Credit points: 15

Subject outline

This subject focuses on contemporary Australian foreign policymaking. It examines the historical, ideological, institutional and political contexts in which foreign policy decisions are made in Australia, and the consequences of those decisions for key policy priorities. We begin with an introduction to Australian foreign policymaking institutions, including the role of the executive, bureaucracy, parliament, media and other non-state actors. We then introduce students to diverse International Relations perspectives on foreign policymaking, along with Australia's unique strategic culture (the specific historical and structural factors that have shaped government decision-making in Australia). We conclude with an analysis of key policy case studies, such as the alliance with the US, managing the rise of China, development cooperation, and asylum seeker policy. This subject is suitable for all Masters students who want to work in or understand Australia's political and policy-making environment.

SchoolHumanities and Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorMichael O'Keefe

Available to Study Abroad/Exchange StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 5 - Masters

Available as ElectiveNo

Learning ActivitiesStudents are introduced to key Australian political institutions, interests and public policy processes in seminars, online material and weekly readings. They are given the opportunity to critically engage with these concerns in both assessment pieces.Students are introduced to key theoretical and analytical approaches through seminars and readings. They are asked to demonstrate their understanding in assessments one and two.Apart from key readings on these issues in seminars, students are presented with a number of case studies in which they are asked to identify the various interests, norms, values and concerns that have to be communicated and negotiated by policymakers; likewise the processes and systems through which an issue of concern becomes a tangible policy outcome. These case studies will be studies and debated in seminars, with an eye to developing students' understanding of policy-making as a communicative practice. Both assessment pieces require students to engage with these concepts.Key readings, seminar discussions. The major research essay requires students to engage with an Australian policy area of their choice, with an eye to understanding the key interests, ideas and values at stake.

Capstone subjectNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules



Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Quota Management StrategyN/A

Quota-conditions or rulesN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Minimum credit point requirementN/A

Assumed knowledgeN/A

Career Ready


Work-based learningNo

Self sourced or Uni sourcedN/A

Entire subject or partial subjectN/A

Total hours/days requiredN/A

Location of WBL activity (region)N/A

WBL addtional requirementsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

Graduate Capabilities

Intended Learning Outcomes

01. Demonstrate an understanding of key Australian political institutions, interests and public policy processes.
02. Demonstrate an understanding of key theoretical and analytical approaches to the study of public policy.
03. Demonstrate an understanding of public policy as a communicative practice in which decision making is influenced by communication, deliberation, negotiation and compromise between competing interests, values and identities.
04. Demonstrate understanding of the key interests, ideas and issues at stake in specific Australian public policy processes and outcomes.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne (Bundoora), 2021, Semester 1, Blended


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorMichael O'Keefe

Class requirements

Block ModeWeek: 13 - 21
Six 5.00 hours block mode per study period on weekdays during the day from week 13 to week 21 and delivered via blended.

Block ModeWeek: 13 - 21
Six 5.00 hours block mode per study period on weekdays during the day from week 13 to week 21 and delivered via blended.


Assessment elementCommentsCategoryContributionHurdle% ILO*

2000 word essayOn Australian public policy: institutional, ideological and theoretical contexts

N/AAssignmentIndividualNo40 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3

3000 word research report On an Australian Policy case study

N/AReportIndividualNo60 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3, SILO4