Department of Political Studies

Department of Political Studies
Department of Political Studies

Undergraduate Courses


Courses Offered in 2021 - 2022


Course Descriptions

100 Level Courses
 
POLS 101: Contemporary Issues in Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description An examination of current political issues. By examining an issue or problem students will be exposed to political institutions, processes and concepts in political science. The subject matter will change depending on the instructor and current political events.

NOTE: This course does not lead to further courses in Political Studies. Not available for credit towards any POLS Plan.

POLS 110: Introduction to Politics and Government

Instructor: Jonathan Rose (F), Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant (W)
Term: Fall 2021/Winter 2022

Description: An introduction to political science that provides both a framework for thinking about politics and the institutions of governance, and some of the vocabulary necessary for political analysis.

200 Level Courses
POLS 211: Canadian Government

Instructor: Elizabeth Baisley
Term: Spring 2021, Fall 2021

Description: How has colonialism shaped the development of Canadian government and politics?  How did Canada become bilingual and multicultural?  How does political change happen in Canada?  During this course, we will explore these questions and others.  In the first part of the course, we will examine important historical events that continue to shape Canadian politics today.  In the second part of the course, we will assess the development and functioning of Canada’s electoral and governing institutions.  In the third part of the course, we will analyze how historical events and political institutions shape contemporary issues in Canadian politics, including Quebec-Canada relations and ongoing issues of settler colonialism. 

POLS 212: Canadian Politics

Instructor: Rachel Laforest
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An analysis of the processes, groups, parties, voters, and culture of Canadian politics.

POLS 230: American Elections

Instructor: Paul Gardner
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This course provides a general introduction to the institutions and politics of the electoral process in the United States. The course integrates literature on the electoral system (including the system of primary elections), campaign financing, political parties, voting behaviour, political sociology, and political communication. 

POLS 241: Comparative Politics: Transformations

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of how and why societies change and the context in which transformation occurs.

POLS 242: Comparative Politics: Contemporary Regimes

Instructor: Dalal Daoud
Term: Fall 2021

Description: The nature of political regimes in advanced industrial countries and the developing world. 

POLS 243: States, Ethnic Diversity, and Conflict

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: A comparative examination of the ways in which states around the world respond to national, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and racial diversity. The course examines responses that include the morally reprehensible, such as genocide, and the morally defensible, such as federalism and power-sharing.

POLS 244: Comparative Politics: Democracy & Democratization

Instructor: Zsuzsa Csergő
Term: Fall 2021

Description: A comparative exploration of the apparent disjuncture between the normative assumptions of liberal democratic theory and the realities of democracy-building. 

POLS 250 A/B: Introduction to Political Theory

Instructor: Colin Farrelly
Term: Fall 2021/Winter 2022 (remote)

Description: This course will survey and examine historical thinkers, and socio-political events, that have helped shape Western political thought. Ideas can be powerful catalysts for progressive change, but they can also be utilized to maintain and perpetuate oppression and exclusion. The study of the ideas and ideals of Western political thought reveal a diversity of assumptions (e.g. what is human nature?) and societal aspirations which invoke values like stability, individualism, community, equality, freedom and justice. Students will exam the writings of a diverse range of thinkers, ranging from Plato, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, to Emma Goldman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, JS Mill, Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon. These thinkers wrote about, and lived during, significant historical events in the development of Western democracies. From Athenian democracy and slavery, to the English Civil War, the French Revolution, colonialism, and industrialization and patriarchy, the history of political thought is ripe with examples of theorists diagnosing pressing societal predicaments, as well as exercising the intellectual skill of imagining collective solutions to these problems. Students will be expected to demonstrate both a comprehension of the material covered in the course and the ability to critically evaluate that material.

POLS 251: Political Ideologies

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: This course introduces students to a range of contemporary ideologies, such as liberalism, socialism, conservatism, fascism, feminism, anarchism, ecologism, fundamentalism, and nationalism. It includes primary and secondary readings, and will focus on the critical interpretation of these competing belief systems.

POLS 261: International Politics

Instructor: Wayne Cox
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An introduction to the major issues in the study of international relations: questions of war and peace, national security, the role of the 'state', foreign and defence policy, gender and international relations, and international institutions.

POLS 262: International Political Economy

Instructor: J. Andrew Grant
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An introduction to the major issues in the study of international political economy, including transnationalism, integration, globalization, and underdevelopment.

POLS 263: Introduction to International Security

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: 

POLS 264: World Politics in Historical Perspective

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: This course examines the evolution of global politics in the modern era, from the institutionalization of sovereignty in the Peace of Westphalia to the contemporary period.

POLS 280: Introduction to Women, Gender, and Politics

Instructor: Yolande Bouka
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This course analyzes the status of women and men in domestic and global politics. It presents primary concepts used in political science to address: What is gender? How is it political? How have the women’s movement and other collectivities addressed inequality and oppression? What does gender equality look like, and how can it be obtained?

PPEC 200: Introduction to the Study of Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Instructor: Andrew Lister
Term: Fall 2020

Description: PPEC 200 is a required course for Queen's PPE program, but it is open (subject to space) to any student with the prerequisites. As the title suggests, it's about the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. The focus is on economic life, but from the perspective of assessment and criticism rather than explanation and prediction. People of good faith will often disagree in their assessments, forcing us to ask how we can make decisions about economic policies and institutions despite not having a common vision of what's best. Thus the course is meant to introduce students to the philosophical and political analysis of economic questions. It's about economics but not a course in economics; in face of empirical uncertainty and disagreement, we will typically ask what implications competing principles would have in different factual scenarios. The course aims to include points of view from the right and the left, but cannot claim to be comprehensive. The first part of the course is conceptual (utility, efficiency, wellbeing, equality), the second part institutional (markets, firms, public goods), and the final part applied (sweatshops and exploitation, race and the economics of discrimination, gender and the division of labour, unconditional basic income, socialism).

300 Level Courses

IMPORTANT NOTE: POLS 385 will be offered in conjunction with GPHY 247 in the Winter Term 2019. The course will still include explicit links to political studies and the requirements do not change: Majors and Medials will still require the course.

POLS 310: Principles of the Canadian Constitution

Instructor: Kristin Hulme
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An examination of the evolution of constitutional principles in Canada. Topics include developments in federal‐provincial relations, the role of the courts in federal‐provincial disputes, and the nexus between the community values of federalism and the individual rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

POLS 312: Political Behaviour

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: This course provides an introduction to the principal theoretical perspectives and empirical debates in the study of elections, voting, public opinion, political participation and political culture in established democracies. 

POLS 313: Mass Media and Politics in Canada

Instructor: TBD
Term: Fall 2021

Description: A critical examination of the relationship between the mass media and politics, focusing on the functions of the media in modern liberal democracies and the ways in which news stories are created and packaged.

POLS 317: Charter Politics

Instructor: Kristin Hulme
Term: Winter 2022 

Description: How courts are responding to their responsibility to review legislative and executive decisions in terms of their impact on citizens; the impact of the Charter on the way government is viewed.

POLS 318: The Canadian Welfare State

Instructor: Asbjorn Melkevik
Term: Fall 2021 

Description: An examination of the character and functions of the Canadian welfare state. Theoretical explanations of the welfare state. The historical development of the Canadian welfare state. Proposals for social policy reform and their implications. 

POLS 319: Public Discourse in Canada: Issues and Debates

Instructor: Simon Marmura Brown (S), TBD (W)
Term: Spring 2021 (remote), Winter 2022

Title: “Online Discursive Spaces: Combatting Misinformation”

Description: Public and political discourse increasingly occurs in online discursive spaces. Recent legislative decisions in the United States, Australia, and parts of Europe have shed light on the role social media platforms play in spreading misinformation and emphasizing or exacerbating political divides. This course examines trends towards online debate and deliberation in Canada and questions the effects that new discursive mediums have for political and public engagement.

