass, W., 1996. Terror and Taboo: The Follies, Fables, and Faces of Terrorism, London: Routledge
  • Barker, J. 2003. The No-Nonsense Guide to Terrorism, Oxford: New Internationalist/Verso Books
  • English, R., 2009. Terrorism: How to Respond, Oxford University Press.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Interdisciplinary approach.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to
  • Explain the key ideas and perspectives of orthodox approaches to terrorism
  • Explain the key ideas and perspectives of critical terrorism studies
  • Identify the key issues and controversies within the broader contemporary terrorism studies field
  • Understand the broader international and domestic impact and consequences of the global war on terrorism
  • Apply the perspectives and approaches of peace studies and conflict resolution to the issue of terrorism
  • Have critical skills in argumentation, analytical and writing and presentational skills
  • Make theoretically informed and empirically based arguments about the subject

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-16:50 9-12, 18-22