• Offered by Strategic and Defence Studies Centre
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject War Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Sue Thompson
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

War dominates the history of Vietnam and its neighbours in the period 1941-1991. During this era the region was wracked by conflicts that reflected the  multiple currents and tensions stemming from nationalism, the desire for self-determination, de-colonisation, schemes of national unification, imperialism, post-colonial nation building, regional power rivalries, global ideological tensions and the Cold War. From the war of decolonisation against the French to the US intervention from the early 1960s, Vietnam became one of the Cold War’s ‘hot wars’ and a symbol of the American desire to ‘contain’ communism. Yet the communist victory in 1975 did not mean the end of war in mainland Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War’s linked conflicts in Cambodia and Laos who had their own causes and consequences and the emergence of a unified Vietnam as a regional power meant it was soon embroiled in an invasion of Kampuchea and then border clashes with China. This course seeks to understanding the impact of the Vietnam wars by exploring issues around their relationship to the nature and character of war, decolonisation and imperialism, the geo-politics of Asia, the Cold War, US policies of containment, military strategy and the popular memory/interpretation of war in literature and film.

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Describe the key features of the wars involving Vietnam from 1941-1991.

2. Identify the key developments and transitions in the conduct of war the during the French and American Wars in Vietnam.

3. Critique historical understanding on the conflicts in Vietnam through the use of a range of historical resources and interpretations.

4. Analyses the popular culture interpretations of the war in the United States and Australia.

5. Demonstrate a comprehension of the complexity of the different conflicts involving Vietnam between 1941-1991.

6. Employ written and oral communication skills to clearly and confidently articulate your ideas about war and warfare in Vietnam.

Indicative Assessment

1. Tutorial participation (10 per cent) [learning outcomes 1-3]

2. Reading synthesis (20 per cent) [learning outcomes 1, 3, 5-6]

3. Book/film review (25 per cent) [learning outcomes 3, 4, 6]

4. A 2500 word research essay (45 percent) [learning outcomes 1-6]

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.


A weekly 2-hour lecture a weekly 1-hour tutorial. Students will be expected to to spend an average of 10 hours per week on the course, with three being made up of the contact hours and the remainder preparing for lectures and tutorials, and completing assessment.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course students must have completed 24 units of ANU courses towards a degree, including a minimum of 12 units of any 1000-coded ANCH, ASIA, BAPA, HIST, INTR, POLS, STST, WARS, or obtain the permission of the convenor to do so.

Preliminary Reading

G Kolko, Vietnam: Anatomy of War, Unwin, London, 1987
G. Kolko,Vietnam: Anatomy of a Peace , Routledge, London, 1997
M. Young, The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990, HarperCollins, New York, 1991
P. G.  Edwards, Australia and the Vietnam War NewSouth, Sydney, 2014
R L. Miller & D. Wainstock, Indochina and Vietnam: the thirty-five-year war, 1940-1975,  Enigma Books, 2013
W.S.Turley, The second Indochina War : a concise political and military history, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009
M.P. Bradley & M Young, Making sense of the Vietnam wars: local, national, and transnational perspectives, Oxford University Press, 2008
M.A. Lawrence, The Vietnam War: a concise international history  Oxford University Press, 2008
M. Shipway, The road to war : France and Vietnam, 1944-1947, Providence: Berghahn Books, 1996
S.P. Armstrong, The causes and implications of the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Kampuchea, California State University, Long Beach, 1985
Vo Nguyen Giap, “Peoples War, People’s Army”, Hanoi, 1961
Bao Ninh “The Sorrow of War”, Secker & Warburg, London, 1991
Troung Nhu Tang “A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath”, Vintage, 1986
Lien-Hang T. Nguyen “Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam” , University of North Carolina Press, 2012


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 $3900
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5580
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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
7210 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person N/A

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