• Class Number 8124
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Brendan Sargeant
    • Brendan Sargeant
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
    • Emily Robertson
SELT Survey Results

This course explores how Australia develops and uses its armed forces to achieve political ends such as the protection of citizens and territory and the reduction of strategic risk. The course examines the key ideas Australians have used and applied to help them organise and achieve their strategic and defence policies. This includes the Balance of Power, Sphere of Influence, Deterrence, Collective Security and Grand Strategy. This course traces how these ideas have shaped and should shape the three major military services (Army, Airforce, Navy), along with the management structures and processes that administer them. This course asks questions such as what role does armed force play in Australia's security?  What kinds of operations do our armed forces need to be to undertake to achieve this role? And which capabilities can undertake these operations most cost-effectively? This course enables students to understand the key historical eras, theories and debates about Australian Strategic and Defence Policy and develop the skills to begin to contribute to public debates on these topics.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the key historical eras in Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  2. Apply theories and concepts from the discipline of Strategic Studies to assess the development and practice of Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  3. Understand academic and policy debates about the direction of Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  4. Develop and apply analytical skills to critically assess the key historical eras, theories and debates of Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  5. Possess increased capacity for original, independent thought about historical and contemporary Australian Strategic and Defence Policy

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 PART ONE - The Challenge of Defending Australia Lecture 1 - Introductory Lecture (23 July) What is the nature of the challenge of ‘defending Australia’? What are some of the different ways of thinking about Australia? What do these different conceptions of Australia mean for Defence Policy and Strategy? Class Discussion – We will explore expectations for the course and our perspectives on what Defence and Strategic policy is. We will also assign topics for the Group Presentation assignment. Required Reading: Ayson, Robert. ‘Discovering Australia’s Defence Strategy’, Security Challenges 12, no.1 (2016): 41-52. Carr, Andrew. Winning the Peace: Australia’s Campaigns to Change the Asia-Pacific (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2015): 298-307. McCraw, David, ‘Change and continuity in strategic culture: the cases of Australia and New Zealand’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, (2011), 62: 2, pp.167-184.
2 Lecture 2 - What do we mean when we talk about Australia’s Strategic Environment? (30 July) This lecture explores the concept of the Indo-Pacific. It examines how our thinking about the Indo-Pacific shape our thinking about security and defence, and asks how do concepts such as alliances, balance of power and spheres of influence help us understand our strategic environment and develop policy and strategy? What changes in our strategic environment as circumstances change? What endures? Required Reading: Blaxland, John. ‘Strategic Balancing Act: Australia’s approach to Managing China, the USA and Regional Security Priorities’, Security Challenges 30, no.1 (2017): 19-39. Carr, Andrew and Baldino, Daniel. ‘An Indo-Pacific norm entrepreneur? Australia and defence diplomacy’, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 11, no.1 (2015): 30-47. Frühling, Stephan. ‘Is ANZUS Really an Alliance? Aligning the US and Australia’, Survival 60, no.5 (2018): 199-218. Additional Reading: Wallis, Joanne. ‘The South Pacific: “arc of instability” or “arc of opportunity”’, Global Change, Peace and Security 27, iss.1 (2015): 39-53. White, Hugh. ‘Strategic Interests in Australian Defence Policy: Some Historical and Methodological Reflections’, Security Challenges 4, no.2, (2008): 63-79.
3 Lecture 3 - Deterrence (6 August) In this lecture we look at deterrence, with emphasis on its importance to Australian Defence and Strategic policy. Small Group Presentations and discussion leads: Is Extended Deterrence still relevant to Australian security? If not, why not? If so, how does Australia need to adapt? Required Reading Freedman, Lawrence. Strategy: A History (United States, Oxford University Press, 2013). Chapter 13. Lyon, Rod. ‘Nuclear weapons and the defence of Australia’, in After American Primacy: Imagining the Future of Australia’s Defence, eds. Peter J Dean,Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor(Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2019) 61-74. Frühling, Stephan. ‘A Nuclear-Armed Australia: Contemplating the Unthinkable Option’, Australia Foreign Affairs, no.4 (October-November 2018) 71-91. Tanter, Richard. ‘“Just in Case: Extended Nuclear Deterrence in the Defense of Australia’, Pacific Focus 26, no.1 (2011): 113-136. Additional Reading Long, Austin. Deterrence – From Cold War to Long War (United States, RAND, 2008). Chapters One – Five: pp.1 – 50. Hawkins, Dimity and Kimber, Julie. ‘The wrong side of history: Australia and extended nuclear deterrence’, Chain Reaction, no.128 (November 2016): 40-41. McLean, David. 'Australia in the Cold War: A Historiographical Review', The International History Review 23, no.2 (2001): 299-321.
