• 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, Policy Studies, Political Sciences, Medicine, Science
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
Disease, Security and Biological Weapons (NSPO8013)

This course assesses the political and security significance of infectious diseases and biological weapons. Whether one contemplates historical experiences with smallpox, plague and cholera, or the contemporary challenges posed by new diseases like HIV/AIDS and SARS, it is clear that pathogenic micro-organisms exercise a powerful influence over civilized humankind. The course concentrates on areas in which human health and security concerns intersect most closely, including: the threat posed by biological weapons; responses to fast-moving disease outbreaks of natural origin; security-oriented ethics for biological scientists; and the relationships between infectious disease patterns, public health capacity, state functioning and violent conflict. The overall aim of the course is to provide students with a stronger understanding of the scientific and political nature of these problems, why and how they might threaten security, 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 be able to:

1.   Demonstrate a critical understanding of disease-related security and policy issues, drawing on the fields of international relations, strategic studies, political science, ethics, law, biology and public health.

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 security concepts and policies can be effectively scrutinized.

5.   Formulate, analyse and evaluate security policy options in relation to disease-related security challenges.

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

Indicative Assessment

1,500 word policy brief (40%)

3,500 word essay (50%)

reflection/self-assessment (10%).

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.


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


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2021 $4110
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
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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