• Class Number 4013
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Online
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Prof Rory Medcalf
    • Kevin Robb
    • Dr Mark Crosweller
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
SELT Survey Results

Crises are endemic to national security policymaking. The modern era is punctuated by crises emanating from the natural and social worlds that threaten local, national and international security. This course considers this backdrop of threats alongside changing notions of ‘threat’, ‘risk’ and ‘crisis’ and challenges participants to determine how leadership and policymaking can reconcile the competing imperatives of national security and the public interest in the midst of crisis. This course introduces students to this important and challenging field through: (1) exploration of definitions and theories of national security and approaches to leadership, risk assessment/mitigation and crisis management; and (2) the application of this conceptual material to empirical cases of domestic, international and transnational crises. Conceptual approaches are complemented by insights from policy practitioners with extensive experience of crisis response.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand concepts related to leadership, crisis and risk;
  2. Evaluate historical and contemporary approaches to managing national security risks and crises;
  3. Apply concepts of risk and crisis management within the scholarly literature to the analysis of contemporary/future national security challenges and formulation of policy responses;
  4. Conduct independent research that demonstrates both scholarly and policy-focused engagement with the subject matter.
  5. Communicate ideas, analysis and argument for scholarly and professional audiences, with effective use of terminology related to crisis response and risk management.

Research-Led Teaching

Crises are endemic to national security policy-making. The national and international systems are frequently shaken by crises emanating from the social and natural worlds that affect all dimensions of security. This course considers changing notions of ‘risk’, ‘resilience' and ‘crisis’ and challenges participants to explain the role of leadership in reconciling competing interests, mobilising capabilities and achieving durable security outcomes. This course introduces students to this practical and challenging field of security studies through: (1) exploration of concepts and theories of risk, resilience, crisis management and leadership; (2) the application of this conceptual material to empirical cases of domestic, international and transnational crises; and 3) the opportunity to apply learning in a practical exercise focused on the concept of 'de-risking' as a security policy.

Indicative reading list (weekly reading list and PDFs of required readings will be posted to the course Wattle site). No single set text.

Students are encouraged to read widely, including taking a specialised interest in, and reading biographical/autobiographical and contemporary accounts of at least one leader of their choice.

Demarais, A, ‘What does “de-risking” actually mean?’, Foreign Policy, 23 August 2023

Northouse, Peter G, Leadership: Theory and Practice, 9th edition (Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2022), Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8.

Day, David, John Curtin: A Life,(Sydney: Harper Collins, 1999), extracts

Howard, John, Lazarus Rising: A Personal and Political Autobiography, (Sydney: Harper Collins, 2010), extracts

Greenstein, Fred I, The Presidential Difference: Leadership Style from FDR to Barack Obama, 3rd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006)

Ho Khai Leong, ‘Prime Ministerial Leadership and Policymaking Style in Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tonh Compared,’ Asian Journal of Political Science 8, no. 1. (2000): 91-123.

Kim, Choong Nam, ‘Leadership for Nation Building: The case of Korean Presidents,’ International Journal of Korean Studies 11, no. 1 (2007): 113-143.

Meinander, Henrik, Mannerheim, Marshall of Finland: A Life in Geopolitics, (London: Hurst, 2023), extracts.

Medzini, Meron, Golda Meir: A Political Biography, (Boston/Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017), extracts.

James Rogers, Dr. Andrew Foxall, Matthew Henderson & Sam Armstrong, Breaking the China Supply Chain: How the “Five Eyes” Can Decouple from Strategic Dependency, Henry Jackson Society (May 2020)

Crosweller, M. 2022a. Disaster management and the need for a relational leadership framework founded upon compassion, care, and justice. Climate risk management, 35, 100404.

Crosweller, M. 2022b. Disaster management leadership and the need for virtue, mindfulness, and practical wisdom. Progress in disaster science, 16, 100248.

Crosweller, M. & Tschakert, P. 2019. Climate change and disasters: The ethics of leadership. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 11, 1-18.

Crosweller, M. & Tschakert, P. 2020. Disaster management leadership and policy making: a critical examination of communitarian and individualistic understandings of resilience and vulnerability. Climate Policy, 1-19.

