Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit enables students to acquire an understanding of the construction and conduct of Australia's foreign policy. To this end, the international context and historical evolution of Australian foreign policy, as well as the process of foreign policy making in Canberra, are examined. Students are introduced to the concepts, ideas and discourse associated with academic foreign policy analysis. Australia's key bilateral relationships, especially China and the United States are investigated. Finally, attention is paid to contemporary issue areas such security/terrorism, asylum seekers and human rights. The unit provides a context-specific, in-depth examination of foreign policy practice. It draws upon and critically engages with key theory used in international relations and foreign policy analysis, enabling students to place Australian foreign policy in comparative and global analytical frameworks. Students undertake specific case-study analyses of contemporary foreign policy problems in order to develop an understanding of the utility of international relations concepts and theories and their applicability to real world problems. This enables students to think like foreign policy analysts and to make informed judgements about the nature and content of the policy-making process.

6 points
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) apply relevant concepts, theories in international relations and foreign policy analysis to the Australian case; (2) explain, and engage critically with, the conceptual frameworks, techniques of investigation, core generalisations, and key debates associated with the subfield of Australian foreign policy; (3) identify and assess the influence of historical forces in global, regional and domestic contexts, and ideas on Australian foreign policy; (4) identify and describe the influences on Australia's major international relationships; (5) describe and explain Australia's evolving foreign policy agenda; (6) identify and assess the importance of domestic and international constraints and opportunities facing Australia's foreign policy community; (7) communicate independently generated arguments and critical analysis of published research in a coherent and logical manner in both written and oral forms; (8) work collaboratively on substantial research or analytical task as a member of a small group, providing and assimilating critical commentary; (9) demonstrate research skills appropriate for locating, assessing and making sophisticated use of relevant primary and secondary materials; (10) demonstrate advanced skills of problem analysis and critical reasoning, strongly informed by relevant theory; and (11) undertake independent, enquiry-based learning and research which reflects advanced knowledge of the subfield.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a major essay; (2) tutorial presentation and participation; and (3) an examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Alan Bloomfield
Unit rules
any Level 2 POLS unit
POLS2213 Australian Foreign Policy
Contact hours
up to 3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.