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Queen's University

Elective Courses

PMPA students may complete five optional course credits through courses only or through courses and an independent research project. Students normally complete three optional courses during the spring terms in their first two years in the program. The final two optional credits may be taken at any time within three years of initial PMPA program registration.

MPA 812 - Law and Public Policy

An examination of the ways in which common law and constitutional law shape the exercise of statutory authority, with special reference to how judicial review influences policy making.

MPA 827 - Financial Management

An examination of the principles of financial management applicable to the public sector, including an introduction to budgeting, financial planning, capital and current expenditure forecasting and program costing.

MPA 831 - Economics of National Security

This course consists of the economic analysis of national security issues, including defence.  The main objective of the course is to enable students to understand the economic processes that underlie, in conjunction with political interactions, various security resource allocation decisions, from budget-making to procurement to expenditures at the basic unit level.  Moreover, various organizational issues in security (various domestic and global security measures from policing, intelligence and anti-terrorism to peacekeeping, food and health security measures) will be addressed.

MPA 832 - Issues in Defence Management and Policy

This course is a survey seminar for non-specialists interested in the public administration of the formulation of defence policy in Canada. The principal aim of the seminar is to examine the main areas of defence management and policy with a view to building a foundation for further studies in the field. The course examines key topics and issues that shape the formulation and administration of defence policy and the direction of Canada's Armed Forces. The seminar will address several related topics including the history of defence policy; ideas concerning the central direction of defence policy and armed forces in Canada; functional areas of defence budgeting; human resource management; force development and capital procurement; armed forces and society; civil-military relations; and current operations of the Canadian Armed Forces.

MPA 838 - Economic Analysis of Health Policy

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to economic concepts and analysis relevant to health, health care and health care systems.

MPA 840 - Economic of Social Policy

The course is a non-technical examination of the economics of social policy in Canada. There is little or no graphical analysis – rather the course uses narrative discussions of economic concepts of market failure, incentives, efficiency and equity, among others, to examine the forces that shape Canadian social policy and to examine how policy design affects the outcomes associated with given policies. We begin with a discussion of the main elements of policy analysis and how economic analysis contributes to it. A major theme of the course is that social policy must reflect the economic, demographic and social conditions of the time – to put our discussions in context we review major economic changes over the past 40 years to track the evolution of debts and deficits, trends in international competitiveness and changes in the nature of work, as well as demographic trends and other social changes that might affect the ability of our social programs to deliver on their objectives. We discuss the measurement of poverty and examine trends and vulnerabilities of certain societal groups to it. A similar discussion occurs with respect to income inequality. The latter part of the course looks in depth at three policy areas: the retirement income system, employment insurance, and a broad set of income support programs. Here we look at the structure of policy and how design features create problems of inequity, inefficiency and create the wrong kinds of incentives.

Students will be required to complete two pieces of work. First, a policy paper, maximum 20 pages, that offers an economic examination of a social policy issue. The topic will be agreed between student and instructor. There will also be presentations by students on social policy topics not covered otherwise. These will include topics in education, post-secondary education, gender differences in labour markets, childcare, etc. I will really not know exactly how this works until enrolment numbers are available.

MPA 844 - Canadian Economic Policy

This course brings an economic perspective to major policy issues facing Canada and its trading partners. The topics selected for discussion will vary from year to year. This course assumes that students have completed a basic course in economic analysis. 

MPA 852 - Stakeholder Management

This course is designed to familiarize students with various forms of political participation and representation in Canada. In particular, we will examine practical approaches and tools for fostering citizen and group involvement in policy decision-making within the context of larger conceptual questions about democracy, representation and citizenship.

