Graduate Courses

Jump to Course Descriptions Below

For 2020-2021, Political Science graduate courses will be offered online at the time/day indicated on the course schedule.

Term 1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9-12 pm POLI 516D

The Comparative Political Economy of DevelopmentZhou, Yang-Yang


Urban Governance and Policy in Canada Doberstein, Carey



Core Seminar in U.S. Politics

Quirk, Paul


Topics in International Relations

Chowdhury, Arjun

 POLI 561A

Core Seminar in International Relations Theory

Coleman, Katharina

2-5 pm POLI 523B

Ethics in Democratic Politics

Cameron, Maxwell


Core Seminar in Political Theory

Warren, Mark


Core Seminar in Comparative Government and Politics

Sundstrom, Lisa


Quantitative Techniques of Political Analysis

Owen, Andrew

Term 2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9-12 pm


Migration and Citizenship

Ellermann, Antje


The Role of Law in International Politics

Byers, Michael



Public Management

Tupper, Allan


Global Environmental Politics

Dauvergne, Peter


Core Seminar in Canadian Government and Politics

Baier, Gerald

2-5 pm POLI 572B

Quantitative Techniques of Political Analysis

Weaver, Michael


Democratic Theory Warren, Mark


Elections: Parties and Voters – Designing and Analyzing Public Opinion Surveys

Wright, Matthew


Qualitative Methods of Political Analysis

Jacobs, Alan

5-8 pm POLI 513B/463

Current Debates in Comparative Political Economy: Globalization and Democracy

Tiberghien, Yves



Course Descriptions


Gerald Baier

Section 001 Term 2  9:00-12:00  FRI

This is the senior (4th year) and graduate seminar 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 society, political culture and behaviour. For graduate students this serves as the ‘core course’, thus it is intentionally broad in focus. Topics discussed will include; federalism and the constitution, parliamentary government, political parties, elections, 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 PhD students for comprehensive examinations in Canadian politics. Course readings are chosen to reflect the diversity of topics and approaches. Students will be graded on the basis of participation, seminar presentations, videotaped lectures, reading summaries and a term paper.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


(Counts towards a Canadian Politics or a Comparative Politics field requirement)

Comparative Public Management

Allan Tupper

Section 001 Term 2  9:00-12:00  WED

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, provincial and Indigenous governments.
POLI 428/504 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.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD.


(Counts as a Canadian Politics field requirement)

Urban Governance and Policy in Canada

Carey Doberstein

Section 001 Term 1  9:00-12:00  TUES

This course will provide students with the theoretical and analytical tools to understand and explain the politics and policy activities of Canada’s metropolitan governments within their unique historical, institutional, and constitutional frameworks and within the political economy of cities. We will examine different theories of urban power and governance, and the ability of different theoretical approaches to explain the emergence of urban policy problems and their various solutions. The focus of the course is on cities in Canada, with a particular focus on Vancouver in the second half of the course when we examine various urban policy issues. Our fundamental aim will be to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how, why, and with what consequences, urban governments and their partners develop and implement policy.

Possible alternative times: TUES 7-8:30am


Lisa Sundstrom

Section 001 Term 1  2:00-5:00  WED

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.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD.


(Counts as a Comparative Politics field requirement)

Yves Tiberghien

Section 001 Term 2  5:00-8:00 PM  TUES

The world stands at a critical juncture. Globalization has both widened and intensified; but it has also become more volatile (at least its financial component). The governance of global markets is in transition since the 2008 global financial crisis. In the midst of the current transformation/turmoil, this much is clear: linkages between global markets and domestic political economic chessboards have greatly intensified. Everywhere, national systems are challenged to respond to global shocks and global change. Meanwhile, domestic political processes in systematically important countries have a great impact on global governance and globalization itself. These linkages between IPE and CPE form the core focus of the course. Our inquiry covers questions such as:

