Current Students

Frequently Asked Questions by Political Studies Undergrads:

How do I declare my major after first year?

What do I do if I am placed on a pending list for the Politics Major?

What do I do if I don't get the Politics Major?

What is the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Specialization Program (PPEC)?

Where can I find the POLS undergraduate courses offered this year?

What courses can count as POLS course substitutions? 

Is POLS 285: Introduction to Statistics required?

What if I take an "exclusion" to POLS 285?

I'm about to go on exchange. Do you have any tips?

If I have to miss an exam, what arrangements do I make?

Where can I find more information on the POLS 590 Thesis?

Which faculty are willing to supervise the POLS 590 thesis and in what research area?

How do I declare my major after first year?

For instructions on how to declare a plan after first year, please visit Arts & Science: Plan Selection. Consider where your GPA after first year falls within Cumulative GPA Requirements to be accepted into a Politics degree program.


What do I do if I am placed on a pending list for the Politics Major?

Have an alternate program ready and wait for the end of Program Selection (usually late May to early June) when decisions will be made on the pending list. View the information on the Arts & Science: Plan Selection webpage to make the right decision for you. 


What do I do if I don't get the Politics Major?

You will have to select your alternate program. You may also want to take steps to gain acceptance to the POLS major the following year. There is no guarantee of future acceptance, however, it is strongly advised to consult with a faculty advisor, and the Undergraduate Chair in Political Studies about what, if any, steps could be taken. 


What is the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Specialization Program (PPEC)?

The Bachelor of Arts Honours (BAH) in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics is an interdisciplinary program specialization including an introductory course and a capstone research project. This new, undergraduate program combines Economics, Philosophy, and Politics in ways designed to prepare students to enter graduate school in their area of studies, as well as for a wide range of professional career paths including, law, public service, international development, policy design, and analysis. The program is structured as an augmented medial (much like a triple-major), without sacrificing advanced skills in each student's area of specialization. With over 50 courses to choose from to complete the program, students will have flexibility in their degree to create a path that works for them, yet with a focus that will stand out in the marketplace.

Visit the PPEC Website

Where can I find the POLS undergraduate courses offered this year?

You can find the list of all our courses here: current undergraduate courses.

What courses can count as POLS course substitutions?

The following list contains courses offered through other Departments. In accordance with Academic Regulation 2.5 (Access to Classes), students do not have enrolment priority in all of these courses. Access to these courses may only be made available during the Open Enrolment period, and then only if space permits: 

  • DEVS 230/3.0
  • GPHY 363/3.0

  • IDIS 304/3.0

  • IDIS 305/3.0

  • INTS 300/3.0

  • INTS 301/3.0

  • INTS 303/3.0

  • INTS 312/3.0

  • INTS 313/3.0

  • INTS 320/3.0

  • LAW 201/3.0

  • LLCU 319/3.0

  • LLCU 320/3.0

  • PPEC200/3.0

Is POLS 285 (formerly POLS 385): Introduction to Statistics required?

Yes, POLS 285 is required for your degree if you are a Major or Medial in Political Studies or are pursuing a politics specialization in PPE.


What if I take an "exclusion" to POLS 285?

Two or more courses are exclusions if you are only allowed to use one of these courses for your degree plan. There are a number of exclusions to POLS 285 listed in the Arts and Science calendar. They are:

  • BIOL 243/3.0

  • CHEE 209/3.0

  • COMM 162/3.0

  • ECON 250/3.0

  • GPHY 247/3.0

  • KNPE 251/3.0 (formerly PHED 251/3.0)

  • NURS 323/3.0

  • POLS 385/3.0

  • PSYC 202/3.0

  • SOCY 211/3.0

  • STAT 263/3.0

  • STAT 267/3.0

  • STAT 367/3.0

If you have taken one of the statistics courses listed above and are counting it towards a minor, then you need to complete an additional 3.0 units of POLS course at the 200-level, or above to complete your POLS major or medial.

This information is found in the Arts & Science Academic Calendar.

I'm about to go on exchange. Do you have any tips?

Political Studies students are encouraged to consider taking part in an exchange program in their third year. Courses taken on exchange count as units toward the degree plan, but appear on the transcript as transfer units ("TR") and do not affect GPA. Students considering a third year abroad must ensure they will meet the prerequisite for taking 400-level courses. If a student has been on exchange POLS384 may be taken in year four. Further information on prerequisites is available in the Arts and Science Academic Calendar under "courses of instruction."

If I have to miss an exam, what arrangements do I make?

You should contact the instructor of your course as soon as possible if you have to miss an exam for any reason.  This needs to be done before the exam. Once a student has written an exam or submitted an assignment, they may not subsequently be granted accommodation such as being offered a second opportunity to write the exam or assignment or have it count for less than originally specified in the course syllabus (reweighted). Students who cannot perform to the best of their abilities due to serious, extenuating circumstances must inform their instructor before attempting an exam or completing a course to arrange appropriate accommodation. Appeals to change a grade after the fact must be made to the Associate Dean (Studies) at the Faculty of Arts and Science and will only be supported by the department in exceptional circumstances. 

POLS 590: Honours Thesis

Where can I find more information on the POLS 590 Thesis?

What is an honours thesis, and how does it differ from a conventional research paper?