Crosweller, M. & Tschakert, P. 2021. Disaster management and the need for a reinstated social contract of shared responsibility. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 63, 1-13.

National Resilience Taskforce 2019. Profiling Australia's Vulnerability: The interconnected causes and cascading effects of systemic disaster risk. In: AUSTRALIA, C. O. (ed.)

Renn, O. (2008) Concepts of Risk: An Interdisciplinary Review – Part 1: Disciplinary Risk Concepts GAIA 17/1 50 – 66.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

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). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

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 Introduction to risk and resilience: concepts and theories
2 Leadership: concepts and theories
3 Crisis and leadership
4 Perspectives from practice: ethics and leadership First assessment (mini case study on risk) due 17 March
5 The Australian experience: resilience and crisis management
6 The Australian experience II: understanding crisis management frameworks and institutions (NEMA and arrangements under federalism)
7 International perspectives I: Insights from Europe and the Second World War Second assessment (research essay) due 21 April
8 International perspectives II: Presidential leadership and foreign/security policy in the United States
9 International perspectives III: Nation-building and economic stewardship in Asia: Singapore and the Republic of Korea
10 The Australian experience III: political leadership in nation-building
11 The Australian experience IV: political and security leadership in crisis
12 De-risking and decisions: practical policy exercise with the NSC Futures Hub Third assessment (leadership analysis) due 26 May
13 Exam period Fourth assessment (practical exercise debrief) due 2 June

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Case study on risk 15 % 17/03/2024 31/03/2024 1, 2
Research essay 40 % 21/04/2024 05/05/2024 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Leadership analysis 30 % 26/05/2024 09/06/2024 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Practical policy exercise debrief 15 % 02/06/2024 30/06/2024 1, 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 Misconduct 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 ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

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: 15 %
Due Date: 17/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 31/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2

Case study on risk

This assessment requires students to present a mini case study on a national security risk (from a range of options provided), applying concepts and theories provided in week 1. Full details of this assessment will be provided in class and on Wattle in week 1. This short piece of writing (800 words) will not have a rigid format, but clarity of expression and analysis, plus demonstrated engagement with course content, will be significant factors in grading.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 21/04/2024
Return of Assessment: 05/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research essay

This is a conventional research essay of 3000 words. Students will be provided a list of research questions in the first weeks of the semester which will be uploaded to the Wattle site. Students will need to select one question, or propose their own, which will need to be approved by the course convener no later than the end of week 6. The essay will be marked according to an standard essay rubric which will be made available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 26/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 09/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Leadership analysis

This 1500-word assessment should analyse a particular leader, preferably a national civilian leader (president or prime minister), and a specific leadership action: a decision or set of decisions. Demonstrably drawing on course material, this analysis should specify the issue or problem, detail the specific actions taken, reflect on the factors behind the action, make an argument about the success or otherwise of the action, and assess lessons from the episode (including the consequences of alternative courses of action). More details will be provided in week 7. This will be marked according to special 'leadership analysis' rubric which will be provided in week 7.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 02/06/2024
Return of Assessment: 30/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1, 5

Practical policy exercise debrief

This assessment requires students to offer their reflections on the practical exercise conducted in week 12, linking it to demonstrated learning from the course. More specifics will be provided by Week 11. Note that students will be required to participate in week 12 in order to be able to perform this assessment task. If students have special circumstances preventing them from attending class in week 12, early notice will need to be provided to the course convener so that alternative assessment can be considered. This is a short piece of writing, no more than 800 words, and a rubric will be provided in week 11.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

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.

Hardcopy Submission


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

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions 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

Research Interests

National security, policy, Indo-Pacific, maritime security, nuclear issues, China, India, Australia, democratic resilience, leadership

Prof Rory Medcalf

By Appointment
Kevin Robb

Research Interests

Kevin Robb

By Appointment
Dr Mark Crosweller

Research Interests

National security, policy, Indo-Pacific, maritime security, nuclear issues, China, India, Australia, democratic resilience, leadership

Dr Mark Crosweller

By Appointment

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