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Unit of study_

USSC6922: US Strategy in the Asia-Pacific

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal evening] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The United States' has long pursued a grand strategy in Asia premised on preventing regional threats and maintaining access to Asian markets, societies, and strategic waterways. Under President Trump, however, America's regional role may be changing. This unit will explore the history and making of US strategy in Asia, including key turning points, strategic actors, and policy debates. Students will also examine contemporary challenges and flashpoints for America's Asia policy, and how these may affect stability and relations with the region.

Unit details and rules

Unit code USSC6922
Academic unit United States Studies Centre
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Pamela Maddock,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation group assignment Group presentation
Group presentation
10% - 15-20 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Research paper
Written assessment
50% Formal exam period 3500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Seminar participation
Participation and in-class quizzes
10% Multiple weeks n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Policy memo
Written assessment
30% Week 08 1800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: grand strategy and US strategic interests in Asia Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 The European challenge: origins of America’s engagement in the region, from the founding through to the open door Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 03 The rise of Japan, the Interwar Years and military modernization, and the Pacific War Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 04 1. Post-WWII order and the formation of US alliances; 2. The Cold War in Asia: dominoes, Nixon doctrine, and opening to China Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 05 US policy and the rise of China: engagement and balancing Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 06 Making US Asia strategy: actors and institutions Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 07 The US-Japan alliance Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 08 US policy on the Korean Peninsula Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 09 US policy in Southeast Asia Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 10 US-India relations and the Indo-Pacific Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 11 ANZUS in Asia Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 12 US nuclear policy and Asia’s evolving nuclear order Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 13 Donald Trump and the future of US Asia Strategy Lecture (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

COVID-19 Announcement:

This unit will now be taught online. Zoom and discussion boards will replace regularly scheduled class time and / or consultations. Recordings will be made available to students and accessibility needs will be considered. 

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold. If a unit of study has a participation mark, your attendance may influence this mark.
  • Lecture recordings: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on Canvas. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.


NB: Your group presentation, policy memo, and research paper must each draw on a different weekly topic. In other words, you may not do more than one assessment on the same topic.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate a critical understanding of the historical evolution of, and contemporary policy issues in, US grand strategy towards the Asia-Pacific, drawing on the interdisciplinary fields of international relations, strategic studies, American studies, and political science
  • LO2. apply and critique different concepts, themes, and events in the evolution of US policy in Asia, particularly since the end of the Second World War, and in the conceptualisation and implementation of grand strategy
  • LO3. formulate, analyse, and evaluate strategic policy options, from either a US or an Australian perspective, in relation to emerging security challenges or flashpoints in Asia
  • LO4. engage in a critical analysis of academic literature, policy reports, and official documents to develop new knowledge about US Asia policy, and to differentiate between scholarly and policy writing
  • LO5. demonstrate the ability to communicate arguments and analysis confidently and effectively in a variety of written, spoken, and group formats
  • LO6. demonstrate the ability to acquire and evaluate new knowledge through independent research, and to present evidence-based findings in scholarly writing.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.



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