• 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 Dirk Van Der Kley
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2022
    See Future Offerings

This course examines the relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which will likely shape international security – and heavily influence Australia’s interests - for the foreseeable future. It is organised around three core questions: (i) how do the United States and China respectively understand national security?; (ii) how have changing power dynamics between the two affected their geopolitical, geoecominc and institutional preferences?; (iii) how might this impact their handling of potential flashpoints in their relationship?; and iv) what are the implications for the security interests of third countries, notably Australia? 


Part 1, drawing on international relations, foreign policy and security analysis, examines the sources of national security policy and interests in both states, incorporating individual policy makers, characteristics of domestic institutions and political environment, and international systemic factors. Part 2 then considers the evolution of Chinese and American geopolitical, geoeconomic and institutional preferences. It does so by interrogating the US role in the construction of the “liberal international order”, China’s alternative model based on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and possible future ‘ordering’ scenarios. Part 3 concludes the course by exploring how Chinese and American approaches to national security strategy might affect their responses to future tensions, including over North Korea and the South China Sea. Part 4 considers implications for third countries and Australia in particular.

Students taking this course will gain an understanding of both conceptual and applied knowledge, as well as awareness of key contemporary controversies in Sino-American relations and their effects on Australia’s national security environment. This will enable them to make informed policy-focused evaluations of the subject matter. Policy practitioner perspectives will be integrated into the course to assist in this regard.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand concepts related to China’s and the United States’ national security interests and environments, with the ability to critically analyse them;
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the historical evolution of national security policy in the Chinese and American contexts;
  3. Critically evaluate the role of systemic, domestic and individual factors in shaping Chinese and American national security policy;
  4. Identify and articulate the policy challenges and options facing the US, China and third countries as a consequence of US-China security relations;
  5. Conduct independent research that demonstrates both scholarly and policy-focused engagement with the subject matter.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Critical literature review (1,500 words) (20) [LO 1,3,4,5]
  2. Policy advice report: Future crisis scenario: 1500 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research essay (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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.


One 2-hour seminar weekly. In addition the expectation of a further independent study combining to a total of approx 130 over the duration of the semester.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Suisheng Zhao (ed.), The Making of China's Foreign Policy in the 21st century: Historical Sources, Institutions/Players, and Perceptions of Power Relations (Routledge 2019)


Robert Sutter, US-China Relations: Perilous Past, Uncertain Present (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018)


Thomas J. Christensen, The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power (New York: Norton 2016).


Sulman Wasif Khan, Haunted by Chaos: China’s Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping, (Harvard University Press, 2018).


Guoli Liu, China Rising: Chinese Foreign Policy in a Changing World, (Palgrave 2016)


Amos A. Jordan, William J. Taylor, Michael J. Meese, and Suzanne C. Nielsen, American National Security (6th edition), (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2009).


John Ikenberry, Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Transformation and Crisis of American World Order (Princeton University Press, 2012)


Victor Cha, Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia, (Princeton University Press, 2016).


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
2022 $4200
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $6000
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
On Campus
7118 25 Jul 2022 01 Aug 2022 31 Aug 2022 28 Oct 2022 In Person View
7119 25 Jul 2022 01 Aug 2022 31 Aug 2022 28 Oct 2022 Online View

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