POLS 320: Indigenous Politics

Instructor: Danielle Delaney
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An examination of Indigenous politics in a Canadian context, including aboriginal self‐government. Lakota scholar and indigenous activist, Vine Deloria Jr, once said: “I do not believe that demonstrations can carry a group of 1 million in a nation of 203 million very far without getting them squashed.” Deloria neatly encapsulated the political reality facing indigenous peoples—numerical small, politically limited, and yet deeply resistant to the systems of political control placed over them. This course explores the impacts of, and responses to, colonization by indigenous peoples in a comparative context. Within the framework of political science methodology, this course explores a variety of themes including: land rights, sovereignty, self-determination, and the Indigenising of democracy and social protest. Students are invited to consider these themes from a comparative lens.

As an introductory course, we explore these themes in broad strokes to understand the underlying theories and logics guiding the political and legal discourses of indigeneity. While this course foregrounds the impact of and responses to colonization by Indigenous peoples in North America, we will also study these discourses have evolved in parallel in the Global South, Africa and among circumpolar regions.

POLS 327: Topics in Comparative Politics

Instructor: Sam Twietmeyer (S), Dalal Daoud (F)
Term: Spring 2021 (remote), Fall 2021

Title (F): “Islam and Politics" 

Description (F): The course examines the intersection of Islam and politics. It discusses Islamism as it relates to various themes in comparative politics, including social movements, political parties, democracy and democratization, as well as minority politics. 

POLS 328: Topics in European Politics

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux

Description: An examination of key issues in European politics. Topics will vary from year to year; consult BISC website for availability

POLS 329: European Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An introduction to European politics. The themes and geographic focus vary from year to year; they may include current political institutions and forces, the historical evolution of the European polities, and both Western and Eastern Europe.

POLS 331: American Government

Instructor: Fan Lu
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Survey of the political process in the United States; functioning and interaction of the principal formal and informal political institutions, the relationship between those institutions and their environment, the making of public policy, and current issues and trends. 

POLS 332: Post-Communist Politics

Instructor: Zsuzsa Csergő
Term: Winter 2022

Description: The politics of the Russian Federation and selected countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

POLS 335: Topics in British Politics

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux

Description: An examination of key issues in British politics. Topics will vary from year to year; consult the department homepage. NOTE Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux.

POLS 336: British Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Contemporary problems facing Britain as a result of its historical evolution: economic stagnation, centrifugal forces of nationalism and communal violence, and the decline of the two-party system.

POLS 338: European Integration

Instructor: G. Grant Amyot
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This course provides an introduction to the European Union.  The first part deals with the history of the EU, the theories used to explain European integration, the EU's institutions and EU decision-making.  In the second part, current issues and concerns in the EU, such as Brexit, the Eurozone crisis, the refugee "crisis," and climate change are discussed.

POLS 341: Chinese Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: The course begins with an historical overview of the late Qing dynasty, the origins of the Chinese revolution, and 50 years of the People’s Republic of China. It then focuses primarily on political science concepts and approaches to the study of Chinese politics as well as issues of reform in various sectors of China’s economy and polity.

POLS 342: Latin American Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Comparative study of Latin American politics. Topics include the political legacies of colonialism and independence, the evolution of class structures, populism, the role of the military, and the transition to democracy and free market policies. Emphasis is on the countries of continental South America.

POLS 346: Development Theory

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: A critical examination of the current theories of development influenced by various post-Marxist, postmodernist and postcolonial tendencies. Growth strategies practised by the state and alternative visions offered by the social movements will also be discussed.

POLS 347: The Politics of Africa

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Major issues in the contemporary politics and political economy of sub‐Saharan Africa. The development of the colonial and post‐colonial state, capitalist development and the role of indigenous and international capital, and political and socio‐economic aspects of class, ethnicity and gender. 

POLS 348: Middle East Politics

Instructor: Canan Sahin (S), Rida Abu Rass (F)
Term: Summer 2021 (remote), Fall 2021 (remote)

Description: An examination of the politics of the Middle East, including the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and European colonialism, the rise of nationalism, the role of religion, the nature of the state and political participation in different countries in the region.

Description (F): What are the causes of political instability in the Middle East? What sparked the Arab Spring? What are the obstacles toward stable democracy in the region? What is driving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how can it be solved? Who are the major powers in the region, and why are they in conflict? 

This course will provide students with the tools that are needed to answer these questions. It will trace the major historical developments in the Middle East in the 20th and 21st centuries, and highlight their lasting impact on domestic and regional politics. We will examine the impact of the Ottoman rule, European Colonialism, Neo-Imperialism and the Cold War on domestic political institutions, regional and international political economy, and the lived experiences of ordinary people in the Middle East. We will highlight endogenous political responses to these phenomena, including the development of Pan-Arabism, the emergence of indigenous and national minority movements, and the rise of political Islam. We will borrow tools from a variety of theoretical frameworks to analyze these phenomena, including political economy, nationalism studies, peace and conflict studies, Marxist approaches, democratic peace theory, and postcolonialism. Utilizing this wide array of theoretical and empirical tools, this course encourages students to come up with their own, unique perspectives on Middle East politics. 

POLS 351: Liberal Theory

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of the major theories and critiques of liberalism, focusing on the rival conceptions of freedom and equality that animate classical ‘laissez-faire’ liberalism, egalitarian liberalism, left-libertarianism, and perfectionist liberalism, and the critical responses these various kinds of liberalism have provoked from communitarians, feminists, Marxists, and others.

POLS 352: Women and the History of Political Thought

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Drawing on historical texts, this course explores the representations of women and the constructions of femininity and masculinity, the body, and gender relations in the history of political thought, and explores contemporary feminist responses to these texts and ideas.

POLS 353: History of Political Thought

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An analysis of the origin and development of certain major ideas in the western political tradition.

POLS 354: Democratic Theory

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An exploration of the normative underpinnings of democracy, based on a survey of selected historical texts, contemporary theories, and current problems.

POLS 355: Issues in Contemporary Political Theory 

Instructor: Pinar Dokumaci
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course discusses important contemporary issues that arise in political theory. Examples include: liberty and paternalism, toleration, punishment, multiculturalism, climate change, intergenerational justice (or injustice) and violence.

POLS 358: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Capitalism

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Selected topics in the critique of capitalism, e.g. Marxism, democracy, the environment, globalization, employment and popular culture.

POLS 359: Issues in Political Theory

Instructor: Margaret Moore
Term: Fall 2021

Description: The course will focus on central issues that arise in political theory: citizens relation to the state and to each other. Specifically, the course will discuss problems of liberty, toleration, punishment, and multiculturalism; and inter-state problems such as global justice, just war, justice and the environment, and inter-generational justice.

POLS 360: International Relations Theory

Instructor: Stéphanie Martel (S), Simon Marmura Brown (F)
Term: Spring 2021 (remote), Fall 2021 

Description: This course examines the theoretical approaches, concepts, and debates (e.g. levels of analysis, causality, methodology, historiography) that shape the evolution of International Relations as a discipline, including subfields (e.g. international security and international organizations) and how they relate to the conduct of international politics. 

Description (F): In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the efficacy of existing international institutions, like the World Health Organization, have been tested. New institutions and agreements like Covax have been created, and after a series of failures in international leadership, the authority and preeminence of the United States as “leader of the free world” is being questioned. In short, the recent world has seen dramatic changes. Material realities, however, like relative economic and military strength have largely remained unaffected. As such, ideational, rather than material, theories of international relations are well suited to interrogate contemporary changes in the international system. This course does two things. (1) It examines contemporary theoretical shifts in International Relations (IR). Specifically, it engages with and examines constructivist and post-structuralist epistemological and ontological contributions to the field. Through this lens, where in both cases the international system is determined by the ideas, beliefs, and expectations states have for one another, we (2) interrogate those contemporary changes in international politics.  

