• Class Number 6630
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Paul D'Arcy
    • Dr Paul D'Arcy
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

Violent conflicts over natural resources are an enduring feature of social and political life at different scales and levels of organisation. The inter-state and geopolitical dimensions of conflicts over resources such as oil and water loom large in the popular imaginary. However, resource conflicts in the global South are predominantly fought internally, within the boundaries of the nation-state. Indeed, according to the United Nations, at least 40 percent of internal conflicts globally are related to natural resources. It is these sorts of conflicts that are the focus of this course.

A striking conundrum lies at the heart of the inquiry: rather than  contributing to peace and prosperity, empirical research demonstrates that natural resource wealth increases the likelihood that a country will experience internal armed conflict. How and why is this the case? What about the role of resource scarcity as driver of violent conflict in developing-country contexts? What sort of policy responses and interventions are available? How might natural resource wealth contribute to peace rather than to conflict? What is the role of political and economic contestation in these struggles over land and natural resources?

The course will be structured around a series of case studies drawn from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. A political ecology framework will be applied to the analysis of how land and different types of resource complexes  - including mining, oil and gas, forestry, and oil palm - can be implicated in violent conflict. Alongside these case studies, students will undertake their own analysis of a natural resource conflict in which they will be attentive to the role of different actors - especially the state, communities and corporations - and to questions of scale, power and identity.

The course will have a very strong research-led approach to teaching and learning. In addition to core expertise housed in SSGM, it draws upon expertise from other parts of the Coral Bell School and the Crawford School. In addition to the involvement of some of these scholars in class room teaching, the assessment for the course will enable students to engage with them in innovative ways.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the diversity and complexity of perspectives on natural resource exploitation in developing-country settings;
  2. Describe and critique key theoretical perspectives on natural resource-related conflicts in developing-country settings;
  3. Describe and critique key policy approaches to managing and mitigating natural resource conflicts;
  4. Apply some of the methodological and conceptual tools of social sciences, especially political ecology, to the analysis of natural resource conflicts;
  5. Critically reflect upon how their conceptions and understandings of natural resource conflict have changed and evolved.

Required Resources

All course readings are on the course wattle site

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

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.

Other Information

Conflicts over access to, and control of, resources have been a constant in human history. Rational policies to manage increasingly scarce resources often result in seemingly irrational reactions, many of which are rooted in specific cultural values and misunderstandings as much as varying stakeholder aims and objectives. This course combines conflict and conflict resolution theory with Asia Pacific region and resource specific case studies as they evolve over time to provide a broad-based toolkit for analysing the causes of resource conflicts and seeking feasible and enduring solutions. For the purposes of this course, the Asia Pacific region is designated to stretch west to east from Afghanistan to Easter Island/Rapanui, and north to south from the Pacific coast of Russia to Antarctica. Emphasis is placed on the fluidity of circumstances and changing mindsets over time. The course examines three sets of environmental issues: minority rights within states that usually involve extractive industries and underlying tensions between diverse ethnic and cultural groups; inter-state conflicts over resources that span multiple sovereign jurisdictions, or are in international waters beyond state jurisdiction: and, common issues over pending resource scarcity due to population pressure or the effects of climate change. 

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture 1: Development and Conflict Theory No tutorials
2 Lecture 2: Conflict over Mining between the State, Local Communities and Global Capital in Papua New Guinea Tutorial 1: Assessment outlined /Ok Tedi Mine dispute
3 Lecture 3: The position of Mindanao Muslims within the Philippines Tutorial 2: Securing peace in Mindanao
4 Lecture 4: Indigenous Rights in New Zealand under the Treaty of Waitangi Tutorial 3: Co-management of national parks Critical Analysis due 19 August
5 Lecture 5: Contested Economics and Politics of Locally-Controlled Sustainable Forestry Tutorial 4: Sustainable forestry in Solomon Islands
6 Lecture 6: Tragedy of the Commons paradigm as illustrated by the history of the Western Pacific tuna fishery Tutorial 5: Illegal fishing in the Western Pacific
7 Lecture 7: Disputed Commons? The South China/West Philippines Sea dispute Tutorial 6: Resolving the maritime disputes between China and the Philippines Minor Essay due September 23
8 Lecture 8: Divided Commons?: Mekong River Shared Water Access Tutorial 7: Mekong shared water access
9 Lecture 9: Climate Change and Water Wars? Indus and Brahmaputra River Water Access Disputes Tutorial 8: Increasing Pakistan’s water security
10 Lecture 10: Climate Security and Small Island States: the case of the Maldives Tutorial 9: Redefining Security in the Anthropocene
11 Lecture 11: Climate Change and Alternative Agriculture: Permaculture Tutorial 10: Climate proofing food production
12 Lecture 12: Climate Change and Alternative Energy Sources Tutorial 11: Sustainable energy consumption Research essay due 28 October

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Critical analysis of the literature 20 % 1,2,3,4,5
Minor essay 35 % 1,2,3,4,5
Research essay 45 % 1,2,3,4,5

* 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 Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Critical analysis of the literature

Word Limit: 800 words

Value: 20%

Students are to provide a succinct critical analysis of any one tutorial question of the student’s choice from the 11 in the course listed on the course wattle site. Students must demonstrate their comprehension and critical engagement with the tutorial readings for the week plus familiarity with at least 2 other items of literature on the topic.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Minor essay

Word Limit: 1400 words

Value: 35%

Essay topics are listed in the course wattle site. Students choose their Minor essay from this list, although the list of topics includes the option of designing your own question in consultation with the course convener Essay topics and essay research and writing will be discussed in the first lecture in week one as well as the first tutorial in week 2.  

Assessment Task 3

Value: 45 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research essay

Word Limit: 2000 words

Value: 45%

Essay topics are listed on the course wattle site. Students choose their Research essay from this list, but on a different topic from their minor essay. Please note that the list of topics includes designing your own question in consultation with the lecturer. Essay topics and essay research and writing will be discussed in the first lecture in week one as well as the first tutorial in week 2.

This research essay differs from the minor essay in that it is longer and requires more in depth analysis, so it is suggested that this is the best option to pursue your particular research passions, which can be designed through option 14 in the essay list below where you design your own question in consultation with the course convener.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

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

Late submission permitted. 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. Extensions may be granted 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).

Dr Paul D'Arcy

By Appointment
Dr Paul D'Arcy
02 6125 4545

Research Interests

Dr Paul D'Arcy

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions