Previous 2022-2023 Graduate Courses

Previous 2022-2023 Graduate Courses

Term 1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am - 12 pm POLI 533A

Topics in Public Policy

Kathryn Harrison


Topics in International Relations: Current Issues in Global Politics and International Law

Michael Byers


Topics in Canadian Politics: Urban Governance and Policy in Canada

Carey Doberstein


Political Thought: Popular Sovereignty

Nazmul Sultan


Current Debates in Comparative Political Economy: Navigating the Age of Global Disruption: Global Economic and Environmental Governance

Yves Tiberghien

2-5 pm POLI 547D

Democratic Theory

Afsoun Afsahi


Core Seminar in Comparative Government and Politics

Christopher Kam


Comparative Western Governments:
Politics of Policymaking in the U.S.

Paul Quirk


Issues in Comparative Politics: Migration and Citizenship

Antje Ellermann

 POLI 572A

Quantitative Techniques of Political Analysis

Andrew Owen

5-8 pm




Term 2 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am - 12 pm POLI 561A

Core Seminar in International Relations Theory

Katharina Coleman


Methods of Political Analysis: Qualitative Research Methods and the Problem of Causal Inference

Arjun Chowdhury


Political Theory: Contested Territory

Anna Jurkevics


Topics in International Relations: Nonstate Actors in World Politics

Lisa Sundstrom


Core Seminar in Canadian Government and Politics

Gerald Baier

2-5 pm POLI 523C

Political Thought

Bruce Baum



Advanced Statistical Methods for Political Science

Matthew Wright


Comparative Western Governments: Politics of US Foreign Policy

Gyung-Ho Jeong


Elections: Voters, Parties, and Party Systems

Richard Johnston



Quantitative Techniques of Political Analysis

Michael Weaver

5-8 pm POLI 562B

Topics in International Relations

Sheryl Lightfoot




Course Descriptions

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

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, Indigenous reconciliation, 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. Students will be graded on the basis of regular seminar presentations, short assignments, and a term research paper.

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

(Counts as a Canadian Politics field requirement)

Major political, economic, environmental, and social challenges in Canada intersect in cities; economic development, housing and homelessness, policing, and environmental sustainability are all subject to the policies and investment priorities of city governments. Though municipalities in Canadian federalism lack independent constitutional status and confront limits to their legal, fiscal, and political autonomy, increasingly they are critical actors in major policy debates and are generators of policy innovations and governance reforms.

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.

View past POLI 504 syllabus here

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00 Tues

The objective of this course is twofold: first (and primarily), to expose graduate students to the foundational literature and enduring debates in comparative politics so that they can effectively contribute to the subfield via research and teaching; second (and secondarily), to prepare Ph.D. students to write the core comprehensive exam in comparative politics. Topics covered include i) state formation, nationalism, and state failure; ii) economic and political modernization; iii) regime transitions; iv) political competition; and v) political economy.

(Counts as either IR or Comparative Politics field requirement)

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

This seminar is about the remaking of the global economic order in the period since 2008. The time for incremental changes within a stable structure is over. The current battle is over the structure itself. Some pillars remain resilient, and are even expanding, owing to innovative entrepreneurship. But most are fragmenting, decaying, or being redrawn through shifting domestic forces and strategic competition. Will the postwar global order survive? And what explains the different trajectories of key regimes of globalization?

Several simultaneous global disruptions are testing the resilience of the global liberal order and the response of policy makers. First, the global system has been facing new types of systemic risks connected to the increased connectivity (global finance, cyber space, interdependent systems) and to growing ecological pressures (climate change, biodiversity, global ocean governance). Second, the world is living through the greatest shift in the global balance power in a century, with over 20% of global GDP shifting toward emerging powers over the last 15 years, putting great pressures on institutions. Third, the resulting global power transition and the rise of China have led to the growing securitization of the global economy and mistrust. Fourth, rising inequality and growing perception of an unfair game have led to rising populism and a major questioning of globalization. Finally, technology and the Internet (Fourth Industrial Revolution) are putting all domestic work and welfare systems under pressure to adjust. These five disruptions generate and amplify large-scale uncertainty and trigger entrepreneurial initiatives to cope with it.

