• Class Number 3540
  • Term Code 3340
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 3 units
  • Topic On Campus
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Rory Medcalf
    • Peter Ford
    • Prof Rory Medcalf
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 12/06/2023
  • Class End Date 30/06/2023
  • Census Date 16/06/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 12/06/2023
SELT Survey Results

How is security policy in Australia really made? This is a primer on the institutions, actors and their interaction – sometimes outside formal structures – that shape decision-making in Canberra on key issues related to national security. Policy practitioners will guide students through the intersection of politics, bureaucracy, intelligence and external influences, tying together this foundational knowledge in a policy simulation exercise in which students will formulate, and afterwards critique, a government response to a hypothetical national security problem. 


This course takes advantage of the National Security College’s privileged access to the policy community, to share with students contemporary insights that are difficult to obtain from purely academic sources. In line with the NSC signature pedagogy, this course will be co-delivered by an academic and a policy practitioner. It will rely heavily on practitioner perspectives, including guest sessions with serving and former policymakers, parliamentarians and journalists. The academic course convener will ensure academic standards in assessment and maintaining conceptual linkages to more scholarly and research-oriented NSC courses.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand the roles of the different institutions and actors in Australian national security policy
  2. Demonstrate a working understanding of the context, processes and challenges for national security policy development and implementation
  3. Begin critically analysing the practice of national security policymaking
  4. Develop and communicate ideas, analysis, and argument related to Australian national security policymaking in a range of forms for professional audiences.

Research-Led Teaching


Field Trips

No field trips.

Additional Course Costs


Required Resources

No set text

Recommend readings include:

Behm A (2015) No Minister: So You Want to be a Chief of Staff? Melbourne University Press, Melbourne. Chapter 11

Althaus C, Bridgman P, and Glyn Davis (2018) The Australian Policy Handbook: A Practical Guide to the Policy-making Process, Allen and Unwin, Sydney. Chapters 1 and 3.

Gyngell A (2021) Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World since 1942, Latrobe University Press, Melbourne. Chapters 8 and 9.

Turnbull M (2020) A Bigger Picture, Hardie Grant, Melbourne. Chapters 29, 34 and 35.

Rudd K (2018) The PM Years, Pan Macmillan, Sydney. Chapters 5, 12, 34 and 35.

Trood R and Bergin A (August 2015) ‘Creative Tension: Parliament and National Security’, Strategic Insights, ASPI, The Australian Strategic Policy Institute Limited.

At least one recent policy white paper or parliamentary committee report (examples to be provided on Wattle)

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Other Information

The Crawford School of Public Policy has its own Academic Skills team dedicated to helping students to understand the academic expectations of studying at Crawford and succeed in their chosen program of study. Through individual appointments, course-embedded workshops and online resources, Crawford Academic Skills provides tailored advice to students keen to develop their academic reading, thinking, planning, writing, and presentation skills.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 This session provides a national security map of Canberra's key institutions. Session 1. 13 June 2023 The session identifies the agencies that form the National Security community. It outlines these agencies' roles and their interrelationships in developing and implementing national security related policy. This session will also have a specific focus on the role of intelligence agencies in policy making.
2 This session explores how departments and agencies are able to inform and shape policy decisions. Session 2. 13 June 2023 Senior former policy leaders will join us in the first half of the session to discuss what government officials do and examine the powers and constraints of bureaucracy. The second half of the session covers initial preparations for assessment item 1.
3 Session three explores the inner workings of how power is exercised in Parliament, the Cabinet, and within Ministerial Offices to affect policy change. Session 3. 14 June 2023 The focus is on the role of political parties in making national security legislation. Senior former policy leaders will be participating in this session.
4 Session four also explores the inner workings of how power is exercised in Parliament, the Cabinet, and within Ministerial Offices to affect policy change. Session 4. 14 June 2023 The session highlights the role of cabinet, committees, and oversight in making national security legislation. Senior former policy leaders will be participating in this session.
5 This session explores the external factors to the Federal government shaping the development of national security policy. Session 5. 15 June 2023 The focus is on the role of external actors, including the media, corporate, state, think tanks and foreign embassies in making and influencing national security policy.
6 In the final session, we review pre-recorded material and discuss preparation and submission of assessment item 2. Session 6. 15 June 2023 The latter part of this session will involve initial preparations for assessment item 2.

Tutorial Registration


Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Short response 10 % 13/06/2023 15/06/2023 1, 2, 3, 4
Short essay 30 % 22/06/2023 20/07/2023 1, 2, 3, 4
Stakeholder Engagement Plan 60 % 10/07/2023 14/08/2023 1,2,3,4

* 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.


There is no formal grade for participation, however students are encouraged to participate in all sessions. Group discussions during sessions will provide helpful information on preparing for assessment items.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 13/06/2023
Return of Assessment: 15/06/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Short response

Assessment 1 (10%)

This is a short, introductory response to gauge whether students are developing a clear sense of the course content, and to provide students with some feedback on their understanding ahead of their major assessment items.

The word limit is 500 words (within 10% on either side is acceptable).  

