« Asia and the Pacific/Politics and Nature of the State

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Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbour and shares with it a long and sometimes turbulent history. Engagement with Papua New Guinea’s political system and civil institutions is challenging: there is a great deal of political instability, there are deep difficulties with the machinery of government, very significant cultural differences, logistical complications and heterogeneity across the social and geographic landscape. This micro-credential will provide an overview of the political economy of Papua New Guinea, aiming to equip enrollees with a capacity to understand, navigate and act in this complex terrain.

This credential is designed for current and prospective policy makers and aid professionals seeking to better understand PNG’s political and administrative arrangements, and the contemporary social, political and economic transformations underway in PNG. It examines and unpacks PNG’s political economy, and provides the tools to understand the politics of development and the development of politics in PNG. It explores the factors driving social, political and economic reform and examines the relationship between PNG’s formal and informal institutions and state performance, particularly in relation to service delivery.


  1. Turbulence and continuity: the paradox of Papua New Guinean political economy
  2. Subsistence, services and extraction: the Papua New Guinean economy
  3. Churches, culture and civil society
  4. Disorderly democracy – elections, politics and political culture
  5. Service delivery – DDAs and CDFs
  6. Future reforms
  7. Conclusion: What works in Papua New Guinea, and for whom?

Learning outcomes 

Upon successful completion, enrollees will have the knowledge and skills to: 

  1. Describe PNG’s political and administrative arrangements, institutions and the key aspects of PNG’s political economy
  2. Demonstrate a working understanding of the complexities faced by Papua New Guinean and foreign actors engaging with these institutions, especially regarding service delivery
  3. Critically apply models to Papua New Guinean politics to develop analysis
  4. Describe why PNG matters to Australia and identify the key challenges and policy choices for Australia’s relationship with PNG
  5. Evaluate challenges involved in engaging practically with Papua New Guinean society

Indicative assessment

  1. PNG Country Brief: 30%; Links to LO: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
  2. Research essay 70%; Links to Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3,4

Assumed knowledge 

This Micro-credential is taught at graduate level and assumes the generic skills of a Bachelors or equivalent. 

Micro-credential stack information 

 This Micro-credential is currently not part of a stack.


  • Course Code: DPA08

  • Workload: Contact hours: 12 hours, face-to-face or online (eg via Zoom). Individual study and assessment: approx. 50-60 hours.

  • ANU unit value: 3 units

  • Course Code Level: 8000

  • Contact:  ANU Department of Pacific Affairs: dpa@anu.edu.au

This Micro-credential is taught at a graduate level.  This is not an AQF qualification. 

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