This seminar focuses on the impact of these disruptions on the global order and develops diverse responses to them. After a review of theoretical approaches about domestic governance innovation and global governance innovation, we turn our attention to the diverging trajectories and outcomes in the battles for new rules in four key regimes since 2008: the Covid-19 pandemic, G20 and global financial coordination (partial investment in fixing the system- followed by stalemate); the battle for digital governance (Internet and AI); the global climate regime (the success of the Paris Agreement); global ocean governance; space governance; the fragmenting trade regime (multi-level competition for rules); and the gradual emergence of a new paradigm in the global development regime (both thanks to a UN-led process around SDGs, and one-sided innovations from China and BRICS with the AIIB, the NDB, and Belt and Road Initiative).

View past POLI 513 syllabus here

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

(Counts as a US Politics field requirement)

This is a course on the politics of US foreign policy. We will examine domestic sources of the U.S. foreign policymaking: the main players (President, Congress, bureaucrats, political parties, interest groups, and the public) and policymaking processes. This course is not a course on international relations. 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 policy and humanitarian interventions. There are two main objectives of this course.

First, its main goal is to provide students with conceptual tools that will allow students to engage in intellectual discussion on the politics of US foreign policy. For this reason, discussion will be a key part of this course. There will be many opportunities and incentives for active interactions among class members to facilitate your participation.

Second, the best way to understand a theory or concept of political science is to see how the theory applies to real-world cases. Accordingly, we will frequently apply theories or conceptual tools to current or past events. Additionally, students will have an opportunity to do independent research of their own.

View past POLI 514 syllabus here

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

(This course can count as either a US Politics field requirement or Comparative field requirement)
This cross-listed (graduate and undergraduate) seminar investigates the politics of policymaking in the US. In part, the course focuses on long-term, general issues, such as: presidential decision making and leadership; representation and the legislative process in Congress; bureaucratic policymaking; and the respective influences of political parties, interest groups, public opinion and the media, and experts and policy research. It also explores policymaking in several areas—such as economic policy, climate change, health care, immigration, gay and lesbian rights, and foreign policy. Finally, it gives significant attention to various topics of current concern: economic inequality, racial conflict and inequality, partisan polarization and “post-truth” politics, and election integrity and voting rights. We will make comparisons between the US and other countries, especially Canada, and give attention to relevant developments surrounding the 2022 congressional elections.

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00 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, disciplinary approaches to migration studies, immigration and settler colonialism, the ethics of borders, the politics of border control, public opinion on immigration, voting behaviour and populist radical right parties, the making of immigration policy, refugee protection, statelessness and illegality, national identity and citizenship, and multiculturalism and immigrant inclusion.

View past POLI 516 syllabus here

Section 001 Term 1 2:00-5:00 Mon 

(Counts as a Political Theory field requirement)

In politically turbulent times, democratic institutions once thought stable are under attack. Similarly, many rights long-believed to be universal, unalienable, and necessary for democratic politics are questioned. In this course, we explore and rethink some of the very foundations of democracy by asking: Who constitutes a demos in a democracy? Who is authorized to speak in the name of a democratic people? Who should have a hand in making the laws and policies that can affect others? How should citizens relate to one another, to their representatives, and to outsiders? What are the necessary conditions for democratic inclusion and what normative consequences do non-participation and exclusion have? What constitutional mechanisms can give ordinary citizens an effective role in democratic decision-making In asking such questions, this course aims to bring into conversation different ways of critically interrogating the very foundations as well as the future possibilities of democratic practices. In doing so, we interrogate the concept of democracy from a variety of normative, institutional, and theoretical perspectives. We will pay attention to some of the on-going as well as new debates in democratic theory and politics: debates over the promise and limits of political deliberation and representation; debates over the relationship between democracy and capitalism; debates over citizenship and who counts as a “people”; and debates over democratic responsibility especially as they relate to international politics and climate change.

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

(Counts as a Political Theory field requirement)

This course surveys and challenges Western approaches to land, place, and territory. We begin with surveys of the concept of place, the history of territory, and the political economy of land. Part II covers theories of territorial right, and will address issues related to land attachment, nationalism, and the property-territory distinction. In Part III, we explore the Westphalian system of territorial sovereignty, including its relationship to migration, borders, colonialism, and empire. In the concluding section of the course, Part IV, we will consider alternatives to the Western approach to territory by reading indigenous scholarship on land.

Section 002 Term 1 9:00-12:00 Thurs

(Counts as a Political Theory field requirement)

This graduate seminar will examine one of the founding principles of political modernity: the people are the source of sovereign power. From their very origins, the concepts of sovereignty and the people have generated intense debates and disagreements. No less contentious has been the modern wager to locate sovereignty in the figure of the people.  It is a problem that sits at the heart of the history of political thought as well as democratic theory.  Though less often acknowledged, the idea of popular sovereignty also touches upon some of the most salient questions in global political thought.

