• Class Number 4126
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Online
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Michael Cohen
    • Dr Michael Cohen
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

National security challenges facing Australia and the world involve many complex risks and challenges from diverse sources. What exactly is national security? How does it relate to international and domestic security? How does national security relate to interests, values and identity? Beyond the headlines and the politics, how can we distinguish what really constitutes a national security threat? How can we critically assess the security policy responses that governments make? This course equips students with conceptual and analytical skills and frameworks to address these core questions.


Having established the complexities of 21st century national security and assessed different definitions of national security in terms of interests, values and identity, we will look at threats and risks emanating from the international, domestic and individual realms. The course enables student to assess the causal role of these variables, looking at the comparative method and more complex causal dynamics including path dependence and feedback, as well as how to use (and not to use) history to support policy prescriptions. Students will apply these tools to texts ranging from Australian government policy statements to canonical scholarly works to illuminate their strengths and weaknesses. Students will interact with policy practitioners to understand how conceptual frameworks help explain the ways in which contemporary security challenges are understood by government. The course concludes by setting the scene for a subsequent course on translating conceptual analysis into making policy. Learning activities will include lectures, tutorials, analytical exercises and interactive discussions with a team combining academic experts and senior policy practitioners, in line with the National Security College’s signature pedagogy.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and assess the causal forces and complex national security dynamics in which policy must be made, with reference to both contemporary and historical cases
  2. Develop an independent and intellectually rigorous conception of national security, taking into account interests, values, identity and the nexus of domestic and international security
  3. Use these frameworks and skills to analyse and critique actual policy choices made in Australia’s 21st century national security experience
  4. Produce written policy analysis of pressing contemporary national security concerns that is theoretically grounded and empirically supported.

Research-Led Teaching

see above: weeks 1, 3-5, 7-8 and much of 10-11 involve research based teaching

Field Trips


Required Resources

there will be a reading brick made available on wattle

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 IntroductionComplexity and National Security The students are introduced to the complexity inherent in 21st century national security dynamics. This will be illustrated by some examples that highlight the challenges of identifying causal forces and their relative weight. We will also introduce the students to the course and assessments.
2 What is National Security? Introduces at a conceptual level the role of interests, values and identity, and their interplay with domestic and international factors, in developing an individual ‘compass’ to navigate the ambiguity of national security.
3 International Systems We introduce the balance of economic and military power, the long-term influence of nuclear weapons and more recent developments like cyber capabilities
4 Domestic Systems We introduce political institutions in democracies and autocracies, bureaucracies, civil-military relations and the citizen-state relationship. Who decides what is national security?
5 Leaders We cover how what could be defined as the distribution of information – who knows and/or believes what – influences national security outcomes. We also cover how typical psychological biases influence otherwise rational national security decision-making.
6 Analyse a policy speech The goal here is to see how the above toolbox enables a structured critique of two prominent national security policy speeches, such as the 2019 Lowy Lecture ‘In our interest’ by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
7 Causal Inference 1: Mill’s Methods, Path Dependence and Feedback Introduces students to basic means to identify the relative weight of different causal factors, as well as more complex strategic interactive dynamics.
8 Causal Inference 2: Using History Correctly and Incorrectly Teaches students how to use historical evidence and cases to illuminate contemporary policy challenges
9 Analyse a Classic Text The goal here is to see how the above toolbox reveals both the value and the limitations of a canonical scholarly text. Assessment 1 Due
10 Case Study 1: Australia and China The debate over protecting Australian strategic interests, democratic institutions, critical infrastructure and emerging technologies from risks associated with the rise of the People’s Republic of China. Introduces students to a case that illustrates how the causal factors at play are identified and their weight assessed to develop appropriate policy analysis
11 Case Study 2: Australia and Terrorism The Australian experience of countering terrorism and jihadist radicalisation, both domestically and internationally. Introduces students to a case that illustrates how the causal factors at play are identified and their weight assessed to develop appropriate policy analysis Assessment 2 Due
12 Conclusion: from Concepts to Policy Setting the scene for NSPO8006, introducing some of the factors influencing the policy environment (eg. politics, the law, resourcing, external actors, crises, technology) and complicating the translation of concepts into policy.
13 Assessment 3 During Exam Period

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assessment of Document 30 % 29/03/2022 15/04/2022 1, 2 and 3
Analytical Essay 40 % 02/05/2022 28/05/2022 1, 3 and 4
Take Home Exam (covering all course content): 30 % 05/06/2022 30/06/2022 1, 2, 3 and 4

* 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.


see above

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 29/03/2022
Return of Assessment: 15/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2 and 3

Assessment of Document

Document and further instructions to be provided in class

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 02/05/2022
Return of Assessment: 28/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3 and 4

Analytical Essay

Questions to be Distributed in Class

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 05/06/2022
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3 and 4

Take Home Exam (covering all course content):

students will have to select 2-3 questions from a larger selection

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

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).
Dr Michael Cohen
02 6125 5452

Research Interests

Dr Michael Cohen

Wednesday 16:00 17:00
By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Michael Cohen
02 6125 5452

Research Interests

Dr Michael Cohen

Wednesday 16:00 17:00
By Appointment
By Appointment

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