The Bachelor of Pacific Studies is an interdisciplinary program offered by the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, Australia’s foremost centre for teaching and research on Oceania. The College houses the largest concentration of Pacific scholars in Australia, and teaches the largest number of Pacific languages. As a student of Pacific Studies, you will also have the opportunity to undertake internship and immersion programs in Oceania, boosting your language skills and understanding of the region.

If your interests lie in anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics, politics, gender or cultural studies, you will benefit from the regionally relevant framework that Pacific Studies provides. The program is also particularly well-suited to students of Pacific descent looking to explore their heritage. Graduates from a Bachelor of Pacific Studies have the much-needed expertise to work in Pacific policy and development, and the transdisciplinary analytical skills to succeed in a range careers or postgraduate study.

If you are an existing ANU undergraduate student, you may also be able to enrol in Pacific undergraduate courses. The Course List is available here. You can also scroll through a selection of courses below.

PASI1011 Pacific Encounters: An Introduction to Pacific Studies
Course convenor – Gemma Malungahu
2023: Semester 1

Pacific encounters provide an introduction to debates that shape how we conceptualise and think about the Pacific region and its peoples. The course is built around three learning modules - the past, present and future. We examine the voyages that brought people to the region, as well as colonisation and its impact on the region. The focus on the present examines recent voyages that Pacific people have taken to Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and how Pacific cultures and identities have evolved over time and place. Finally, we consider how the past and the present can help us imagine the future.

» Read about PASI1011 Pacific Encounters: An Introduction to Pacific Studies

STST2003 Australia and Security in the Pacific Islands
Course convenors - James Batley & Sinclair Dinnen
2023: Semester 1

In 1999 SDSC’s Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb coined the term ‘arc of instability’ to describe the island chain to the north of Australia, ranging from Indonesia through the Pacific islands to New Zealand. Although this idea is contested, the Australian government consistently identifies this arc as the region from or through which a security threat to Australia could most easily be posed. As a result, Australia is engaged in extensive efforts to support stability and security in this region, which is the site of the majority of Australia’s military deployments, policing operations and development expenditure.

This course critically analyses the security challenges facing this arc, and the efforts Australia is taking to secure the region. These efforts include transnational crime and counterterrorism cooperation, natural disaster response, intervention and stabilisation, criminal justice assistance, governance capacity-building and development assistance. It considers the implications of the whole-of-government approach taken by the government. It also assesses the outlook over the next decade for security in this strategically important region.

» Read about STST2003 Australia and Security in the Pacific Islands

POLS2055 Pacific Politics
Course convenor - Kerryn Baker
2023: Semester 2

The success of politics and political systems in the Pacific Islands is measured by their capacity to deliver development in poor states. We explore this dynamic by looking at the politics of development and the development of politics. In the first half of the course we examine the politics of development, with reference to the impact of colonialism, decolonisation and secessionism; the place of the Island countries in international politics, especially in relation to the rise of China in the Pacific and the response of the USA; the political impact of official development assistance; and tensions between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ modes of governance. In the second half of the course we investigate the development of politics, including attempts to engineer development outcomes via constitutions and electoral systems; intervention in Island countries by outside powers such as Australia; the phenomenon of state-building, particularly in ethnically divided societies; and women’s representation in politics.

» Read about POLS2055 Pacific Politics

ASIA2093 Natural Resource Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific
Course convenor - Paul D’Arcy
2023: Semester 2

Violent conflicts over natural resources are an enduring feature of social and political life at different scales and levels of organisation. The inter-state and geopolitical dimensions of conflicts over resources such as oil and water loom large in the popular imaginary. However, resource conflicts in the global South are predominantly fought internally, within the boundaries of the nation-state. It is these sorts of conflicts that are the focus of this course.

The course is structured around a series of case studies drawn from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. A political ecology framework is applied to the analysis of how land and different types of resource complexes - including mining, oil and gas, forestry, and oil palm - can be implicated in violent conflict. Alongside these case studies, students undertake their own analysis of a natural resource conflict in which they are attentive to the role of different actors - especially the state, communities and corporations - and to questions of scale, power and identity.

