• Offered by School of Politics and International Relations
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Political Science
  • Areas of interest International Relations, Political Sciences
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

Why has the unparalleled military might of the United States seemingly been insufficient to achieve its interests in the Middle East, while Russia appears to have achieved significant success in Europe? Does China's rapidly growing economy endow it with a potent economic instrument of power? Is the soft power of the West declining amid global financial crisis and domestic political turmoil? Who is winning the contest of great powers in the 21st century? This course focuses on puzzles like these, examining how power is accumulated and wielded in international relations, and the conditions under which its use can be successful. States are the primary focus of the course, and five primary modes of power will be studied: military power, economic power, technological power, soft power and hegemonic power. The objective of this course is to provide the student with a broad and deep understanding of how power can be conceptualised, measured, and deployed in international relations, and the conditions for its successful use. The course considers a wide range of contemporary issues and case studies and will analyse both the capacity of and limitations on states to wield different types of power successfully.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify, compare and evaluate different types of power and instruments of power in international relations;
  2. analyse the conditions under which the use of different types of power deployed by states will succeed or fail;
  3. debate and evaluate different approaches to major issues;
  4. apply the various analytical frameworks relating to to the use of power to contemporary case studies; and
  5. develop and demonstrate sound research and writing skills.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Take-home quizzes (4 x 30 mins) (20) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Take-home final exam, 1,600 words (35) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research essay, 2500 words: 35% (45) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 35 hours of contact over 2 weeks: 25 hours of lectures and 10 hours of breakout sessions.

b) 95 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 24 units of 1000 level ANU courses; or permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable

Preliminary Reading

David Baldwin, 1985, Economic Statecraft (Princeton).

Daniel Byman and Matthew Waxman, 2002, The Dynamics of Coercion: American Foreign Policy and the Limits of Military Might (RAND).

Joseph Nye, 2004, Soft Power: The Means to Succeed in World Politics (Public Affairs).

Felix Berenskoetter and M.J. Williams (Eds.), 2007, Power in World Politics (Routledge).

David Baldwin, 2016, Power and International relations: A Conceptual Approach (Princeton).




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

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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