• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject National Security Policy
  • Areas of interest Security Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Nicholas Thomson
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Winter Session 2021
    See Future Offerings

In 2021, class dates are August 9, 16, 23

In the age of Covid-19, we are all dealing with the impacts of pandemic disease and emergency policy responses. This course assesses the political and security significance of infectious diseases, pandemics and public health. From the historical experiences with smallpox, plague and cholera, to the contemporary challenges posed by new diseases like HIV/AIDS and SARS or the Covid-19 pandemic, it is clear that pathogenic micro-organisms exercise a powerful influence over the security of people, societies and states. The course concentrates on areas in which human health and security concerns intersect most closely, including: pandemics; responses to fast-moving disease outbreaks of natural origin; the ethics of policy responses; and the relationships between infectious disease patterns, public health capacity, state functioning and violent conflict. The 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 engagement with this key policy challenge of our age. To this end, the course includes a comparative exercise on how nations respond to pandemics, and the insights of policy practitioners will be integrated with academic teaching.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand concepts related to infectious disease and health, with the ability to critically analyse them in a national security context
  2. Evaluate contemporary local, regional, and global challenges and policy options relating to infectious disease and health
  3. Critically analyse the responsiveness of security agencies and national policy to the security challenges posed by infectious diseases
  4. Communicate ideas and analysis that demonstrate both scholarly and policy-focused engagement with the subject matter

Indicative Assessment

  1. Evaluation of a policy response to pandemic (30) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Major research essay and Public Information Campaign (PIC) presentation to class (60) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Online engagement (10) [LO 2,3,4]

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.


Contact hours: 2 days (seminars) plus one extra day (seminars, consultations and public information campaigns)

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are unable to enrol in this course if you have previously successfully completed NSPO8013

Prescribed Texts

A list of readings will be provided in lieu of a prescribed text

Preliminary Reading

Ezekiel J. Emanuel et al, “Fair Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of Covid-19”, New England Journal Of Medicine, March 25, 2020.


WHO, Surveillance strategies for COVID-19 human infection, World Health Organisation, 10th May 2020, https://www.who.int/publications-detail/surveillance-strategies-for-covid-19-human-infection


Berlinger et al, “Framework for Health Care Institutions Responding to Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19: Guidelines for Institutional Ethics Services Responding to COVID-19”, Hastings Center Report, March 16, 2020.


Meredith Celene Schwartz (ed) The Ethics of Pandemics, (Broadview Press, 2020)


Simon Rushton and Jeremy Youde (eds) Routledge Handbook of Global Health Security (Oxon: Routledge, 2015).


Kamradt-Scott, Adam, and Colin McInnes. The securitisation of pandemic influenza: Framing, security and public policy. Global Public Health 7, S2 (2012): S95-S110.


Schuchat, Anne, Beth Bell and Stephen Redd. The Science behind Preparing and Responding to Pandemic Influenza: The Lessons and Limits of Science. Clinical Infectious Diseases 52, S1 (2011): S8-S12.


Stern, Alexandra, and Howard Markel. International Efforts to Control Infectious Diseases, 1851 to the Present. Journal of the American Medical Association 292, 12 (2004): 1474-1479.


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:
3 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.

3.00 0.06250
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $2055
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $2940
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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4697 02 Aug 2021 09 Aug 2021 20 Aug 2021 23 Sep 2021 Online View

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