POLS 361: Regional International Organizations

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: A survey of selected regional international organizations for political cooperation, military security and economic integration in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.

POLS 364: International Peace and Security

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of the concept of international security and the causes of war and conditions of peace. Topics include: the role of nuclear weapons after the Cold War; the economics of security; new security themes (environmental and ethnic factors); regional security and peacekeeping; alliance dynamics; and European security and the future of NATO.

POLS 366: The United Nations

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of the principles, institutions and politics of the United Nations, assessing its effectiveness in maintaining international peace and promoting cooperation among states.

POLS 367: American Foreign Policy

Instructor: David Haglund
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An examination of American foreign policy, with particular emphasis on the analysis of concepts and issues and the study of decision-making processes.

POLS 369: Canadian Foreign Policy

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An analysis of Canadian foreign policy, its major objectives and orientations. Topics covered include Canada's role and interests in major international organizations and its relations with key countries and regions.

POLS 380: Puzzles in Political Economy

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: The course introduces students to the scientific method and its application to various puzzles in Canadian and comparative political economy. Following a primer on research methods, several empirical and theoretical puzzles are examined (e.g. relationships between voting and economic interests, the origins and drivers of government taxation, etc.).  

POLS 382: Gender and Social Policy

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Topics include theoretical perspectives on women and politics, patterns of women’s political socialization and political action, feminist movements, and feminist contributions to contemporary political discourse.

POLS 383: Law and the Governmental Process

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of the role of law in politics, the differences between legal and political reasoning, the law and politics of constitution‐making, and the political character of criminal and civil law. Topics include the victim’s rights movement, pornography and censorship, and the role of litigation in political life. 

POLS 384: Strategies of Political Research

Instructor: Christian Breede
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An exploration of major issues and schools of thought in the philosophy of social science and in examination of contemporary approaches to the study of politics.

POLS 385: Introduction to Statistics

Instructor: Kyle Hanniman
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course is an introduction to quantitative approaches to political science research. You will learn how to use quantitative techniques to make causal and descriptive inferences. You will also gain basic familiarity with Stata, a widely used statistical software package. The course will consist of weekly lectures and tutorials. Tutorials will involve seminar-style discussions and computer and pencil-and-paper based problems. No prior background in statistics is assumed or required.

POLS 386: Political Economy and Mass Media

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of the history and political economy of the mass media, exploring the impact of a partisan press, ownership and use of technology on how our identity has been shaped. It will draw upon a comparative assessment of the mass media in advanced liberal democracies.

POLS 387: Politics and Culture

Instructor: Eleanor Macdonald
Term: Winter 2022

Description: The course explores contemporary approaches to understanding the politics of culture. In the everyday behaviours, attitudes and practices that form our culture, politics play a role. The course considers a range of diverse theoretical perspectives on the interrelationship of culture with social, political, and economic power.

POLS 388: Politics of Migration [Citizenship and Non-Citizenship]

Instructor: Stephen Larin
Term: Fall 2021

Description: POLS 388 will be taught as “Politics of Migration”. Migration is at the centre of contemporary politics around the world, and claims about migrants have played a key role in the shift toward exclusionary, nationalist populism in many countries. The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad but detailed introduction to the complex politics of both international and internal migration on a global scale. The first half of the course deals with core issues such as the differences between migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees; why people move; migrant legal status and rights; migration and integration policy and governance; and effects of and responses to migration. The second half applies this foundation to the world’s major regions, with weeks on the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Asia–Pacific region.

POLS 391: Introduction to Electoral Systems

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: This course introduces students to the various families of electoral systems in use around the world. It examines their variations and assesses the consequences of electoral systems on political parties, legislatures and governments.

POLS 392: Topics in Canadian Politics - Canada and the Middle East

Instructor: Jeremy Wildeman
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This course offers a modern historical and contemporary political overview of Canada’s relationship with the Middle East, a complex region that offers important insights into Canada’s evolving foreign policy and national identities. To do this, it begins by exploring Canada’s connection to the region within the British Empire, the important role the region played in helping Canada define its independent identity on the international stage (i.e., at the United Nations and in peacekeeping), and Canada’s own impact on the region. It includes observations on Canada’s role in the Cold War, as an interlocutor with the Global South, and Canada’s shift away from the United Kingdom to a close embrace of the United States, through the lens of the geopolitically sensitive Middle East.

As we exit the Cold War, the course moves on to consider Canada’s intensive Pearsonian-era foreign policy engagement as a mediator in the Middle East Peace Process, before discussing a shift in policy priorities that took place with the onset of the War on Terror and mid-2000s Government of Canada move away from the Pearsonianism that was once ubiquitous with Canada’s place in the world. Finally, the course explores the complex and evolving economic, diplomatic, and societal relationships Canada has with the states and non-state peoples of the region, including deepening demographic and military industrial ties, support for refugees, the Canadian response to regional conflicts and questions being raised about Canadian liberal internationalism.

The course attempts to be broad in its geographic and thematic scope. It includes classroom discussions, guest speakers, a major research project and group work intended to shed light on different facets of Canada-Middle East engagement, on the many lesser-known elements of that relationship. Throughout, we are asked to consider if Canada has a Middle East foreign policy, if it ever had one and if it should have one, and how Canada might engage with the region going forward.

POLS 393: Topics in Comparative Politics - "The Politics of Free Expression"

Instructor: Dax D'Orazio
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course provides an intimate exploration of free expression in its philosophical, political, legal, and policy-oriented dimensions. Students will first immerse themselves in the history and philosophy of free expression and then move into a series of thematic weeks that include, in part: seminal free expression legal cases, contemporary cases and controversies, free expression on university campuses, new media technologies, and free expression in a comparative perspective. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing analytical and argumentative writing skills, in addition to applying court content to better understand contemporary political events.

POLS 394: Issues in Political Theory

Instructor: Spencer McKay
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course examines the participation of experts, bureaucrats, interest groups, and citizens in public policymaking from the perspective of democratic theory.

Who should make public policy? The answer is not as obvious as it might appear. In a democracy, we may think that elected representatives should make public policy. But various unelected actors – experts, bureaucrats, judges, and interest groups – play key roles in making public policy. At the same time, governments are increasingly involving citizens in policymaking through a variety of democratic innovations. In this course, we will explore how democratic legitimacy contends with other principles – such as epistemic quality, neutrality, and efficiency – in debates about how to make public policy. These debates emphasize that policymaking is an inherently political act, marked by power and conflicts of values and interests.

POLS 395: Topics in International Political Economy

Instructor: Wayne Cox
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An examination of different topics and issues in global political economy, such as the role of international financial institutions, the politics of global trade, or the global distribution of wealth. The focus of this course will vary from year to year.

POLS 396: Topics in International Relations - ​Finance, Neoliberalism, and Globalization: Situating Canada in 21st Century Global Politics

Instructor: J. Andrew Grant
Term: Winter 2022

Description: Finance is one of the most powerful, but least well understood features of the 21st Century global political economy. In popular discourse, finance is often presented in a technical manner, and the role of history, power, and politics in shaping financial processes and practices is often unsaid or under-explored. The power of finance in the everyday lives of Canadians has become immense, but the reasons why finance has such a grip on Canadian society is ambiguous. Who have been the main drivers in financialization? Why has financialization happened? What role has the state had in promoting or legitimizing financialization? Who has been positively and negatively impacted? Why did Canada ‘escape’ the Great Financial Crisis in better condition than some other advanced economies? In attempting to answer these questions, and more, this course will provide students who are interested in understanding the power relations of finance with a unique opportunity to explore the Canadian state’s relationship with global finance in the 21st century.

