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Graduate Course Offerings

Fall 2019 Course Offerings

PO601: The Craft of Political Science

In order to prepare students to deal intelligently with the practice of politics, this course encourages them to explore the theories on offer for understanding politics. This seminar has two primary aims. First, it examines social scientific ideas and debates which inform our judgements about practical questions on real-world politics, such as whether politicians act in voters’ interests or whether opinion polls play a role in formulating government policy. In applied settings, we typically assume a great deal about the interests of relevant political actors, yet these assumptions need to be tested. Second, the seminar reflects on what counts as a convincing explanation or valid knowledge about the political world.

PO602: Applied Political Analysis

This course offers students an introduction to research methods/approaches commonly employed within the study of political science (and social science more generally). The course provides students with a solid understanding of the “science” in political science, the importance of research design, a range of research methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), as well as an introduction to basic statistical procedures and software used to assist the social scientist. The course is designed to support students as they prepare for the Major Research Project.

PO609: Interpreting Elections

This course will typically be taught in those years in which elections at various levels of government can be observed, as an advanced seminar in the electoral process, strategy and analysis. In addition to conceptual discussions of various theories that influence voting behaviour, students are expected to pursue an original research study that involves the design and analysis of campaign strategy.

PO610: Social Advocacy

This course explores the ways in which different advocacy and civil society groups (such as non-governmental organizations, social movements, interest and community-based associations, lobbying firms, and pressure groups) seek to influence politics and the political system for social, political and economic change. The course will introduce students to various literatures that examine non-governmental actors and their role and affect on domestic and/or global politics and in relation to public policy processes. In this course students will learn advocacy skills (which may include oral and written communication, media, research and advocacy skills). The course adopts an applied politics approach, inviting ‘practitioners' to discuss different strategies and approaches to political organizing. Students are encouraged to put their learning into practice by designing their own advocacy project, strategy or campaign around an issue of interest to them.

PO650: International Human Rights, the Law and Governance

This course addresses international and Canadian human rights policies.  Topics of study normally include international human rights law; a brief history of human rights; the question of cultural relativism and human rights; the right to development; the role of civil society in human rights; and human rights in Canadian foreign policy. For their written assignment students are expected to pick one policy topic, explain its background, critique a major policy document such as an international human rights treaty, and make new policy proposals.


Winter 2020 Course Offerings

PO604: Understanding and Applying Public Policy Analysis

This course explores the political and economic foundations of public policy-making, in order that students understand the complexities involved in analyzing policy problems in a local, regional or international setting. The course then reviews methods for designing better policies (and the debates about these methods), as well as various tools used by analysts and policy makers. Students have an opportunity to apply these tools to the analysis of a particular public policy problem. This course is required for students interested in completing the Policy Analysis Project.

PO633: Public Opinion and Survey Design

This course offers students an in-depth study of public opinion with special attention allotted to how public opinion can influence decision makers, public policy, and election outcomes. In addition to theoretical and practical aspects of public opinion, students also have an opportunity to develop "applied" knowledge by working with a client to design and implement a survey instrument. This course is required for students interested in completing the Public Opinion Project.

PO691v:  Women Political Thinkers

The purpose of this seminar is to read and critically discuss some of the classics of modern political thought. The focus on female thinkers allows for reflections on gender difference and equality. Beginning with the first modern feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft, the readings will include texts by the American anarchist Emma Goldman, the German socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, and one of 20th century’s greatest intellectual minds, Hannah Arendt.

PO691y:  The Age of Anger and the Rise of Populism

We live in a world where populist leaders, movements and parties have shaken up the liberal-democratic traditions that inform Western political systems.  Populism is often associated with right wing politicians in the form of Trump in the US or Putin and Erdogan in Russia and Turkey. However, it also shows itself on the left, with politicians such as Sanders in the US. Populists may also support leftist ideologies symbolized in social justice movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, populist movements may espouse extreme ideologies of white nationalism and nativism that feed into extreme anti-immigrant movements. One commonality, even amongst this diverse spectrum of ideologies, is that they all claim to represent the real interests of ‘the people’. Additionally, they all seem to agree that, for one reason or another, the current liberal democratic institutions have failed them. The rise of these ideas, ideologies, political parties and movements around the globe will be the focus of this course. The major questions addressed in this course are: What is populism? How does it relate to the crisis of democracy? Is there an actual crisis? What are the consequences of a populist explosion on liberal democratic systems as we know them? The seminar will analyze these issues from a comparative perspective using examples from different parts of the world.

PO695:  Major Research Paper

The major research project provides students four options to pursue a specific area of interest: Journal Article Project (30-35 page piece of work in journal article format); Major Research Paper (approximately 50 pages in length); Policy Analysis Project (50-page project that provides students with the opportunity to carry out a professional policy analysis on an existing policy); Public Opinion Project Option (25-30 page paper not including the required survey instruments) that provides students with an opportunity to undertake the design of a major public opinion project involving the administration of a survey). Admission to the Major Research Project will require the support of a faculty supervisor and the graduate coordinator.

Students will apply for the Master Research Paper at the end of their first semester of graduate studies. The research paper must be defended successfully before an examination committee which shall include the student's supervisor and an assigned committee member.