• Class Number 5576
  • Term Code 3160
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Brendan Sargeant
    • Brendan Sargeant
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 26/07/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 14/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
SELT Survey Results

This course explores how Australia develops and uses its armed forces to achieve political ends such as the protection of citizens and territory and the reduction of strategic risk. The course examines the key ideas Australians have used and applied to help them organise and achieve their strategic and defence policies. This includes the Balance of Power, Sphere of Influence, Deterrence, Collective Security and Grand Strategy. This course traces how these ideas have shaped and should shape the three major military services (Army, Airforce, Navy), along with the management structures and processes that administer them. This course asks questions such as what role does armed force play in Australia's security?  What kinds of operations do our armed forces need to be to undertake to achieve this role? And which capabilities can undertake these operations most cost-effectively? This course enables students to understand the key historical eras, theories and debates about Australian Strategic and Defence Policy and develop the skills to begin to contribute to public debates on these topics.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the key historical eras in Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  2. Apply theories and concepts from the discipline of Strategic Studies to assess the development and practice of Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  3. Understand academic and policy debates about the direction of Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  4. Develop and apply analytical skills to critically assess the key historical eras, theories and debates of Australian Strategic and Defence Policy
  5. Possess increased capacity for original, independent thought about historical and contemporary Australian Strategic and Defence Policy

