• Offered by ANU National Security College
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject National Security Policy
  • Areas of interest Policy Studies, Security Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Michael Clarke
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

All activities that form part of this course will be delivered remotely in Sem 2 2020.

Given the predominant role the United States has played in world affairs since World War II, American national security policy effects, not just Americans, but peoples and nations around the globe. The central aim of this course is to provide students with a systematic understanding of the dimensions and dilemmas of American national security policy. This aim will be pursued through a lecture and tutorial program that provides students with an overview of the key areas of American national security policy, with a particular focus on the ideas, institutions, and individuals that have shaped how America frames its approach to national security.

The course will begin by examining the foundations of the American approach to national security policy through developing an understanding of the historical foundations of American power and interests in international affairs, the historical development of major traditions of American thinking about national security, and the major institutions involved in the national security policy-making process. The course will then examine in detail the conduct of American national security policy during the Cold War with a particular focus on the dilemmas of implementing the strategy of containment. The final part of the course will turn its attention to examining in detail American national security policy in the post-Cold War era and how it has sought to maintain its position of global leadership and predominant power in the face of a rapidly changing international environment.

Learning Outcomes

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

After successfully completing this course students will be able to:
• demonstrate knowledge of the historical evolution of national security problems in the American context;
• identify and explain how the many organizations, institutions, and individuals that participate in American national security policymaking affect policy formulation, implementation, and outcomes;
• comprehend that definitions of national security and the specification of vital interests are subjective and fluid and that they are as much functions of domestic politics as they are responses to international politics and "objective threats";
• evaluate US national security policy decisions through the analysis of the institutional, political and ideational factors that shape the US conception of national security

Indicative Assessment

1. Critical review of relevant journal article/book chapter (20%)
2. Research essay, 2500-3000 words (35%)
3. End of semester examination (35%)
4. Seminar participation (10%)

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 two-hour seminar per week (over 13 weeks) with the expectation of a further seven hours per week of independent study

Prescribed Texts

Amos A. Jordan, William J. Taylor, Michael J. Meese, and Suzanne C. Nielsen, American National Security (6th edition), (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2009).

Preliminary Reading

John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War, (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Walter Russell Mead, A Special Providence: American Foreign policy and How it Changed the World, (NY: Routledge, 2002).

Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776, (NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1997).

John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Transformation and Crisis of American World Order (Princeton University Press, 2012).


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

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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8076 27 Jul 2020 03 Aug 2020 31 Aug 2020 30 Oct 2020 In Person View

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