Graduate Courses

Course outlines will be made available to students by the first day of class. All course outlines should provide a clear written statement of purpose, course requirements, mark breakdown, and a discussion of the criteria the professor will use to evaluate student performance. When there is more than one component to the grade, students should be informed of their performance on each component.

One purpose of courses collectively is to introduce students to a wide variety of ideas, theories, and methodologies in Political Science. We are proud to offer our graduate students a wide range of courses in five subfields, offered by faculty who are thought leaders and whose cutting-edge research continues to garner awards and accolades.

Students are expected to make use of our regular graduate courses in designing their individual program. While course selection does not require the approval of the Department before registering, students should discuss their program with the Director of Graduate Studies and their initial academic supervisor during the first two weeks of September to ensure their program meets the Department’s requirements and lays a strong foundation for undertaking dissertation research.

In certain circumstances, and with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, arrangements can be made for students to supplement their Political Science course work with:

  • courses taken outside of the Department
  • modified senior undergraduate courses*
  • POLI 580 -Directed Studies course

*Normally students are expected to take only graduate courses; undergraduate courses will be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies only in cases where the student is seeking to supplement the course with substantial work at the graduate level (in which case, students usually register for a 580 Directed Studies course).

Beyond Political Science Graduate Courses

Enrolling in courses outside the Department’s graduate program is permitted, but requires the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.
For MA students, up to six credits may be taken in another department or at the senior undergraduate level*, as long as a minimum of 12 credits of graduate course work are taken within the Department. PhD students may take courses outside of the department pending approval, and ensuring that at least eight graduate seminars in Political Science are completed.

Directed Studies

POLI 580 is an open-ended course inserted in the Calendar to provide flexibility for those students whose academic needs cannot be satisfied by the regular courses, and is only available for use in exceptional circumstances. A student seeking Directed Studies in a particular field must find a Faculty member willing to direct his/her readings. Since the normal graduate seminar offerings cover the basic fields in Political Science, and since Faculty members have full teaching loads, there can be no assurance that every request will be met. If an arrangement is made, the decisions on readings, on the frequency of meetings, essay requirements, etc., will be decided on by the student and professor concerned. In all cases, students must complete the Political Science 580 Directed Studies Course information and application form (available from the Department) and obtain the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Previous graduate level coursework:

Previous graduate level coursework up to a maximum of 18 credits may be accepted for PhD program credit to the extent that it fulfills UBC Political Science PhD course requirements. Students are encouraged to consult with their initial academic supervisor as well as the Director of Graduate Studies to see whether courses taken elsewhere might be counted toward fulfilling PhD coursework requirements. This allows MA students in Political Science to enter our PhD program without having to repeat coursework and to reduce their coursework requirements from the two years normally required of our PhD students.

Students cannot get credit for the core subfield seminars of our graduate program. Credit for previous graduate courses are generally for Political Science courses, normally taken as part of a Political Science MA program. Other courses may be allowed, but the presumption is that they are functionally equivalent to Political Science courses, provide students with preparation essential for success in the discipline of Political Science, and fit with the student’s overall program of study, all of which will be determined by the Director of Graduate Studies.

To apply to have previous coursework count as credit towards for program credit (up to 18 credits), students must submit the following to the Director of Graduate Studies:

  1. a letter which requests the specific courses to be accepted as fulfilling UBC PhD coursework requirements, and which identifies the Political Science PhD program requirements that are to be satisfied;
  2. a syllabus of each course for which credit is requested.

Below find all courses that will be offered in our Department for 2018-2019 (updated May 31, 2018).



Section 001   2nd Term   FRI  9:00-12:00

Instructor: Gerald Baier (

This is the graduate ‘core’ course in Canadian politics. Its mandate is to familiarize students with both contemporary and enduring themes, methods and controversies in the study of Canadian politics and government. The course will consider institutions and processes as well as Canadian political culture and behaviour. As the core course, it is necessarily broad in focus, but some attempt will be made to identify patterns in the study of Canadian politics. Topics discussed will include; federalism and the constitution, parliamentary government, political parties, electoral behaviour, regionalism and nationalism, interest groups and social movements, bureaucracy, courts, rights and Canadian political thought. The course will help students to identify possible research and thesis topics as well as prepare for comprehensive examinations in Canadian politics.