4 Lecture 4 - Policy Debates (13 August) We will explore some of the questions that have structured policy debates in Defence over our history – Continental versus Maritime strategies, regional versus global, expeditionary versus Defence of Australia. Small Group Presentations and discussion leads: What has changed in Defence and Strategic Policy from 1987 till now? What has precipitated these changes? Do these changes suggest anything about the future of Australian Defence and Strategic Policy? Required Reading Dibb, Paul. ‘The Self-Reliant Defence of Australia: The History of an Idea’, in History as Policy, eds. Ronald Huisken and Meredith Thatcher (Strategic Defence Studies Centre, ANU Press, 2007). Evans, Michael. The Tyranny of Dissonance: Australia’s Strategic culture and way of war 1901-2004 (Duntroon, Land Warfare Studies Centre, 2005). White, Hugh. ‘Four Decades of the Defence of Australia: Reflections on Australian Defence Policy over the Past 40 Years’, in History as Policy, eds. Ronald Huisken and Meredith Thatcher (Strategic Defence Studies Centre, ANU Press, Canberra, 2007). Defence White Paper 2013 Defence White Paper 2009 Defending Australia: Defence White paper 1994 The Defence of Australia: Defence White Paper 1987 Additional Reading Frühling, Stephan. History of Australian Strategic Policy since 1945 (Canberra, Department of Defence, 2009).
5 PART TWO - Building the Force Lecture 5 - Capability and Strategic Risk (20 August) What do we mean by capability? We will explore how the development of capability is a response to strategic risk. We will also look at the role of Government and how government is influenced by public perceptions and other stakeholders? Small Group Presentation and discussion leads: – What are the current and emerging strategic risks for Australia? Which are they and what is their relative importance – why? Required Reading Brabin-Smith, Richard. ‘Maintaining a capability edge’, in After American Primacy: Imagining the Future of Australia’s Defence, eds. Peter J Dean,Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2019). Dibb, Paul. Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities Commonwealth of Australia 1986 Part 1 Defence Planning and Strategic Guidance, pp. 23-41. Frühling, Stephan. Defence Planning and Uncertainty (Abingdon, Routledge, 2014), Chapters 2 and 9. Gill, Bates and Ni, Adam. ‘China’s Sweeping Military Reforms: Implications for Australia’, Security Challenges 15, no. 1 (2019): 33-45. Additional Reading Brabin-Smith,Richard. ‘Developing ADF Force Structure and Posture’, in Australia’s Defence: Towards a New Era, eds. Peter J Dean,Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor(Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2014). Le Mière, Christian. ‘The Spectre of an Asian Arms Race’, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 56, no.1 (2014): 139-156.
6 Lecture 6 - How does Defence think about and develop its Force Design? (27 August) Guest lecturer Neil Orme - former senior Defence official and expert on Australian capability development. We explore the processes Defence undergoes to develop policy and strategy and to express it in a force design and a forward investment program. What are the forces that shape the final policy outcome (the investment program)? What are the opportunities, trade-offs, and constraints, including resources and budgets. We will look at recent developments in thinking about building whole of system capability – Defence Science and Technology, Acquisition, Intelligence, People, Infrastructure, ICT and Industry. Small Group Presentation and discussion leads– What is a strategic challenge of cyber and how should we respond? Required Reading Sharma, Amit. ‘Cyber Wars: A Paradigm Shift from Means to Ends’, Strategic Analysis 62, no.1 (January 2010), 62-73. Tor, Uri. ‘“Cumulative Deterrence” as a New Paradigm for Cyber Deterrence’, Journal of Strategic Studies 40, no.1-2 (2017): 92-117. Captain, J. ‘Examining the Australian Army Adaptation to Cyber-enabled Warfare – Organisational and Cultural Challenges’, Australian Army Journal 13, no.2 (2018): 15-28. Horowitz, Michael C. The Diffusion of Military Power (United States, Princeton University Press, 2010). Chapter One. Additional Reading Defence White paper 2016 Integrated Investment Program 2016 Brabin-Smith, Richard, Dibb, Paul and Sargeant, Brendan. ‘Why Australia Needs a Radically New Defence Policy’, The Centre of Gravity Series (October 2018).
7 Teaching break (3 September) There will be no lecture on this date
8 Teaching break (10 September) There will be no lecture on this date.
9 Lecture 7 - Class Exercise (17 September) This session will be a class exercise where, on the basis of available public information (the forward investment program, strategic assessments, budget projections), the will present in groups and argue the case for an ADF force structure to respond to the emerging Indo-Pacific strategic environment. Reading for this week: Come to class prepared with research undertaken about the topics outlined above to contribute to constructing an ADF force structure. Guidance for preparing for the class exercise will be provided in Lecture Six; also see Additional Reading from Week 6.
10 PART THREE - Using the Force Lecture 8 - Decisions to use the ADF (24 September) What are the strategic and policy considerations that govern decisions to use the ADF? Small Group Presentations and discussion leads– In terms of the use of the ADF as an instrument of national power, what were the differences between the deployment to Iraq (2003) and the deployments to Afghanistan? Required Reading Crean, Simon. Address to the National Press Club, 20 March 2003. Howard, John. Address to the National Press Club, 13 March 2003. Frame, Tom. Quadrant, (September 2003): 30-32. J Howard (Prime Minister), Application of ANZUS Treaty to terrorist attacks on the United States, media release, 14 September 2001. J Howard (Prime Minister), Australia’s involvement in a US led response; defence; leadership; APEC, press conference transcript, Canberra, 4 October 2001. Kelly, Michael J and Evans, Mark. ‘Australia’s Political and Military Objectives’, in The Afghanistan Conflict and Australia’s Role, ed. Amin Saikal (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2011). Saikal, Amin. ‘Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror’ in On Ops: Lessons and Challenges for the Australian Army Since East Timor, eds. Tom Frame and Albert Palazzo (Sydney, UNSW Press, 2016). Additional Reading DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge. ‘“We should not couple Iraq and Afghanistan as a win or no win criterion”: Exclusive interview with General Peter Cosgrove’, Headmark 141(September 2011): 39-41.
11 Lecture 9 - Using the ADF (1 October) We will explore one or more recent case studies in the use of the ADF. What were the policy considerations? How did the decision makers understand risk? How was the force package developed? What considerations influenced its design and use? Small Group Presentations and discussion leads–What policy considerations might have shaped decisions both in terms of the nature of the deployment and the force package created? What considerations go into determining whether Australia should lead or support in relation to coalition operations? Required Reading Blaxland, John. ‘The Army and Government Objectives’ in On Ops: Lessons and Challenges for the Australian Army Since East Timor, eds. Tom Frame and Albert Palazzo (Sydney, UNSW Press, 2016). Barrie, Chris. ‘Creating an Australian-led Multinational Coalition’, in East Timor Intervention: A Retrospective on INTERFET, ed. John Blaxland (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2015). Wallis, Joanne. ‘“A helpem fren” in need: cooperative intervention and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands’, Security Challenges 2, no.2 (2006): 81-98. Garth Pratten and David Horner, ‘Defining the national interest: The Howard government and peacekeeping, 1996-2001’, in The Limits of Peacekeeping: Australian Missions in Africa and the Americas, 1992-2005, eds. Jean Bou, Bob Breen, David Horner, Garth Pratten and Miesje de Vogel, The Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations, Vol IV (United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2019). Additional Reading Hutcheson, John. ‘Helping a Friend: An Australian Military commander’s Perspective on the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands’, Australian Army Journal 2, no.2, 2004: 47-55. Breen, Bob. The Good Neighbour: Australian Peace Support in the Pacific Islands 1980-2006, The Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations, Vol IV (United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2016) Chapters 11-13.
12 Lecture 10 - What are the current and emerging challenges? (8 October) Contemporary issues – In this session we will explore some of the major contemporary issues and challenges facing Australia and the role of Defence in responding to these challenges. What does the past tell us (or not) about the future? Small Group Presentations and discussion leads: Does history provide Australian strategists with useful guidance for future challenges? Required Reading Brabin-Smith, Richard and Dibb, Paul. Australia’s management of strategic risk in the new era (Canberra, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2017). Rajan, Jyotishma and Flannery, Wendy. ‘Implications of climate change for Australia’s national security: Whose Security do they have in mind?’, Chain Reaction, no.133 (September 2018) 23-24. Rublee, Maria Rost. ‘Time to Worry, Mate? The Construction of Maritime security Perceptions’, Pacific Focus 32, no.3 (2017) 351-374. Additional Reading Sargeant, Brendan. ‘Imagination and Strategy’, speech delivered at Kioloa 2019.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Op-Ed 20 % 01/09/2019 22/09/2019 3, 5
Group Presentation 15 % 13/10/2019 25/10/2019 2, 4
Strategic and Defence Policy analysis: Defence White Paper 2020 25 % 22/09/2019 06/10/2019 2, 3
Essay 40 % 20/10/2019 28/11/2019 1, 5

