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PEAC507 Critical Terrorism Studies

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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.

PEAC507 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 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,105.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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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 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, right wing terrorism
  • 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
  • Radicalisation, counter-radicalisation and CVE/PVE
  • Evaluating the global war on terrorism
  • war on terror and counterterrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Responding to terrorism peacefully – reform, dialogue and conciliation
  • Changing the discourse – counter-hegemony and resistance

Assessment is fully internal and includes two essays, a group project and a weekly learning log.

Teaching Arrangements

Weekly three-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., ed., 2016. Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies, Abingdon: Routledge
  • Critical Studies on Terrorism – journal, multiple articles
  • 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
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 critical peace research and other critical theory-inspired approaches like de-coloniality, critical race theory and feminist security studies to the issues of terrorism and counter-terrorism
  • Demonstrate critical skills in argumentation, analysis, writing and presentation
  • Be able to make theoretically informed and empirically based arguments about the subject

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 14:00-16:50 9-15, 17-22