An honours thesis is a 50-60 page research paper based on two terms' worth of research on a topic that is broader or more complex than can normally be handled in a term paper for a course. More than length alone, the honours thesis is distinguished by its analytical detail and sophistication; the need for a disciplined, multi-stage investigation of a research question; and by its scope relative to the work you’ve done to this point. The major benefit is that you get to engage in this extended project with the one-on-one supervision of a faculty member over the course of an entire academic year. In the end, the honours thesis can be an ideal way to prepare for grad school or delve deeply into an intellectual puzzle or issue. Many view it as the culmination of their undergraduate career. You will not work alone. Throughout the year, 590 students will gather with the undergrad chair and discuss common issues such as methodology, writing discipline, timelines, structure or
formatting issues. These meetings are part of the course but not evaluated. They are designed to help you connect with others who are working through the same process – but likely on different subjects.

What is POLS590?

POLS590 is the course you will be registered in if you are writing an Honours Thesis. It is worth 9.0 units so is a full-year course. If you are writing an Honours Thesis, you will still be able to register in two other 400-level POLS courses, assuming you are a Politics Major (12 units required). POLS Medials taking POLS 590 are still eligible to take at least one 400-level course (6.0 units). You do not need to take these extra courses; you only need to ensure that you are fulfilling your fourth-year requirements (12.0 units for majors and 6.0 units for medials, of which POLS 590 counts as 9.0).

In addition to writing your thesis, you will share your findings in a collegial and friendly environment in April. The “Thesis Colloquium” allows all 590 students to discuss their work with other students, faculty, and prospective 590 students who might write a thesis the following year.

Is it better to do an Honours Thesis than just to take regular 4th-year courses?

Not necessarily. The more important question is whether the Honours Thesis option is right for you. Is the Honours Thesis option right for me? If you answer “yes” to the following questions, the thesis option may be right for you:

  • Do you have a best-30 POLS units GPA of 3.0 or more? This is a necessary (not sufficient) condition for POLS590.
  • Do you have an A- average in the POLS subfield in which you are choosing to write your thesis?
  • Is there a particular topic that you’ve been wanting to study in detail? Are you interested in spending a whole year studying and writing about this one topic in-depth? 
  • Are you someone who will stay organized and motivated without the structure and social setting of an ordinary course? A thesis requires steady, largely independent work over the course of the full academic year; it is not something you can research and write at the last minute. 
  • Is there a Professor who works in this area who you think you would get along well with? This would typically be someone who taught a course that you enjoyed and that you did well in.
  • Do I have to find a professor to supervise my thesis before applying for POLS590? You don’t need to have secured the agreement of a supervisor in order to apply for POLS590. However, you must have thought about who would be an appropriate supervisor, and you are strongly encouraged to have contacted potential supervisors to see if they are willing in principle to supervise you and to get advice on how to formulate your thesis topic. This is normally done in your third year and can typically take the form of a few email exchanges or meetings to determine the research question or area that you are interested in pursuing.

Any Questions in regards to POLS 590 can be directed to Kyle Hanniman, Undergraduate Chair

Which faculty are willing to supervise the POLS 590 thesis and in what research area?

(Updated April 2022)
Wayne Cox Middle East/Conflict IR(International Relations) Theory Canadian Foreign Policy
International Political Economy
Colin Farrelly Theories of Justice Liberalism Bioethics
Ethics and Public Policy
Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant Canadian and comparative politics; elections and voting behaviour; gender and political behaviour; women candidates and legislators; media and politics; representation  *
Andrew Grant Natural Resource Governance Non‐State Armed Groups Conflict in Africa
Regional Security
Oded Haklai Ethnic Conflict
Middle East
David Haglund IR (International Relations)
U.S. Foreign Policy
Kyle Hanniman Federalism‐Canadian and Comparative Economic and Fiscal Policy
Paul Gardner American institutions and separation of powers, public law, judicial politics, legal mobilization, constitutional law (including civil rights and liberties), race and law, and legal institutions*
Andrew Lister Theories of Justice (social or distributive justice; religious pluralism, toleration, and public reason; normative theories of democracy; libertarianism and classical liberalism
Margaret Little Welfare; poverty; violence; Canadian social policy; an intersectional analysis of the
Canadian second wave women's movement *
Eleanor MacDonald Contemporary political thought, including: identity politics, feminist theory, critical theory, postmodern theory, Marxist theory, anti‐racist theory, psychoanalytic theory, environmental theory, cultural studies, narrative theory, queer theory, race and sexuality studies, feminism, and transgender politics*
Stéphanie Martel Multilateral diplomacy, global security, and the role of discourse in international relations, with a specialization in Southeast Asia and the Asia‐Pacific. *
John McGarry Power‐sharing; federalism; conflict resolution; constitutional design; politics of
deeply divided places, such as Cyprus, Iraq, Northern Ireland, etc.*
Margaret Moore Margaret Moore has a wide range of interests in contemporary political philosophy. Her interests include territorial justice, global distributive justice, just war theory, historical injustice, democratic theory, rights, nationalism, multiculturalism, immigration, and selected theorists in the history of political thought. *
Jonathan Rose Canadian Politics, mass media, political communication, political advertising, propaganda. More recently he has been interested in the practice of deliberative democracy and the demands such experiments make on citizens and governments.
Stéfanie von Hlatky Canadian Foreign Policy NATO/Alliances Civil‐military relations

* taken from faculty member's website

If you have additional questions, please contact Undergraduate Assistant Cynthia Macintosh at