• Offered by Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Robert Cribb
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

We are being lied to at every turn. Our perceptions of the world are manipulated and things that matter to us are decided behind a veil of secrecy. At the same time, accusations of lying, 'false news' and conspiracy undermine social trust. Drawing especially from examples in and about Asia, this course examines how and why lies are constructed, why we believe them (and why we often want to believe them) and how we can use investigative techniques to get closer to the truth. This course utilises a historical approach combined with contemporary examples to understand the role of lies, conspiracy, and propaganda.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify the characteristics of public deception, including common forms of lying, techniques for manipulation and the circumstances in which deception is attempted
  2. critically analyse the impact of culture and of political circumstance on patterns of deception and credulity
  3. undertake source-critical research aimed at better determining the reliability of information
  4. demonstrate the most important elements of good writing and presentation practice

Indicative Assessment

  1. Five small writing tasks prepared for class (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Oral presentation 20% (rehearsal 5%, written summary and bibliog 5%, presentation 10%) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research essay (40) [LO 3,4]
  4. Exam (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


2hr lecture followed by a 1hr tutorial made up of discussion, practical activities and student presentations.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 24 units of university courses. This course is incompatible with ASIA6145.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Frances Wood, Did Marco Polo go to China? New York: Westview Press, 1998
Stephan, John T., ‘The Tanaka Memorial (1927): Authentic or Spurious?’, Modern Asian Studies 7 no 4 (1973) pp. 733-745.
Horace Freeland  Judson, The great betrayal: fraud in science  Orlando: Harcourt, 2004
LaFollette, Marcel C.,  Stealing into print: fraud, plagiarism, and misconduct in scientific publishing  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992
Brunvand, Jan Harold, The vanishing hitchhiker: American urban legends and their meanings New York: Norton, 1981
Georges Lefebvre, The great fear of 1789: Rural panic in revolutionary France New York: Schocken Books, 1989.
James Siegel, "'I was not there, but...'," Archipel 46 (1993), pp. 59-65
Chalmers, What is this thing called science?
Michael Shermer, Why people believe weird things (New York: Holt & Co. 2002)
John Roosa,  Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement & Suharto's Coup D'État in Indonesia, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007
Robert Cribb, 'Genocide in Indonesia, 1965-1966', Journal of Genocide Research 3 no. 2 (June 2001), pp. 219—239
Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle Eastern Fears of Conspiracy. by New York: St. Martin's Press 1998.
Burhanuddin, ‘The Conspiracy of Jews: The Quest for Anti-Semitism in Media Dakwah’ Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 5, Number 2, August 2007 http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/sites/index.cfm?P=11338
Kruger, Rayne The devil's discus (London: Cassell, 1964)
Stowe, Judith A, Siam becomes Thailand: a story of intrigue (London: Hurst, 1991)
Teiwes, Frederick C.,  The tragedy of Lin Biao: riding the tiger during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1971  Bathurst, NSW: Crawford House Pub., 1996
Lynch, Daniel C. After the Propaganda State: Media, Politics, and "Thought Work" in Reformed China. Stanford: Stanford U. Pr., 1999. Desser, David. ‚From the Opium War to the Pacific War: Japanese Propaganda Films of World War II’ Film History [Australia] 1995 7(1): 32-48.
Larry Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations
Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II,
John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War
Landsberger, Stefan, Chinese propaganda posters: from revolution to modernization Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1995
Lynch, Daniel C. After the propaganda state: media, politics, and "thought work" in reformed China Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.
Cheek, Timothy, Propaganda and culture in Mao's China: Deng Tuo and the intelligentsia Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Assumed Knowledge

Students enrolling in this course should have completed a 1st year course in humanities or social sciences and should have basic familiarity with library research and academic writing. Basic familiarity with Asian history and/or politics is an advantage.




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

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

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
2020 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5460
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4232 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

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