Graduate Courses

2023-2024 Graduate Courses

Term 1MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
9 am - 12 pmPOLI 504H

Groups, Identities and Political Behaviour: Canada in Comparison

Sophie Borwein

Migration and Citizenship

Antje Ellermann

War in Ukraine

Michael Byers

International Organization

Katia Coleman

Interpretation and Criticism in Political Inquiry

Bruce Baum
2 - 5 pmPOLI 504D

Behavioural Public Policy in Canada

Vince Hopkins

Global History of Political Thought

Nazmul Sultan

Comparative Western Governments

Paul Quirk

Elections: Parties and Voters

Richard Johnston

Quantitative Techniques of Political Analysis

Andrew Owen

Term 2MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
9 am - 12 pmPOLI 504A

The Supreme Court and the Constitution

Gerald Baier

Qualitative Methods of Political Analysis: Problems of Causal Inference

Arjun Chowdhury

Seminar on the Politics of US Foreign Policymaking

Gyung-Ho Jeong

Issues in Comparative Politics

Max Cameron

Quantitative Techniques of Political Analysis

Michael Weaver
2 - 5 pmPOLI 523A

Multiculturalism and Identity Politics

Barbara Arneil

Advanced Statistical Methods for Political Science

Matthew Wright

Politics of Intersectionality in Theory and Practice

Afsoun Afsahi

Global Environmental Politics

Peter Dauvergne

Core Seminar in Political Theory

Anna Jurkevics

Course Descriptions

Section 001 Term 2 9:00-12:00 Mon

The Supreme Court of Canada plays a privileged role in fleshing out the meaning of Canada’s constitution. Judicial review allows the Court an opportunity to have profound effects on the nature of Canadian federalism and constitutional rights protections. This course examines the place of the Court in Canada’s political system, largely through the lens of the leading cases that have marked the historical and contemporary impact of the Court on the meaning of the constitution. The course will also consider the fact that the Court’s legitimacy is often contested, and that the Court’s wisdom does not always go unquestioned. Students will also be introduced to the reading of judicial opinions and legal commentary.

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00PM Mon

Explore the intersection of political science and problem-solving with a comparative focus on Canadian issues and solutions. Investigate the puzzling relationship between psychology, policy, and behaviour across topics like the economy, immigration, democratic deliberation, and climate change. With a strong focus on “what works” to improve policy, we'll emphasize the potential for high-impact research through randomized experiments. Students will gain valuable insights from contemporary political science literature and develop practical skills for their future.

Section 001 Term 1 9:00-12:00PM Mon

Recent political developments in established democracies, from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump, have renewed attention to the politics of identity. In this course, we will examine the circumstances under which group identity becomes politicized, affecting political behaviour. We will begin by covering key theories around the study of group-based political cohesion. We will then examine how different social identities influence political behaviour, including partisan identity, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and place identity. Throughout the class, we will also critically analyze measures and methods used to capture identity in politics.

Section 001 Term 2 9:00-12:00 Wed

(Counts toward US politics field requirement)

This is a course on the politics of US foreign policy. We will examine the policymaking process of the U.S. foreign policy: the main players (President, Congress, bureaucrats, political parties, interest groups, and the public) and policymaking processes. We will not study specific US foreign policies, such as US nuclear policy or US policy toward the Middle East or any region. Two exceptions are trade and immigration policies.

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00PM Wed

(Counts toward either one of US politics or Comparative field requirement)

This seminar offers a broad introduction to the major questions and research literature on US politics. Although it is required for Ph.D. students who will major or minor in U.S. politics, it primarily serves MA students, Ph.D. students who are specializing in other areas, and fourth-year undergraduates. An additional objective is to promote work on US-related topics among students specializing 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, 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. We will address the threat of authoritarian attacks on democratic processes, and the politics of reform designed to defend and stabilize democratic processes.

Students may write their major paper (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 Term 2 9:00-12:00 Thu

(Counts toward Comparative Politics field requirement)

This research seminar will focus on the contemporary challenges facing democracies around the world. Specifically, what are the causes and consequences of the current crisis of liberal democracies? To answer this, we will examine such problems as the rise of populism and oligarchy, the impact of the algorithms and social media, the growing assertiveness of authoritarian rulers, and resilience of defective democracies and the spread of hybrid regimes. Topics include the meaning and measurement of democracy; democratic transitions and consolidation; the quality and diversity of types of democracy; defective and hybrid regimes and democratic reversals; civil society and social movements; parties and representation, and participatory innovations.

