Political Studies

Politics is about power – who has it and how it is exercised by nation-states, individuals, groups, classes, or political parties, and how different interests are reconciled in and between communities. Political Studies are also concerned with institutions created to govern communities, as well as political practices such as voting habits or protests, and how rules, behaviour and culture are created in societies. Since power in society is often dependent upon material resources, political scientists study the distribution of wealth, both within and between nations.

Students sharpen their debating skills at the Queen’s Model Parliament; they discuss international issues at the Queen’s Model UN or with the Queen’s International Affairs Association. Politics at Queen’s extends past the classroom.

Top 5 Reasons to study Political Studies:

  1. Course topics examine facets of political theory as well as national and international politics.
  2. Learn to think critically about the distribution of power and resources.
  3. Diverse group of faculty and teaching fellows who are leading experts in their respective fields.
  4. Learn how ideological and physical distributions inform systems of governance, political behaviour, and public policies.
  5. Students are encouraged to consider taking part in an exchange program in their third year.
Mackintosh-Corry Hall
Room number: 
Department Head: 
Eleanor MacDonald
Departmental Assistant: 
Michelle Knapp-Hermer
Graduate Chair: 
Oded Haklai
Graduate Assistant: 
Kristina Fennel
Undergraduate Chair: 
Kyle Hanniman
Undergraduate Assistant: 
Cynthia Macintosh

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Specializaton in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPEC)
Learn more about this new Plan option

Major in Political Studies
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Joint Honours in Political Studies
A dual course of study in Political Studies and any other Arts discipline.

Minor in Political Studies
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

Political Studies - PhD
Political Studies - MA
Political Thought - MA (Politics / Philosophy)


Third Year Abroad

Political Studies students are encouraged to consider taking part in an exchange program in their third year. Students should note that 400-level POLS courses have a minimum GPA in previous POLS courses as a prerequisite. Since courses taken on an exchange program do not contribute towards GPA calculations, students should ensure that their grades are sufficient to satisfy the 400-level prerequisite before embarking on an exchange program. Those students in Joint Honours or Major Plans must take POLS 384/3.0 and POLS 385/3.0 in their second or fourth year at Queen’s.

Third Year Abroad at the Bader College

Political Studies students who wish to spend one or two terms at the Bader College at Herstmonceux Castle in Britain should consult with the Department. Students may receive credit for courses in other subjects and may defer POLS 384/3.0 and POLS 385/3.0 to their final year.


Alumni Career Statistics

  • 9% of alumni work in BANKING & INVESTMENTS
  • 16% of alumni work in EDUCATION
  • 16% of alumni work in GOVERNMENT
  • 16% of alumni work in LAW

A degree in Political Studies can take your career in many directions.

Where could Political Studies students go after graduation?

  • Advertising
  • Broadcasting
  • Business administration and management
  • Campaign management
  • Communications
  • Consumer services
  • Diplomatic service
  • Editing 
  • Education
  • Environmental management
  • Eventscmanagement
  • Foreign affairs
  • Fundraising
  • Goverment
  • Human resources
  • Intelligence analysis 
  • International development
  • International trade
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Marketing and communications
  • Media – electronic and print
  • Media analysis
  • Public affairs
  • Public health
  • Public policy, administration and service
  • Public relations
  • Research
  • Social work
  • Speech writing
  • Urban and Regional Planning
Taking time to explore career options, build experience and network can help you have a smooth transition to the world of work after graduation. Note: Some of these careers may require additional training.

Erin Tolley earned her PhD from Queen’s in 2013. She is currently working on a book which examines how race affects the media’s portrayal of candidates in Canadian politics. She is the co-editor of Diverse Nations, Diverse Responses: Approaches to Social Cohesion in Immigrant Societies (MQUP 2012), Immigration, Integration and Inclusion in Ontario Cities (MQUP 2012), Immigrant Settlement Policy in Canadian Municipalities (MQUP 2011), Integration and Inclusion of Newcomers and Minorities Across Canada (MQUP 2011), and Electing a Diverse Canada: The Representation of Immigrants, Minorities and Women (UBC Press 2008). Her article, “Do Women ‘Do Better’ in Municipal Politics? Representation Across Three Levels of Government” appeared in the Canadian Journal of Political Science and was short-listed for the John McMenemy Prize in 2012.


