Department of Political Studies


Political Studies

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Fields of Study

Canadian Politics

A number of profound transformations have marked Canadian politics in recent years: public policy challenges from climate change to globalization; continuing changes in the party system; formal and informal developments in the politics of federalism and national unity; new conceptions of Canada’s place in the international system; increasing tension over the meaning and extension of important civil and social rights; and many others. Collectively, these developments have re-configured the political landscape, forcing new and compelling questions on to the agenda of political actors and observers alike.

The study of Canadian politics has long been a central preoccupation in the Department of Political Studies. This history is alive in the research and teaching of several members of the current faculty. The Department offers graduate instruction and supervision concerning all of the traditional foci of students of Canadian politics: central institutions, the constitution, public policy, national unity and federalism, political parties and elections, and political economy. At the same time, the Department boasts unique strengths in numerous areas, including the law and politics of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, public opinion and voting behaviour, the politics of the welfare state, gender and politics, and political communication. Graduate students in the Department of Political Studies also benefit from close affiliations with the School of Policy Studies, and the Departments of Women’s Studies and Philosophy.

For further information, contact Professor Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant.


Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics is our Department's largest sub-field. Eight of the Political Studies Department’s twenty-three full-time faculty list Comparative Politics as one of their research fields.

Comparativists usually combine two foci. First, they are generally interested in a range of themes, concepts or issues. Second, they research these matters within a particular country or set of countries, or regions of the world; although some comparativists research their thematic interests wherever they are salient and not just in particular places. At Queen’s comparativists are concerned with broad questions that relate to some of the most important themes of our day. These include nationalism, ethnicity and multiculturalism; class and political economy; identity and culture; regime transitions and democratization; and political institutions including federalism, power-sharing (consociationalism), political parties, and elections. Some of us are interested in the nexus between Comparative Politics and International Relations, in such areas as international political economy, globalization, or the effects of evolving international norms on minority rights and human rights. Our area specialists work on a wide range of different regions, including North America, Latin America, Asia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Comparativists at Queen’s conduct research in the following areas: ethnic conflict; minority nationalism; federalism; power-sharing (consociationalism); diasporas; state-society relations, including relations between the security sector (police and army) and society; democratization in Latin America; democratization in eastern Europe; language politics; the welfare state, including the politics of employment equity; industrial relations; the politics of aging; the politics of prisons; political corruption; as well as the politics of the European Union, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Peru, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Comparative Politics at Queen’s is a thriving field with a strong reputation both nationally and internationally. Our members have received a significant number of prestigious academic awards, fellowships, and grants from various sources.

If you seek to be intellectually challenged, we encourage you to consider graduate studies in Comparative Politics at Queen’s.

For further information, contact Professor Oded Haklai


Gender and Politics

Gender and Politics is our Department's newest graduate field.

The debates regarding Gender and Politics have captured the imaginations of social and political actors over recent decades with increasing vigour, affecting every discipline in the social sciences. Today, Gender and Politics is one of the most energized fields in the discipline of Political Science. The field explores power relations and governance from a perspective that recognizes gender, along with other identity markers, as politically and socially constructed categories.

Some of the questions that are addressed in the field of Gender and Politics include: the unequal status between men and women in political, economic and social affairs and processes; the nature and implications of same-sex marriage rights and related debates; whether and how gender structures public opinion and political behaviour, as well as, political candidacy and political communications; the relevance of feminist theory to an understanding of historic and contemporary questions of justice, authority and power; the meaning and significance of identities regarding gender, transgender, sexual orientation and sexuality; the implications of a gendered analysis of institutions such as the state, international organizations, bureaucracy, the military, political parties, social movements and trade unions; the impact of a gendered analysis of development and underdevelopment, international conflict, globalization, migration and citizenship; and the gendered nature of public policy in Canadian and global politics.

The Department of Political Studies at Queen’s is pleased to have among its faculty some of the most engaged scholars in this field, who are collectively part of a growing community of researchers and educators in Canada and internationally.

We encourage you to join us at Queen’s where we offer a lively and challenging environment in which to pursue graduate studies in Gender and Politics.

For further information, contact Professor Margaret Little


International Relations

Graduate students with an interest in International Relations, including Foreign Policy Analysis, and International Political Economy will find their professors in this subfield display a wide variety of teaching and research interests. Whether in the classroom context or through more focused research collaboration with professors, students will be able to benefit from an attentive and supportive faculty complement, over a broad range of theoretical and empirical puzzles in international relations and international political economy covering a wide range of geographical areas in the global North and global South. We make it a practice to involve graduate students in our research, including co-authoring papers for presentation at scholarly conferences, collaborating on research grants, and preparing articles and chapters for publication.

In addition, the Department maintains close links with the Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP), which since its inception nearly four decades ago has always been headed by one of our international relations professors, a position currently being held by Dr. Stéfanie von Hlatky. The Centre has an active research and events program, and regularly hosts seminars and conferences, with opportunities for graduate student participation.

The seven regular faculty members in the international relations subfield have identified the following topics as being within their current and future teaching and research agendas:

  • Canadian foreign and security policy
  • Global Finance
  • Transatlantic relations and NATO
  • Canada-US relations
  • American foreign and security policy as well as political economy
  • European Union security and defence policy
  • Australian foreign and security policy
  • International political economy
  • Global Development, including North-south and South-south relations
  • Corporate social responsibility, natural resources and regional conflict in Africa
  • (Post) conflict resolution in Africa, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Military cooperation and alliance politics

As well, the international relations subfield benefits from a wealth of faculty talent among adjunct and cross-appointed personnel, including several members of faculty at the Royal Military College of Canada, with which the Department maintains close ties, enabling our graduate students to take classes in their program (and vice versa).


Political Theory

The field of Political Theory at Queen's specializes in contemporary normative theory, drawing on both analytic and critical / continental traditions.

Political theorists at Queen’s are interested in a broad range of topics, including: egalitarianism and distributive justice; power, oppression, and resistance; the politics of identity and multiculturalism; democracy and constitutionalism; ideal vs. non-ideal theory; bioethics and the science of health, happiness and aging; sexuality, gender and transgender politics; feminism and queer theory; nationalism and territorial rights; cosmopolitanism and global justice; neutrality, perfectionism,and virtue ethics; political liberalism and public reason; liberalism, left and right.

Political theory is a thriving field. Its members hold a significant number of academic grants from various sources, and have a growing reputation, both nationally and internationally.

If you seek a diverse educational experience in political theory, think of graduate studies in Political theory at Queen’s.

The Collaborative MA Program in Political Thought builds on the strengths and expertise of the faculty members of the contributing departments (Political Studies and Philosophy). Students in the Collaborative Program will complete 4 term-length courses in the field of Political Thought (out of a total of 6 required courses) as well as complete a Major Research Paper in an area relevant to the specialization. More information may be found on the School of Graduate Studies website.