MPA 853 - The NonProfit Sector and Population Health

This course provides students with a theoreticaland empirical understanding of the social determinants of population health, and the manner in which “social capital” mediates between social determinants and population health. Described as the third sector, nonprofit sector, voluntary sector, and community organizations, social capital facilitates social interaction, brings individuals together (bonding and bridging social capital) through shared values, mutual trust, and networks to realize certain goals. As much as social capital enhances individual cooperation and facilitates coordinated actions, it also increases health and wellbeing of the individual and the community by providing instrumental and emotional support. While the principal focus is contemporary Canadian society, the course examines materials from other developed and developing countries to highlight specific case studies on the role of the third sector in population health in Canada and around the world. In this context, the emerging policy implications for health care in Canada are examined. 

MPA 854 - Democratic Development

This course offers a critical examination of international assistance policies that promote democracy. It looks at the rationale for these policies, reviews the latest scholarship on theories of democratic development, assesses the strategies underlying assistance policies in the context of these theories, and reviews available information on the effectiveness of the policies of individual donor nations, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

MPA 857 - Public Policy in China

This course presents students with a introduction to terms and dialogue used in current policy debates in China.  It will provide students with a general introduction to Mandarin Chinese and focus on terms that are often used in debates and dialogues with officials.  Students will also be taught the interpretation of certain expressions and phrases that politicians in China commonly use and in what contexts should they be employed.  (Delivered at Fudan University, China, to participants in the SPS-Fudan interchange program.)  

MPA 858 - Chinese Economic Reform

This course is broadly concerned with the political economy of the economic reform in China.  It will also provide students with a general introduction to the Chinese history, geography, culture and pre-reform economic system.  With this background in place students will learn lessons from recent Chinese experience concerning privatization and the reform of the state-owned enterprises, dual economy and reforms in rural and financial sectors, impacts of deregulation and reforming of state monopolies.  Finally, students will discuss globalization and the current challenges facing the Chinese economy. (Delivered at Fudan University, China, to participants in the SPS-Fudan interchange program.)

MPA 860 - Reconciling Indigenous Policy

As Canada’s “two founding nations” myth is slowly being exposed and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples are being recognized, Canada’s public policy framework which ostensibly respects Aboriginal peoples is crumbling.  Canadians are learning that their history is rife with mass human rights violations, broken treaties and promises, and policy foundations best summed up by Duncan Campbell Scott when he said “I want to get rid of the Indian problem.… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question…” 

Yet, the “Indian Question” is alive and well.  It is difficult to imagine any major development project, new legislation or major public policy happening  in Canada that does not involve Aboriginal peoples.  Internationally, Canada’s reputation has suffered because of its handling of Aboriginal issues. 

Canada is the first, “First World” country to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine one of the darkest chapters of its history, the Indian Residential School Era, and to help us imagine a brighter future.  The challenge for policy makers, legislators and Aboriginal leaders is to act in a manner consistent with the principles and values inherent in the word Reconciliation. Through readings, class discussions and guest speakers, students will have the opportunity to better understand why we are in an Era of Reconciliation and explore public policy options regarding the Aboriginal agenda.

MPA 861 - Governance in First Nations

MPA 863 - Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector is no longer the exclusive domain of senior officials and HR professionals. Increasingly, managers at all levels play a critical role in identifying and helping to resolve HR issues in their teams and organizations. This course is designed to provide a graduate-level, practical overview of HR Management in the Public Sector making with a view to enhancing public sector performance in an era of fiscal restraint. Current questions and issues in HR Management will be explored and students will be actively involved in discussions on HR Management practices in the modern public sector workplace. While many of the readings and course material are drawn from the federal public service, students are encouraged to read and share information from other public sector jurisdictions. 

MPA 866 - Ethics in Public Service

This course will review the academic literature on ethics in public service, examine some recent examples of apparent ethical lapses in the public sector, and consider ways of dealing with ethical and values-based conflicts. 

MPA 867 - Canadian Cultural Policy

This course will identify conceptual issues in Canadian cultural policies, as well as institutional responses by public and private bodies. The focus will be on pan- Canadian policies adopted by the federal government. There will also be references to provincial and municipal initiatives, notably (but not exclusively) in Quebec. Culture will be examined in the broad sense of political goals which are often described as ‘enabling Canadian voices to tell Canadian stories, strengthening the ties that bind a diverse country’. 