There are courses that focus on national politics such as Canadian Government, Mass Media and Politics in Canada, First Nations Politics and Politics in Quebec. And there are courses that look at politics in a global context such as International Politics, Middle East Politics, American Government, The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, and The United Nations. Then there are courses that focus on the process such as Comparative Politics: Democracy and Democratization, Law and the Governmental Process, Citizenship and Non-Citizenship, Elections, Public Opinion, and International Relations: Questions & Challenges.

Course Spotlight
POLS 250: Political Theory
A survey of the principal ideas of Western political theorists from ancient to modern times, focusing in particular on the role and scope of government, the proper organization of governmental power, the nature of political obligation, and the ethics of political power and authority


Students apply to Queen’s Arts (QA) through the OUAC (Ontario Universities Application Centre) website (ouac.on.ca). ENG4U, plus five additional 4U/M courses. Applicants outside of Ontario may have additional requirements. 

Political Studies (BAH)
OUAC Code:
QA (Kingston Campus)
QB (Concurrent Education, Kingston Campus)
QIA (The Castle)
QIB (Concurrent Education, The Castle)

See Full admission requirements

After first year, in May, students will declare their area of study (major, minor, specialization, e.g.). The thresholds are competitive year to year and do change. The 2017-18 thresholds for Political Studies Majors are: 1.9 Cumulative GPA for PENDING LIST or 2.5 Cumulative GPA and a Minimum B in POLS 110 for AUTOMATIC ACCEPTANCE.

Information on Plan Selection



The Department of Political Studies at Queen's University has long been known for its graduate programs. At the graduate level, we offer the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy in Canadian politics, comparative politics, gender and politics, international relations, and political theory. We also offer a new collaborative Master of Arts in Political Thought with the Philosophy department. We are small enough to provide our students with a highly personalized graduate experience, and our faculty is sufficiently strong, diverse, and well-known that we can provide a well-rounded education that gives our graduates a strong basis for a wide range of careers.The department is particularly well known for its strength in the study of divided and diverse societies. Our MA program will help you refine your crucial and analytical skills, while our PhD program will help you prepare for a rewarding career in university teaching and research.

The deadline for receipt of all applications, including transcripts and letters of reference, is 22 January. Doctoral applicants are encouraged to make informal contact (e.g. e-mail) with potential supervisors about their research interests before applying to the program. 

All applications for graduate study at Queen's University must be submitted online. Admission applications and scholarships for both the MA and PhD programs are adjudicated by the School of Graduate Studies. Apply at the School of Graduate Students admission page.

Graduate Chair
Dr. Oded Haklai
(613) 533-6246

Graduate Assistant
Ms. Carli Chan
(613) 533-6000 ext. 77452


Master of Arts - Political Thought
Collaborative Program with Politics

The Dept of Philosophy and the Dept of Political Studies at Queen’s have a new 12 month MA in Political Thought.  We offer courses on such topics as:  Moral Philosophy, Bioethics, Just War Theory, Equality, Social and Political Philosophy, Global Justice, Ethics and Animals.

The Queen’s Collaborative Program in Political Thought offers students the chance to complete an MA in either Philosophy or Political Studies with a specialization in Political Thought.  Students enrolled in the program can take designated political thought courses from both departments.  “Political thought” is defined broadly so as to include (1) the analysis of basic normative concepts such as justice, equality, and liberty; (2) the elaboration of such concepts in philosophies such as liberalism, Marxism and feminism; and (3) the historical development of these ideas; and (4) the application of these ideas to law and policy, e.g., trade, immigration, religious accommodation.  

The Political Thought program builds on the close connections that currently exist between Philosophy and Political Studies.  This is an exciting opportunity to intensively engage in an important interdisciplinary field with leading scholars in a lively intellectual community. Students interested in the Collaborative Program in Political Thought are encouraged to contact the contributing departments (see program contacts at right) to determine which Department is best aligned with their academic and research interests.

More information on this program