Social Sciences

If you are intrigued by the behaviour and interactions of human beings, both as individuals and in groups, consider a program in the Social Sciences.

Topics range from psychological drives and motivations to economic growth and development; from political practices and institutions to patterns of family interaction; from the effect of human interventions on the environment to the roles of gender in different societies. Social Science courses are offered in Economics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Global Development Studies, Health Studies, Employment RelationsPolitical Studies, Psychology, SociologyGender Studies, and Black Studies. You will be encouraged to approach human beings and human life with curiosity and an open mind, to investigate issues with careful research, and to draw conclusions based on empirical evidence.

The Department of Political Studies at Queen’s offers a full curriculum in all areas of political sciences, designed to take you on different and exciting intellectual journeys.  You might explore the foundations of early democratic thought, examine integration in the European Union, study how states make the transition to democracy, or explore the impact of welfare reforms on single mothers.  You will develop critical thinking and writing skills, which are not only useful for a variety of pursuits after graduation, but crucial for citizenship in a democracy.

The undergraduate Black Studies Minor Program is housed and administered in the Department of Gender Studies. With an interdisciplinary reach that is open to departments, programs, and faculties across the university, the undergraduate program in Black Studies serves to educate the Queen’s community about the histories and contemporary struggles of African and Black diasporic communities.

Queen's has long had one of Canada's leading departments of economics for both undergraduate and graduate education. The undergraduate programs we offer are structured and balanced examinations of modern economics. Those who pursue a concentration in economics are guided through courses in more advanced economic theory, statistical and econometric techniques of data analysis, the historical background of today's economies, and the application of contemporary economic analysis to public finance, to money, banking and finance, to international trade and finance, to natural resources and the environment, to economic growth and development, to labour markets and income distribution, to business cycles, and to the economic systems of other countries. The new graduate Risk Policy and Regulation Diploma (RPRD) is a unique program in Canada, specializing in providing you with training in the issues surrounding risk management and regulation.

The online or on-campus Certificate in Employment Relations is designed as an additional credential to support undergraduate students seeking jobs in labour relations and human resources management. The MIR and PMIR programs attract new graduates as well as career employees wishing to upgrade their credentials. 

The Earth's environment is under stress, and the search for solutions is anything but simple: It requires an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving and education. Our program, both Environmental Science and Environmental Studies, emphasizes the diverse contributions of technology, the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences to understanding and solving environmental problems. The School of Environmental Studies at Queen's University takes a new, innovative approach to environmental education. Our faculty draw on a wide variety of backgrounds ‐ biology, chemistry, geography, geological sciences, economics, history, and policy studies, to name but a few ‐ and so can offer a truly multidisciplinary perspective on the challenging environmental problems facing humanity today.

The Gender Studies Department at Queen’s University teaches feminist, anti-racist, and queer theories and methods that centre activism for social change. Gender Studies is an innovative interdisciplinary field that investigates social life and creative works by examining gender, our key category of analysis, through its interdependence with race, nationality, class, sexuality, disability, religion, colonization, and globalization.

Geography is an integrated study of the earth's places, societies, environments and landscapes. It is unique in bridging the social sciences and humanities (human geography) with earth system science (physical geography). Geography puts this understanding of social and physical processes within the context of places and regions - recognizing the great differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across the world, and the links between them. In earth systems science we study natural processes, their interactions, and both naturally and human-generated environmental issues. In the social sciences we study a variety of social problems, with a special focus on the uneven distribution of resources and services at scales from the local to the global. In humanities research we explore how human beings have made, and continue to make, the places (physical, social and metaphorical) in which they live.

Global Development Studies offers students critical insights into development theory and practice. They explore contested meanings of ‘development’ and analyze the institutions that are integral to the apparatus of development at local and global levels. They provide students with the analytical perspectives needed to understand how inequality is produced and reproduced, how resources are distributed, and how hierarchical relationships are maintained and challenged over time. Our courses cover economic and political systems, cultural norms, physical environments, and status differences. The nature of interactions between and within the countries of the North and the South extend to issues such as poverty, cultural imperialism, human rights, social policy, and trade relations. Courses on Aboriginal communities in Canada further help students appreciate ‘development’ as a relationship rather than as a characteristic of particular places and people.

Our vibrant interdisciplinary degree programs in Kinesiology/ Physical and Health Education, as well as Arts programs in Health Studies, all emphasize prevention rather than treatment as the best route to health. From the structure of the cell to the structure of society, your studies will expose you to the complex factors which influence health and wellness. Your courses might explore social determinants of health, the biomechanics of movement, or approaches to health promotion. You might learn ways of measuring body composition, analyzing human motion or evaluating local public health initiatives. Whether you pursue the social or the physical sciences, you will definitely learn how to think and be challenged to expand your perspectives by faculty who are among the world's experts in their field.

Psychology can be divided broadly into two branches: natural science and social science. In the natural science branch, you will learn about basic processes of cognition and behavioural neuroscience, including the effects of brain damage or drug-induced changes on behavior, how various neurochemicals affect normal and abnormal behavior, mechanisms of memory, motor control, and how we solve problems. The social science branch of psychology focuses on child development, personality differences, how people act in groups or organizations, health-related behaviours, and various aspects of normal and abnormal behavior.

In Queen’s Sociology Department, you will consider theories about how societies are organized and experienced, use social research methods to critically investigate what is happening, and explore areas such as crime, law and deviance, communications and media, gender and race, culture and consumption.  We place a major emphasis on how to study a broad range of social processes, throughout the life course, from global systems to personal life.