Section 001   1st Term   WED 2:00-5:00

Instructor: Allan Tupper (

This course examines changes in the structure, role and processes of public management in modern countries.

Among the topics examined and researched by students are the power of civil servants, the status of the Weberian welfare state and public management reform.

These themes are examined through comparative analysis of such topics as accountability, government ethics, alternative service delivery (the delivery of government services by NGOs and/or private firms) and public private partnerships. Other important topics are secrecy, data collection for security purposes, and citizen privacy.

The course focuses on advanced democracies including EU countries, Canada, the US and Australia but major research essays can examine other countries as required. The course has substantial Canadian content derived primarily from the practices of federal and provincial governments.

POLI 504A is a seminar with limited enrolment. A major student obligation is a substantial research essay. The research essays will be presented to the seminar on several occasions as they develop over the term.

Note for PhD students: This course may be counted EITHER toward a Canadian Politics or toward a Comparative Politics field requirement.



Section 001   2nd Term   TUE 9:00-12:00

Instructor: Max Cameron (

This course is designed to: (1) assist doctoral students prepare to write the comprehensive field examination in comparative politics; (2) provide doctoral students with a sense of the breadth of the field, its intellectual history, and the frontiers of knowledge; (3) equip research-oriented students with the background necessary to assess the state of the art in comparative politics as a precursor to developing their own theses or thesis proposals; and (4) provide doctoral students with the background necessary to teach comparative politics.  Master’s students are welcome, but the workload and academic requirements are commensurate with the needs of doctoral students.

Comparative politics is a broad, evolving, and dynamic field of study, with ancient roots.  The course examines current scholarship in light of the evolution of the field, and in relation to knowledge in other disciplines. Major topics will include: research approaches in comparative politics, collective action, the state, democratization, institutions (both formal and informal), and culture, ideas and identity.  Research will be discussed for both substantive findings and methodological contributions. Students will read some of the great books produced by the field in recent decades, as well as more cutting-edge books and journal articles.  The course has a programmatic intent: it is designed to encourage reflection on where research comparative politics as a field should move in the future.


POLI 514B   COMPARATIVE WESTERN GOVERNMENTS: Core Seminar in United States Politics   

Section 001   1st Term   THU 2:30-5:30   

Instructor: Paul Quirk (

This seminar offers a broad introduction to US politics and to the exceptionally rich political science literature in this area.  Required for Ph.D. students who will take the major or minor comprehensive examination in U.S. politics, it is also designed for MA students and for Ph.D. students in other areas.  A major objective is to promote work on US-related topics among students in comparative politics, international politics, or political theory.

The course surveys a wide range of areas:  the Constitution, political development, Congress, the Presidency, courts, bureaucracy, political parties, interest groups, the media, elections and voting, public opinion, public policy (including foreign policy), and the US in comparative perspective.  Readings will combine notable recent studies and earlier works that remain influential; a number of readings will make direct comparisons with Canadian politics.

We will give considerable attention to changes in the functioning of the US political system over recent decades—including issues of polarization, populism, racial tension, authoritarianism, post-truth politics.  As a kind of culmination of some of these trends, we will discuss the causes and consequences of the Trump presidency.

Students may write their longer essay (see below) either on a strictly US-focused topic or on a US-related topic in comparative politics, international politics, or political theory.



Section 001   1st Term   MON 9:00-12:00      

Instructor: Lisa Sundstrom (

This research seminar will focus on contemporary problems of democracy. A survey of democratic theory will provide the platform for a discussion of comparative studies of democratization. Topics include the meaning and measurement of democracy; the development or evolution of democratic regimes; democratic transitions and consolidation; the quality and diversity of types of democracy; defective and hybrid regimes and democratic reversals; civil society and social movements; participatory innovations; constitutional and legal foundations of democratic regimes. At the end of the course we will examine the fate of liberal democracy in the current era of populism and anti-system politics.


