• Offered by Department of Pacific Affairs
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Pacific Studies
  • Areas of interest Pacific Studies, Asia Pacific Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
Understanding the Pacific 1: Foundational Concepts, Critical Perspectives (PASI8303)

This course seeks to define what we mean by ‘the Pacific’. Pacific countries and territories are characterised by diversity and commonalities, set against the backdrop of a multi-dimensional regional architecture, that features regional and sub-regional organisations, both old and new, notably the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Community. Through this course, students will explore how Pacific Island countries perceive their region, and their place in the international system, interrogating the drivers and obstacles to change across multiple dimensions (cultural, political and economic) and applying a critical lens to address critical questions for the future of the Pacific region. To guide these crucial conversations, practitioners and Pacific experts will share their experiences and provide real-world examples that illustrate the complexities of addressing the future challenges for Pacific Islands Countries.

Topics covered under the course:

  • What do we mean by the Pacific
  • The Pacific Diplomatic System
  • Economic development in the Pacific
  • Aid in the Pacific

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand and discuss the diversities and commonalities of the Pacific Islands, including in the way politics works in varied cultural circumstances
  2. Critically assess the factors that are driving change in regionalism in the Pacific, and how the system is evolving
  3. Engage in discussions on the structures of different and diverse Pacific island economies
  4. Understand and examine the specific challenges associated with giving aid successfully in Pacific Island countries

Indicative Assessment

  1. 1,000 word Country Profile (40) [LO 1,3]
  2. 2,000 word Case study on a policy challenge confronting the Pacific (60) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


This course comprises some 65 hours of activity over 12 weeks, both interactive/seminar based and independent research. The course comprises a maximum of 3k words of assessment or the equivalent. Please note this is a general guide, averaged over the semester and the final hours ultimately depend on the individual's ability in reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

None required

Preliminary Reading

1.    Sandra Tarte and Greg Fry, New Pacific Diplomacy

2.    Epeli Hauofa, Our Sea of Islands ?

3.    ?Lawson, Stephanie, 2017. ‘Australian, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Forum: A critical review’. Commonwealth and Comparative Politics. 55(2), 214-35.

4.    Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, ‘State of Pacific Regionalism Report 2017’, Suva 2017?

5.    Taylor, Dame Meg, ‘The Future of the Pacific Islands Forum and the Framework for Pacific Regionalism’. Chapter 4 in: The New Pacific Diplomacy. Eds. G. Fry and S. Tarte. ANU Press, Canberra, 2016.

6.    International migration’s long-term impact: evidence from a lottery

Pacific Early Age Readiness & Learning Program: Every Child Ready, Every Child Learning

7.    Executive Summary of Pacific Possible    

8.    Sources of Growth Spurts in Pacific Island Economies 

9.    Three insights from the Kiribati Social Development Indicator Survey

10. Australian aid projects: what works, where projects work, and how Australia compares

11. Eight questions about brain drain

12. Development impacts of seasonal and temporary migration 


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:
3 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.

3.00 0.06250
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $2220
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $3180
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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