This course provides students with an overview of key discussions on financialization and will examine this process through a variety of political economic lenses (political science, geography, history, etc.) in order to understand how global finance and neoliberalism have shaped key policies, institutions, and debates in Canada in the new millennium. Students will explore and debate the role of scales in governance and will have the opportunity to think critically about the role of resistance, consent, and coercion shaping political economic processes. Taking housing as a focal point, students will explore different policy documents—such as the Canadian federal government’s National Housing Strategy—and situate it within and against international and domestic political and economic processes and considerations.

There are four themes of the course: First, it explores what financialization and neoliberalism actually are. Second, it covers the myriad ways inter-scalar governance—from the local to the international—has influenced financialization and neoliberalism’s uneven development, focusing on the impact this development has had on the Canadian state and various segments of the population located in Canada since the turn of the century. Third, it considers the role of resistance, coercion, and consent in relation to power, policy-making, and statecraft, with examples from Canada and around the world. Finally, in situating Canada’s political economy within the global political economy—using housing as a focal point to understand these relations—the course offers students a unique and dynamic way to understand contemporary power, space, and place.

The course has two key aims. First, it offers a range of theoretical perspectives and analytical tools to understand the Canadian states’ relationship with finance and neoliberalism in the global political economy. Second, it aims to develop students’ writing and reading skills. In highlighting and emphasizing key points from the literature, and through encouraging students to synthesize these points into arguments in their assignments, the course is intended to help students effectively and practicably engage with course material.

POLS 397: Topics in Gender and Politics

Instructor: Elisha Corbett (S), TBD (W)
Term: Summer 2021 (remote), Winter 2022

Description: This course explores the intersection of gender and social movements in Canada. Students will use various feminist and social movement theories to critically examine and assess social movements like Black Lives Matter, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the Quebec women’s movement, and LGBTQIA+ rights. Students will reflect on the role of gender in how social movements are formed, what issues and interests are included and how they are framed, and importantly who and what issues are excluded. Some topics for discussion may include:

  • debates around liberal rights vs. radical change
  • the relationship to the state and society
  • theorization and negotiation of intersectionality 
  • theorization of power and oppression
POLS 398: Introduction to International Law and Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: The Specialized Program in International Law and Politics is specifically designed for upper-year undergraduate students (ideally in their third or fourth year), and offers foundational knowledge about the relationships between international politics and international law. It explores specific aspects of international law, including international criminal law and the law of armed conflict, examines the phenomenon of genocide and other forms of mass violence in historical and contemporary contexts, and situates the central statutes, customs, and institutions of international law within the broader context of global governance.

This unique team-taught program is divided into three modules and offers three three-hour classes each week: 

Module 1 - International Law and Politics (weeks 1 to 4)
Module 2 - Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes (weeks 5-8)
Module 3 - The Law and Politics of Armed Conflict (weeks 9-12).

In Week 7, students take part in an exclusive seven-day journey (included in your fees) through key sites of interest in the field of international criminal law located in Continental Europe. See the BISC website for more details.

400 Level Courses

IMPORTANT NOTE: In 2019-20, the Department of Political Studies will be organizing enrollment in 400-level courses by a balloting system. Students will be asked to submit a form listing their preferences for 400-level courses. Based on this information the department will assign students to courses manually, prior to the July registration period. The purpose of this system is to ensure that (to the extent possible) every student gets some of their top choices of courses. 

POLS 400: Seminar in Political Science - Social Movements, Contentious Politics, and the Dynamics of Political Change

Instructor: Danielle Delaney
Term: Fall 2021

Description: In April of 2016 a group of young indigenous activists came to a small spit of land in the middle of the Cannon Ball River nicknamed ‘Turtle Island,’ so named in honor of Indigenous creation stories, where traditional healers and elders had been holding ceremonies and prayer-protest against the impending construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This meeting was the start of the Sacred Stone and Oceti Sakowin protest camps. Was this a flashpoint protest lead by indigenous activists, or was this the start of a new indigenous social movement? Was this an indigenous protest, an environmental protest, or something else entirely? At what point does political protest become a social movement? When does conflicting, collective political claims levied by polities against each other and third parties move from politics ‘as normal’, to contentious politics, to revolution?

This course grapples with these types of questions through a comparative lens. This course is focused on providing the theoretical tools to analyze social movements and related political phenomena. We will spend some time surveying the social movements and contentious politics literature to build a theoretical base and shared language for describing the political phenomena as well as exploring current methodologies for collecting and analyzing evidence/data. The majority of our time, however, will be spent examining how such forms of contentious politics—and how we understand them as different types of political phenomena—have arisen and developed in different political regimes, regions and eras.

This is an advance political science seminar, students are invited to think creatively and critically about not just the current theories around social movements and contentious politics, but how these theories apply to modern cases of contentious politics. Students will be expected to write a seminar paper analyzing a specific moment of contentious politics.

POLS 401: Political Theory: Questions and Challenges

Instructor: Spencer McKay
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This course explores questions of justice, freedom, and power that arise in the context of labour and the workplace.

The workplace is a political space where questions of justice and fairness are negotiated in contexts of unequal power. Workplaces are also situated within broader economic, social, and political systems that shape relevant needs, norms, and policies in ways that may limit or enable individual freedom. In this seminar, we will read classic and contemporary work in political theory to improve our conceptual understanding of work and to develop normative judgments. Key questions to be explored include: Why do we work? Who should count as a worker? How does work limit or enable freedom? What working arrangements are just? How could work be made more compatible with freedom, justice, and human flourishing?

POLS 402: Science and Justice

Instructor: Colin Farrelly
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Advances in biological knowledge bring us closer to a world where we may have the ability to directly manipulate our genetic make-up. With this ability comes new questions concerning the demands of distributive justice. This course examines key developments in biology (especially human genetics), and demonstrates why and how theories of justice may require revision in light of these changes. Issues addressed include eugenics, the therapy/enhancement distinction, aging, enhancement in sport, future generations, and reproductive freedom. The course is designed to explore the different challenges society faces as a consequence of the genetic revolution and to help equip students with the critical and analytical skills needed to think rationally and cogently about the regulation of new biomedical technologies. 

POLS 403: Gender Politics: Questions & Challenges: LGBTQ+ Politics

Instructor: Elizabeth Baisley
Term: Winter 2022

Description: What are the effects of colonialism on gender and sexuality in what we now call Canada?  How has LGBTQ politics changed over time?  What is the future of LGBTQ politics in Canada?  This course explores these questions and others.  In the first part of the course, we will examine how states have produced, policed, and attempted to erase various gender and sexual identities and practices.  The second part of the course traces the development of modern LGBTQ movements, which emerged in response to such state actions.  In the final part of the course, we will consider important developments in LGBTQ politics since the legalization of same-sex marriage.  We will learn from a range of sources, such as short and long texts, videos, and films.  The course will focus especially on LGBTQ politics in Canada and the United States, but we will also speak about other contexts where applicable.

