Political Science
Location: Henry Hicks Academic Administration Building
6299 South Street
Room 301
P.O. Box 15000
Halifax, NS
B3H 4R2
Telephone: (902) 494-2396
Fax: (902) 494-3825
Website: dal.ca/politicalscience
Email: psadmin@dal.ca

What is Political Science?

Politics has been described as “Who gets what, when, how, and why” in a society. It is the process by which collective decisions and actions are advocated, debated, contested, and implemented in communities – local, regional, national, and international.

The study of politics, or Political Science, is almost as old as the practice of politics. In ancient civilizations like Greece, political philosophers concerned themselves with the characteristics of a good society, including conceptions of justice and order. These issues still concern political scientists, but their focus now covers a wider range of issues, including institutions of government, non-state actors like social movements or political parties, political identities and divisions, and international relations (including war, peace, trade, aid or humanitarianism).

Political Science is important because it fosters informed citizens in an age of political complexity and uncertainty. It has been described, only partly in jest, as “defence against the dark arts” of politics. The study of Political Science enables students to better understand the exercise of political power and authority, and the values, laws, institutions, and policy processes by which decisions are made and implemented. It also focuses on the similarities and differences between patterns and processes in different political communities, within and beyond our own country. It helps prepare students for a wide range of careers, such as teaching, law, public policy, advocacy, journalism, or business.

The department offers courses on a wide range of topics, including: political ideas and philosophies, political institutions and processes in different parts of the world (e.g., Canada, the US, Africa, Europe, or Latin America), the roles of interest groups and political parties, international politics (including conflict and cooperation, peacebuilding and human rights, and diplomacy and development), and how to do political research (research methods). Course topics also include globalization, environmental politics, aboriginal politics, and the politics of health care, among others.

The admissions requirements for Political Science are listed under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. There are no additional requirements for Political Science beyond those of the Faculty.

Students thinking of majoring or doing an Honours degree in Political Science are encouraged to speak with the department’s Undergraduate Advisor or Honours Coordinator about developing a program of studies that suits their needs and interests.

For General Interest

Students who have not yet decided on a major, or are looking for an elective in Political Science, should take one of the Introductory courses or consider taking advantage of the DalCAP option.

PLEASE NOTE: Students who complete the King’s Foundation Year program with a grade of "B-" or higher will not be required to complete an Introductory course in Political Science.

Students should take no more than the equivalent of six credit hours in 1000 level Political Science courses.

Degree Programs

Students concentrating in Political Science may take a 90 credit hour minor program, 120 credit hour major, or 120 credit hour honours program. The degree requirements are listed in the University and Faculty regulations, and in departmental regulations outlined below. 

A student’s program may consist of a general selection of courses from the Department’s offerings or may emphasize one of the sub-fields of Political Science, as set out below.

Students are encouraged to develop distinctive programs tailored to their own particular interests and circumstances. They should, however, seek advice early in their program to ensure that they are consistent with University regulations.

In addition to the departmental requirements, students must satisfy the requirements outlined in the Degree Requirements section.

In addition to introductory courses, Political Science courses are divided into four subfields:

  • Canadian Government and Politics
  • Comparative Government and Politics
  • Political Theory and Methodology
  • International Politics and Foreign Policy

Full course descriptions


Canadian Government and Politics

  • POLI 2210.03: Unity and Diversity: The Federal Dynamics of Canadian Politics
  • POLI 2215.03: Canadian Aboriginal Politics: An Institutional Perspective
  • POLI 2220.03: Political Power and Partisan Politics: The Structures of Canadian Parliamentary Government
  • POLI 2230.03: Municipal Law and City Politics in Canada
  • POLI 3206.03: Constitutional Law and Politics in Canada
  • POLI 3208.03: Canadian Provincial Politics
  • POLI 3220.03: Intergovernmental Relations
  • POLI 3224.03: Canadian Political Parties
  • POLI 3228.03: Pressure Politics in Canada
  • POLI 3232.03: Municipal Law, Urban Governance, and Public Policy in Canada
  • POLI 3233.03: Canada in the Global Economy
  • POLI 3235.03  The Politics of Regionalism
  • POLI 3250.03: Canadian Public Administration
  • POLI 3260.03: Politics of Health Care
  • POLI 3405.03: Canadian Political Thought
  • POLI 4207.03: Canadian Politics: Themes and Theories
  • POLI 4228.03: Pressure Politics in Canada: Opportunities and Obstacles
  • POLI 4232.03: Urban Governance in Canada
  • POLI 4234.03: Canadian Urban Politics in Comparative Perspective
  • POLI 4240.03: Policy Formulation in Canada
  • POLI 4242.03: Politics of Reason, Passion, and Biology
  • POLI 4260.03: The Politics of Health Care

