Political Studies

Programs & Courses




The major in Political Studies requires course work in specific subfields.  The subfield categories, with their abbreviations, are as follows:

WP – World Politics

CPS – Comparative Politics of the South

CPN – Comparative Politics of the North

GIP – Gender and Identity Politics

PTM – Political Theory and Methodology

These category abbreviations appear in brackets next the Course ID and Course Title in the list below.


POLS-1000 Democracy and Dissent: (3.0 credit hours) An introductory study of democratic politics and institutions, political ideas, electoral systems and political culture. The lens of dissent is used to trace the emergence of democracy and its liberal development. Issues to be explored include: the roles of opposition, questions of accountability, the meaning and practice of justice, the evolving implications of citizenship, the crisis of the state under globalization, and the contemporary idea of democracy without dissent.

POLS-1010 Global Politics: (3.0 credit hours) An introduction to the fields of International Relations and Comparative Politics with particular emphasis on current global issues. Topics include globalization, American domination, terrorism and security, the changing nature of states, international law and justice, the politics of the environmental crisis, political development, human migration, and the dilemmas of democratization. Active participation in debates, simulation games, and media studies contribute to critical skills that provide insight behind the “political veil.”

HIST/GEOG/POLS-1120 French Africa – History, Religion, Culture and Hope: (3.0 credit hours). This course explores a diverse set of perspectives on the history, religion, and culture of West Africa.  Beginning with the stories of those who have adopted Canada as their new home, this course will travel to Paris, France  and Burkina Faso to situate these narratives within the context of colonial history and the issues of power, control, and independence that are faced today. Lectures, study and personal experiences with the people in Burkina Faso will round out the story and provide reasons for hope. Evaluation in this course will be pass/fail.  This course is available only through CMU’s Outtatown Program.

BUSI/POLS-2040 Business and Labour Law: (3.0 credit hours) This course introduces the legal environment under which Canadian businesses and organizations operate. As a background the Canadian constitution, courts and legislative system will be discussed. The second part discusses the legal aspects of the most common forms of businesses and organizations in Canada: sole proprietorships, partnerships, cooperatives and corporations. Further discussion will include tort and contract law and labour law in Canada. Prerequisites: BUSI-1000 or IDS-1110 or POLS-1000 or 1010.

HIST/POLS-2100 History of the United States from 1607 [CPN]:  (3.0 credit hours) A study of the development of the United States of America from its colonial origins to its emergence, four centuries later, as a global superpower. Attention will be given to political, economic, social, and intellectual developments from Jamestown to 9/11.

HIST/POLS-2110 The Fifties and Sixties—North America Cold, Cool and Radical [CPN]: (3.0 credit hours) An examination of the post-World War II decades of North America in its political, economic, social, and intellectual contexts. Individuals that may be studied include Elvis Presley, Lester Pearson, Ronald Reagan, Tommy Douglas, Martin Luther King Jr., Betty Friedan, Marshall McLuhan, Rachel Carson, Charles Manson, and Pierre Trudeau. Topics may include social revolutions (Quiet Revolution, Civil Rights), politics (Cold War, Great Society, Medicare), body and technology (‘The Pill’, vaccines, organ transplants), youth protest (Beat, Berkeley), and consumer culture. 

POLS-2120 Peace and Conflict in World Politics [WP]: (3.0 credit hours) A study of large-scale violence, including conventional warfare and “low intensity” warfare (e.g. liberation movements, counter-insurgencies and terrorism). Consideration is given to the political economy of such violence, including the arms industry and resource wars. What is the role of politics in perpetuating militarism, violence and in enabling peace? How are conflicts politically mediated through diplomacy, international law, NGO’s, international organizations, etc.? We consider the relation of violence to underdevelopment, environmental degradation, and human rights violations.

POLS-2200 Human Rights and Dignity [WP] [CPS]: (3.0 credit hours) Human rights claim to protect the interests and dignity of people. How do governments, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, religious groups, corporations, and activists help or impede this process? What is the political and moral place of individuals, communities, law, and justice in the current global reality? Changing and cross-cultural understandings of rights are considered.

POLS-2300 Canadian Political Issues [CPN]: (3.0 credit hours) This thematic course builds upon concepts and knowledge of the Canadian political system acquired in “Introduction to Political Studies.” Examples of themes include: aboriginal people, law, and politics; conscientious objection in Canada; the politics of immigration; community politics; gender and politics; the Church and state in Canada; media and politics; and regional/ cultural politics. Prerequisite: POLS-1000.

POLS-2400 Comparative Politics of Development—Africa [CPS]: (3.0 credit hours) With Africa as our lens, the course invites a comparative study of how development is informed by the practices and institutions of governance, and by asymmetries of power and resources. The focus is on change in African regimes and their historical response to poverty, civil society’s role in social ordering, and on cultures of governance and public policy in a globalizing context. Themes include: democratization and social movements; civil and regional conflicts; international aid and intervention; refugees; colonialism and post-colonialism; race, ethnicity, religion, class and gender; health and HIV/AIDS; and environmental crises and politics.