» Read about ASIA2093 Natural Resource Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific

PASI3001 The Contemporary Pacific: Society, Politics and Development
Course convenor – Rochelle Bailey
2023: Semester 2

This course aims to enhance understanding of the current challenges and opportunities facing the Pacific Islands region, and in particular Pacific Island cultural approaches to these challenges and opportunities. It is designed for later year undergraduates, graduate students, development practitioners and policy-makers. The course examines a range of issues, including: conflict, climate change and democracy; urbanisation, labour mobility and migration; regionalism and the interests of external powers; cultural policy, popular culture, the arts and human development; and globalisation and the environment.

» Read about PASI3001 The Contemporary Pacific: Society, Politics and Development

PASI2002 Australia in Oceania in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Course convenor - Nicholas Hoare
2023: Semester 2

In this course we examine this core question by exploring the history of Australia and Oceania – with a special focus on the island Pacific – through the ‘long’ 19th and 20th centuries. To start, we look at Australia and the Pacific in ‘deep time’, outlining the initial waves of human settlement and prehistoric mobility, before tackling major themes of Australia’s interactions with the island world: through European expansion and first encounters; the thickening relationships of trade, missionisation and formal colonialism in the 19th century; the world wars; the post war period; the era of independence; and developments of the late 20th and early 21st centuries – including Australia’s ‘interventions’ in the Pacific, the growth of Australia’s own Pasifika populations, and changing perceptions of Australia in the region. This course aims to develop a wider understanding of Australia’s shared history with Oceania and the evolution of the Pacific community of which Australia is part. It will highlight the Pacific’s impacts on Australia and the multiplicity of Australia’s past and present engagements with the island region.

» Read about PASI2002 Australia in Oceania in the 19th and 20th Centuries

PASI3013 Environment and development in the Pacific
Course convenor - TBA
2023: Semester 2

The course examines the contemporary relationships between environment, development and conflict in the cultural area known as “Melanesia”, with a particular focus on the independent nations of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Teaching and learning are organised around three case applied studies in which groups of students take the lead in directing the enquiry. The broad topics of the case studies are land and development, conflict, and Australia’s ongoing engagements with the Pacific. The course engages the disciplinary lenses of geography, anthropology and to a lesser extent, political science.

» Read about PASI3013 Environment and development in the Pacific

WARS2004 War in the Islands: The Second World War in the Pacific
Course convenor - Nicholas Hoare
2023: Semester 2

The extension of World War II to the Pacific Theatre in 1942 signalled a new era in the technology of war and profoundly shaped the modern history of the Asia Pacific region. This course is the first in the world to combine Allied, Japanese and Pacific Islander understandings of the Pacific War with particular attention to the South West Pacific. It complements the existing emphasis on the perspective from the United States and is distinctive in making ‘space’ for Islander experiences. Attention is divided equally between a narrative history of the events of conflict, and a multi-thematic consideration of the consequences and implications of World War II in the Islands. These legacies are addressed through issues as diverse as military technology and strategy, health and environment, Pacific Island lives and post-war political developments in the region. The course offers a fresh approach to a watershed in regional history, and should appeal to students in History, Peace and Conflict Studies, Pacific Studies, Asian Studies, Development Studies and International Relations.

» Read about WARS2004 War in the Islands: The Second World War in the Pacific

PASI3010 Pacific Engagement Project
Course convenor - Nicole Haley
2023: Semester 2

Combining research with service learning, students will engage with Pacific Islander communities in Canberra, Pacific-focused policy agencies or NGOs to design and undertake an intensive collaborative research project. Students will be mentored by ANU academics and collaborate with groups and organisations to research issues that affect Pacific communities within and outside Australia. The objective of the course is to produce an original piece of research, using the interdisciplinary methods and approaches to research learned over the course of your Pacific Studies degree.

» Read about PASI3010 Pacific Engagement Project


Course convenor

Dr. Rochelle-Lee Bailey

Course List

Updated:  28 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team