Frequently Asked Questions

Why "Political Studies" rather than "Political Science"?

When the department of Political Studies was first created at TWU it was decided that Political Studies was a more inclusive name than Political Science.  The term Political Science used commonly throughout the world reflects the development of the study of politics as a social science, particularly in the light of the behavioural approaches taken beginning in the 1960s and 1970s.  At TWU the department enjoys close association with the humanities as well, in particular in the field of political theory and philosophy.  For this reason, it was thought that the term Political Studies embraced both the social science and humanities aspects of political analysis.

Students at TWU are required to take courses that expose them to both qualitative and quantitative research methods which are the hallmarks of the two ways of studying politics.  In general, then, a Political Studies degree is no different from a Political Science degree.  We tend to use the two terms interchangeably at TWU.

What do Political Studies entail?

Political scientists and theorists use a variety of different methods and study many different topics.  In fact, Political Studies is one of the most diverse of disciplines.  Some of the things we study include:

  • What is the nature and role of power?
  • What are the most important things to consider in making public decisions?
  • What ethical and moral guidelines need to guide government?
  • How are individual countries governed? How is the world governed?  Who are the most important players?
  • What is the process by which important government decisions are made?
  • Why do people make the public choices that they do?  How do they affect government, and how does the government affect the lives of ordinary people?
  • What are the roots of conflict among people, groups, and states?

I am not a Canadian.  Is it appropriate to do Political Studies in Canada?

Absolutely!  A Political Studies degree exposes you to similar topics no matter where you study.  Most of the courses in Political Studies are not dedicated solely to studying the politics of the home country.  Courses in political philosophy, international and comparative politics are applicable to any context.

At the same time, Political Studies at TWU will provide you with an excellent entry into the real world of politics in the Canadian context.  We have unique opportunities to interact with government and the public sector through the Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa.  Students from many different countries have enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in politics in the environment of a small Western capital.

For US students interested in American politics, courses are available in American government and foreign policy.  TWU students also have access to the CCCU American Studies Program based in Washington, DC, where one is able to take courses and enjoy internships in the US capital.

Studying politics at TWU will provide you with the same kinds of opportunities and background that you will discover at the best universities across the world.

What kind of career does a Political Studies degree prepare me for?

Political studies is a liberal arts degree that is applicable to a multitude of careers in public service, business, and activism.  Many of our graduates have found careers in government service in a wide variety of departments.  Others get involved in non-governmental organizations involved in advocacy, development, or scholarly study of public policy.  Some go on to further study in politics or other disciplines, leading to careers as researchers or professors.  Also, Political Studies is likely the most common pre-law degree, preparing students with an understanding of the policy process, the way in which laws are made, and the research and writing skills necessary for a career as a lawyer.  Other related applications include journalism, creative writing, or law enforcement.

On the other hand, you should never think that your degree limits you to any particular career.  Keep in mind that a Political Studies degree program provides the student with exposure to many different public issues, to analytical reasoning, and requires the student to become adept at research and writing.  All of these skills are useful no matter what career one enters.

What courses do I need to take to complete the minor/concentration?

Important!  There are specific course requirements within the minor and concentration.  Overall, one needs to complete 24 semester hours for a minor and 30 semester hours for a concentration.  Among those courses, you need to take POLS 101, 211 and 234.  You also need to take one course out of the list in Political Philosophy, one of the International courses, and one of the courses in Canadian or Comparative Government.  Consult the course calendar for details.

What courses do I take to complete the major?

POLS 101 Introduction to Political Thinking - required
POLS 211 International Politics - required
POLS 234 Canadian Govt and Politics in Comparative Perspective - required
POLS 305 Methods of Political Analysis - required
POLS 312 Globalization and Global Governance - required
POLS 320 Social and Political Philosophy - required
POLS 334 Issues in Canadian Govt and Politics - required
POLS practicum - at least 3 semester hours
Upper-level Political Philosophy - 3 semester hours
Upper-level International - 3 semester hours
Upper-level Canadian/Comparative Politics - 3 semester hours
Major electives - 9 semester hours (may include up to 3 semester hours of practicum)

How do I apply for the honours program in Political Studies?

Students interested in the honours program need to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0.  Application to the honours degree program is made by writing a letter to the coordinator signaling your desire to complete the degree.  The letter should indicate your intention, including a preliminary description of the sort of thesis topic you would like to complete.

How does a semester at the Laurentian Leadership Centre work within the Political Studies major?

A semester at the LLC is designed to fit seamlessly into your Political Studies program. It provides you with five three-semester hour credits:

POLS 391 Canadian Governmental Leadership (upper-level Canadian/Comparative or Major Elective)
POLS 392 Ethics and Public Affairs (upper-level Canadian/Comparative or Major Elective)
POLS 393 Law, Public Policy, and Cultural Change (IDIS 400 equivalent for core requirement)
POLS 395 Internship (fulfills practicum requirement)
POLS 396 Internship (may be used as major elective)