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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.

Electives and seminars

Students must choose two units from the list of evening seminars and electives offered by UCDC. Please see below for options.


  • International Policy, Wednesdays 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. 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.


  • Food Advocacy and Policy-Making in the Nation's Capital, Wednesdays 6-9pm
    This seminar examines the relationship between social movements and policy responses in current controversies over the U.S. food system. We will begin with a bit of theory, sampling the literature on social movement "success." How can we evaluate success? If success includes government concessions to social movement demands, what features of social movements make success more likely -- ample resources? effective framing? innovative tactics? the ability to exploit favorable political opportunities? How, in turn, do the responses of political authorities, involving various mixes of repression, concession, and cooptation, affect the fortunes of social movements? And how do advocates for social change balance state-centered with market-based strategies? 
  • Art in our Capital, Thursdays 6-9pm
    Explore the wide variety of arts opportunities (fine art, music, dance and theater) and institutions in Washington, DC. This course includes guest speakers from prominent DC arts institutions and visits to the Folger Shakespeare Library, National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection and Library of Congress as well as attendance at National Symphony Orchestra and Shakespeare Theater Company performances. This course has a participation fee to cover the cost of attendance at some of the performances.
  • DC Film and Theatre, Tuesdays 6:30-9:30pm
    An exploration of the vibrant relationship the nation's capital has with the dramatic arts. Students will study as well as attend live plays performed in the city. In addition, we will screen and analyze some films that have been shot or set in the capital. From Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to All the Presidents Men to National Treasure, how has the perception of our nation's capital changed over the years? An insider's view into the world of the legitimate stage as well as a peek at the city through the Hollywood lens.
  • The Central Intelligence Agency: 1947 to present, Wednesdays 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.
  • Energy: Powering the Economy in Era of Climate Change and Political Instability, Thursdays 6-9pm
    There are few issues more critical, yet less well managed, than energy issues. The health of the U.S. economy depends on reliable and reasonably priced energy, yet our reliance on oil has been anything but a formula for reliability or stability. Moreover, our dependence on fossil fuels has meant vast emissions of greenhouse gases. This course, taught by The Washington Post's energy correspondent, will look at the supply and demand balance for oil; how U.S. transportation policy has fed the U.S. "addiction" to oil; the mix of nuclear, gas and coal used by utilities; what role renewable energy sources are playing and might play in the future. We will touch on some of the international and domestic politics of energy, from the petro-states of Venezuela to the petro-state of Louisiana, from Russia's power over Europe's gas supplies to the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, from OPEC to Alaska. In the end, students should be able to think about how they would balance issues of cost, security, and climate in fashioning a sensible, and doable, energy policy for the United States. The course will be structured loosely on specific case studies or controversial issues. Readings - most of them newspaper or magazine articles, speeches or position papers - will be tailored to give different sides of these issues or cases, incorporating elements of history, economics and politics. The course will take advantage of being in DC by including guest speakers who are in the thick of energy legislation, lobbying, litigating and investing.
  • U.S. Foreign Policy and the World, Tuesdays 6-9pm (TBC) **Please note, if you have already taken USSC2601 US in the World, you are NOT allowed to take this course
    This course will focus on the evolution of U.S. foreign policy abroad from a political science and public policy perspective. Students will integrate their internship experience with the research components of the UCDC program. The specific topics to be covered include geopolitical strategy, economic development, democratization, human rights, foreign aid, conflict resolution, etc. and will be analyzed through various case studies around the world.

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.