POLS 404: Canadian Politics: Questions & Challenges 

Instructor: Doug Yearwood
Term: Winter 2022

Title: Canada in the World: The Impacts of Financialization, Neoliberalization, and Globalization in the 21st Century 

Description: Finance and neoliberalism are some of the most powerful, but least well understood features of the 21st Century global political economy. Neoliberalism has shaped Canada’s political economy in profound ways, most notably in the extractive and manufacturing industries. In popular discourse, finance is often presented in a technical manner, and the role of history, power, and politics in shaping financial processes and practices is often unsaid or under-explored. The power of finance in the everyday lives of Canadians has become immense, but the reasons why finance has such a grip on Canadian society is ambiguous. Who have been the main drivers of neoliberalization and financialization? Why and where has financialization happened? What role has the state had in promoting or legitimizing these processes? Who has been positively and negatively impacted? Why did Canada ‘escape’ the Great Financial Crisis in better condition than some other advanced economies? In attempting to answer these questions, and more, this course will provide students who are interested in understanding the power relations of finance and neoliberalism with a unique opportunity to explore Canada’s role in the world in the 21st century. This course provides students with an overview of key discussions on these topics and will examine this process through a variety of lenses (political science, geography, history, etc.) in order to understand how global finance and neoliberalism have shaped key policies, institutions, and debates in Canada in the new millennium. Students will explore and debate the role of scales in governance and will have the opportunity to think critically about the role of resistance, consent, and coercion shaping political economic processes. Taking housing as a focal point, students will explore different policies—such as the Canadian federal government’s National Housing Strategy—and situate it within and against international and domestic political and economic processes and considerations. 

POLS 405: International Relations: Questions & Challenges 

Instructor: David Haglund
Term: Winter 2022

Description: Issues in global politics, international relations, international diplomacy, or foreign policy will be examined in this course. The focus of this course will vary from year to year; this year the course will focus on race and ethnicity in US foreign policy. 

POLS 406: Comparative Politics: Questions & Challenges - Democratic Innovations in Comparative Context

Instructor: Patricia Mockler
Term: Fall 2021 (remote)

Description: In this course, students will learn about recent developments in the theory and practice of deliberative democracy. The first portion of the course will consist of a brief examination of the theoretical foundations and key debates in the field of deliberative democracy. Students will then examine the recent proliferation of deliberative mini-publics in established democracies. Students will be encouraged to critically analyze the role of deliberative mini-publics in established democracies and engage in debates on their use in the context of democratic malaise and polarization. Students will examine the broader implications of the use deliberative mini-publics for civil society and political participation.

POLS 410: Seminar in Canadian Politics - Comparing Canada

Instructor: Elizabeth Baisley
Term: Winter 2022

Description: “Knowledge of Canada or the United States is the best way to gain insight into the other North American country.”  Was Seymour Martin Lipset right?  Should we understand Canada through comparisons with other countries, or on its own terms?  In the first part of the course, we will consider broad arguments for and against comparison and review relevant aspects of research methods and design.  In the second part of the course, we will use these tools to evaluate and critique a range of comparisons, most of which involve Canada and the United States.  These comparisons will cover issues ranging from political parties, healthcare systems, and environmental policies to citizenship and immigration, race, indigenous politics, gender, and sexuality.  Throughout the course, students will develop skills in evaluating research, designing a research project, and grant writing.

POLS 412: Provincial Politics

Instructor: TBD
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Content varies from year to year.

POLS 414: Politics in Quebec

Instructor: Rachel Laforest
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An introduction to the political history of Quebec: the development of ideologies (including nationalism), constitutional developments, and the building of the Quebec state during the Quiet Revolution. Some contemporary issues in Quebec politics, and the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

POLS 415: Canadian Federalism

Instructor: TBD
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An examination of the evolution and operation of the Canadian federal system. Topics include the concept and meaning of federalism, the implications of provincial/federal interdependence, and the politics of constitutional reform. 

POLS 419: Political Communications

Instructor: Elisha Corbett
Term: Fall 2021 (remote)

Description: POLS 419 will be a critical examination of the media’s role and responsibilities in Western democracies, focusing primarily on mass media in Canada and the United States. The main purpose of the course will be for students to understand whose stories get told by media, who tells these stories, and how these stories are told.  

Students will first learn key media concepts and theories, such as agenda-setting, gatekeeping, priming, framing, and political rhetoric, which will serve as the basis for their understanding of the course. Students will then apply these concepts to various social issues specifically the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls genocide, the Black Lives Matter movement, and global climate strikes. In doing so, students will gain an appreciation for the way in which political messages and meaning about these issues are constructed and reproduced. Students will also apply their knowledge of media theories to political parties and politicians, examining how these actors use media tools of persuasion to form campaign messages and platforms, and ultimately how this shapes public discourse and opinion.  

POLS 421: Elections

Instructors: Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An examination of the importance of elections to the maintenance of democratic systems. Six themes are discussed: the history and theory of democratic participation; the legal framework; campaign organization; why people vote the way they do; the manifestation of social cleavages during campaigns; and the future of electoral participation. Canadian examples are placed in a comparative context.

POLS 422: Public Opinion 

Instructor: Dax D'Orazio
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This course provides an extensive survey of the concept of public opinion in the field of politics. It will begin with some historical and theoretical perspectives on the concept of public opinion and then move into empirical methods and questions related to measuring it. The final few thematic weeks of the course will include analysis of phenomena such as propaganda, misinformation and disinformation, and hate speech. Particular emphasis will be placed on students being able to apply course content to contemporary political issues and problems. 

POLS 430: Seminar in Comparative Politics

Instructor: Lilian Estafanous
Term: Winter 2022

Description: The analysis of diaspora politics is part of the broader field of diaspora studies. What precisely constitutes a diaspora? How is the term diaspora distinguished from other social formations and phenomena such as migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers? Why and how are diasporas being created and shattered? What is the relationship between territory, memory, and belonging? How do different diasporas organize and mobilize? What factors facilitate or constrain the success of their political mobilization?All of these questions and many more constitute part of the subject matter of Diasporas in the World Politics. The term "diaspora" was applied to the Jewish, Greek, and Armenian dispersions, which are often called the "classical diasporas." In recent decades, however, the meaning has been expanded to refer to populations that have left their countries of origin –either forcibly or voluntarily –and come to form a group defined primarily in relation to its original "homeland." The course is intended as an introduction to a wide range of transnational diasporas. Special attention will be given to religious, minority, victim, conflict-generated diasporas, their relationship with their homeland and their host states, and their mobilization patterns. The course is comparative and interdisciplinary, drawing from the social sciences, humanities, and history. It offers a systematic overview of the topical issues of diaspora politics and transnationalism both from the theoretical and the empirical perspective, allowing students to learn about a range of diasporic communities and key debates in the field.  

POLS 431: European Politics

Instructor: BISC (S),  G. Grant Amyot (F)
Term: Spring 2021, Fall 2021

Description: This year the seminar topic is populism in Europe.  We shall discuss theories of the origins of populism, left and right populism, and populist parties and movements in a selection of European Union countries. 

POLS 432: The Modern Welfare State

Instructor: Asbjorn Melkevik
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An exploration of the emergence and functioning of the modern welfare state in comparative perspective. 

POLS 433: Problems of American Democracy

Instructor: Paul Gardner
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Focuses on recent debates about the sources of malaise in the American system, with a special emphasis on understanding the dynamics of mass public opinion and the factors influencing public disaffection from political institutions. 

POLS 434: Multiculturalism

Instructor: Daniel Westlake (S), Dalal Daoud (W)
Term: Spring 2021, Winter 2022

Description: This course explores the political implications of multiculturalism from a variety of perspectives, including theory, policy, and historical meaning. Issues include: history and policy of multiculturalism in the Canadian, US and global contexts; the construction of ‘race’ and anti‐racism; and the role of multiculturalism in citizenship inclusion and exclusion. 

POLS 435: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: This course introduces students to some of the important questions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What is the history of the conflict? How did distinct national identities emerge? What issues are at stake for the actors involved? How do domestic factors shape Palestinian-Israeli relations? Why have peacemaking efforts been unsuccessful? The purpose of the course is to explain the political phenomenon of conflict in the Middle East. The course will seek to understand why political actors act the way they do, using theoretical lenses and analytical concepts that have been developed in the fields of nationalism, ethnic conflict, and conflict resolution more generally.