MPA 870 - Public Policy Issues in Africa

Summer interchange

MPA 871 - Approaches to Policy Development

This course begins with a paradigm that provides integration of all aspects of policy development into a cohesive framework. For example, it brings together diverse aspects of policy development such as social and economic policy objectives, social/economic/environmental tools, federal/provincial interaction, taxation/spending, certainty/uncertainty into drawing desirable approaches to policy formulation.

It will review aspects of this policy formulation by looking at individual policy components in the overall context in three parts: what is theory; what is actual practice; where are the gaps?  Finally it offers an opportunity for students to provide suggestions for a change in actual policy. 

MPA 873 - Government Budgeting: Politics and Process

The essence of government budgeting is how the political executive decides whogets how muchto do what– the process by which limited funds are allocated to turn policy ideas into implementation action. But the political executive does not budget in isolation; budgetary process outcomes are also affected by central budget agency dynamics, Parliament’s role in granting spending approval and how the government is held to account for its spending. 

The objective of this course is to shed some light on these inter-related processes and the budgetary politics that shape the way key players behave. The course material will focus primarily on the federal government (and thus on budgeting in a Westminster-based parliamentary system), but provincial budgetary processes are very similar and the case study is based on a provincial government. Although the course will touch on revenue generation, it is neither a tax policy nor an economic policy course. Neither does it require quantitative skills beyond basic arithmetic. 

Classes will be a mixture of instructor presentations, in-class exercises and student led discussions. One or two guest-speakers are proposed but that will be confirmed before classes start. Grades will be based on one individual assignment and a case study to be completed in groups. 

MPA 874 - Public Sector Reform

The aim of this course is to examine the path of public service reform between two crises -- a crisis of governability in Canada and the other advanced democracies in the 1970s, and a second crisis that began with the panics of 2007-2008. The period between those two crises was one in which ideas about the structure of government changed in fundamental ways. This course will begin with a brief discussion of the character of the first crisis, and the schools of thought that influenced the response to that crisis. The largest part of the course will examine various reform initiatives within the public sector that were undertaken in an effort to respond to that crisis, with the aim of understanding the long-term impact of those initiatives.  The final part of the course will briefly consider how ideas about the structure of government have changed as a result of the current governance crisis. 

MPA 877 - Energy Policy

This course is designed to review the broad interconnection between global economic growth, energy resource supply, geopolitical energy security, climate change and the development of energy policy in North America; review the technologies and economics of electricity production, transmission, distribution and consumption/conservation; review current policy issues in Ontario’s electricity policy, particularly in respect of the use of oil, coal, natural gas, renewable and nuclear energy as well as conservation; and maximize the interaction with practicing policy advisers on current energy issues and policy options. 

MPA 879 - Indigenous Governance

This course will examine some of the history of policy-making in Canada with respect to First Nations governance. This will include an examination of the Indian Act, historical and modern treaties, the Charlottetown Accord and recent legislative tools aimed at good governance. We will also examine some examples of First Nations governance thatexisted prior to “contact” and continue to exist today. The course will also examine some policy and governance issues that highlight difficulties in federal, provincial and First Nation approaches to governance. We will explore some of the policy and governance issues that have come to the forefront as a result of recent court cases and government legislation.

It will explore some best practices regarding governance in First Nations and in Tribes in the Unites States and Canada. This will include examining management tools that can help enhance good governance. These tools include a management framework, financial management, leadership tools including negotiating, conflict resolution and leading a team. 

MPA 880 - Canadian Foreign Policy

This course looks at foreign policy from a practitioner’s perspective. The course addresses what foreign policy is, why it matters to Canadians, how it is made and the international context in which it is pursued. It highlights the growing inter-connectedness of domestic and international policies. Through lectures and case studies, students will explore the dynamics of the foreign policy process, learn how to assess international developments and issues, and develop skills to provide foreign policy advice.