  • What are the causes of initial institutional diversity among domestic economic systems?
  • In what ways does globalization affect domestic political economy? It is forcing domestic institutional convergence?
  • What explains different responses by domestic systems to common global shocks (whether financial crisis, environmental shocks, energy shocks, or trade effects)?
  • Why are some systems more successful than others?
  • What are the mechanisms through which global forces disrupt domestic equilibria?
  • Does globalization affect the quality of democracy (for example, do financial markets weaken democracy in Iceland, or do global bond rating agencies weaken democracy in Europe?) Could financial markets lead to a breaking point in Greece or social revolution in France? Is democracy at risk, and where?
  • How do we understand the role of the state in the economy? Why is the state returning as a core actor since 2008, when it had handed down so many functions to private actors?
  • Has globalization facilitated or hindered the process of economic and political development around the globe?
  • How has China managed the interface with globalization, and is China’s success redefining the nature of the global political economy?
  • Does China’s rise question the political underpinnings of the global political economy?
  • Has the interaction between global economic forces and domestic political economy qualitatively changed since 2008 or 2000? How can we understand current processes?
  • Does the interaction between domestic politics and international political economy preclude the reform of global governance and an improvement in global public good provision?

The course has several functional goals:

  1. To provide graduate students with a solid understanding of core works in comparative political economy (CPE) and relevant classics in international political economy (IPE).
  2. To provide graduate students with some of the key concepts and tools necessary in CPE. This includes key insights from rational choice theory, comparative institutional analysis, historical international political economy, and theories of comparative capitalism.
  3. To cover some of the current frontier empirical questions in CPE-IPE, including the links between global finance and democracy, the links between domestic variables and national responses to global environmental shocks and systemic risk, the European crisis, Japanese political economy, Chinese political economy, and East Asian political economy. In so doing, it is hoped that the course will help graduate students develop dissertation topics or publishable research papers.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD.


Paul Quirk

Section 001 Term 1  9:00-12:00  WED

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, and post-truth politics.  As a kind of culmination of some of these trends, we will discuss the causes and consequences of the Trump presidency, and consider how existing literature can help us understand the 2020 presidential and congressional elections and their likely consequences.

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.

Requirements:  Class participation and frequent brief presentations.  No research paper.  Tentatively:  Several short summary-commentary papers on assigned readings (shared with other students and graded pass-fail).  One longer essay (about 15 pages) reviewing literature (beyond assigned readings) on a topic selected by the student.  A take-home final exam.

NOTE:  Students living in time-zones that make attendance difficult will be able to take the course by watching recorded sessions and using alternative forms of participation.


(Counts as a Comparative Politics field requirement)

Migration and Citizenship

Antje Ellermann

Section 001 Term 2   9:00-12:00  TUES

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 have become transformed by, immigration. The course covers a wide range of topics: theories of international migration and immigration regimes, theoretical approaches to migration studies, immigration and settler colonialism, the ethics of borders, migration control, public opinion on immigration, voting behaviour and populist radical right parties, the making of immigration policy, national identity and citizenship, immigrant inclusion, and multiculturalism and religion.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


(Counts as a Comparative Politics field requirement)

The Comparative Political Economy of Development

Yang-Yang Zhou

Section 001 Term 1  9:00-12:00  MON

This course provides a graduate level introduction to the comparative study of development. Why do some regions of the Global South seem to be better at “development” than others? The first part of this course begins with a brief overview of how development is conceptualized and measured. We then consider and discuss existing explanations of developmental success and failure such as the influence of historical legacies, the role of the modern state and political institutions, markets and globalization, structural adjustment, and democracy versus authoritarianism. The second part of this course explores contemporary development initiatives such as democratic governance, information campaigns, and other channels for citizen participation. We will draw on insights from a variety of social science disciplines in addition to political science such as sociology, economics, and social psychology. Since we will cover a range of topics, each of which could become its own course, you will have the opportunity to delve in more detail the topics and regions that interest you for the final research paper and present your research to the class. To that end, we will also analyze and practice the elements of conducting effective social science research.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