POLS 436: Race and Politics

Instructor: Fan Lu
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course puts race front and center in the narrative of American politics. Few U.S. public policies are completely race-neutral because individuals who bore—and continue to bear— the brunt of negative externalities in healthcare, environment, law enforcement, gun regulation, education, social welfare policies etc. tend to be BIPOC. Through historical documents, news media, and academic research, students examine the extent to which race has shaped American political institutions, public opinion, and behaviour. Topics include subjugation of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries; the civil rights movement; contemporary manifestations of racial discrimination and their impact on who gets elected to positions of power and whose prerogatives become law.

POLS 439: American Politics

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: The purpose of this seminar will be to provide an in-depth examination of the United States to address whether it is in decline. Several of the topics the course will evaluate include: the 2012 presidential election, the polarization of American culture, the paralysis in Washington, the role of religion and race on foreign policy, the legacy of the war on terror, the Great Recession, and the rise of the rest, particularly China. The objective of course will be to present a holistic understanding of the United States in a global context.

POLS 440: Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism

Instructor: Zsuzsa Csergő
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An exploration of the causes of ethnic conflict, but focuses in particular on the strategies which states use to manage or resolve such conflicts. The review of state strategies is comprehensive in nature: using case studies, it includes approaches which are morally unacceptable as well as approaches which many consider morally desirable. 

POLS 442: Latin America

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: Advanced research course focusing on problems relating to the consolidation of democracy in contemporary Latin America. Topics may include political parties and elections, economic policy, mass media, social movements, and political violence. Case studies are drawn largely from continental South America.

POLS 443: Gender and Globalization

Instructor: TBD
Term: Winter 2022

Description: General issues and selected specific topics reflecting an interdisciplinary approach combining international political economy, feminist theory and comparative politics. Case studies from both industrialized and developing nations.

POLS 444: Ethnicity and Development

Instructor: Poulomi Chakrabarti
Term: Winter 2022

Description:  Ethnic diversity is consistently associated with poor public goods provision across countries. The negative relationship between social divisions and development has, in fact, been described as the “most powerful hypotheses in political economy”. But what exactly about diversity hinders social goods? This course will explore the dominant themes in the study of ethnicity and development. We begin with a theoretical understanding of the core concepts – What is development? What is the relationship between identity and ethnicity? What are the social-psychological foundations of identity? We distinguish between public goods and common-pool resources and explore the distinct channels through which diversity shapes cooperation between groups in the maintenance of common resources at the community level as well as how identity can be instrumental in shaping the policy preferences of the political elite and hence state provision of public goods. In the process, we will explore the role of shared culture and social norms, differential preferences of ethnic groups, the effect of group-differentiated rights, the effects of status inequality, and finally the historical role of ethnicity in the state-building process and its long-term effects on development. The themes discussed in the course reflect some of the most cutting-edge areas of contemporary research in the field of comparative politics and development.

POLS 445: Dialectics of Development

Instructor: Lama Tawakkol
Term: Fall 2021 (remote)

Description: This class investigates the political economy of development and seeks to unravel the politics and power shaping its policy and practice today. Dominant understandings of development present development as a concrete and attainable goal and offer standard prescriptions on how to reach it. These depictions of development as technical, linear and top-down are too simplistic, however, and do not adequately explore the deeper relations and interests underlying development practice. A more comprehensive understanding of development goes beyond this image, highlighting how the relations and processes of development are the result of multiple interactions and struggles, which unravel in different times and spaces. It acknowledges that there are bound to be winners and losers in the global political economy and attempts to understand these power (im)balances, and who benefits from them, in the context of development. To understand these politics at the heart of development, we adopt a historical framework that situates development in global capitalism and draw on various multidisciplinary debates, critical approaches and case studies. We begin by surveying orthodox views of development and key sides of the debate, and understanding how the field of development has historically evolved, highlighting major phases and shifts in its thinking and practice. We then focus on some of the dominant issues and actors making up the field of development today. We unpack many of the relations and contradictions of modern development discourse (i.e. North/South, development/underdevelopment, modern/traditional…etc.) and more closely explore common tropes and development goals (i.e. sustainable development, green growth and resilience). Through these various topics, we address timely topics and fundamental questions in development, including what development means, how it is measured, the politics of global aid and the role of the state and businesses in development, and touch on key themes, like global social justice, gender, colonialism/imperialism and power. 

POLS 450: Political Theory: Appeals to Human Nature

Instructor: Jennifer Guiho
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An analysis of texts that take the nature of humans as the basis for political argument. Emphasis is on the search for foundations for political claims and the nature of 20th-century relativism, cultural and moral.

POLS 451: Seminar in Political Theory - "The Politics of Pandemics"

Instructor: Colin Farrelly
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course examines the ethical and societal public health predicaments that arise with pandemics and epidemics.  Public health is the science of keeping people healthy and preventing injury, illness and premature death.  When mitigating the health risks of a population a plurality of ethical and societal concerns typically arise, such as the tension between respecting individual rights and promoting public health, managing the risks of vaccine development, the rationing of scarce medical resources and determining how much caution or empirical evidence is sufficient to guide policy decisions which may impose different types of benefits and burdens. Though the concepts of “epidemic” and “pandemic” are often contested in both the scientific community and in the media, an epidemic generally refers to an unexpected increase in the number of cases of disease in the population of an area, and a pandemic refers to the global spread of a disease.  The course will examine the successes, limits and challenges of protecting human populations from different types of risks, primarily the risks from infectious diseases (like malaria, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and COVID-19) but also the risks from other so-called “epidemics”, such as obesity, drug use and gun violence.  Students will be introduced to some basic concepts in epidemiology, the history of infectious diseases, and address a number of policy concerns ranging from vaccine development and privacy rights, to the ethics of quarantines and balancing respect for liberty with protecting public health.  The course will help facilitate an understanding of the different empirical concerns and normative predicaments which arise with navigating complex public health policies.   

POLS 453: Seminar in Political Theory - Ethics of Migration

Instructor: Stephen Larin
Term: Winter 2022

Description: Migration is at the centre of contemporary politics around the world, and we urgently need to develop well-reasoned, principled answers to the ethical questions posed by refugee crises, selective bans and deportations, migrant detention camps, temporary foreign workers, majority-group nationalism, and a host of other pressing concerns. The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad and strong foundation for doing so. The course is divided into three themes: (1) an introduction to the key concepts and debates in the ethics of migration; (2) migration; and (3) settlement.  The first is self-explanatory. The second theme, which makes up most of the course, deals with ethical issues associated with the act of migration such as border control, asylum seeking, and deportation. Theme three addresses issues associated with settlement after migration, including non-citizen rights and migrant integration.

POLS 456: Theories of Identity Politics

Instructor: TBD
Term: Winter 2022

Description: What are ‘identities’? How are they ‘made’ and ‘unmade’? What difference do they make for democratic theory and practice? This course will explore these questions by analyzing different theoretical approaches to the study of identities, including class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. Using a variety of contemporary case studies, from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to the rise of ‘white identity politics’ in the United States and Europe, Hindu nationalism in India, and the politics of Indigeneity in Africa and Latin America, students will come away from the course with a deep understanding of how, why and to what effect identities are formed, mobilized and politicized in different institutional settings around the world. 

POLS 457: Issues in Global Justice: "Forced Migration:  Displacement, Securitization and Racialization"

Instructor: Canan Sahin
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Over the recent decade, displacement of people at a massive scale internally and across borders due to wars, ecological destruction and political persecution has been at the centre of politics. The policy responses to address the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ have been shaped at multiple levels, i.e., local, national, regional and global. From increased securitization of borders to expansion of refugee camps, from construction of border protection walls to over-exploitation of refugee labour, from the rise of anti-refugee nationalist far-right responses to the emergence to ‘refugees welcome’ movements at transnational scale, we have seen distinctive and interwoven political consequences of forced migration in North America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. This seminar course will be informed by a critical comparative political economy framework to understand the governance of migration and evolution of new border and racialized labour and refugee regimes in the afore-mentioned regions.