Bringing together both historical and theoretical reflections on popular sovereignty, the course will investigate the intellectual history of popular sovereignty as much as the questions that emanated from its messy historical enactments. Along the way, the seminar will address a number of pivotal questions: Is modern constitutional democracy’s claim to represent the will of the people theoretically coherent? Is there an inherent tension between the institutional and extra-institutional dimensions of popular sovereignty? How exactly did the idea of popular sovereignty acquire its global life? What is different about the anticolonial career of popular sovereignty? Can we ultimately separate popular sovereignty from populism? Moving away from a commonplace Eurocentric approach to the history of popular sovereignty, this course will integrate resources from European and non-European political thought to explore popular sovereignty in its global dimension.

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

(Counts as a Political Theory field requirement)

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, and nationalism.

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 latter encompasses intersections of "race," class, gender, and sexuality. 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.

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

The objective of this course is to provide students with analytical tools and experience conducting policy analysis for an employer or client. The policy analyses conducted by student groups last year included a wide range of topics including scarcity of skateboarding facilities, secure bike storage, public defecation in Vancouver, access to organs for transplantation, e-scooter policies for cities, parking access and rates for UBC, and provincial policies with respect to sweetened foods for children. In some cases students did projects for “real world” clients; in others they came up with their own topics.

In this course, students will gain experience in collecting policy-relevant information, crafting policy alternatives, and identifying tradeoffs among policy options as a basis for policy recommendations. The applied nature of the course departs from many other political science graduate seminars. The focus will be on professional skills, including written and oral communication, and delivering useful analysis to a client, rather than critiquing academic literature. That said, policy analysts must draw on literature from political science and many other disciplines. Moreover, reflective practitioners are mindful of the limits and biases of the methods they employ, an issue we will revisit throughout the course.

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

This seminar introduces participants to some of the major theoretical issues and 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 conceptualizing contemporary international politics and the dynamics animating it. It allows 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 creates space for contributions from outside the ‘canon’ and encourages participants to explore of how a range of contemporary scholars build on, respond to, and at times profoundly critique prominent IR texts and approaches.

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. It is thus most appropriate for PhD students and MA students envisaging a PhD. Participants are required to come to each class prepared to analyze assigned texts in detail and to engage actively and constructively in seminar discussions.

Section 001 Term 2 5:00 - 8:00 Mon

This seminar considers global, regional and domestic issues for implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including historical, political, legal and policy aspects. We will examine the challenges and opportunities for implementing Indigenous rights in international organizations, as well as national and regional legal and policy frameworks, and consider the roles of non-governmental organizations as well as Indigenous communities and movements.

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

(This course can count as either an International Relations or Comparative Politics field credit.)

This course will introduce students to the wide-ranging and burgeoning literature on various nonstate actors in world politics. It combines literature typically classified within the international relations field with that from comparative politics literature on NGOs, social movements, and state-society contention. We will consider various theoretical approaches to nonstate actors from both fields of political science, including classic debates on how the power and authority of nonstate actors compares to that of states.

The course spends considerable time focused on the literature on NGOs in international politics, which is now large and well developed. In addition, we will consider the political roles of other nonstate transnational actors, including corporations, criminal networks, diaspora groups, and professional/ epistemic community actors like judges, lawyers, and scientists.

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

Poli 562D is a graduate seminar that examines breaking developments in global politics and international law. Current and controversial subjects are explored, analyzed, and debated in a fully interdisciplinary manner. A concerted effort is made to connect global developments to Canada and Vancouver in some way. No previous knowledge of international law is required.

Students contribute directly to the choice of topics and selection of readings. They are encouraged to implement their learning through policy-directed action. In previous years, students have published op-eds in national newspapers, engaged in investigative journalism, briefed civil servants as well as politicians from several parties, and even attempted to prompt a war crimes prosecution. Finally, students prepare a report, briefing paper, or research paper and present it at a public workshop.

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

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.

Note: Because this course is required for most PhD students, PhD students have first priority in enrolling in this course.

(Counts as Methods requirement)

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


View past POLI 572 syllabus here

(Counts as Methods requirement)

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

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
  2. what we do when the assumptions are not reasonable.

View past POLI 572 syllabus here

(Counts as Methods requirement)

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

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.