(Counts as a Political Theory field requirement)

Ethics in Democratic Politics

Maxwell Cameron

Section 002 Term 1  2:00-5:00  MON

The subject of this course is Ethics in Democratic Politics. We will examine this subject through an approach known as “Virtue Ethics,” in which the highest virtue, or virtue of virtues, is Practical Wisdom (Phronesis, in the Greek). Throughout the course, we will be investigating five questions:

  • What is ethics, specifically “virtue ethics,” and what is practical wisdom?
  • When and why do we need ethics or practical wisdom in our everyday lives?  Why do we as citizens, professionals, public servants or elected officials need ethical practices and practical wisdom in politics to sustain a working liberal, constitutional democracy?
  • When and how do we acquire ethical knowledge and practical wisdom?
  • What institutional forces threaten ethical practices and practical wisdom?
  • What institutional arrangements encourage and nurture ethical practices and practical wisdom?

We will investigate these questions in several important domains of life—friendship, education, the professions, and, especially, citizenship and rule in democratic societies.  We will also investigate these questions more theoretically, in the hope of developing a solid understanding of what makes wisdom or judgment a crucial component of our lives.  Throughout the course, we will be contrasting decision-making that depends on practical wisdom, or judgment, with decision making that depends on following various kinds of rules or responding to external rewards and punishments.

Possible alternative meeting time: MON evening Vancouver time (specific time TBD).


Mark Warren

Section 001 Term 1  2:00-5:00  TUES

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.

Possible alternative meeting time: MON 5:00-7:00PM


(Counts as a Political Theory field requirement)

Democratic Theory

Mark Warren

Section 001 Term 2  2:00-5:00  WED

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the idea of democracy has become the dominant frame for thinking about political systems. Democratic theory has developed apace, and is now a diverse, expansive, exciting, and rapidly developing field of inquiry. This seminar introduces the field of democratic theory, and provides opportunities to combine normatively significant problems in democratic theory with empirical research. The first part of the seminar surveys traditional and received problems in democratic theory. The second part focuses on several contemporary approaches to democratic theory, with an emphasis of achieving democratic ideals in large scale, complex, pluralistic societies. The final part is devoted the research and theorizing of seminar participants. Topics will include deliberative democracy, democracy and justice, multiculturalism, as well as new theories of representation and political legitimacy. Readings are drawn from complete original texts, and are likely to include works by Dahl, Habermas, Pzerworski, Young, Benhabib, Rosanvallon, and Pettit. The seminar is reading and writing intensive, and assessment is based on seminar presentations, critical reviews, and a final research paper.

Possible alternative meeting time: WED 5:00-7:00PM


Designing and Analyzing Public Opinion Surveys

Matthew Wright

Section 001 Term 2  2:00-5:00   THUR

This course, focuses on the design and analysis of sample surveys, which are both the cornerstone of a large (and growing) industry devoted to public opinion polling, and far and away the most commonly used evidence in studies of political behavior. In taking it students will:

  1. become familiar enough with survey methodology to be intelligent consumers of work that uses it;
  2. develop the ability to design, field, and analyze their own survey, as well as report on its result;
  3. learn to think critically about whether and how to employ these methodologies in their own research, and;
  4. learn to think both appreciatively and critically about specific examples of social scientific research that uses one or both of these designs.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD.


Katharina Coleman

Section 001 Term 1  9:00-12:00  FRI

This seminar introduces participants to some of the major theoretical debates in the academic field of International Relations. Given the breadth and depth of this field, the course cannot claim to be comprehensive, much less exhaustive. However, it does provide insight into several core ways of conceptualising the contemporary international system and the dynamics animating it. It aims to allow participants to engage with some of the most prominent texts, authors, and schools of thought in (English-language) International Relations Theory and to develop their appreciation of how these contributions are in conversation with each other. It also seeks to create space for participants to explore of how a range of contemporary scholars both draw on and critique – at times profoundly – these texts and approaches. Participants are required to come to each class prepared to analyse assigned texts in detail and to engage actively and constructively in seminar discussions.