This seminar will first introduce the theoretical literature on the recent history of forced migration, with a political economy approach being in the center. Through a brief survey of the theories that explain the driving factors and consequences of forced migration, students will be familiarized with the emerging concepts in the field of comparative politics and international relations. Later, the course will focus on cases in different regions to implement the conceptual and theoretical tools developed in the first stage.

POLS 458: Ethics of War and Intervention

Instructor: Stephen Larin
Term: Fall 2021

Description: War is the use of organized, purposive violence between two or more groups. We often imagine these groups to be states, but intra-state conflicts have been more common since the Second World War, and so-called ‘extra-state’ conflicts between states and non-state actors in foreign territories have been among the most important since the early 2000s. Regardless of its form, however, war raises urgent ethical questions because it may lead to death, tremendous suffering, and other terrible consequences. The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad and strong foundation in the core ethical debates over war and violent humanitarian intervention.

The most prominent general approaches to the ethics of war are ‘realism’, the view that war is and should not be subject to moral consideration, ‘pacifism’, the view that war is unethical, and ‘just war’, the view that war can be ethical if it is initiated for the right reasons, conducted within specific constraints, and concluded in a principled way. This latter approach dominates most ethical discussions of war, and the course is structured around its three themes: jus ad bellum (‘just resort to war’), jus in bello (‘just conduct in war’), and jus post bellum (‘justice after war’). This is not an endorsement of the long, heterogeneous, and contradictory just war ‘tradition’, but instead recognition that it is the standard that all serious ethical discussions of war work either within or against. A wide variety of topics are covered, including state authority in war, revolution, terrorism, autonomous weapons, and the allocation of responsibility after war is over.

POLS 459: Anarchist Political Theory

Instructor: Danielle Delaney
Term: Winter 2022

Description: Once described as the ‘art of not being governed,’ anarchist politics holds open the possibility of politics without rule, governance without a state, organization without a political order. Political science often treats anarchist politics as a problem to be solved: the end (or collapse) of the sovereign through corruption, war—civil or otherwise, or collapsing civil institutions means the end of politics itself. But is it possible to have politics without the social hierarchy of the ruler and the ruled? Rather than the end of politics and the indication of a failure of governance, can anarchic politics be a possibility?

This course considers the contemporary possibility of anarchist politics, attempting to illuminate the politics that might come from resistance to rule. Anarchist politics come in a multitude of forms—organized resistance to state authority and expressions of power to mutual aid societies and cooperative politics all fall within the umbrella of anarchist politics. Resistance and revolution have taken a central focus within popular conception of anarchist politics, but this class explores the broad history of anarchist political theory.

This is an advanced political science seminar; students will be asked to think both critically and experimentally about both anarchist political theory and practice. We will explore both through close engagement with anarchist political pamphlets, key texts in late modern and contemporary political theory—including Proudhon, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Sterner, Gen-Dor, and Rancière, amongst others—and current expressions of anarchist politics. In this manner we will trace anarchist political theory’s development as a constellation of resistant theories and techniques, as well as their place in contemporary politics.

POLS 460: International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: This IR seminar introduces students to major issues shaping the study and conduct of international politics in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Asia‐Pacific. Seminar topics examine the involvement of major powers in the region, regional  institutions and regimes, norms and identities, transnational crime, non‐state actors, and natural disasters. 

POLS 461: International Regimes

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An exploration of problems of order and change in the international system with particular attention to the theory and practice of co‐operation, ranging from classic concepts of international organization to current debates about international regimes. 

POLS 462: Studies in National Security

Instructor: Akif Hasni
Term: Winter 2022

Description: The course will focus on both traditional and contemporary aspects of global national security. Traditional topics will include bilateral and multilateral defence arrangements; collective and cooperative security; and the role of UN peacekeeping. Contemporary topics will focus on the political economy of defence and militarization, the emerging digital surveillance and counter surveillance regime, the threat of COVID-19 and future pandemics on national security, the rise of China and the changing landscape of global polarity, as well as the role of civil society in (re-)shaping strategy and defence mechanisms.

POLS 463: International Relations Theory

Instructor: Joshua McEvoy
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Many of the issues we hear and read about in the news today are fundamentally global in scope. Climate change, inequality, economic crises, terrorism, pandemics, democratic decline, and myriad other issues operate and require action at the international level. But what is the ‘international’? Who acts there? How is it structured? On what basis is an action taken? These are the type of fundamental questions to be addressed by anyone who seeks to understand and engage with issues, actors, and dynamics in international relations. In this course, we will explore how the discipline of International Relations (IR) has answered these questions in various ways and look outside the discipline for inspiration in building our own understandings.

As a course on IR theory, our primary aim is to surface the underlying and often taken for granted or ‘common sense’ logics and images of international relations. In other words, we seek not only to understand what different scholars, schools of thought, and practitioners say or think about international relations but, more importantly, why they do so in particular ways and not others, and how, where, and when their understandings arose. In doing so, we will ask questions of our own thinking on these subjects and how we perceive politics at the global level. 

POLS 464: Russian Foreign Policy

*Not offered in 2021-22

Description: An examination of the determinants of Russian Foreign Policy, and the extent to which they have changed over the last half-century. The course will cover both historical and contemporary issues in Russian foreign relations.

POLS 465: The Politics of War

Instructor: Christian Breede
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An exploration of the causes of war, sampling the literature on war causality and using a case study approach. A number of contemporary cases in contemporary interstate and intrastate war will be examined to illustrate why war and the use of force continue to be a favoured method of advancing political interests.

POLS 466: Politics of War in Africa

Instructor: J. Andrew Grant
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An examination of the political dimensions of violent conflict in Africa, including the causes of inter‐state and intra‐state conflict, and responses such as peacebuilding and global governance initiatives. 

POLS 467: International Political Economy

Instructor: Wayne Cox
Term: Fall 2021

Description: Theoretical approaches and issues within the field, while paying particular attention to hegemony and leadership, the economic dimension of post war and post cold war security, trade, money, debt, underdevelopment, regionalism, and international organization. 

POLS 468: The International Relations of the Middle East 

Instructor: Wayne Cox
Term: Winter 2022

Description: This course offers an analysis of Middle Eastern politics from the perspective of the field of international relations. Themes covered in this course include, the historical evolution of various identities in the region, the history and role of outside actors in the Middle East, contemporary Middle Eastern state and social relations, and the role that Middle Eastern states play in contemporary world politics.

POLS 469: Issues in Canadian Foreign Policy

Instructor: Thomas Hughes
Term: Fall 2021 (remote)

Description: This course focuses on Canadian foreign policy as it intersects with Canadian defence and security, and explores Canada’s efforts to navigate the post-Cold War international security environment. Tracing key drivers within Canadian security and defence, and their manifestation in Canadian foreign policy, the course provides the opportunity to discuss the way in which Canadian foreign policy is shaped, and how new and emerging challenges are being addressed. The course will discuss overarching themes that consistently influence Canada’s foreign and security policy, including the Canada-US security relationship, Canada’s “Peacekeeping” identity, and engagement with multinational organisations such as NATO, as well as more focused topics and cases, including Canada and the Arctic, the interaction of Canadian foreign policy and domestic terrorism, and the introduction of its GBA+ approach to security and foreign policy. 