ECON/IDS/POLS-2420 Economics of Social Change: (3.0 credit hours) Processes of social change (related to poverty reduction, peace-building, environmental sustainability, economic development) can be supported or inhibited by economic forces. This course will examine and apply (in a non-technical manner) key economic principles that impact efforts to create social change. It also examines the assumptions of economic approaches, and the role of economics in the social sciences. Prerequisites: 30 credit hours of university-level studies or permission of the instructor.

POLS/SOCI/PHIL-2600 Social and Political Philosophy [PTM]: (3.0 credit hours) What is human nature? Should society be organized to reflect this? What is justice? Are states coercive by nature? How does property inform politics? What is ethical citizenship? These questions are explored through a survey of Western political thinkers including Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, de Gouges, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Mill, and Marx, and by examining their contemporary legacy.

POLS-2950 Topics in Political Studies: (3.0 credit hours) The content of this course will vary from year to year, depending on the needs of students and the interests and availability of instructors.

POLS/COMM/SOCI-3000 Politics, Society and Mass Media [CPN]: (3.0 credit hours) This course examines the relationship between the mass communications media and the political and social processes in which they operate, investigating the state of research on mass media, the role of media in creating and shaping political awareness, and in influencing human behaviour and values. Examples of topics which may be covered are: media ownership and organization patterns, media in the electoral process, the media in developing nations, the media and globalization, propaganda, media freedom and public opinion. Prerequisite: 30 credit hours of university-level studies, including six credit hours in social science.

BTS/POLS-3260 Plato’s Republic and Paul’s Romans in Dialogue [PTM]: (3.0 credit hours) Plato’s Republic and Paul’s Romans are both discourses on the concept of “justice,” encompassing the body politic, the just individual within it, and the entire cosmos. Following an overview of Platonism and Paulinism within their respective Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, this course will consist of a close reading consecutively of the Republic and Romans, and will conclude with a comparison and dialogue between these two classics and the traditions they represent. Prerequisite: 30 credit hours of university-level studies, including 6 credit hours in Biblical and Theological Studies.

POLS-3500 Gender and Politics [GIP]: (3.0 credit hours) Examines the public exclusion of women and their emergence as political actors. By looking at the roles of women and men, we will consider how the construction of gender informs citizenship. What do feminist critiques reveal about the theory and practice of politics? What roles do market, culture, race and class play? Ethical questions raised by identity politics are emphasized. We will consider how communities and institutions might become more just and more inclusive. Prerequisite: 30 credit hours of university-level study, including 6 credit hours at the 1000-or 2000-level in political studies.

POLS-3600 Topics in Political Theory [PTM]: (3.0 credit hours) An engagement with classical and contemporary texts on a single theme. Examples of such themes include: justice; minority rights; human nature; political responsibility; alternatives to force; feminist political theory; citizenship and non-citizenship; postmodern political thought; political utopias; race theories and political identities; liberalism and its critics; Canadian political thought; science and politics. Prerequisite: 30 credit hours of university-level study, including 6 credit hours at the 1000-or 2000-level in political studies or philosophy.

POLS-3950 Topics in Political Studies: (3.0 credit hours) The content of this course will vary from year to year, depending on the needs of students and the interests and availability of instructors. Prerequisite: 30 credit hours of university-level study, including 6 credit hours at the 1000-or 2000-level in political studies.

BUSI/POLS-4050 Business in the European Union [CPN]: (3.0 credit hours) This course explores the business and political environment in Europe and the impact of European integration in a regional and global context. Topics include: history and development of the EU, political institutions, economic integration and the single European market, monetary union and the Euro currency, trade and foreign policy, Canada-EU relations, political and cultural contexts in Europe, enlargement and expansion to Eastern Europe. Prerequisite: BUSI-3500 International Business or 60 credit hours of university-level studies.

IDS/PCTS/POLS/SOCI-4100 Senior Seminar in Social Change: (3.0 credit hours) In this capstone seminar, students review and compare inter-disciplinary and discipline-based approaches to social change, including issues in peacebuilding and conflict transformation, social and economic development, environmental sustainability, and democratization and social movements.  Using a seminar format, students will examine contending theories of social change, and address questions of power, interpretation, ethics, commitments and virtues in understanding and working for social change.  These examinations will allow students to explore ways of integrating theories and practices, and articulate their own understanding and ethics of social change. Prerequisites: 60 credit hours of university level studies, including 18 credit hours in IDS, PCTS, SOCI, POLS, GEOG or PSYC; or permission of the instructor.  It is recommended that the practicum requirement be completed prior to taking this course.

POLS-4940 Independent Study in Political Studies: (3.0 credit hours) A study in a specific area of Political Studies under the direction of a faculty member. This course may be designed to qualify as an area course. Prerequisites: POLS-1000, POLS-1010, an additional nine credit hours in Political Studies, and a minimum of 60 credit hours of university-level studies.

POLS-4950 Topics in Political Studies: (3.0 credit hours) The content of this course will vary from year to year, depending on the needs of students and the interests and availability of instructors. Prerequisite: 30 credit hours of university-level study, including 6 credit hours at the 1000-or 2000-level in political studies.

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