The quality and clarity of your argument will be a major factor in your grade. This includes your demonstrated ability to identify and address counter-arguments. It is expected that you draw on relevant course readings on the policy cycle and undertake some research to support your arguments and discussion of the national security agency. While it's important that you deploy evidence to support your arguments and demonstrate your understanding of the subject, this is not a major piece of research.  Please write clearly, succinctly and in essay style: i.e. prose and cohesive paragraphs, not dot points. Consistent use of the Crawford referencing style is required.

The word length does not include notes or reference list, but please ensure all substantive points are made in the body of the essay.


Choose a national security agency and describe how its role and functions match (or don't match) to the policy cycle.

Include any arguments that support or detract from the use of the policy cycle heuristic for national security policy making.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 22/06/2023
Return of Assessment: 20/07/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Short essay

Assessment 2 (30%). 

You are asked to write a short essay on one of the following topics. The word limit is 1,000 words (within 10% on either side is acceptable).  

This will be a short, argument-based essay, rather than a comprehensive research essay. You will be expected to deploy some evidence to support your arguments and demonstrate your understanding of the subject, but this is not expected to be a major piece of research. The quality and clarity of your argument will be a major factor in your grade. This includes your demonstrated ability to identify and address counter-arguments. 

Please write clearly, succinctly and in essay style: i.e. prose and paragraphs, not dot points. Consistent use of the Crawford referencing style is required.

The word length does not include notes or reference list, but please ensure all substantive points are made in the body of the essay.

Choose one of the following topics:

  • Of all the actors and institutions shaping Australia's national security policies, explain which is the most powerful and which is the least powerful and why? 
  • To what extent can those outside the public service and government influence Australia's national security policies? 
  • Identify an actor or institution with influence on Australia's national security policymaking and explain the basis of their power(s) such as relevant legislation and conventions. What are the strengths and limitations of the actor or institution's role and how might their influence change over time, if at all? 
  • In recent decades the personal staff of politicians, particularly ministerial advisers, have acquired a high degree of influence over Australia's national security policymaking, despite not having a codified role. To what extent has this improved or hampered the creation of national security policy and has it affected the influence of other actors and institutions, if so how? 
  • In a contemporary threat environment where Australia's leaders make quick, politically-minded decisions, can an impartial bureaucracy have influence on what decisions are made or does it exist solely to carry out the decisions of politicians? 
  • Should intelligence influence Australian national security policy or merely inform it? 
  • Australia has a long-standing tradition of bipartisanship on national security policy between the two major parties of government. Explain the strengths and weaknesses of this tradition. 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 10/07/2023
Return of Assessment: 14/08/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Assessment 3 (60%)

You are asked to prepare a stakeholder engagement plan for a major (hypothetical) national security policy initiative. Select from one of the hypothetical initiatives listed below and prepare a 1,500-word (within 10% on either side is acceptable) document which: 

  • Identifies major stakeholders you think are relevant, including inside and outside of government, and explain the influence they may have over the initiative. 
  • Explains the roles different government agencies should take in pursing the initiative. 
  • Identifies whether or not legislative change is required and therefore what Parliament’s role might be. 
  • Considers how various stakeholders should be engaged, formally and informally, over the course of the initiative.  


In all the following scenarios you are a political staffer employed as the Senior Adviser for National Security Policy by the Prime Minister. 

You are the first person the PM has spoken to after deciding on the initiative and the PM wants a comprehensive plan of how to engage any and all stakeholders required to make this initiative a success.  

Remember: you’re not advising on whether or not you personally think the initiative is a good idea, you’re advising on who needs to be involved to make it happen. 

You can be creative with the format and presentation of the plan but must stay within the word limit.

While the focus of this exercise is to show your comprehension of how different stakeholders interact, where you do mention external sources, please reference according to the Crawford referencing style. 

Hypothetical national Security policy initiatives include: 

1) National Service Scheme and Creation of a Civil Defence Force. 

To respond to more frequent and harmful natural disasters, the PM wants to create a civil defence force for national humanitarian and disaster response. It will be supported by a national service scheme to enlist young Australians in a year’s mandatory training and service to the civil defence force, with reasonable exemptions for some Australians. 

2) AUKUS Expanded. 

The PM has decided that they want Australia to have a domestic nuclear industry to support the AUKUS project. Additionally, the PM has been told by the US President that Australia will be responsible for storing all the nuclear waste produced by our new submarines. Given Australia will need a new nuclear waste facility anyway, the PM has decided to establish an International Nuclear Waste Disposal Facility so other countries can pay Australia to store their waste here. 

3) Establish an Open-Source Intelligence Agency 

The rise, and proliferation, of publicly available information is overwhelming the established NIC agencies. The PM believes creating an agency dedicated to open source intelligence will be beneficial to the government. 

4) Ransomware and data protection legislation.  

The PM has decided businesses operating in Australia should be made to publicly report ransomware attacks and face fines for paying ransoms. How businesses manage Australian's data has become increasing fraught after multiple high-profile hacks and data leaks.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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 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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

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).

Prof Rory Medcalf
02 6125 7507 - Ex2

Research Interests

Australian security, defence and foreign policy, foreign interference, Indo-Pacific strategy, China, India, China-India relations, maritime security, nuclear issues.

Prof Rory Medcalf

By Appointment
Peter Ford

Research Interests

Peter Ford

By Appointment
Prof Rory Medcalf
02 6125 7507 - Ex2

Research Interests

Prof Rory Medcalf

By Appointment

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