• Class Number 2998
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof James Piscatori
    • Prof James Piscatori
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

The Gulf is contested political terrain. Even its very nomenclature – ‘Persian’ or ‘Arab’/’Arabian’ – is subject to controversy.  The security of regional countries is influenced by a complicated web of strategic, political and cultural variables. It is also a key focus for the national security strategy of the United States. Notwithstanding the diversity of the region, the countries within it face a unique set of social, political, and economic challenges, particularly in comparison to other developing regions. The central focus of the course will be the forces for continuity and change in the Gulf, and the interaction of domestic and external actors and factors shaping the Gulf security environment. It will review internal political and economic trends, the dealings of Gulf states with each other, and their relations with other regional and extra-regional powers. It will, finally, consider broader concerns such as over food security, water scarcity, and dependence on migrant workers.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. identify domestic and external actors and factors shaping the security environment of the Gulf;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the global strategic importance of Gulf energy reserves;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the security perceptions of the United States and regional countries, and the challenges they face;
  4. discuss and debate critically the ideas and theories that have been advanced to understand Gulf politics, political economy and international relations, and to deal with core unresolved regional issues; and
  5. discuss and debate alternative futures for the region, their strategic implications and prospects for developing regional security architecture.

Additional Course Costs

None, apart from the very minor costs for photocopying or scanning of readings and research material. 

Examination Material or equipment

No permitted materials, except for a dictionary for students from a non-English speaking background with prior approval.

Required Resources

Apart from some small costs for photocopying or scanning of readings and research material, there are no additional costs imposed on, or resources required by, Commonwealth supported students and domestic full-fee paying students, in order to complete the course successfully. 

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • An evaluative matrix for their oral presentation
  • Written feedback on the major essay explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the work and with an indication of how the final mark was arrived at.
  • No feedback is provided on the final examination, although students are welcome to access their paper in accordance with ANU and College policies. 

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Other referencing requirements:

Major essays must be thoroughly researched and all applicable facts, ideas, quotes and points must be fully cited. The citation/referencing system used is not prescribed: provided that students follow an accepted convention such as the Chicago, Harvard, or Cambridge systems of citation, they may chose whichever they prefer.