POLI 516C     ISSUES IN COMPARATIVE POLITICS: Migration and Citizenship

Section 001   2nd Term   WED  2:00-5:00  

Instructor: Antje Ellermann (

Human mobility has become one of the most contested issues in contemporary politics. This seminar surveys key scholarly debates in the study of migration and citizenship in political science and cognate disciplines. We comparatively examine in both historical and cross–national perspective the ways in which states and societies (particularly in the Global North) have responded to, and become transformed by, immigration. The course covers a wide range of areas: theories of international migration, the ethics of borders, migration control, immigration policy making, public attitudes, anti-immigrant populism and the rise of far-right parties, refugee protection, national identity and citizenship, immigrant integration and multiculturalism, and transnationalism and homeland-hostland politics.



Section 001   2nd Term   WED 9:00-12:00  

Instructor: Anna Jurkevics (

Contested Territory

This course surveys Western approaches to land, place, and territory. We begin with the phenomenology and economy of place through readings of Hannah Arendt, GWF Hegel, Martin Heidegger, Karl Marx, and David Harvey. Part II of the course covers theories of territory, and will address issues related to land attachment, nationalism, and the property-territory distinction. In Part III, we explore geopolitics through readings of Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt and Hans Morgenthau. In the concluding section of the course, we will consider the pathologies of the Western approach to territory by reading indigenous scholarship on land, including Glen Coulthard’s Red Skins, White Masks.



Section 001   1st Term   FRI 2:00-5:00  

Instructor: Bruce Baum (

Political Theory and the Problem of “Race

Critical Theory examines ways in which prevailing conceptions of social and political life perpetuate relations of domination, oppression, and injustice. Following Marx, Critical Theorists of the early Frankfurt School focused on question of class division, political economy, and ideology. More recently, Critical Theory has expanded its purview to address injustices rooted in prevailing conceptions and practices of gender, sexuality, racialization and racism, nationalism, and other topics.

This course will focus on the politics of “race,” racism, and racialization. The construction, perpetuation, and transformation of “racial” (or racialized) identities has long been a central feature of modern politics. Critical theorists of “race” maintain that the significance of “race” is not to be found in our biology, or our DNA, but in the social and political processes through which “race” and racialized social identities and inequalities are constructed, perpetuated and contested. The field of critical “race” theory (or critical “race” studies) is highly interdisciplinary, but we will explore critical approaches to the politics of “race” chiefly through works contemporary political theory.


POLI 540A        Core Seminar in Political Theory              

Section 001   1st Term   FRI 9:00-12:00  

Instructor: Mark Warren (

This core political theory field seminar introduces political theory as a mode of inquiry within political science. The seminar is organized into three parts. The first part of the seminar surveys the kinds and categories of questions political theorist address in the course of structuring their insights into political reality: ontological questions, having to do with necessary presuppositions about the entities we seek to know; epistemological questions, having to do with the authority of our judgments about these entities; and ethical questions, having to do with what we should or should not do or prefer. The second part of the seminar introduces generic social ideas, processes, and mechanisms. We will borrow from social theory (e.g., Giddens) and philosophy (e.g., Winch, Searle, and Habermas) to examine several of these as signalled by the concepts of human agency, society, institution, power, and language. Because political theory is most often practiced as an academic field within political science, political theorists should be able not only to think about the kinds of the questions they pose, but also the interdependence of political theory with empirical investigation and explanation, a topic we examine in the final week of the seminar. The seminar develops these fundamentals through combining basic social theory and some philosophy with reconstructions of Hannah Arendt’s and Immanuel Kant’s political theories.



Section 001   2nd Term   THUR 9:00-12:00   

Instructor: Barbara Arneil (

During this term we will explore the theme of ‘identity’ in contemporary political theory.  We will begin in the first week by considering the role ‘identity’ politics plays in the seminal thinking of liberal political thinkers, John Locke and J.S. Mill. For the remainder of the term we will examine various aspects of ‘identity’, including gender, multiculturalism and disability as well as some critics of ‘identity’ politics and intersectional analysis.  At the completion of this course, students should have a good overview of the key thinkers that have contributed to theorizing on ‘identity’ as well as critiques of such theorizing within the contemporary western theoretical literature.


