POLSC224-20B (HAM)

Terrorism, Violence and the State

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences
Political Science and Public Policy


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: frances.douch@waikato.ac.nz

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: melanie.chivers@waikato.ac.nz

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Paper Description

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This paper will be entirely online because of the COVID19 pandemic, however, there will be an option for an in-class tutorial for studests who so desire it.

Politically-inspired violence is the nemesis of our age. It means different things to different groups, and almost always represents the last recourse of the desperate and the weak.Nevertheless, it does sometimes lend great power to those who employ it ruthlessly.This paper will attempt to disaggregate and analyse this macro-phenomenon, particularly as it manifests itself in the enigmatic concept of terrorism. As is sometimes said, ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. Nevertheless, the definition of terrorism in the contemporary world is becoming increasingly clear. Much of this paper will concern itself with terrorism as an increasingly prominent and concerning political phenomenon. We will attempt to define and clarify it in its many guises and interpretations. As Colin Wright notes, ‘the use of the term terrorism is as much a political weapon as are acts of terrorism’. In an age where children are increasingly used as suicide bombers, and where tiny groups of fanatics can exercise a global political impact through terrorist acts, political scientists must stop and take account of this rising tide.

This paper will examine, then, the role of the state in its responses to political violence with a particular focus upon acts that can be defined as terrorism. It will include definitional problems,the role of grievances, recruitment and radicalisation, the media and the internet, financial and criminal dimensions, the impact of economic circumstances, political dimensions, ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism, left- and right-wing terrorism and religious terrorism, as well as the use and potential future use of weapons of mass destruction. We will examine several major existing terrorist groups, and attempt to provide the grounds for assessing future risk…to our own society, and to the global environment.

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Paper Structure

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This paper, 100% internally assessed, includes two 55 minute recorded online lectures per week, available in Panopto recordings on the Moodle site. Assessment is based upon three open-book tests limited to one hour each, and 10 open-book quizzes (the top eight scores will be averaged for grading purposes). Tutorials, the participation in which will count for 5% of the total assessment, are highly recommended Students should sign up for one of the tutorial times using the button in Topic two on the Moodle site for this paper. Tutorials, which will aid in preparation for quizzes and tests and count for only 5% of the paper grade, will start in the second week of the semester. Students will have the choice of an .in-class or online tutorial, and may use the tutorials to ask pertinent questions and engage in review activities.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Understand: basic comparative political concepts; the nature of terrorism, violence and the state; distinctions between civil disobedience, violent revolt and terrorism; global post-Cold War transformations ; thr natures of authoritarianism and democracy
    Linked to the following assessments:
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ternal assessment/examination ratio: 1:0

First 2 tests: 25% each, August 6 and Sept 17, online
Last test: 25%, October 15, online

The first two tests should be completed within one hour of starting them, the Third test will allow for 2 hrs, and all three tests should be submitted via the turn-it-in.com port on the Moodle site

Ten open-book online Discussion quizzes (the two lowestr scores will be discarded, and top 8 averaged)--20% of the paper assessment. Quizzes will be released at 4:00 PM on Fridays
Participation in tutorials, online or in class (one tutorial per week): 5%

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. 1st online open-book test
6 Aug 2020
3:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. 2nd online open-book test
17 Sep 2020
3:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. 3rd Open-book online test
15 Oct 2020
3:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. 10 weekly open-book online quizzes, on Thursday afternoons
5. In-class or online tutorials, on st times
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Colin Wight, Rethinking Terrorism; Terrorism, Violence and the State. Palgrave, 2015. This book is available in eBook format from Amazon;


Several assigned readings during the trimester.

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Online Support

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Lectures will be available on Panopto in recorded form. Tests and quizzes will be open-book and online. Face-to-face and online tutorials will be available. The paper will have lecture points presented on Powerpoint slides, which will be made available on the paper's Moodle site prior to class each class day. These lecture points will remain on the site for students. The POLSC224 Moodle site will feature additional resources as well, including the means for direct question and answers with the lecturer and tutor.
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Expected workload in this paper is 10-12 hours per week. This includes reading, review and attention paid to recorded lectures. Participation in one tutorial per week is also included in this figure.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: POLS224

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