Section 001 Term 1 9:00-12:00 Tues

(Counts as a Comparative Politics field requirement)

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.

Section 001 Term 2 2:00-5:00PM Wed

(Counts as Political Theory Requirement)

“There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives” – Audre Lorde (1984: 138)
Even though legal political equality is seen as a cornerstone of democracy, some voices in politics are louder than others and some bodies are more visible. These inequalities result from complex mechanisms of exclusion and marginalization. Intersectionality illuminates the matrixes of oppression that result from the interaction between power structures based on categories of gender, race, class, disability, ethnicity, and sexuality.
Our study of intersectionality in this class will be two-fold. First, we begin our study of intersectionality as an idea—or as an analytical or interpretive tool—explaining the intersecting or co-determinative forces of racism, sexism, classism, etc… in the lives of individuals. To do so, we survey the interdisciplinary roots of intersectionality in critical race and gender theories. We consider the importance of situated knowledge as well as the dangers of speaking for others within political and social spheres. Second, we approach intersectionality as an ideograph—as a political occurrence—focused on practices of social justice. As such, we look at intersectionality as part of political and social practices in: activism, representation, academia, and policy-making.

Section 001 Term 2 2:00-5:00PM Mon

(Counts as Political Theory Requirement)

During this term we will explore the theme of ‘identity’ in the history of political thought and contemporary political theory. We will begin in the first week by considering the meaning of identity in political theory, followed in the second week with an examination of the role ‘identity’ politics plays in key liberal political thinkers: John Locke and J.S. Mill. For the remainder of the term we examine various aspects of the politics of ‘identity’, including feminism, multiculturalism, indigeneity, post colonialism, racialization, disability and intersectionality.

Section 001 Term 2 2:00-5:00PM Tues

(Counts toward Political Theory requirement)

The question of the global is now at the forefront of contemporary intellectual and political life. It is deployed as a scalar descriptor as much as a byword for various theoretical aspirations. The intellectual rise of the global has generated a novel approach to transnational connections and exchanges, opening up a newer set of perspectives and questions. For political theorists, it is no longer sufficient to think of germinal concepts such as justice, equality, and sovereignty in terms of the inherited scalar dichotomy of the national and the international; the normative boundaries of political ideas are being increasingly reshaped by global considerations. Yet, for all its intellectual salience, the global turn in political theory remains little understood. For many, it essentially functions as a stand-in for connections across distant regions and ideas. To others, it is the name of an aspiration to escape the (European) provincialism underlying a great deal of modern scholarship. Above all, the global is understood to be a virtue, conceptual as well as methodological.

This course seeks to consider the pressing question of the global from within the broader tradition of the history of political thought. Deeply rooted in textual traditions and linguistic contexts, the history of political thought offers a powerful vantage point to evaluate the promises and perils of the global turn. This is in part because of the challenge that the global approach poses to inherited notions of contexts and traditions. New work on global political thought, however, has been flourishing in two other cognate fields of inquiry: comparative political theory and global history. The course will bring together resources from these three connected bodies of scholarship. Through a select set of texts, we will explore how historians of political thought have grappled with global connections and scales; we will also take stock of the ways in which comparative political theorists have raised questions relating to the global. Last but not least, we will analyze how intellectual and cultural historians have been responding to the global turn. In so doing, the seminar will aim to render the ubiquitous—if elusive—problem of the global thinkable for students of modern politics.

