• Offered by ANU National Security College
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject National Security Policy
  • Areas of interest International Relations, Philosophy, Policy Studies, Political Sciences, Science
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

Classes will be held on May 10, 13 in the Lennox Room; May 17 in the Brindabella Theatre; May 20 in Lennox Room from 9:30am-5:00pm

This course examines ethical norms on the use of armed force for political purposes and it includes a particular focus on the relationship between those norms and military technologies. It explores how, and the extent to which, ethical and/or technological considerations influence strategic and tactical decisions. After an introduction to Just War theory, the course examines a range of topics, drawing on historical and contemporary ideas and information. These include: basic concepts of international law on armed conflict; pre-emptive and preventive war; humanitarian interventions; non-combatant immunity; mercenaries and private military companies; drones and robots; nuclear weapons; inhumane and ‘non-lethal’ weapons; military medical ethics; intelligence and counterterrorism; and post-war recovery. The overall aim of the course is to provide students with a stronger understanding of the strategic, operational, political and ethical concerns surrounding these issues, their security implications, and the conceptual and empirical connections between them. Course activities and assessment tasks are designed to encourage critical thinking and intellectual autonomy.

Learning Outcomes

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

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1.       Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between ethics, politics, security and strategy.

2.       Conduct research in archives, libraries, and using internet resources.

3.       Communicate effectively in verbal, written and group contexts to a professional standard.

4.       Demonstrate a capacity for critical reflection so that the assumptions underpinning ethical concepts and security policies can be effectively scrutinized.

5.       Formulate, analyse and evaluate security policy options in ethical terms.

6.       Exercise attention to detail and analytical rigour in academic writing.

Indicative Assessment

6,000 words:

Short Essay (20%) OR optional Debate Summary (20%), due week 6

Research Essay (50%), due week 10

Exam (30%)

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. 

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One 2-hour seminar per week (over 13 weeks) with the expectation of a further 8 hours per week of independent study.

Prescribed Texts

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 4th ed., New York; Basic Books, 2006; and/or Helen Frowe, The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction, Abingdon: Routledge, 2011.


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 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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