All essays must include a bibliography or list of references, above and beyond any citation details that appear in text or notes in the essay itself.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to the course and background on the Gulf This week provides an introduction to the course, covering: Administrative matters; An introduction to some of the terms, issues and concepts that are central to the course; and Some basic background on the Gulf.
2 Political, economic and security structures in the Gulf This week provides an outline of the politics and economic structures and dynamics of the Gulf. Discussion will include issues and questions such as: The various forms of leadership and leadership styles in the Gulf, including variations in monarchical systems; A discussions of the factors that have shaped strategic culture and security perceptions in the Gulf in recent times, including inter-Arab and Arab-Iranian dynamics; and The problems and weaknesses with regional security architecture, including the limited effectiveness of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a region-wide security bloc, and some of the issues in developing it and alternatives to it.
3 Oil, gas and energy issues in the Gulf This week covers several issues and dynamics that shape late rentierism in the Gulf and looks especially at oil, gas, and other energy developments. Aims for the week include: To outline the theory and practice of rentierism over time; To survey the oil and gas sectors in the Gulf: the region’s reserves and the importance of hydrocarbons; To consider the geopolitics of oil and gas; and To consider the implications of current trends in global oil and gas, especially fluctuations in price
4 The US and the Gulf This week we will look at the role of the United States in Gulf security and the Gulf’s strategic environment. Specific questions to be considered include: What has been the past US role in the region, and how and why has that role changed over the past few decades? Has the US been a source of stability or instability in the region? What issues related to US military posture are of importance in or to the Gulf? How do elites and publics in the US and the Gulf Arab states see the other?
5 Saudi Arabia: Historical and thematic background This week looks at the history of the Arabian peninsula, with the focus on Saudi Arabia, from the eighteenth century until the consolidation of the modern Saudi state in the mid- and latter- twentieth century. Some specific questions and issues to be covered include: What were the political arrangements behind the first two Saudi emirates, and to what extent has this influenced the nature of the third (current) Saudi state? How did the Al Sa‘ud become a royal family? What tactics and strategies did Ibn Saud use to revive the modern state of Saudi Arabia and ensure its expansion and survival? What international dynamics did he have to contend with? Has the Kingdom become a nation-state?
6 Saudi Arabia: Current security issues and dynamics This week considers the contemporary security perspectives of Saudi Arabia, as well as its role in the Gulf and more widely. Some specific questions and issues to be covered include: How has the modern history of Saudi Arabia shaped the state’s and society’s current strategic culture and security perspectives? How relatively important are factors such as oil, water, Islam/Wahhabism, the US relationship, and the Gulf security setting all been to Saudi security perspectives and policies? Are any particular factors most fundamental or crucial to the durability of the al-Sa‘ud family’s rule? How are Saudi Arabia’s political, diplomatic and military dynamics changing (or not) and what do these mean for dynamics in the Gulf?
7 Iran and the Arab States of the Gulf This week is focussed on Iran’s relations with the Gulf Arab states. It includes some historical context as well as a discussion of the various factors that shape Iran’s current foreign and defence policies. Issues to be covered are: What forms the basis of Iran’s interests in the Gulf region – oil, geopolitical hegemony, the promotion of Shi‘ism? What are the instruments by which Iranian interests are pursued: Revolutionary Guards, soft power? What connections have existed between domestic oppositional groups in the Gulf Arab states and Iran? What are GCC country views of, and responses to, Iran’s nuclear program? Major essay due at beginning of Week 7: Midnight, Tuesday, 23 April 2019
8 United Arab Emirates: ‘little Sparta’? This week and the next three weeks are focused on the position of the smaller Gulf states and their perspectives on strategic issues, security and stability in the Gulf. This week’s particular focus on the UAE involves issues such as: Was security at the heart of the formation of the federal union in 1971? To what extent have seven disparate shaykhdoms coalesced into a viable nationstate? Is UAE policy simply Abu Dhabi policy writ large? What are the threat perceptions of the UAE and why? What accounts for the expansion of foreign policy and security activity in recent years – in, for example, Yemen? How do Emirati policies align with those of the other GCC states?
9 Bahrain: Internal security and Gulf stability This week is focused on the linkage between domestic security concerns in Bahrain and the larger security of the GCC and Gulf stability. Issues covered include: What explains political instability in Bahrain? Has Iran ‘exported’ its revolution to Bahrain? How have other GCC states dealt with this? How does Bahrain fit into Western security architecture?
10 Qatar: new ‘superpower’ of the Gulf? This week is focused on how the micro-state of Qatar has emerged as a major player in regional and wider Middle Eastern affairs. Some of the issues to be covered include: How has the Qatari state developed since independence? What are the sources of domestic political stability/instability? How is its relatively independent foreign policy viewed within the region? What explains the recent ‘Qatari crisis’?
11 Small states’ security perspectives: Kuwait and Oman This week is focused on the position of two Gulf states that have experienced relative stability in domestic and foreign affairs. Issues covered include: What accounts for the political development of Kuwait and Oman? How important has leadership been in their relative success? How are domestic ‘threats’ managed? What is their relationship with regional and external powers? How integrated are they in the Arab Gulf regional order?
12 New and emerging security issues This week is focused on emerging strategic and security dynamics in the Gulf, as well as issues beyond those of conventional strategy and security. Some of the issues to be covered include the following: The contested and unconventional security challenges that may arise from climate change and its effects, as well as related issues like water scarcity, soil erosion, etc; and Issues surrounding foreign workers in the Gulf (especially on questions of national identity and security and the longer-term economic impacts of labour reliance). Take-home final examination: Available on Wattle from: 10.00 am, Wednesday, 29 May Due: 10.00 am, Monday, 3 June 2019

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
All assessment tasks 100 % 22/06/2019 28/06/2019 1, 2, 3, 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 100 %
Due Date: 22/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

All assessment tasks

Please refer to the MEAS8113 course guide on the Wattle site for details of all assessment tasks.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

All essays submitted by the due date will be returned as soon as possible before the final examination. Students will be notified when essays have been marked.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There is no scope for students to resubmit assignments such as the major essay.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof James Piscatori
+61 2 6125 4982

Research Interests

Prof James Piscatori

Monday 15:00 17:00
Tuesday 14:00 15:00
Prof James Piscatori
+61 2 6125 4982

Research Interests

Prof James Piscatori

Monday 15:00 17:00
Tuesday 14:00 15:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions