• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

The classic text, Sunzi's Art of War, Sunzi bingfa, has informed Chinese (and Japanese) strategic thinking for over two thousand years, was central to the theory and practice of (for example) both Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, and continues to be hugely influential and widely read today, both in East Asia and in the boardrooms of multinational corporations. Napoleon is said to have had a copy of the early French translation in his pocket during the battle of Waterloo.

This text is not however primarily a handbook of military strategy. Instead, it applies some of the fundamentals of early Chinese philosophical thinking to issues such as conflict resolution, optimum use of energy, both personal and circumambient (the 'inherent power or dynamic of a situation or moment in time'), and adaptation to change. As such, it has more in common with the ancient classic Book of Change than it has with other classics of military thinking. This course is relevant for students of Chinese, but also more broadly for a wide range of disciplines: security studies, business management, interpersonal psychology, etc.

The extensive body of Chinese commentary that has grown up around the text, much of it using historical annals and historical romance to provide concrete illustrations of its strategic principles, enables today's reader to enter deeply into this fascinating (and often chilling) text.

The version used will be the Penguin Classics (2003) The Art of War: Sun-tzu, translated with commentary by John Minford.

Each of the 13 weeks will be devoted to one of the 13 chapters of the work.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial attendance 10%; tutorial presentation 10%; End-of-term test 35%; essay 45% 

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Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of any courses.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

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Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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