POLS 470: Seminar in International Politics

Instructor: David Haglund
Term: Fall 2021

Description: This is a generic “topics” course in international politics, whose theme varies from year to year.  In autumn term 2021, we are going to be investigating an issue in international relations (IR) that has recently been receiving a great deal of attention, from scholars and policymakers alike.  That issue is nothing other the continuing prospect of peace in an international system that is showing every sign of being roiled by the return of great-power competition.  Not too long ago, as the US-USSR Cold War wound down and eventually ended, the assumption of many was that major war had simply become, in the memorable term employed by John Mueller, “obsolescent.”  Today, few would venture such an optimistic claim.

POLS 471: Politics of Artificial Intelligence [Politics and Science in Technological Societies]

Instructor: Stephen Larin
Term: Winter 2022

Description: POLS 471 will be taught as “Politics of Artificial Intelligence”. ‘Artificial intelligence’ (AI) is intelligent action performed by a machine. Autonomous robots and other forms of artificial general intelligence are a common theme in popular science fiction such as Star Wars, Terminator, and WALL-E, but some types of AI are no longer fictitious. Over the past decade, advances in machine learning driven by improved algorithms, ‘big data’, and steady, exponential increases in computational capacity have led to significant improvements in pattern recognition and other forms of narrow, task-specific artificial intelligence that are already changing the world. The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad, in-depth introduction to the political implications of this major technological shift.

The course is divided into three themes: (1) “Fundamentals”; (2) “Present and near-term”; and (3) “Long-term or never”. The first theme comprises Weeks 2–4 and provides an overview of the fundamental technical, social scientific, and normative issues associated with the politics of artificial intelligence. Theme 2, the core of the course (Weeks 5–11), deals with the political significance of present or near-term applications of artificial intelligence including computational propaganda, decision-making, and autonomous weapons, as well as AI regulation and governance. The final week of the course addresses long-term, speculative possibilities that may never happen: AI-governed societies and ‘superintelligence’. 

POLS 482: Seminar in Public Policy 

Instructor: Linda Mussell
Term: Summer 2021 (remote)

Description: This course introduces students to different streams of policy studies, specifically interrogating systems of social control in several states. Streams include more mainstream and positivist policy studies, as well as interpretivist and critical policy studies. Students will learn key theoretical underpinnings and familiarize with tools of policy analysis in order to conduct their own analysis of topics of their choice. Areas of social control for seminar discussion include: policing, welfare, social work, education, health care, and prisons.

POLS 483: Justice and Gender

Instructor: TBD
Term: Winter 2022

Description: An examination of how contemporary theories of justice fare from the standpoint of gender (specifically inequalities in gender relations) and what a just, non‐gendered society might look like. 

POLS 484: Politics of Globalization

Instructor: J. Andrew Grant
Term: Fall 2021

Description: An examination of the major theoretical debates and issues in contemporary globalization, including the historical roots of globalization, and the impact of globalization on culture, economics, trade, global governance, and global social movements. 

POLS 485: Seminar in Gender and Politics - Feminism, Postcolonialism, and Islam

Instructor: Pinar Dokumaci
Term: Fall 2021

Description:Over the last decades postcolonial theorizing has contributed decisively to feminist thinking. Postcolonial feminists have explored the complex and fractured ways in which gender and sexuality are situated at the core of nationalisms, colonialisms, and racisms. The aim of this course is to introduce students the necessary theoretical and analytical tools to critically reflect upon the gendered dynamics of colonial and postcolonial power structures in the Islamic world and to analyze how these dynamics have led to different explorations of feminism and alternative understandings of modernity. While presenting key texts in the literature on gender, feminism, and postcolonialism, the course also aims to bring in a variety of case studies and recent examples of Muslim women's experience in different Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian contexts.

 

POLS 486: The Politics of Rights

Instructor: Andrew Nguyen
Term: Spring 2021 (remote), Fall 2021

Description: Despite widespread assumptions about the courts’ capacity to settle disputes that implicate rights, political and legal conflicts continue to persist in liberal democratic polities. This seminar brings together perspectives from political science, socio-legal, and constitutional studies to examine debates about how political institutions respond to rights-based conflicts. It focuses on the challenges confronting decolonization, race, poverty, and nonbinary gender identities to consider contrasting visions of rights, institutions’ receptiveness to rights-claims, and conditions for justice. 


Non-POLS Course Descriptions:

Courses from the following list of "substitutions" may be counted towards a POLS plan, up to a limit of 12.0 units for the Major and 6.0 units for the Medial and Minor

Substitution Courses
DEVS 230: The Global Political Economy of Development /3.0

Description: Applying global political economy perspectives to key aspects of development finance. Topics include the introduction of basic economic terms, the role of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, and the growing roles of Transnational Corporations and financial markets in development NOTE    Also offered online. Consult Arts and Science Online. Learning Hours may vary

IDIS304: British Studies I /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux

Description: An interdisciplinary introduction to the broad development of British life and culture, focusing on British national identity. The course usually combines British art history, history, literature and geography.

IDIS 305: British Studies II /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux

Description: An interdisciplinary introduction to the broad development of British life and culture, focusing on cultural and political conflicts in British society. The course usually combines British art history, history, literature and geography.

INTS 300: Special Studies in Britain and Europe in a Global Context I /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux

Description: This course will offer a unique opportunity to study a special topic in Britain and Europe in a global context. Topics will vary each term, and the course may not be offered every year. For detailed course description, see www.queensu.ca/bisc

INTS301: Special Studies in Britain and Europe in a Global Context II /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux 

Description: This course will offer a unique opportunity to study a special topic in Britain and Europe in a global context. Topics will vary each term, and the course may not be offered every year. For detailed course description, see www.queensu.ca/bisc  

INTS 303: The Global Village: Case Studies of South Eastern England /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux. 

Description: This course will examine ways in which South East England has been and is connected to the world. Students will develop an appropriate research methodology drawing on local archival and oral resources to investigate selected topics. Topics will vary yearly and may be examined from a variety of perspectives: historical, sociological, cultural or within a multidisciplinary framework. 

INTS312: Seminar in Modern European Studies I /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux. 

Description: This course will offer a unique opportunity to study a special topic in Modern European Studies. Topics will vary each term, and the course may not be offered every year. For a detailed course description, see www.queensu.ca/bisc  

INTS313: Seminar in Modern European Studies II /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux. 

Description: This course will offer a unique opportunity to study a special topic in Modern European Studies. Topics will vary each term, and the course may not be offered every year. For a detailed course description, see www.queensu.ca/bisc  

INTS320: Fascism in Europe: From Napoleon to Hitler /3.0

Offered only at the Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux

Description: An introduction to the growth of the fascist mentality in Europe from a cultural perspective. The course will treat the Third Reich as part of the broader conservative and nationalist challenge to liberalism.

LAW 201: Introduction to Canadian Law /3.0

Description: Law 201 is designed for students from all disciplines, but will be of particular interest to students in history, political science, or business.  The course provides students with an introduction to the Canadian legal and judicial systems.  Students will learn the sources of law in Canadian common law jurisdictions, as well as the basic workings of the Canadian court system.  Students will be introduced to the role of lawyers and judges, and legal ethics.

LLCU319: Roots of Fascism: Resistance to Liberalism in the 19th Century /3.0

Description: A survey of various currents of thought from 19th‐century Europe that illustrate conservative discomfort with industrial society and help to make the outbreak of fascism understandable after 1918. The course will distinguish between conservative, nationalist, aesthetic, and religious trends, illustrated by relevant readings from different countries.

LLCU320: Fascism in Europe from Napoleon to Hitler /3.0

Description:

An introduction from a cultural perspective to the growth of the fascist mentality in Europe and the emergence of fascist regimes. The course will treat Italian Fascism and the Third Reich as part of the broader conservative and nationalist challenge to liberalism.


Forms & Checklists

Please download the applicable PDF to ensure that you are keeping track of your degree progression and choosing appropriate courses as needed: