• Offered by ANU National Security College
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject National Security Policy
  • Areas of interest Australian Studies, International Relations, Policy Studies, Political Sciences
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Rory Medcalf
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2023
    See Future Offerings

This course is available for on-campus & remote (online) learning. All students participate in interactive, real-time classes.

This is a core course in the Master of National Security Policy degree. It is also available as an elective to other students seeking a broad introduction to national security policy that bridges the practical and the conceptual. This course examines the structures, processes, actors and norms of national security policymaking, with reference to the Australian experience. The subject matter includes: the challenge of translating national security concepts into addressing practical policy problems; the nature, purpose and limitations of national security policymaking; actors, interests and structures in national security; practical aspects of national security policymaking including strategy, risk management and the impact of technology; the role of the private sector, interest groups, the media and academia/think tanks; national security policymaking in comparative perspective; and prospects for reform.

In line with the NSC’s signature pedagogy, this course is delivered as a collaboration between an academic convener and a policy practitioner. Guest presentations are included, both from other national security academics and from current and former senior policymakers, with the course convener and practitioner acting as discussants to sustain engagement with the content combining concepts and practice. Several of the seminars in the course provide a preview of other national security (elective) courses, improving students’ ability to structure their study experience. A highlight of the course is a fully-fledged exercise simulating whole-of-government national security policymaking in a crisis scenario.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Apply concepts of national security to critically analyse practical national security policymaking
  2. Demonstrate a working understanding of the context, processes, challenges and options for national security policy development and implementation
  3. Understand the workings of the Australian national security policy community, including as a model to assess the national security architecture in other countries
  4. Conduct independent research on national security policy issues
  5. Develop and communicate ideas, analysis, and argument in a range of written and oral forms for professional and scholarly audiences.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Oral presentation: framing a policy problem (20) [LO 1,2,3,5]
  2. Analytical research essay (3,000 words) (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. 1500 word policy brief (30) [LO 1,2,3,5]

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.


12 weekly 2-hour seminars and 12 one-hour tutorials. In addition the expectation of a further independent study to total 130 over the duration of the semester.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed NSPO8001 or NSPO8003.

Prescribed Texts

Course reading list and guide to library resources.

Preliminary Reading

Catherine Althaus, Peter Bridgman and Glyn Davis, The Australian Policy Handbook: A Practical Guide to the Policy-making Process, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2018.


Allan Behm, No Minister: So You Want to be a Chief of Staff? Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2015.

Andrew Carr, ‘I’m here for an argument: why bipartisanship on security makes Australia less safe’, Australia Institute paper, 2017.

Lawrence Freedman, ‘Academics and policy-making: rules of engagement’, Journal of Strategic Studies 40 (1-2) (2017): pp. 263-268

Allan Gyngell, ‘The rumble of think tanks: national security and public policy contestability in Australia’, in Daniel Marston and Tamara Leahy eds., War, Strategy and History: Essays in Honour of Professor Robert O'Neill, ANU Press, 2016, pp. 265-285.

David Omand, Securing the State, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Kori Schake, ‘The national security process’, in The Oxford Handbook of US National Security, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.


At least one Australian policy white paper or parliamentary committee report.

Assumed Knowledge

NSC students are encouraged to take this second semester course subsequent to taking the first semester core course NSPO8007, Concepts and Methods. Some of the conceptual content from the previous version of the National Security Policymaking core course has become central material in Concepts and Methods, where it can be developed in greater depth. The case studies in both courses are complementary, with 8007 offering a conceptual framing of two security challenges facing Australia and 8006 presenting the policy difficulties and options in addressing those challenges.


This course is compatible with the NSC 3-unit course How Canberra Works. Although there are superficial similarities in some of the content, the 6-unit National Security Policymaking goes into greater depth as well as connecting the Australian national security experience with concepts and international comparative perspective.


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
2023 $4320
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $6180
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
5387 24 Jul 2023 31 Jul 2023 31 Aug 2023 27 Oct 2023 In Person View
7591 24 Jul 2023 31 Jul 2023 31 Aug 2023 27 Oct 2023 Online View

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