MPA 881 - Government Communications

This course is meant to provide an introduction to the complex and often controversial world of government communications. In many ways strategic communications are at the core of modern government as it copes with the stresses and speed of an interconnected global society. Increasingly, and sometimes counter-productively, communications considerations drive priorities and decision- making as governments struggle to connect with citizens and electors and to win permission for and acceptance of policies and programs. There is often dynamic tension between the communications objectives and responsibilities of the professional civil service and the political requirements of the governments it serves. 

MPA 882 - Comparative Social Policy

This course examines the major contours of social and economic policy during the last
few decades in rich nations, with a focus on the USA, the UK, Canada, France, and Sweden. Some topics include economic policy, health care, the expansion of higher education, housing and urban planning, family policy, income inequality, globalization, interest group activity, trust, redistribution, and taxation. MPA 882 may be of interest to those seeking a comparative perspective on the main challenges facing Canada in an age of rising trade, growing income inequality, health care inflation and an aging population. We will examine the roots of contemporary problems and success stories alike. 

MPA 883 - International Economic Policy

This seminar-style, policy-oriented course will cover the economic, political, social, environmental, and institutional aspects of international economics. It will offer an analytic, but not technical, approach to the issues, beginning with an analysis of globalization, then examining international trade, investment and innovation, reviewing the principal issues relating to economic development, followed by an overview of the international financial system, and concluding with an analysis of the on-going global financial and economic crisis and shifting global power and accompanying governance issues. 

MPA 884 - Project Management

This course provides a holistic, integrated approach to managing projects, exploring both technical and managerial challenges. It addresses the fundamental principles of project management, tools and techniques while providing a strategic perspective and demonstrating means to manage projects at the program and portfolio levels. These principles fully aligned with the industry standard Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), published by the worldwide Project Management Institute (PMI). 

MPA 886 - Human Rights in Policy Design

Human rights principles affect all statutes and policies. This course introduces students to these principles and how to incorporate them into any policy or program being developed. The course also examines the risks and costs of not adopting a human rights lens to policy design by drawing on recent examples.

MPA 887 - Arctic and Northern Issues

The objectives of this course are to introduce students to the complex issues facing the Arctic and Northern Canada from both a Canadian and an international perspective, and to develop policy options for dealing with them. The course has been structured so that as many of the different stakeholder views as possible (but not all) will be presented, analyzed, and questioned. The topics covered in the course will range from an understanding of the rapid environmental change under way through to the geopolitical challenges which are emerging as the interest of non-Arctic nations in Arctic issues is enhanced. 

MPA 888 - Practical Program Evaluation

This course addresses the real-world contexts and methodological approaches to public policy performance monitoring and program evaluation commonly found in federal and provincial jurisdictions.  Stakeholder relationships are discussed in the selection and use of performance information to serve accountability purposes.

MPA 895 - Reforming Government Services

This course will study some of the persistent policy errors Governments make. They typically run fiscal policy in a pro-cyclical fashion, spending wildly in the good times and slamming on the brakes when deficits mount in bad times. They loosely define policy objectives and then introduce and operate programs that often pay little attention to effectiveness or efficiency. The policy focus is usually short term with little attention paid to investments that might offer substantial future returns. Such facets of policy will be addressed from the perspectives of: the historical record, explanations and solutions. The scope with be international and Canadian with the latter including federal, provincial and municipal. Among the policy areas studied will be: fiscal policy, monetary policy, health, education, social, labour market, environment, regulation and public service delivery. The course will draw upon but not be restricted to the report of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario Public Services (February 2012). 

MPA 897 - Directed Reading

This course is designed for individual students with special interests that may not be satisfied through course offerings in a given year. It will normally be a directed reading course, under the close supervision of an assigned faculty member with expertise in the chosen subject field. Permission of the Graduate Coordinator required.

MPA 898 - Master's Research Project 



School of Policy Studies, Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.3020