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 PART ONE - The Challenge of Defending Australia Lecture 1 - Introductory Lecture What is the nature of the challenge? What are some of the different ways of thinking about Australia? What do these different conceptions of Australia mean for Defence Policy and Strategy? Class Discussion We will explore expectations for the course and our perspectives on what Defence and Strategic policy is. We will discuss the idea of an Australian Strategic Imagination. We will ask the question: what is policy and policy making? Required Reading Ayson, Robert. ‘Discovering Australia’s Defence Strategy’, Security Challenges 12, no.1 (2016): 41-52. Carr, Andrew. Winning the Peace: Australia’s Campaigns to Change the Asia-Pacific (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2015): 298-307. McCraw, David. ‘Change and continuity in strategic culture: the cases of Australia and New Zealand’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, (2011), 62: 2, pp.167-184. Sargeant, Brendan. ‘Challenges to Australia’s Strategic Imagination’, The Centre of Gravity series, May 2021 .
2 Lecture Two – What do we mean when we talk about Australia’s Strategic Environment? What are different ways of conceptualising Australia’s strategic environment? Do differences matter? What is the Indo-Pacific? How does our thinking about the Indo-Pacific shape our thinking about security and defence? How do concepts such as alliances, balance of power and spheres of influence help us understand our strategic environment and develop policy and strategy? Class Discussion What changes in our strategic environment as circumstances change? What endures? Required Reading: Blaxland, John. ‘Strategic Balancing Act: Australia’s approach to Managing China, the USA and Regional Security Priorities’, Security Challenges 30, no.1 (2017): 19-39. Carr, Andrew and Baldino, Daniel. ‘An Indo-Pacific norm entrepreneur? Australia and defence diplomacy’, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 11, no.1 (2015): 30-47. Fru¨hling, Stephan. ‘Is ANZUS Really an Alliance? Aligning the US and Australia’, Survival T60, no.5 (2018): 199-218. Additional Reading Wallis, Joanne. ‘The South Pacific: “arc of instability” or “arc of opportunity”’, Global Change, Peace and Security 27, iss.1 (2015): 39-53. White, Hugh. ‘Strategic Interests in Australian Defence Policy: Some Historical and Methodological Reflections’, Security Challenges 4, no.2, (2008): 63-79. Medcalf, Rory (2014) In defence of the Indo-Pacific: Australia's new strategic map, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 68:4, 470-483.
3 Lecture 3 - Deterrence We will look at deterrence, with emphasis on its importance to Australian Defence and Strategic policy. Class Discussion: How has deterrence functioned in Australian Defence policy? What role does it play in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update? Is Extended Deterrence still relevant to Australian security? If not, why not? If so, how does Australia need to adapt? Required Reading Freedman, Lawrence. Strategy: A History (United States, Oxford University Press, 2013). Chapter 12. Lyon, Rod. ‘Nuclear weapons and the defence of Australia’, in After American Primacy: Imagining the Future of Australia’s Defence, eds. Peter J Dean, Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2019) 61-74. Fru¨hling, Stephan. ‘A Nuclear-Armed Australia: Contemplating the Unthinkable Option’ ,Australia Foreign Affairs, no.4 (October-November 2018) 71-91. Tanter, Richard. ‘“Just in Case: Extended Nuclear Deterrence in the Defense of Australia’, Pacific Focus 26, no.1 (2011): 113-136. Additional Reading Long, Austin. Deterrence – From Cold War to Long War (United States, RAND, 2008). Chapters One – Five: pp.1 – 50. Hawkins, Dimity and Kimber, Julie. ‘The wrong side of history: Australia and extended nuclear deterrence’, Chain Reaction, no.128 (November 2016): 40-41.
4 Lecture 4 - Policy Debates We will explore some of the questions that have structured policy debates in Defence over our history – Continental versus Maritime strategies, regional versus global, expeditionary versus Defence of Australia. Class Discussion What has changed in Defence and Strategic Policy from 1987 till now? What has precipitated these changes? Do these changes suggest anything about the future of Australian Defence and Strategic Policy? Required Reading Dibb, Paul. ‘The Self-Reliant Defence of Australia: The History of an Idea’, in History as Policy, eds. Ronald Huisken and Meredith Thatcher (Strategic Defence Studies Centre, ANU Press, 2007). White, Hugh. ‘Four Decades of the Defence of Australia: Reflections on Australian Defence Policy over the Past 40 Years’, in History as Policy, eds. Ronald Huisken and Meredith Thatcher (Strategic Defence Studies Centre, ANU Press, Canberra, 2007). Defence White Paper 2013 Defence White Paper 2009 Defending Australia: Defence White paper 1994 The Defence of Australia: Defence White Paper 1987 Additional Reading Evans, Michael. The Tyranny of Dissonance: Australia’s Strategic culture and way of war 1901-2004 (Duntroon, Land Warfare Studies Centre, 2005). Fru¨hling, Stephan. History of Australian Strategic Policy since 1945 (Canberra, Department of Defence, 2009). White, Hugh. How to Defend Australia, (Black Inc, July 2019).
5 PART TWO - Building the Force Lecture 5 - Capability and Strategic Risk What do we mean by capability? We will explore how the development of capability is a response to strategic risk. We will also look at the role of Government and how government is influenced by public perceptions and other stakeholders? Class Discussion What are the current and emerging strategic risks for Australia? Which are they and what is their relative importance – why? What sort of capabilities best respond to those risks? Required Reading Brabin-Smith, Richard. ‘Maintaining a capability edge’, in After American Primacy: Imagining the Future of Australia’s Defence, eds. Peter J Dean, Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2019). Dibb, Paul. Review of Australia’s Defence Capabilities, Commonwealth of Australia 1986 Part 1 Defence Planning and Strategic Guidance, pp. 23-41. Fru¨hling, Stephan. Defence Planning and Uncertainty (Abingdon, Routledge, 2014), Chapters 2 and 9, pp. 18-43; 191-208. Gill, Bates and Ni, Adam. ‘China’s Sweeping Military Reforms: Implications for Australia’, Security Challenges 15, no. 1 (2019): 33-45. Additional Reading Brabin-Smith, Richard. ‘Developing ADF Force Structure and Posture’, Australia’s Defence: Towards a New Era eds. Peter J Dean, Stephan Frühling and Brendan Taylor (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2014). Le Mie`re, Christian. ‘The Spectre of an Asian Arms Race’, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 56, no.1 (2014): 139-156.
6 Lecture 6 - How does Defence think about and develop its Force Design? We explore the processes Defence undergoes to develop policy and strategy and to express it in a force design and a forward investment program. What are the forces that shape the final policy outcome (the investment program)? What are the opportunities, trade-offs, and constraints, including resources and budgets. We will look at recent developments in thinking about building whole of system capability – Defence Science and Technology, Acquisition, Intelligence, People, Infrastructure, ICT and Industry. Class Discussion What is a strategic challenge of cyber and how should we respond? How do we manage the challenge of adapting to change when our capability systems take so long to develop and implement? Required Reading Sharma, Amit. ‘Cyber Wars: A Paradigm Shift from Means to Ends’, Strategic Analysis 62, no.1 (January 2010), 62-73. Tor, Uri. ‘“Cumulative Deterrence” as a New Paradigm for Cyber Deterrence’, Journal of Strategic Studies 40, no.1-2 (2017): 92-117. Captain, J. ‘Examining the Australian Army Adaptation to Cyber-enabled Warfare – Organisational and Cultural Challenges’, Australian Army Journal 13, no.2 (2018): 15-28. Horowitz, Michael C. The Diffusion of Military Power (United States, Princeton University Press, 2010). Chapter One. Additional Reading Defence White paper 2016. Integrated Investment Program 2016. Brabin-Smith, Richard, Dibb, Paul and Sargeant, Brendan. ‘Why Australia Needs a Radically New Defence Policy’, The Centre of Gravity Series (October 2018). Laird, Robbin F, Joint by Design: The Evolution of Australian Defence Strategy (Williams Foundation, 2021).
7 Teaching break There will be no lecture on this date
8 Teaching break There will be no lecture on this date.
9 Lecture 7 - Acquisition Case Studies This session will explore some major capability acquisitions. What do we learn from the experience? Class discussion What are the lessons for the future that we can we derive from experience of recent decades?
10 PART THREE - Using the Force Lecture 8 - Decisions to use the ADF What are the strategic and policy considerations that govern decisions to use the ADF? We will explore more recent case studies in the use of the ADF. What were the policy considerations? How did the decision makers understand risk? How was the force package developed? What considerations influenced its design and use? Class Discussion: In terms of the use of the ADF as an instrument of national power, what were the differences between the deployment to Iraq (2003) and the deployments to Afghanistan? Required Reading Crean, Simon. Address to the National Press Club, 20 March 2003. Howard, John. Address to the National Press Club, 13 March 2003. Frame, Tom. Quadrant, (September 2003): 30-32. Kelly, Michael J and Evans, Mark. ‘Australia’s Political and Military Objectives’, in The Afghanistan Conflict and Australia’s Role, ed. Amin Saikal (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2011). Additional Reading DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge. ‘“We should not couple Iraq and Afghanistan as a win or no win criterion”: Exclusive interview with General Peter Cosgrove’, Headmark 141(September 2011): 39-41. Saikal, Amin. ‘Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror’ in On Ops: Lessons and Challenges for the Australian Army Since East Timor, eds. Tom Frame and Albert Palazzo (Sydney, UNSW Press, 2016).
11 Lecture 9 - What are the current and emerging challenges? Contemporary issues In this session we will explore some of the major contemporary issues and challenges facing Australia and the role of Defence in responding to these challenges. What does the past tell us (or not) about the future? What are the implications for Defence of the COVID-19 crisis? How important is climate change in thinking about the future role of the ADF? Required Reading Brabin-Smith, Richard and Dibb, Paul, Deterrence Through Denial: a strategy for an era of reduced warning time. ASPI, May 2021. Brabin-Smith, Richard and Dibb, Paul. Australia’s management of strategic risk in the new era (Canberra, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2017). Rajan, Jyotishma and Flannery, Wendy. ‘Implications of climate change for Australia’s national security: Whose Security do they have in mind?’, Chain Reaction, no.133 (September 2018) 23-24. Rublee, Maria Rost. ‘Time to Worry, Mate? The Construction of Maritime security Perceptions’, Pacific Focus 32, no.3 (2017) 351-374.
12 Lecture 10 - Class Exercise and Discussion Drawing on the work undertaken for the short essay, participants will be asked to make a short presentation on an Australian strategic and/or defence policy maker followed by discussion with the class.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Op-Ed 25 % 3, 5
Short Essay 25 % 1, 2, 4
Essay 40 % 1, 2, 3, 5
Class Participation 10 % 4, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation: Attendance and contribution to class discussions will be assessed, including contribution to the Week 10 Class Exercise.

