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NSEC503 - U.S. National Security

Course Details

Course Code: NSEC503 Course ID: 3474 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course assesses the major concepts of strategic thinking that underpin the national security decision making process in the U.S. Students analyze the fundamental nature of power in the international arena, how national security objectives are determined, grand strategies available to attain national security objectives and the ways in which the elements of national power are applied to achieve desired objectives. The course surveys national security policies since the end of the Cold War, examines regional security concerns to the U.S., covers the concept and principal components of national security strategy and evaluates the most important theories that explain how states and non-state actors interact in the international arena. The student examines current challenges to U.S. national security interests, especially terrorism and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and evaluates future national security policies and challenges.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
08/26/19 - 01/31/20 02/03/20 - 03/29/20 Winter 2020 Session I 8 Week session
10/28/19 - 04/03/20 04/06/20 - 05/31/20 Spring 2020 Session B 8 Week session
12/30/19 - 05/29/20 06/01/20 - 07/26/20 Spring 2020 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

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

CO-1: Examine the foundations of post-WWII U.S. National Security Policy.

CO-2: Analyze U.S. national security policies from the end of WWII to the present.

CO-3: Assess the effectiveness of U.S. National Security strategies available to the United States from the end of WWII to the present.

CO-4: Evaluate the factors that contribute to U.S. national power in the post-WWII era.

CO-5: Generate ideas regarding future international security challenges.

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 initial post of about 500 words by Thursday at 11:55 pm ET and respond to 2 classmates in two separate discussion threads with a substantive essay (including citations of the weekly readings) of at least 250 words by Sunday 11:55 pm ET. Forum posts are graded on timeliness, relevance, knowledge of the weekly readings, and the quality of original ideas.

Assignment 1 (PMESII Background Assessment) – 15 percent

The purpose of this assignment is to write a policy brief including an history and a current summary of the important issues needed to make decision on a specific topic of your choosing (using the list in the assignments tab). Your policy backgrounder should be about 8-12 pages, double spaced, TNR 12. Be sure to use and properly cite academic (and newspaper) sources in your assignment.

Assignment 2 (DIMEFIL Policy Recommendation) – 35 percent

The Policy recommendations will build on the backgrounder from week two (but not recopy or repeat it). Continuing with the same threat area that you chose in Assignment 1, provide a list of policy options (with specific recommendations) to include identification and definition of issues, conceptualization of creative alternative solutions, anticipation of reactions and objections, advantages and disadvantages of each policy option, and an-depth analysis on technical aspects of program policies and implementation processes. This assignment should be about 12-15 pages, double spaced, TNR 12.

Final Assignment – 30 percent

This assignment is a take-home essay assignment of two questions (choose from four options), 4-5 pages each, to test knowledge and assimilation of the course objectives. Required texts and readings from this course must be used in the exam.

NameGrade %
Assignment One 25.00 %
Assignment 1 - PMESII Background Assessment 25.00 %
Forums 25.00 %
Week 1 Forum 3.13 %
Week 2 Forum 3.13 %
Week 3 Forum 3.13 %
Week 4 Forum 3.13 %
Week 5 Forum 3.13 %
Week 6 Forum 3.13 %
Week 7 Forum 3.13 %
Week 8 Forum 3.13 %
Assignment Two 25.00 %
Assignment 2 - DIMEFIL Policy Recommendation 25.00 %
Final Assignment 25.00 %
Final Assignment 25.00 %

Other Required and Recommended 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:From Colony to Superpower: U. S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (Ebook available through the APUS Online Library)
Publication Info:Oxford University Press
Author:Herring, George C
Unit Cost:$36.40
Book Title:Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War (Ebook available through the APUS Online Library)
Publication Info:Oxford University Press
Author:John Lewis Gaddis
Unit Cost:$21.35
Book Title:American Foreign Policy Since WWII, 17th Ed (Ebook available through the APUS Online Library-
Publication Info:Congressional Quarterly, 2007
Author:Hook and Spanier
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.