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Centres and institutes_

Research areas

Investigating international security issues from all angles
Research and teaching at the Centre for International Security Studies covers five main areas: biosecurity, geosecurity, infosecurity, regional security and gender security.


Disease-related events, biological weapons, unregulated population movements and changing demographic patterns pose constantly evolving challenges to security. Key amongst these is how national, regional and multilateral organisations and frameworks rapidly respond and adapt to biosecurity events.

We examine the following questions:

  • How should governments respond to emerging disease threats such as avian influenza (H5N1), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and mulitdrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)? Are existing mechanisms for responding to health-related emergencies fit for purpose?
  • How can Australia guard against invasive diseases and pests while also helping improve regional and global health security?
  • How can we ensure greater openness, accountability and transparency for reporting disease outbreaks?
  • What are the security implications of an ageing population in Australia and the Asia-Pacific, and how can we address these?
  • How can governments prepare for disasters and develop the capacity to respond to adverse events rapidly and comprehensively?

Our biosecurity research examines these challenges and produces policy-relevant outputs for Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and the global community.

Key academics

Professor Peter Curson, Dr Adam Kamradt-Scott, Dr Frank Smith

Gender security

Gender in war and peace has a long history but only recently has the relationship gained appropriate attention in the field of international security. Drawing on the knowledge of our unique group of experts, the Centre initiates research into critical issues of gender, peace and security.

Research questions under investigation include:

  • What role does gender play in war-fighting and peace-building, in militarisation and securitisation, in human rights?
  • Are dispositions to violence gendered?
  • How do feminist and queer interpretations of security differ from traditional approaches and open up the field to new critical issue areas?

Gender security asks critical questions, challenges easy assumptions and seeks alternative solutions to global violence.

Key academics

Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott, Professor Megan MacKenzie, Dr Christopher Neff, Associate Professor Sarah Phillips, Dr Sabine Selchow, Professor Laura Shepherd


While war is not the only threat to international security, armed conflict is a critical and enduring challenge. Our geosecurity research examines the driving factors of political violence, such as natural resource competition, environmental disasters, political and civil conflict, developmental inequalities and technology races. We question the impact of these factors as triggers for armed conflict and challenges to peace-building. 

Questions we seek to address include:

  • How does the complex interplay between trade and national security impact defence policy?
  • How does the shifting global balance of power affect regional alliances and international institutions? 
  • Are attempts by states to combat non-state threats such as terrorism, crime and piracy effective or do they incite new insecurities and more violence? 
  • Does humanitarian intervention and international aid help states at risk? Or does external influence impede the development of strong domestic institutions?

Our geosecurity research explores local, regional and global responses to issues emerging from the competition for natural resources, wealth and power. 

Key academics

Associate Professor Jonathan Bogais, Dr Minglu Chen, Professor James Der Derian, Dr Ryan Griffiths, Dr Justin Hastings, Associate Professor Sarah Phillips, Dr James Reilly, Dr Frank Smith, Dr Thomas Wilkins, Associate Professor Jingdong Yuan, Associate Professor Susan Park.


Digitised information, proliferating digital platforms, networked convergence and the timeless need to connect have changed our world. Technology-savvy global actors have harnessed this revolution to their advantage, while social media and a relentless news cycle transform local incidents into global events. Our hyperconnected world is precarious, made vulnerable by cyber attacks, negative synergies and quantum effects. 

Our infosecurity research tackles the big questions presented by an information revolution:

  • What are the implications of a global media that is no longer a mere conveyor or even catalyst of events, but a powerful agent in the struggle to understand and manage global security?
  • How do we develop an engaged media that produces expert knowledge, assesses ethical implications and increases public awareness of global dangers and opportunities? 
  • How do we protect technologies against disruption and attack, when malicious technologies and actors grow more advanced every day?
  • How can we help interdisciplinary cybersecurity researchers and professionals bridge gaps in knowledge and practice to develop cooperation and protective mechanisms? 
  • What are the consequences of quantum innovation for peace and security?

The Centre works in collaboration with the School of Information Technologies, the Sydney Cybersecurity Network and the Sydney Nano Institute to analyse and interpret technical and social issues presented by the latest stages of the information revolution.

Key academics

Professor James Der Derian, Professor Charlotte Epstein, Professor John Keane, Professor Megan MacKenzie, Emeritus Professor Roy MacLeod, Associate Professor Simon Reay-Atkinson, Dr Aim Sinpeng, Dr Frank Smith

Regional security

Regional security addresses a multitude of security issues at the local level. Trends and threats such as weapons of mass destruction, digital surveillance, the transborder flow of money, people and diseases, and complex media, criminal and terrorist networks, pose new challenges at the regional level. While these challenges exceed the capacities of individual states and international institutions, new regional institutions are emerging to provide security.

We examine the following questions:

  • What is the role of regional security as global alliances lose their legitimation and value?
  • How do shifts in global balances of power affect regional security?
  • Will the rise and fall of regional hegemons produce new sources of conflict or opportunities for security?
  • Are regional and/or international institutions better able to address contemporary security threats than states?

Key academics

Associate Professor Jonathan Bogais, Professor James Der Derian, Professor Iain McCalman, Dr Gil Merom, Professor Adam Morton, Dr Christopher Neff, Associate Professor Brendan O'Connor, Associate Professor Sarah Phillips, Dr Sabine Selchow, Dr David Smith, Dr Frank Smith, Professor Simon Tormey, Professor Colin Wight, Dr Thomas Wilkins, Associate Professor Jingdong Yuan