Section 001 Term 2 2:00-5:00PM Fri

Core Seminar in Political Theory

This core political theory field seminar introduces major themes and texts in the discipline of political theory. The course is designed to give graduate students an overview of the field, as well as to prepare PhD students for comprehensive exams. The course begins with the question of method and a deep reading of Plato’s Republic. We then will move through a number of thematic areas that bring together both historical and contemporary texts. These themes will include: the nature of the political, democracy, conservatism, justice, power, republicanism, liberalism, cosmopolitanism, diversity and identity, and feminism. One goal in the course is to engage deeply with texts that are illuminating, complex, and enjoyable. The other goal is for students to gain an understanding of the terrain of debates in the field. Texts will include selections from Plato, Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, W.E.B. Dubois, Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, Leo Strauss, Quentin Skinner, John Rawls, Iris Marion Young, J.J. Rousseau, Jürgen Habermas, Max Weber, Michel Foucault, Niccolo Machiavelli, J.S. Mill, Judith Shklar, Immanuel Kant, Jacques Derrida, Frantz Fanon, Charles Taylor, Judith Butler, and Seyla Benhabib, among others. Rather than writing a term paper, students will submit a set of 6 2-page precis summaries of the readings along with a set of reading notes. Students will also give a presentation on a reading and lead discussion once during the semester. The purpose of the assignments is to help students prepare for comprehensive exams.

Section 001 Term 1 9:00-12:00PM Fri

Karl Marx famously said, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” In so doing he pinpointed a central point of contestation for students of politics and political actors: the tension between seeking to understand the political world and aiming to change it, particularly with respect to its oppressive aspects. Marx also set the tone for one approach to political criticism when he said that religion “is the sigh of the oppressed ... the opium of the people.” This remains a provocative challenge to how prevailing beliefs are shaped by prevailing relations of power; but it also remains at odds with how many people understand and enact their religious convictions. Accordingly, some commentators have suggested that Marx wrongly counterpoised interpreting the world and working to change it. They contend that the aim of changing the world is integrally connected to that of adequately interpreting or understanding it. From this perspective Marx’s criticism of religion fails to address sufficiently religion’s meaning and significance.  Interpretive social scientists emphasize that political activity is thoroughly embedded in and shaped by people’s everyday languages and conceptions. From a hermeneutical interpretive perspective, efforts to explain political phenomena must be joined with efforts to comprehend what political agents understand themselves to be doing. That is, political inquiry must take account of the self-understandings of political agents. This does not mean, however, that political analysis comes to an end with agents’ self-understandings. Arguably, Marx was right that prevailing relations of power, including forms of domination, shape people’s beliefs and self-conceptions. 
This course will survey major interpretive and critical approaches to political inquiry including hermeneutics & interpretive social science, Critical Theory, Foucauldian genealogy, deconstruction, critical realism, and feminism. Substantive topics will include gender, racism, and Indigenous politics.

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00PM Thu

(Counts toward either one of US politics, Canadian Politics, or Comparative Politics field requirement)

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

Section 001 Term 2 2:00-5:00PM Thu

(Counts as an International Relations field requirement)

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.

Section 001 Term 1 9:00-12:00PM Wed

(Counts as an International Relations field requirement)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 shook the international system. The attempt to conquer territory by force has twice been condemned by large majorities in the United Nations General Assembly, but not India or China. Vladimir Putin has implicitly threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons, in violation of what many experts consider to be a deep-rooted taboo. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president concerning the transfer of civilians (in this case, children) out of occupied territory. NATO has been revitalized, and massive amounts of weapons, intelligence and communications support are being provided to the Ukrainian military. But will the resolve hold? This seminar will examine a number of difficult topics concerning the war in Ukraine. Students will be expected to research, write, and present papers on challenging cutting-edge topics that transcend international relations, international security, international organizations, and international law.

Section 001 Term 1 9:00-12:00 Thurs

This seminar examines key academic debates about the role(s) of international organizations in international relations and provides an empirical introduction to several major contemporary intergovernmental organizations. Participants will deepen their understanding of key theoretical perspectives on international organizations; gain empirical knowledge about a range of organizations; assess a range of conceptual arguments about the role(s) of these institutions; and think critically about whether, how, and under what conditions international organizations affect world politics.

Section 001 Term 2 9:00-12:00 Tue

(Counts as Methods requirement)

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.

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00PM Fri

(Counts as Methods requirement)

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.

Section 001 Term 2 9:00-12:00 Fri

(Counts as Methods requirement)

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 we evaluate or judge whether the models of the assumption hold what we do when the assumptions are not reasonable.

Section 001 Term 2 2:00-5:00PM Tues

(Counts as Methods requirement)

This course focuses on the design and analysis of sample surveys, which are far and away the most commonly used evidence in most social sciences focusing political behavior, and of course public opinion polling more generally. They can be used not only to study the attitudes of ordinary citizens but the attitudes of activists and elites.

Previous Graduate Courses