POLI 551A       Elections: Parties and Voters

Section 001   2nd Term   TUE 2:00-5:00   

Instructor: Richard Johnston (

This seminar course surveys the literatures on parties, electoral systems, party systems, and structural aspects of voting. The course is comparative, but makes special reference to Canada and the US.
Topics include:
• Parties and party systems, the concepts.
• Origins and impact of electoral systems, and their interaction with other political institutions.
• Origins, dimensional underpinnings, and transformation of party systems in consolidated democracies.
• Emergent party systems in post-authoritarian regimes.


POLI 561A        Core Seminar in International Relations Theory

Section 001   2nd Term   MON 2:00-5:00   

Instructor: Richard Price (

This is the core graduate seminar in International Relations and is designed primarily to provide Political Science graduate students with an overview of the academic field of International Relations, with a particular emphasis on International Relations theory. Prominent authors and debates from a variety of notable schools of thought are examined such as realism, liberalism, constructivism, rationalism, critical theory, feminism, normative IR theory and methods. This is a reading intensive discussion seminar. Student evaluation is based upon contributions to discussion and three 8 page papers.


POLI 562A       TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Topics in IR: Global Environmental Politics

Section 001   2nd Term   THUR 2:00-5:00

Instructor: Peter Dauvergne (

This seminar reflects on the politics of global sustainability and justice, striving for critical thought that integrates both rigorous analysis and ethical reflection. The focus is on the consequences of political discourses, institutions, and power struggles for global ecological change, taking an interdisciplinary approach that does not assume a background in international relations. How, in what ways, and to what extent is global environmental politics making a difference for advancing global sustainability and justice? How and why is this changing over time? What does this suggest for the future? To answer these questions, the course analyzes topics such as the causes and consequences of unsustainable development, the ecological shadows of consumption, the power of environmentalism as a social movement, the social justice consequences of climate change, the contradictions of technology, the effectiveness of international agreements, the rising importance of city-level governance, the eco-business of multinational corporations, and the value of certification and eco-consumerism. The course concludes by assessing the merits of various pathways toward environmental sustainability and social justice.


POLI 563B       TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: International Organization

Section 001   1st Term   THUR 9:00-12:00

Instructor: Katharina Coleman (

This seminar examines some key debates about the role(s) of international organizations in international relations and provides an empirical introduction to several contemporary intergovernmental organizations. It is designed to allow participants to deepen their understanding of the various theoretical perspectives on international organizations, gain empirical knowledge about a range of organizations, and think critically about whether, how, and under what conditions international organizations affect world politics.



Section 001   2nd Term   FRI 1:00-4:00    

Instructor: Erin Baines (

This class considers the politics and policies stemming from Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000) and related UN Resolutions. It examines the historical evolution of SCR 1325, as well as debates surrounding its strengths and limitations. It introduces gender and inter-sectional analysis and how these can be applied in practice.   We consider some of the methodological and ethical concerns of research/policy on gender in volatile or politically charged settings, and larger geo-political critiques regarding SCR 1325’s normative framework. Finally we will examine four themes in conflict affected settings:  i. Sexual violence against women; ii. Gender based Violence against men and boys; iii. Children and youth; iv. Resilience and agency.


POLI 571A        QUALITATIVE METHODS OF POLITICAL ANALYSIS: Qualitative Research Methods and the Problem of Causal Inference 

Section 001   1st Term   WED 9:00-12:00 

Instructor: Arjun Chowdhury (

This seminar will prepare graduate students to be both thoughtful designers of their own qualitative research projects and careful consumers of other scholars’ work. The course revolves around the following question: How can the intensive analysis of a small number of cases help us draw inferences about causal relationships in the social world? We will focus on two broad, complementary strategies of qualitative research: comparison across a small set of cases and process-tracing within one or more cases. In addition to considering these general strategies, the course will examine a set of specific tasks and challenges that qualitative researchers face as they design and carry out their projects, including case selection and the assessment of qualitative evidence. A key aim of the course is to help students make informed choices among alternative methodological approaches in their own research and to assess the tradeoffs made by other scholars. To that end, we will consider the ways in which the logic of qualitative research may both resemble, and depart from, the logic of quantitative work. We will pay close attention to the tradeoffs that analysts confront when choosing among qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. What is gained, and what is lost, when we choose to study a small number of cases (or even just a single case)?

