• Class Number 4006
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic On Campus
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Dirk Van Der Kley
    • Dr Dirk Van Der Kley
  • 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

This course examines the relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which will likely shape international security – and heavily influence Australia’s interests - for the foreseeable future. It is organised around three core questions: (i) how do the United States and China respectively understand national security?; (ii) how have changing power dynamics between the two affected their geopolitical, geoecominc and institutional preferences?; (iii) how might this impact their handling of potential flashpoints in their relationship?; and iv) what are the implications for the security interests of third countries, notably Australia? 


Part 1, drawing on international relations, foreign policy and security analysis, examines the sources of national security policy and interests in both states, incorporating individual policy makers, characteristics of domestic institutions and political environment, and international systemic factors. Part 2 then considers the evolution of Chinese and American geopolitical, geoeconomic and institutional preferences. It does so by interrogating the US role in the construction of the “liberal international order”, China’s alternative model based on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and possible future ‘ordering’ scenarios. Part 3 concludes the course by exploring how Chinese and American approaches to national security strategy might affect their responses to future tensions, including over North Korea and the South China Sea. Part 4 considers implications for third countries and Australia in particular.

Students taking this course will gain an understanding of both conceptual and applied knowledge, as well as awareness of key contemporary controversies in Sino-American relations and their effects on Australia’s national security environment. This will enable them to make informed policy-focused evaluations of the subject matter. Policy practitioner perspectives will be integrated into the course to assist in this regard.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand concepts related to China’s and the United States’ national security interests and environments, with the ability to critically analyse them;
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the historical evolution of national security policy in the Chinese and American contexts;
  3. Critically evaluate the role of systemic, domestic and individual factors in shaping Chinese and American national security policy;
  4. Identify and articulate the policy challenges and options facing the US, China and third countries as a consequence of US-China security relations;
  5. Conduct independent research that demonstrates both scholarly and policy-focused engagement with the subject matter.

Whether you are on campus or studying online, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

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

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.

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 Qing Dynasty China
2 Taiwan 1600s to early years of KMT rule
3 The History of PRC foreign policy
4 The History of US Strategic Thinking in the Indo-Pacific
5 Global Infrastructure Battles
6 Thinking about order and power
7 Supply chain bottlenecks: Critical minerals and semiconductors
8 The biotech bonanza
9 AI Digital and Data
10 The Ideology Battle: Misinformation, Narrative Wars and Discourse Power
11 Chinese borderland activity
12 Maritime disputes and the potential for war

Tutorial Registration

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.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assessment 1: Blog post – 800 words (30%) 30 % 22/03/2024 05/04/2024 1,3,4,5
Assessment 2: Outline and proposal for final research project– 1000 words (30%) 30 % 26/04/2024 06/05/2024 1,2,3,4
Assessment 3: Research essay – 2500 words (40%) 40 % 07/06/2024 28/06/2024 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: 30 %
Due Date: 22/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 05/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4,5

Assessment 1: Blog post – 800 words (30%)

The majority of analysis of contemporary international relations is published in short opinion-style pieces, which appear in traditional newspapers or on the webpages of digital media organisations and blogs. The major challenge in writing such pieces is to set up the context of the issue and make 1-2 salient points within a tightly enforced word limit. These pieces primarily serve to offer analysis of recent events and make an analytical or policy point. Or they respond to the work of others—critiquing, qualifying or extending previous analysis and commentary. Much policy writing and persuasive writing will be short (like 800 words). Short pieces are likely to be some of most influential writing that you ever do as longer work is rarely read.

Your task is to write an 800-word blog post that either 1) Makes a salient analytical/policy point about a recent event in the Indo-Pacific in which China and the US both have a strategic stake. 2) Responds to a news or opinion piece about US-China relations in the Indo-Pacific.

You can choose a topic yourself or can respond to one of the articles that I will post on WATTLE two weeks prior to the deadline. For this piece you will need to keep up with current events in the region beyond what is taught in class. I expect that you will do extra research for this assessment too.

Students will be marked on 1) Whether they make a clear salient policy or analytical point within the clear word limit. 2) The clarity and quality of the writing. Is it logical, well-structed, well-written and clear? 3) Is the argument convincing? Is the point well made? Does it take into account the most pertinent issues for the topic that the student has chosen? Does it succinctly counter any downsides or weaknesses of the point they are making? 

Normally, for such an analytical piece you would not use footnotes or endnotes, but hyperlinks to relevant sources. However, for the purposes of transparency (and so the marker does not have to click on everything), please use Footnotes for this assessment. No reference list. No bibliography. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 26/04/2024
Return of Assessment: 06/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Assessment 2: Outline and proposal for final research project– 1000 words (30%)

In this assessment, you will write an essay outline/research proposal on an issue of competition between the US and China. You can choose your own topic from a list provided OR YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR OWN TOPIC in consultation with the course convener. The final essay will be based on your outline. The outline should pose the question you are asking and contain three or four sentences on your key argument (the answer to the question). It should also contain the key sections that you intend to include in the essay. It should also point to key sources that you will use. You should also include any potential weaknesses in your argument and how you seek to address that. See the course Wattle site for more information.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 07/06/2024
Return of Assessment: 28/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assessment 3: Research essay – 2500 words (40%)

This essay is an-depth research essay on a single issue which involves China and US in the Indo-Pacific. The essay needs to explain the interest for an individual third-state in the Indo-Pacific such as Australia – you can choose the state. The essay should:

1)    Explore the history of the issue

2)    Explain why this is important to the third state

3)    Offer an assessment for future trajectories of this issue

4)    Offer guidance as to how manage the issue

The issue can be as broad or narrow as you like. It could be a high-level strategy for managing all China-US tensions or it could be a technical plan for managing an important single issue such as genomic data transfers. But they key focus is that the issue will become more challenging in the next five years. So, I am looking for forward looking analysis, underpinned by historical understanding. And with a roadmap for dealing with the challenges. This is not an easy task. But, it is how policymakers have to think, particularly in the challenging international environment they face.

Please use Footnotes for this assessment. No reference list. No bibliography. 

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.

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 Dirk Van Der Kley

Research Interests

Dr Dirk Van Der Kley

Dr Dirk Van Der Kley

Research Interests

Dr Dirk Van Der Kley


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