• Class Number 7105
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Stewart Firth
    • Dr Kerryn Baker
    • Dr Stewart Firth
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
    • Philippa Louey
    • Romulo Nayacalevu
SELT Survey Results

The Pacific Islands is a region of diverse political traditions, complex developmental challenges and enduring strategic importance. The close relationship it shares with Australia stems from its geographical, historical and cultural ties, but has been tested by disputes over climate change and the role of China in the region. This course explores contemporary political and developmental issues in the region, including the ongoing legacy of colonialism, decolonisation and secessionist movements; the nature of democracy and how it has been challenged by coups, constitutional crises and rising authoritarianism in the region; and the ways in which Pacific states navigate the international system in an evolving geo-strategic environment.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the diversity of the Pacific region, including its political institutions and cultures;
  2. Identify and discuss different approaches to politics and international relations in the region;
  3. Critically examine key theories on Pacific politics and apply these to different case studies;
  4. Critically reflect on the principal factors that shape politics and international relations in the region;
  5. Communicate persuasively, in a variety of formats, arguments about Pacific politics, international relations, and the relationship between politics and development in the Pacific Islands.

Research-Led Teaching

This course is based on case studies and research conducted by Pacific experts in the Department of Pacific Affairs in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. The lectures, seminar discussions and assessments will help students gain a better understanding of how politics is practised based on current research. 

Required Resources

There is no textbook for this course; all required readings (2-3 per week) are available on Wattle. Please ensure you have read the required texts before each tutorial. Recommended reading is also available on Wattle.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

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

Feedback on assignments will be available through Turnitin. Further feedback is available on request from the course convenor.

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction: Australia and Pacific politics
2 Decolonisation and statehood (case studies of Papua New Guinea and Hawaii)
3 International relations and security
4 The Blue Pacific Blog Post
5 Democracy in small states (case studies of Samoa and Nauru)
6 Women in politics
7 Disorderly politics (case studies of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands)
8 Coups and democracy (case study of Fiji)
9 Regional secessionism (case studies of Bougainville and New Caledonia)
10 Sovereignty and independence (case studies of the American Pacific and West Papua)
11 Strategic competition: China and the US
12 Contemporary political issues (the impact of social media and COVID on politics) Essay
13 Exam Period Take Home Exam

Tutorial Registration

Please register for tutorials through MyTimetable prior to Week 2

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Blog Post 20 % 17/08/2023 31/08/2023 2,5
Essay 40 % 26/10/2023 09/11/2023 1,2,3,4,5
Take Home Exam 30 % 15/11/2023 01/12/2023 1,2,3,4,5
Participation 10 % * * 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 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 17/08/2023
Return of Assessment: 31/08/2023
Learning Outcomes: 2,5

Blog Post

Your first assessment task is to write a blog post on a topic related to Pacific politics, for a general audience interested in Pacific issues (think DevPolicy or The Interpreter blogs). The blog post is due by 11.59pm on Thursday 17 August and should be submitted online through Turnitin. You can use a suggested topic (available on Wattle), or write on a topic of your choice (related to Pacific politics).

Word Limit: 800 words (excluding references)

Value: 20%

Please consult the assessment checklist on Wattle for formatting requirements before submitting. The marking rubric is also available on Wattle.

Estimated return date for blog posts submitted on time: 31 August

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 26/10/2023
Return of Assessment: 09/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5


Your second assessment task is to write an academic essay using one of the assigned essay questions. Your essay is due by 11.59pm on Thursday 26 October and should be submitted online through Turnitin. Essay questions are available on Wattle.

Word Limit: 2,000 words (excluding references)

Value: 40%

Please consult the assessment checklist on Wattle for formatting requirements before submitting. The marking rubric is also available on Wattle.

Estimated return date for essays submitted on time: 9 November

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 15/11/2023
Return of Assessment: 01/12/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Take Home Exam

Your third and final assessment task is a take home exam. Questions will be made available on the Wattle website of the course by 9am on Monday 13 November and the completed short answer questions are due to be submitted through Turnitin by 11.59 pm on Wednesday 15 November. If you cannot sit the exam on these dates, you can sit an alternate exam (10-12 November) on arrangement with the course convenor. There will be fifteen questions, and you will be required to answer ten of them. Answers to each question should be approximately 150 words (references are not included in the word count). The take home exam is worth 30% of your final mark.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5


Active participation in tutorials is a requirement of the course. This assessment will be based on engagement with the required readings and contributions to tutorial discussion throughout the course, including proposing tutorial questions to prompt discussion. Participation is worth 10% of your final mark.

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.

Returning Assignments

Your marks and feedback will be available on Turnitin by 5pm on the date specified for return of assessments (provided assessments have been submitted on time). For additional feedback, please contact the convenor.

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 Stewart Firth

Research Interests

Stewart Firth was Professor of Politics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji 1998-2004. His research centres on the regional and international relations of the Pacific Islands.

Dr Stewart Firth

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Kerryn Baker

Research Interests

Stewart Firth was Professor of Politics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji 1998-2004. His research centres on the regional and international relations of the Pacific Islands.

Dr Kerryn Baker

By Appointment
Dr Stewart Firth

Research Interests

Dr Stewart Firth

By Appointment
By Appointment
Philippa Louey

Research Interests

Philippa Louey

By Appointment
Romulo Nayacalevu

Research Interests

Stewart Firth was Professor of Politics at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji 1998-2004. His research centres on the regional and international relations of the Pacific Islands.

Romulo Nayacalevu

By Appointment

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