School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Political and Legal Thought

Collage of political thought 2016


"The collaboration between Philosophy and Political Studies at Queens is well established. There is outstanding, internationally acclaimed scholarship in political thought in each of these departments, and the many connections between them double their strengths. The M.A. in Political and Legal Thought will be an excellent opportunity for students interested in exploring the far-reaching and fundamental questions at the intersection of the two disciplines. Queen's is one of the best places in the country to pursue such a program and I wish it had been available during my time there.”
Mira Bachvarova, former graduate student and now Assistant Professor at University of New Brunswick


Program Contact - Philosophy

Dr Christine Sypnowich

Program Contact - Political Studies

Dr Andrew Lister

Program Contact - Law

Graduate Assistant, Dianne Flint









Program Overview

The Graduate Program in Political and Legal Thought (PLT) is a 12-month collaborative degree that allows students to specialize in social, political, and legal theory. Students complete an M.A. in the Departments of Philosophy or Political Studies, or an L.L.M. in the Faculty of Law, by choosing from a broad range of designated courses across all three disciplines, which, in any given year, will cover topics such as global justice, jurisprudence, ethics and animals, just war theory, feminism and the law, bio-ethics, egalitarianism, and human rights.  The only course of study of its kind in Canada, the PLT Program builds on the close connections that exist at Queen’s between the Departments of Philosophy and Political Studies and the Faculty of Law. It provides an exciting opportunity for interdisciplinary engagement with leading scholars in a lively intellectual community. 

​In addition to their other courses in Political and Legal Thought, students will normally participate in the Colloquium in Legal and Political Philosophy. The Colloquium is a highly distinctive course centred on seminars delivered by some of the world’s leading legal and political theorists. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Political Philosophy Reading Group, which meets informally every two weeks to discuss important contemporary writings, some written by faculty and graduate students in Philosophy, Political Studies or Law.

Students apply to the PLT Program through the collaborating academic unit (Philosophy, Political Studies or Law) that best matches their academic background. Questions about the program can be directed to the contact person in any of the three departments.

Degree Offered & Method of Completion

Degree Offered

M.A. (specialisation in Political and Legal Thought) - 12 months

L.L.M. (specialisation in Political and Legal Thought) - 12 months

Method of Completion

M.A. students are required to take six courses, four of which must be in Political and Legal Thought, and write a Major Research Paper.

L.L.M. students who undertake the Collaborative L.L.M. in Political and Legal Thought must (a) complete two mandatory graduate courses (Law 880 and Law 881); and (b) complete four additional courses, three of which must be designated courses in the Political and Legal Thought specialization, in Law, Political Studies, or Philosophy; and (c) complete a graduate paper.



Philosophy Faculty:

  • Kerah Gordon-Solmon - ethics of self-defence, egalitarianism
  • Alistair Macleod - human rights, distributive justice
  • Jacqueline Davies - feminisms, critical social theory, gender and sexuality
  • Will Kymlicka - animals and political theory
  • David Miller - global justice and responsibility
  • Udo Schuklenk - bioethics, end-of-life, public health ethics
  • Mick Smith - environmental ethics, ecology and social and political theory
  • Rahul Kumar - contractualism, future generations
  • Paul Fairfield - hermeneutics and education
  • Christine Sypnowich - equality and egalitarianism, philosophy of law

Political Studies Faculty:

  • Margaret Moore - international political theory, ethics of territory
  • Andrew Lister - distributive justice, public reason and political liberalism, libertarianism
  • Colin Farrelly - justice and the biomedical sciences, ideal/non-ideal theory, ethics and public policy
  • Eleanor Macdonald - identity politics, critical theory, feminist theory

Law Faculty:

  • Leslie Green - jurisprudence
  • Darryl Robinson - international human rights, international criminal law
  • Jean Thomas - colloquium in legal and political philosophy
  • Gregoire Webber - colloquium in legal and political philosophy


Funding & Academic Prerequisites

Funding Information

Most students admitted to the program will be offered a funding package to help support their graduate education. We encourage students to apply for external scholarships.

Academic Prerequisites

Student seeking to enrol in the Collaborative Program in Political and Legal Thought must be accepted in the Graduate Program in Philosophy ( ) or the Graduate Program in Political Studies ( ) or the Graduate Program in Law (

Learning Outcomes

Degree Level Expectations - Philosophy - M.A.., M.A. (specialisation in Political and Legal Thought (24KB)

Degree Level Expectations - Political Studies - M.A., M.A. (specialisation in Political and Legal Thought) (29 KB)

Degree Level Expectations - Law - L.L.M., L.L.M. (specialisation in Political and Legal Thought) (110KB)