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Washington DC Placement Program

Units of study

BUSS2500 Washington DC Placement - compulsory

Administered by the University of Sydney Business School and taught by a Business School academic, this unit is compulsory for all students accepted into the program. The unit comprises a professional placement in Washington DC as well as preparatory coursework in reflective and professional practice. It also includes coursework on research methods, reporting and other professional writing skills. Assessment will include a reflective journal, research essay, and oral presentations based on the internship professional placement and study abroad experience.

UCDC Seminars & Electives

Students will be asked to rank the below list of evening seminars and electives offered by UCDC in order of preference and will be placed into two units according to UCDC processes. Please note you will likely not receive your top two choices due to high demand. See below for 2016 class options. Details will be updated as they come through so be sure to check this page often.


  • International Policy, Thursdays, 6-9pm
    This course’s first objective is to provide academic background and guidance to students whose internships involve international policy, international organizations, globalization, and international relations in general. Its second objective is to introduce participants to the latest literature and current debates on international and global change. What are the major actors in the international political arena of the 21st century? What are the characteristics of governmental, non-governmental, and intergovernmental actors engaged in international policy making? Can we somewhat appraise the type of international system that we will live under during the next decades? Will the United States continue to be a major global power? In order to take advantage of our location in Washington, I will bring in practitioners from different policy communities to speak to us about their work.
  • The Supreme Court, Thursdays 6-9pm
    Gay marriage. The death penalty. Abortion. Health care. Cell phone privacy. The U.S. Supreme Court has heard cases on all of these topics in recent years, and its decisions ultimately touch the lives of all Americans. In this class we will study the Supreme Court's place in the U.S. legal system. Topics we will cover include: how a case gets to the court, the justices, the role of lawyers before the court, the purpose of oral argument, the court building and its symbolism, and media coverage of the court. Readings will range from newspaper and magazine stories to law review articles. At least once during the semester students will attend an oral argument, and cases currently before the court will be used as a reference point for class discussion. This class is geared not only toward anyone who is interested in the law or government service but also toward anyone interested in working on or being informed about the biggest issues of the day.


  • Language and Culture in Global Public Health and Risk Management, Tuesdays 6.30-9.30pm
    This course examines the complex relationship between language, culture, and medicine, examining these cross-culturally through multiple theoretical and disciplinary lenses and within diverse cultural and linguistic contexts from around the globe. Some of the questions the pressing question in global public health that will we ask and seek to answer are also follows: What role does/should culture play in global health approaches? How does language and culture shape medicine (however practiced) and medicine shaped language and culture? What impact does/should language and culture have in global public health and policies? What can we learn about from cross-cultural comparisons of varied notions of wellness, illness, and care for the sick? How do diverse ideas about the body and illness impact health-seeking behavior? How do language, culture, history, and economics help shape how populations perceive and respond to environmental risks and in some case contribute to their vulnerability?
  • Politics of Water Policy, Wednesdays 6:30-9:30pm
    As the title suggests, this course is about of the trenchant policy problems of our time, policy regarding the availability, uses, and distribution of water, particularly in arid parts of the world. Though the focus of the class will be the American West (west of the 100th meridian), I will bring into discussion—and invite discussion—about water policy dynamics in other parts of the world, such as Africa and Australia, where there exists conflict or potential for conflict over riparian rights. This class will take 3 different cuts at water policy, organized around the frames of politics, organization, and technology. We will learn about the history and logic behind the major policies in place for most of the past hundred years, what incentives were created under those policies, and how various interests with stakes in maintaining or changing aspects of water policy constraint or create openings for change. We will spend some time discussing some of the more significant actors involved in water policy, such as the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Army Corps of Engineers, that have shaped our current world. And no class on water policy would be complete without a discussion of the technological possibilities for helping us navigate our way out of crisis, through new methods of conservation, water desalinization, waste water recycling, etc. What is the potential for technology in this domain?
  • Electoral Politics: Elections, Media, and Strategy, Wednesdays 6.30-9.30pm
    This course offers a unique overview of modern political campaigns. It balances the important theories of democratic participation and historical context of elections with an understanding of what it takes to design and execute a modern political campaign. In addition to weekly readings, students will gain experience through course projects focused on candidate research, campaign planning, traditional and digital media, analytics and polling, and mobilizing voters on Election Day. This course will also cover the shift in campaign financing which has expanded the participation and influence of groups unaffiliated with candidates. We will host several guest speakers who have professional campaign experience.
  • The History of the Central Intelligence Agency: 1947 to present, Thursdays 6:30-9:30pm
    This course serves as an introduction to the CIA, its history, organization, and methods with a focus on its leading personalities. Students will examine the Agency's the origins of the agency's biggest successes and greatest failures. We will focus on the evolution of the role of a secretive intelligence agency in a democracy, particularly the CIA's relationship with Congress and the news media. Students will learn how to do research on the Agency and pierce the veil of secrecy around its operations
  • Power, Identity, and Cultural Heritage: Museums and Monuments in the Nation’s Capital, Thursdays 6.30-9.30pm
    Physical artifacts, buildings and historic places are important markers of cultural heritage. Their meanings and associations inform viewers’ perceptions of the world, while their materiality draws people in, giving them a way of touching the past. When displayed publicly, these markers provide a concrete basis for historical narratives, and can serve to validate ideas about contemporary society and to shape ideas about the future. Museums and monuments take on particular significance in the nation’s capital, seat of political power and figurative heart of the nation. On the National Mall, grand monuments to historic figures and events and the stately buildings of the Smithsonian Institution bespeak power and grandeur. A more detailed examination of the city’s collections and cultural landmarks reveals diverse, and sometimes conflicting or contradictory narratives about the nation. This course will examine how cultural heritage is deployed in Washington, DC, how various constituencies are represented, and how the cultural landscape of the nation’s capital is informed by discourses of power, knowledge, memory, and identity. Students in this course will visit monuments, memorials and museums, and complete assigned readings weekly. Class meetings will be dedicated to lecture (including occasional guest lectures) and discussion.
  • U.S. Foreign Policy, Tuesdays 6-9pm **Please note, if you have already taken USSC2601 US in the World, you are NOT allowed to take this course
    This course examines contemporary issues in U.S. foreign policy, focusing primarily on a series of regional case studies including U.S. relations with key countries in the Middle East and South Asia, East Asia, Europe and Eurasia, as well as the Western Hemisphere. Although the course is organized on a regional basis, we will explore a number of recurring themes including: nuclear proliferation; the problems of weak and failing states; promoting democracy and political reform; relations with China and Russia; terrorism and counterterrorism; resource competition; the importance of culture and national identity; transnational threats; and the economics of national security.

About UCDC

When the University of California (UC) first opened its doors in 1869, it had just 10 faculty members and 38 students. Today, the UC system includes more than 220,000 students and more than 170,000 faculty and staff, with more than 1.5 million alumni living and working around the world. The academic presence of the University of California in Washington DC dates back to 1990 when two, and shortly thereafter, four UC campuses established academic programs in the nation's capital. By the time of the opening of the Center's present facility in 2001, that number had grown to include eight UC campuses. The multi-campus residential, instructional and research center provides UC students and faculty opportunities to research, work and study in Washington DC. UC students spend a quarter/semester in residence at the Center and work and study in the DC metropolitan area. As interns with Congress, the Federal Government, research and advocacy organisations, the news media and through a host of other opportunities, students gain first-hand exposure to the American political process while attaining valuable work experience.