Curriculum Guide

The pages in this guide give you a full picture of the way POLI courses are sequenced and cumulate to a Political Science degree. For another look at it, from the other end, see our Political Science Rich Transcripts page: that shows you what topics, work, learning activities, and skills the Political Science degree programs cover.

The Political Science curriculum is sequenced so that what you learn in one year prepares you to learn more sophisticated material in subsequent years. This sequencing allows instructors to prepare materials that are appropriate for learning at a particular stage in a four year learning process. It is recommended that you take courses from each level at the corresponding year of your studies.

First Year Courses (100s)

Our first year courses provide an introduction to the material studied in Political Science, the many ways you can study it, and the basic language of political analysis. Students develop skills to synthesize political facts, express arguments using evidence from research, write those arguments into essays, work on problems in groups, and present arguments and information orally. These courses combine lectures in large classes with instruction and discussion in small group tutorials.

To read course descriptions for our 100 level courses click here.
Note: POLI 100 is a prerequisite for all second-year Political Science courses.

Students considering the Major or Honours programs are advised to take POLI 100 (Introduction to Politics), POLI 101 (The Government of Canada), and POLI 110 (Investigating Politics) in their first year and preferably no later than the end of their second year.

Second Year Courses (200s)

Our second year courses enable students to focus their exploration of Political Science within four areas of the discipline: Canadian Politics, Comparative Politics (POLI 220), Political Theory (POLI 240 – required for entry to Major and Honours programs), and International Relations (POLI 260). Second year courses both solidify and enrich skills learned in first year courses, provide an introduction to the four Political Science subfields listed above, and prepare students for upper level coursework in Political Science. Second year courses usually consist of lectures and tutorials.

To read about our subfields, course descriptions, and learning objectives for our 200 level courses click here.

Third Year Courses (300s)

Our third year courses are on specialized topics across the full range of Political Science subfields and beyond. These courses offer a diverse set of learning experiences, including traditional reading, lecture, and research paper courses; simulations of political negotiations; writing policy memos; placement with non-governmental organizations; intensive writing work; community service learning, and more. Taking the 200 level course in a particular subfield is strongly advised as preparation for 300 level and 400 level courses in that subfield. For example, POLI260 (Introduction to Global Politics) prepares you for the 20 specialized courses offered in International Relations topics in third and fourth year.  Most 300 level courses have about 65 students.

To read course descriptions for our 300 level courses, click here.

Fourth Year Courses (400s)

Our fourth year courses provide deep explorations of specific research topics in Political Science. They are conducted as seminars with a maximum of 18 students. Some are more academic while some involve applied research and learning.

To read course descriptions for our 400  level courses, click here.

Fields of Political Science

Political Science is a very diverse discipline. The subjects of our scholarship include all parts of the world geographically, the full sweep of the history of politics and political thought, and many themes and topics the cross the boundaries of space and time.

As a matter of convenience, Political Science is often divided up into four sub-fields. These are:

  • The domestic politics of the country. In our case, this field is Canadian Politics.
  • The politics of other countries, studied on their own and in a comparative manner. This field is Comparative Politics.
  • The history of political thought (philosophy) and contemporary theories of politics. This field is Political Theory.
  • The politics of the relations between countries. This field is International Relations.

Each of these fields has its own 2nd-year course that gives students a foundation to do specialized learning in that field in the 3rd and 4th years of the program.