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NSEC501 - Institutions of National Security

Course Details

Course Code: NSEC501 Course ID: 3475 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS YOUR SECOND CLASS in National Security Studies. The course will cover the roles, missions, organization, capabilities, unique cultures and strategic purposes of the President, the Departments of State and Defense, Congress, National Security Council, Armed Forces, intelligence community, and NGOs, as well as how these actors interact to formulate national security strategy. Students will examine some of the successes and failures of the interagency process and will gain an appreciation of the capabilities, limitations and organizational cultures of the players in the national security community, as well as providing an overview of legal and ethical issues that impact on the development of national security policy.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/30/20 - 09/04/20 09/07/20 - 11/01/20 Summer 2020 Session D 8 Week session
05/25/20 - 10/30/20 11/02/20 - 12/27/20 Fall 2020 Session I 8 Week session
07/27/20 - 01/01/21 01/04/21 - 02/28/21 Winter 2021 Session B 8 Week session
09/28/20 - 02/26/21 03/01/21 - 04/25/21 Winter 2021 Session D 8 Week session
11/30/20 - 04/30/21 05/03/21 - 06/27/21 Spring 2021 Session I 8 Week session
01/25/20 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 08/29/21 Summer 2021 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

CO-1: Analyze the recent history and evolution of the U.S. national security community institutions.

CO-2: Examine the structure, function, capabilities and contributions of individual U.S. security community members.

CO-3: Assess the impact of individual actors’ roles and contributions to national security policy.

CO-4: Appraise the impact of interagency relationships on U.S. national security policy decision making

CO-5: Differentiate among conflicting and competing interests and their impact on national security policy development.

The course grade is based on the following assessments:

Discussion Forums – 20 percent

Each week, a discussion question is provided and posts should reflect an assimilation of the readings. Students are required to provide a substantive (complete with proper citations) initial post by Thursday at 11:55 pm ET and respond to 2 or more classmates (in at least two separate discussion threads) by Sunday 11:55 pm ET (complete with proper citations.) You must also post at least two conversational comments per week. Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas.

Assignment #1 – 15 percent

Your political candidate won the election. Now it’s time to make some changes. Your job, as the national security advisor to your newly elected candidate, is to brief the policymaker on policy recommendations in one of the following areas: (using the list in the assignment’s tab). Your paper should be about 8-12 pages.

Assignment #2 – 35 percent

Continuing with the same threat area AND policymaker that you chose in Assignment #1, write a memo that provides a list of multiple policy options. AND pick one option as YOUR recommendation. Explain WHY you chose that option. This assignment should be about 8-10 pages, double spaced, TNR 12.

Assignment #3 – 30 percent

Using your previous area threat/backgrounder/policy options, explain to your key policymaker what role EACH PLAYER ON THE NATIONAL SECURITY STAGE will play in the implementation of your policy recommendation in Assignment #2. This assignment should be about 8-10 pages, double spaced, TNR 12.

NameGrade %
Forums 20.00 %
Week 1 Forum 2.50 %
Week 2 Forum 2.50 %
Week 3 Forum 2.50 %
Week 4 Forum 2.50 %
Week 5 Forum 2.50 %
Week 6 Forum 2.50 %
Week 7 Forum 2.50 %
Week 8 Forum 2.50 %
Assignment #1 15.00 %
Assignment 1 - Policy Backgrounder - Week 2 15.00 %
Assignment #2 30.00 %
Assignment 2 - Policy Recommendations -- Week 5 30.00 %
Assignment #3 35.00 %
Assignment 3 - Comprehensive Policy Memo -- Week 8 35.00 %

Required Readings

  • External websites and other assigned readings are found in the Lessons area of the classroom.
  • Weekly Lesson Notes and videos or audio files are found in the Lessons area of the classroom.
Book Title:Various resources from the APUS Library & the Open Web are used. Please visit to locate the course eReserve.*

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.