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  3. International Policymaking in Practice

International Policymaking in Practice (POLS90034)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOLS90034
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

How is foreign policy made? Who are the key actors involved in foreign and trade policymaking? What factors and information sources do they consider? What are the frames of reference that national and international policymakers bring to bear, the obstacles they confront, and the strategies and techniques of diplomatic persuasion and negotiation they are most likely to find effective in moving issues forward? What factors determine which issues and problems get priority government attention? What determines success or failure in areas such as bilateral initiatives, treaty negotiations, external interventions, conflict prevention and resolution and engagement with multilateral organisations? How much influence do non-governmental organisations and other civil society actors have in international policymaking?

This subject is based around a series of case studies taught by the Subject Coordinator as well as a number of senior guest lecturers who are or have been international policymakers. In previous years, guest lecturers have included a former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs who has chaired international panels and commissions, senior diplomats, officials and advisers in the sector and the head of a Diplomatic Mission to Australia. The subject has a very practical focus, and all lecturers speak from their own extensive and diverse experience. The subject focuses on Australian foreign policy and national interest; however, it is not necessary for students to have extensive prior knowledge of Australian foreign policy or politics to successfully complete the subject.

Case studies and specific issues may include:

  • The evolution of economic diplomacy, including responses to new international dynamics in trade negotiations and in the G20;
  • Australia's multilateral engagement, including as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (2018-20) and the UN Security Council (2013-2014);
  • Refugees – international policymaking and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR);
  • Bilateral relationship development and management – case studies could include the regions such as South Pacific or Latin America;
  • Australia’s bilateral relationship with China – developing policy to advance interests with a great power;
  • The role of Intelligence agencies in international policymaking;
  • The international response to genocide and other mass atrocity crimes - the Responsibility to Protect;
  • The roles of Ministerial advisers and other stakeholders in the development of trade policy and initiatives; and
  • The role of news media in international policymaking.

The subject examines the roles and opportunities for influence of various actors in the sector, such as advisers and MPs, diplomats and departmental officials, and the intelligence community.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students are expected to:

  • Have developed a better understanding of the way in which real-world international policymakers act; and the elements that inform decision-making;
  • Have developed an understanding of the practical dynamics of foreign and trade policymaking and implementation and international norm-building;
  • Have a better understanding of the roles of different actors and agencies in Australian foreign and trade policymaking, and
  • Have developed some of the key skills needed to be effective international policymakers.

Generic skills

On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • apply research skills and critical methods in developing persuasive arguments on a given topic;
  • communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively and articulately;
  • write professionally in a variety of governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental policymaking contexts.

Last updated: 3 August 2019