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


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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: 20 %
Due Date: 01/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 22/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 3, 5


800 words… analysing "What is the most significant strategic challenge facing Australia today"

Worth 20%

Due 11:55pm 1 September via Wattle

For this unit, you will be required to write an Opinion-Editorial (op-ed) on Australian Strategic Policy.… 

Length: 800 words (10% +/- allowed)

Purpose: Congratulations! You've been hired by The Australian Financial Review. They'd like you to write a piece of 800 words analysing "What is the most significant strategic challenge facing Australia today".… 


  • Read some AFR newspaper op-eds to get a feel for the style. The introduction needs to be eye-catching and drive the reader through
  • Ideally focus on one main idea and justify it, rather than trying to cover several issues
  • You don't need to reference, although if you quote from someone, try to say where it was from. For example… "As Peter Jennings said in a recent report… 'Agenda for change 2017' "Defence needs to...."
  • Further guidance will be provided in week 1.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 13/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 25/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 4

Group Presentation

Group Presentation

15% of grade (5% participation; 10% written submission)

Written element due one week after presentation

The group presentations will take place throughout semester. Times and group topics will be assigned in Wattle and available in Week 1.  

  • Each student will present for 3 minutes on an aspect of the assigned topic for the week. Students conducting group presentations for the week will also be expected to carry discussion with the rest of the class. 
  • The written element of the presentation is to be submitted no later than a week after the group presentation. 


Presentation and participation - Present for 3 minutes on an element of the week's topic; assist with guiding group discussion

Written discussion: 750 words (including references)

Referencing: This course uses the Chicago style of referencing.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 22/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 06/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3

Strategic and Defence Policy analysis: Defence White Paper 2020

Worth 25%

Due 11:55pm 22 September via Wattle

Your task is to identify two key areas of concern that were either not identified or not given sufficient focus in the 2016 White Paper. In 1000 words, provide a concise analysis that covers both the most recent Defence White Paper, and the projected future DWP.

In your analysis cover these three areas:

  • What areas of emerging risk did the 2016 DWP neglect or fail to identify?
  • Focus on two areas of concern that 2016 DWP neglected or failed to identify: what are they, and how do they relate to current defence policy?
  • Are there historical precedents for including these risks, or do you believe they are unique? If they are unique, are there guiding strategic principles that can assist us? 

Consult widely, drawing upon previous DWPs, historical analysis about Australian approaches to Defence, and recent literature from think tanks and scholars.


As this is an analysis, no referencing is required. Dot points and report style is permitted. 

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 20/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 5


3000 words on Australian Strategic and Defence policy – Worth 40% of grade

Due 11:55pm 20 October via Wattle

This course uses the Chicago style of referencing. Consistency and accuracy of referencing is an important part of your final grade.

For this unit, you are required to write a 3000 word essay (10% +/-). Make sure to consider quality of your argument, written expression and depth of research.

Essay questions will be posted in Wattle in Week 4

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Online Submission

The ANU uses 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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

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

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. OR 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.

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Brendan Sargeant

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Brendan Sargeant

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Emily Robertson

Research Interests

Emily Robertson

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