The seminar is theoretically focused, reading-intensive, and stresses critical and constructive analytical thinking. It aims to prepare participants for sustained academic engagement in the International Relations field – and to contribute to the further development of this scholarship.

Learning goals include:

  • deepening understanding of some of the common bases and reference points of contemporary (English-language) IR scholarship;
  • engagement with contemporary extensions of and critical reflections on these intellectual foundations;
  • honing ability to read and critically engage with IR scholarship, including texts using a range of methodological approaches;
  • creating a basis from which to build original theoretical arguments; and
  • enhancing capacity to engage in academic discussions of International Relations theory.

Possible alternative meeting time: FRI 6:30-8:30am


(Counts as an International Relations field requirement)

Global Environmental Politics

Peter Dauvergne

Section 001 Term 2  9:00-12:00  THUR

This course analyzes 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.

Possible alternative meeting time: THUR evening Vancouver time (specific time TBD).


(Counts as an International Relations field requirement)

Death, taxes, and variations thereof

Arjun Chowdhury

Section 001 Term 1  9:00-12:00  THUR

This course will expose students to central problems of order within and between states: specifically, the varying capacity of states to monopolize violence within borders, and shifting patterns of violence across borders. Readings and class discussion will focus on theory and history. For their assignments, students will compile, using online sources, descriptive memos or annotated bibliographies that will test these theories in more granular detail.

Possible alternative meeting time: THUR 7-9pm


(Counts as an International Relations field requirement)

The Role of Law in International Politics

Michael Byers

Section 002 Term 2  9:00-12:00  WED

This interdisciplinary seminar examines the role of law in international politics. It does so across a range of issues areas, including human rights, armed conflict, pandemics, climate change, and international trade. Students will be exposed to the theoretical literature as well as case studies of actual practice—which they will research. No prior legal training is required.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


Qualitative Research Methods and the Problem of Causal Inference

Alan Jacobs

Section 001 Term 2  2:00-5:00  FRI

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.

While a course in qualitative methods, POLI 571A teaches some technical material, including Bayesian updating and some basic statistical concepts.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


Andrew Owen

Section 001 Term 1  2:00-5:00  THURS

This course introduces basic statistical methods used in the study of political science, and the social sciences at large. Statistics are an efficient and accepted way of communicating ideas; they are a means of bridging the gap between implication and inference. Contemporary political science research in all subfields utilizes statistical techniques and, consequently, a basic understanding of these methods is crucial if one is to be a sophisticated consumer of political science literature and to become a producer of such research. The lectures, homework, and exams are designed to instruct you in the understanding and proper use of social science methods and promote your critical analysis of statistical findings. Students will learn to describe data, understand the impact of randomness in statistical research, conduct statistical tests, and most importantly learn to evaluate the implications of quantitative results. Students will learn to compute most of the techniques discussed in class both “by hand” and “by computer”. We will also devote portions of the course to the use of statistical software and commonly used archival sources of political science data.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


Michael Weaver                             

Section 001 Term 2  2:00-5:00  MON

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 Neyman causal model (potential outcomes) framework. Second, we cover the fundamental matrix algebra behind least squares and its interpretation as a way of estimating the conditional expectation function. 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 use 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.

In a broader sense, this course starts by giving you a grounding in the theory that undergirds statistical analysis and the assumptions that are required to use mathematical statistics to make inferences about the world. Then, in the last third of the course, we turn to applying these models to the real world and address how (1) we evaluate or judge whether the models of the assumption hold and (2) what we do when the assumptions are not reasonable.

Possible alternative meeting time: TBD


Summer Term 1: Schedule TBD.