• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject National Security Policy
  • Areas of interest Policy Studies, Security Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
How Canberra works: a guide for security policymakers  (NSPO8047)

Available for on-campus & remote-online learning. Students participate in interactive, real-time classes. 2024 class dates are May 28, 29, 30.

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.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Short response (500 words) (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Short essay (1000 words) (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Stakeholder engagement plan (1500 words) (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.


The standard workload for a 3 unit course is 65 hours including class time and independent study.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

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

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

 Julia Gillard, My Story, Sydney: Penguin, 2019. Chapters 9, 11 and 12.

 Allan Gyngell, Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World since 1942, Chapters 8 ad 9

 Malcolm Turnbull, A Bigger Picture, Melbourne: Hardie Grant, 2020. Chapters 29, 34 and 35.

 Kevin Rudd: The PM Years, Sydney: Pan Macmillan, 2018 chapters 5, 12, 34 and 35.

 Russell Trood and Anthony Bergin, ‘Creative Tension: Parliament and National Security’, ASPI report, 2015.

 At least one policy white paper or parliamentary committee report


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
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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