Worth 10%

Assessment Task 1

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 3, 5


Write an Opinion-Editorial (op-ed) on Australian Strategic Policy.

Length: 800 words (10% +/- allowed)

Purpose: Congratulations! You've been hired by The Australian Financial Review. They'd like you to write a piece of 800 words analysing "What is the most significant strategic challenge facing Australia today". 



  • Read some AFR newspaper op-eds to get a feel for the style. The introduction needs to be eye-catching and drive the reader through
  • Ideally focus on one main idea and justify it, rather than trying to cover several issues
  • You don't need to reference, although if you quote from someone, try to say where it was from. For example "As Peter Jennings said in a recent report 'Agenda for change 2017' "Defence needs to...."
  • Further guidance will be provided in Week 1.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4

Short Essay

Write a short essay on an Australian who has contributed significantly to Australian Strategic and Defence Policy. The essay should discuss who they were, what they did, and why their contribution was significant.

Length: 1000 words (10% +/- allowed)

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 5


For this unit, you are required to write a 3000 word essay (10% +/-).

Essay questions will be posted in Wattle in Week 3.

This course uses the Chicago style of referencing. Consistency and accuracy of referencing is an important part of your final grade.

Make sure to consider quality of your argument, written expression and depth of research.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 4, 5

Class Participation

Participation: Attendance and contribution to class discussions will be assessed, including contribution to the Week 10 Class Exercise.

Worth 10%

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

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.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. OR Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Brendan Sargeant

Research Interests

Brendan Sargeant

By Appointment
Brendan Sargeant
6125 5744

Research Interests

Brendan Sargeant

By Appointment

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