• Offered by ANU National Security College
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject National Security Policy
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Danielle Ireland-Piper
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2023
    See Future Offerings

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

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.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Policy Speech Analysis (30) [LO 1,3]
  2. Analytical Essay (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Take Home Exam (30) [LO 1,3,4]

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 already completed NSPO8011

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

There is no required textbook, but journal articles and book chapters are assigned from Political Science, International Relations, Comparative Politics, Strategic Studies, Economics, Social Psychology, History, Methodology, Philosophy and Policy Analysis. This reflects the interdisciplinary nature of national security studies.

-U.S. National Intelligence Council, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (January 2017): https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/nic/GT-Full-Report.pdf, 1-66, 96-108


-Robert Jervis, System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) 125-127, 137-151, 155-176


-Arnold Wolfers, ‘“National Security” as an ambiguous symbol’, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 67, 1952, pp. 481-502.


-Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era, Chapters 1 and 2.


-Michael Beckley, “The Power of Nations: Measuring What Matters,” International Security 2018 Vol. 43 No. 2 7-44


-David Ekbladh, “Present at the Creation: Edward Mead Earle and the Depression-era Origin of Security Studies”, International Security, Vol. 36. No 3, 2011-12, 107-141.


-James Fearon, “Rationalist Explanations for War,” International Organization 49 Summer 1995, 379-414


-John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic (London: Longmans, 1868)


-Geddes, Barbara "How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics." Political Analysis 1990 2: 131-150


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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
On Campus
4063 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 In Person View
4342 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 Online View

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