The themes of this course span subfield boundaries. The course will be useful to most students of international relations and comparative, Canadian, or U.S. politics as well as to students of political theory who are interested in empirical causal relationships or in critically assessing empirical work. Alongside methodological texts, we will read and critique substantive works of political science drawn from across the discipline. Over the course of the term, students will develop their own qualitative research designs, which might later form the basis of a dissertation prospectus or thesis proposal.

N.B: While a course in qualitative methods, POLI 571 makes some use of basic statistical concepts for the purposes of comparing and contrasting the two methodological traditions; it is thus recommended that students enter the course with some understanding of basic statistical principles, including some basic familiarity with regression analysis. Students who have not yet taken a course in basic statistics or do not feel comfortable with their command of the subject may find it helpful to work through a readable introductory text or to sit in on an undergraduate statistics course (i.e. POLI 380) before or while taking POLI 571.

A limited number of undergraduate students may be able to take this course by special permission. Please apply directly to the instructor.



Section 001   1st Term   TUE/THU 1:00-2:30

Instructor: Andrew Owen (

This course presents basic mathematical concepts that are essential for quantitative analysis in political science research. It prepares students for more advanced courses offered in the department’s quantitative methods sequence (POLI 572B and POLI 574). The course is divided into four subject areas: mathematical foundations, probability theory, statistical inference, and fundamentals of data science. The course is aimed for both students with little exposure to mathematics and those who have taken some courses but wish to gain a more solid foundation.



Section 001   2nd Term   MON 9:00-12:00

Instructor: Michael Weaver (

This course covers the basic principles of ordinary least squares regression as a tool for statistical analysis. Because the primary reason for using regression is to make causal claims, this course focuses on both the mechanics of regression, the assumptions required to make causal claims, and interpretation. The course is broken into four parts. First, we cover the fundamental matrix algebra behind least squares and its interpretation as a way of estimating the conditional expectation function. Second, we cover the Neyman causal model (potential outcomes) framework and discuss how to understand regression in this framework. Third, we bring these two concepts together to derive the key assumptions required to draw both statistical and causal inferences using regression. Finally, we cover violations of these mathematical assumptions frequently faced in empirical research and discuss solutions. This course assumes completion of POLI 572A (or similar course in basic mathematical statistics). While we will engage in some basic matrix algebra, the course does not assume prior knowledge of this topic and the course will focus on practical applications of linear regression models.


POLI 574A       ADVANCED STATISTICAL METHODS FOR POLITICAL SCIENCE: Bayesian Statistics, Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods, and Hierarchical/Multilevel Models

Summer I (May and June) 2019

Instructor: Gyung-Ho Jeong (

The development of computing capacity has made it possible to apply the Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods to Bayesian statistics. This has allowed for the estimation of complicated (but more realistic) hierarchical/multilevel models. This course covers all these topics in one term. The first half of the course will cover Bayesian statistics and MCMC methods. We will go over the theoretical (that is, mathematical) background of Bayesian statistics and MCMC methods. The second half of the course covers topics in hierarchical/multilevel modeling. We will focus on building, fitting, and understanding hierarchical/multilevel models.


Since this is an intensive course, all students have to have the following prerequisites prior to the beginning of the course.

1) POLI572A (Probability Theory) and POLI572B (Linear Models) or similar courses are required.

2) Students need to be familiar with R. Both R and WinBUGS will be heavily used in this course. But we don’t have time to cover R, as the instructor will focus on introducing WinBUGS in class. Therefore, students who are not familiar with R should self-study R before the start of the course. The manual is available at On the first day of class, students will be tested on their R skills (esp. data manipulation, presentation and graphics, and writing your own functions). Those who do not have sufficient R skills will not be permitted to take the course.

3) Students should have a clear understanding on the probability theory. Also, math skills (esp. taking derivatives and integrals) are required.


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