Strategic studies graduate writing on the world stage

Thomas Paterson happy on operation OBOE.jpg
Thomas Patterson, Master of Strategic Studies, in battle ruins on SDSC facilitated 'Operation Oboe' study tour.

Initially uninterested in tertiary education, Thomas completed a Solomon Island Pijin language course with the ADF instead of his year 12 exams, before deploying to the Solomon Islands with the Army Reserve in 2013. Thomas was also deployed on Operation Resolute in 2014, which involved working on Navy patrol boats off the coast of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. While this experience provided a solid foundation for his future concentration in security studies, Thomas was still searching for academic and intellectual stimulation.

Thomas first pursued a Diploma of Justice at TAFE, followed by a Bachelor of Social Sciences majoring in security and counter-terrorism at Swinburne University of Technology. Soon after, he began looking at postgraduate degrees that could further build and develop his expertise in security studies. A friend directed Thomas to the subject list of MSS and he was instantly drawn in.

“My first subject was an intensive and was a huge shock as my grades were lower than I expected”, he said.

Thomas reflects that this shock and the subsequent support he received from his lecturers were critical for giving him the drive to work harder and focus on grabbing every opportunity with both hands.

Two such opportunities were his for-credit internship with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and a study tour throughout South East Asia.

Working under the mentorship of Fergus Hanson at ASPI, Thomas was able to eventually bring together his two key interests – Indonesia and cyber policy. This was the start of a series of academic articles that have been published widely, most notably in the Journal of Cyber Policy.

“The conceptualisation and development of my research focus at ASPI was quite an organic process, which was fantastic as it allowed me to freely explore my topic in great depth. The convergence of my research on Indonesian cyberspace with a cyber conference in Jakarta, meant I also had the invaluable opportunity of not only attending, but even presenting at the conference”, he said.

Similarly, the study tour titled ‘Operation OBOE’, named after the string of operations conducted in 1945 by Australian forces, which led the Allied liberation of Borneo from Japanese occupation, gave Thomas further experience in primary research.

Our assessment required archival research to be conducted at the Australian War Memorial, it was unlike anything I had one before and ended up being my favourite subject.

It was at this stage, during his final semester, that Thomas really found an affinity with writing and proactively sought opportunities to further his skills. To date, Thomas has been published in The Jakarta Post, ASPI’s The Strategist, ANU’s East Asia Forum and Policy Forum and the Institute for Regional Security’s The Regionalist.

Thomas attributes his publication successes to the generous support and various practical experiences facilitated by the SDSC.

“I hope that my time at SDSC shows that there is no limit to what you can do and how you can turn things around with hard work and commitment. Having the will to learn and grow yourself is the most important thing and can empower you to achieve things you never previously thought possible”.

Congratulations on your graduation Thomas and good luck with your future writing!