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PLM4340 - Fringe Politics and Extremist Violence: An Introduction to Terrorism

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Pete Lentini


Not offered in 2007


Concentrating on contemporary religious extremists, vigilante and militia movements, and hate groups, this unit examines the political thought, identity politics, political, social and economic conditions that give rise to terrorism and other forms of political violence. The subject addresses the following questions: How are terrorism and extremism defined? What conditions lead to terrorism and what factors have been most successful preventing it? How has globalisation contributed to terrorism and counter-terrorism? How do terrorism and counter-terrorism affect democracy and civil liberties?


Upon completing this subject students will be able to:

  1. Understand, identify and assess critically different forms of contemporary terrorist actions, extremist political movements and thought.
  2. Develop a comparative understanding of the role of states, elites, transnational corporations and marginalised communities in relation to cultural politics and the limits and potential of political expression.
  3. Appreciate the importance and limitations of identity politics in the post-Cold War era.
  4. Develop an understanding of the complex relationship between mainstream and fringe political thought, practice and tendencies and terrorism and political violence.
  5. Develop skills to read various forms of text critically (audio-visual materials, scholarly literature, internet sources) and incorporate them in their assessed work.
  6. Continue the development of critical skills and an ability to communicate effectively. Specifically to:
develop a topic for investigation; familiarise themselves with a wide range of sources; recognise and be able to present a logically ordered argument.


Essay (6000 words): 50%
3 hour exam: 50%

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week