Comparative Government and Politics

  • POLI 2301.03: Comparative Politics I: Developed Democracies under Pressure
  • POLI 2302.03: Comparative Politics II: The Developing World
  • POLI 2350.03: Governance and Globalization                                  
  • POLI 3304.03: Comparative Federalism
  • POLI 3311.03: Sport and Politics
  • POLI 3315.03: African Politics
  • POLI 3320.03: European Politics
  • POLI 3321.03: Politics of the European Union
  • POLI 3360.03: Politics in Latin America
  • POLI 3365.03: Politics of the Middle East
  • POLI 3378.03: U.S. Constitution, Government, and Politics
  • POLI 3385.03: Politics of the Environment
  • POLI 3390.03: Politics of Consumption
  • POLI 4302.03: Governance and Administration in Developing Countries: Issues and Controversies
  • POLI 4303.03: Human Rights: Political Issues
  • POLI 4322.03: The EU as a Global Actor
  • POLI 4340.03: Approaches to Development
  • POLI 4355.03: Comparative Perspectives on the Development State
  • POLI 4380.03: Politics of Climate Change
  • POLI 4390.03: Practicum in Public Policy: NGOs and Government Services

Political Theory and Methodology

  • POLI 2410.03: Crisis and Consent: Foundations of Political Thought: 1651-1778
  • POLI 2420.03: Revolution and Rationality: Foundations of Political Thought, 1789-1900
  • POLI 2450.03: Democracy, Difference and Citizenship: A Survey of Political Philosophy
  • POLI 3401.03: Contemporary Political Thought
  • POLI 3405.03: Canadian Political Thought
  • POLI 3426.03: Sex and the State
  • POLI 3427.03: The Sexualization of Western Political Thought
  • POLI 3431.03: Politics Through Film and Literature
  • POLI 3434.03: The Ancient Origins of Political Thought: From Homer to Aristotle
  • POLI 3440.03: The Politics of Fear
  • POLI 3449.03: Comfronting Fascism
  • POLI 3450.03: Storm and Stress: Romanticism and the Backlash Against Enlightenment Political Thought
  • POLI 3475.03: Democratic Theory
  • POLI 3476.03: Liberalism & Global Justice
  • POLI 3492.03: Political Inquiry I
  • POLI 3493.03: Political Inquiry II
  • POLI 3496.03: Philosophy of Social Sciences
  • POLI 4403.03: Human Rights: Philosophical Issues
  • POLI 4427.03: Queer Theory
  • POLI 4440.03: The Politics of Affect: Theories of Emotion and Political Life
  • POLI 4446.03: The Social and Political Construction of Health and Medicine
  • POLI 4479.03: Liberalism
  • POLI 4481.03: Theories of Violence, Persecution, Genocide

International Politics and Foreign Policy

  • POLI 2520.03: World Politics
  • POLI 2530.03: Foreign Policy in Theory and Practice
  • POLI 2540.03: Canadian American Relations
  • POLI 3505.03: Human Rights: Foundations
  • POLI 3520.03: Building Peace and Democracy
  • POLI 3525.03: Comparative Foreign Policy Simulation
  • POLI 3531.03: The United Nations in World Politics
  • POLI 3532.03: Model UN
  • POLI 3535.03: Wealth, Power and Poverty in the Global South
  • POLI 3540.03: Foreign Policy in the Third World
  • POLI 3544.03: Political Economy of Southern Africa
  • POLI 3546.03: Social Media and Politics
  • POLI 3560.03: Issues in Global Security and Development
  • POLI 3565.03: Contemporary Security Studies
  • POLI 3567.03: International Organization
  • POLI 3568.03: Canada and the World
  • POLI 3569.03: Canadian Foreign Policy
  • POLI 3574.03: American Foreign Policy
  • POLI 3576.03: Defence Policy in Canada
  • POLI 3581.03: Diplomacy and Negotiation
  • POLI 3587.03: International Political Economy
  • POLI 3589.03: Politics of the Sea I
  • POLI 3596.03: Exploring Global Conflict and Violence
  • POLI 4340.03: Approaches to Development
  • POLI 4505.03: Human Rights Legal Issues
  • POLI 4512.03: The Politics of North America
  • POLI 4521.03: Theories of International Relations I: Security Studies
  • POLI 4522.03: Theories of International Relations II: International Political Economy
  • POLI 4523.03: International Relations Theory 1: Order, Conflict and Change
  • POLI 4524.03: International Relations Theory 2: Cooperation, Institutions and Development
  • POLI 4532.03: Indigenous Global Politics
  • POLI 4561.03: Security Development Nexus: Theory, Policy and Complex Operations
  • POLI 4569.03: Canadian Foreign Policy
  • POLI 4581.03: International Diplomacy: Institutions and Practices
  • POLI 4587.03: International Political Economy
  • POLI 4590.03: Politics of the Sea II
  • POLI 4636.03: Nationalism and Statecraft
Reading Courses (with permission of individual instructor)
  • POLI 3602.03: Readings in Political Science
  • POLI 3603.03: Readings in Political Science
  • POLI 4810.03: Special Topics in Political Science
  • POLI 4820.03: Special Topics in Political Science
Special Topics (offered occasionally)
  • POLI 2810.03: Special Topics in Political Science
  • POLI 2820.03: Special Topics in Political Science
  • POLI 3810.03: Special Topics in Political Science
  • POLI 3820.03: Special Topics in Political Science
  • POLI 4810.03: Special Topics in Political Science
  • POLI 4820.03: Special Topics in Political Science