• Offered by Strategic and Defence Studies Centre
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Strategic Studies
  • Areas of interest Strategic Studies, Diplomacy, Politics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Jochen Prantl
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

As a renown 20th Century statesman observed, “all diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.” War and diplomacy are both instruments of strategy. During both conflict and peace, strategic defence policy-making and effective diplomacy can be difficult. This graduate course addresses the complexity of war and diplomacy by introducing students to the course convenor’s original framework of Strategic Diplomacy, a diagnostic and policy tool to help make sense of the early 21st Century’s most pressing security challenges.


Today’s world is marked by unprecedented complexity and uncertainty – great power conflict, nuclear contest, intra-state conflict, economic dependency, climate change, and other non-traditional security threats such as pandemics. Many of these problems are systemic with enormous disruptive potential not only for international security but also for domestic economies and societies. Globalisation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, policy interconnections, and shifts in the balance of economic power are shrinking the policy space available to policymakers around the globe to shape the world we inhabit.   


Forging effective strategies is essential to maximising the policy space and minimising uncertainty. Practising diplomacy and statecraft with a renewed emphasis on strategy is crucial, particularly because the common reaction to complexity and uncertainty is to seek refuge in oversimplification, tactics and process. This course demonstrates how Strategic Diplomacy works, both as a diagnostic and a policy tool, to navigate the system within which complex issues are embedded, rather than addressing them in an isolated way.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the new concept of Strategic Diplomacy
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of Strategic Diplomacy diagnostic and analytical tools, and apply them to key diplomatic and strategic case studies
  3. Apply Strategic Diplomacy concepts and tools to a wide range of work in public and private agencies
  4. Demonstrate effective strategic communication skills
  5. Undertake independent, evidence-backed analysis of Australia’s strategic policy and formulate effective strategic policy approaches for complex problems

Other Information

Further Indicative Readings:

Huang Jing, ‘Building on Economic Success: China’s Strategic Diplomacy,’ Global Asia, Vol. 11, No. 4 (2016), pp. 14-19.

Robert Jervis, ‘Complexity and the Analysis of Political and Social Life,’ Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 112, No. 4 (1997-98), pp. 569-593.

Bilahari Kausikan, ‘Asia’s Strategic Challenge: Manoeuvring between the US and China’, Centre of Gravity Series (July 2015).

Yuen Foong Khong, ‘Who will replace the US in Southeast Asia?’ East Asia Forum Quarterly, April- June 2017, pp. 34-36.

Steven E. Miller, ‘A Nuclear World Transformed: The Rise of Multilateral Disorder’, Daedalus, Vol. 149, No. 2 (2020), pp. 17-36.

Elinor Ostrom, ‘Polycentric systems for coping with collective action and global environmental change’, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 20 (2010), pp. 550-557.

Jochen Prantl, ‘Debating Geoengineering Governance: How It Matters To The Asia-Pacific Region’, NTS Alert April (Issue 2), Singapore: RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies for Asia, 2011.

Jochen Prantl, ‘Why We Need A Debate About Geoenginering Governance … Now’, NTS Alert April (Issue 1), Singapore: RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies for Asia, 2011.

Jochen Prantl, ‘Taming Hegemony: Informal Institutions and the Challenge to Western Liberal Order,’ Chinese Journal of International Politics, Vol. 7, No. 4 (2014), pp. 449-482.

Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), Chapter I.1: The Retarded Science of International Strategy, pp. 3-20.

See Seng Tan, ‘Consigned to hedge: south-east Asia and America’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy, International Affairs, Vol. 96, No. 1 (2020), pp. 131-148.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Short Essay (2,000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Strategic Policy Memo (3,000 words) (60) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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.


A minimum of 10 hours per week.

Approximately 130 hours comprising seminars as well as associated preparation, independent study, and assessment time.

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

There are no prescribed texts for this course. 

However, for preliminary reading, students are strongly recommended to consult: 

  • Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (London: Earthscan, 2009), Chapters 1, 6, and 7
  • John H. Miller, A Crude Look At The Whole: The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life, and Society (New York: Basic Books, 2015), Chapters 1 and 3
  • Melanie Mitchell, Complexity: A Guided Tour (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), especially Chapter 1 that introduces the concept of complexity.  
  • Centre for Strategic Futures, Foresight: A Glossary (Singapore: Civil Service College, April 2015).
  • Global Agenda Council, Perspectives on a Hyperconnected World: Insights from the Science of Complexity (Davos: World Economic Forum, January 2013).
  • Peter Ho and Adrian W. J. Kuah, ‘Governing for the Future: What Governments Can Do’, Prism, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2014), pp. 9-20.  
  • Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2016), especially Chapters 1 and 3.3.

Preliminary Reading

Alexey Arbatov, ‘Mad Momentum Redux? The Rise and Fall of Nuclear Arms Control’, Survival, Vol. 61, No. 3, June-July 2019, pp. 7-38.

Cedric de Coning, ‘Adaptive peacebuilding’, International Affairs, Vol. 94, No. 2 (2018), pp. 301-317.

Daniel D. Drezner, Ronald R. Krebs, and Randall Schweller, ‘The End of Grand Strategy: Why America Must Think Small’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 99, No. 3, May/June 2020.

Lawrence Freedman, ‘The possibilities and limits of strategic narratives,’ in Strategic Narratives, Public Opinion, and War: Winning domestic support for the Afghan War, edited by Beatrice De Graaf, George Dimitriu, and Jens Ringsmose (London and New York: Routledge, 2015), pp. 17-36.

Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Evelyn Goh and Jochen Prantl, ‘Strategic Diplomacy in Asia’, East Asia Forum Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2017), Issue Editors.

Evelyn Goh and Jochen Prantl, ‘Strategic Diplomacy in Northeast Asia’, Global Asia, Vol. 11, No. 4 (2016), Guest Editors.

Evelyn Goh and Jochen Prantl, ‘COVID-19 is exposing the complexity of connectivity’, East Asia Forum, 8 April 2020.

Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan, The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014).

Colin Gray, The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Jorge Heine, ‘From Club to Network Diplomacy,’ in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, edited by Andrew F. Cooper, Jorge Heine, and Ramesh Thakur (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 54-69.

François Heisbourg, ‘From Wuhan to the World: How the Pandemic Will Reshape Geopolitics’, Survival, Vol. 62, No. 3, June-July 2020, pp. 7-24.

Peter Ho, ‘Hunting Black Swans and Taming Black Elephants: Governance in a Complex World’, in Peter Ho, The Challenges of Governance in a Complex World (Singapore: World Scientific Press, 2018), pp. 1-25.


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
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8991 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person View

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