Major, Minor, and Specialist in Political Science

 The Word Major on a button  The word Minor on a button  The word specialist on a button

When one asks after the subject-matter of Botany or Geography or Economics, one may hope for a reasonably straightforward and uncontroversial answer. But to ask after the subject-matter of Political Science immediately plunges one into controversies no less deep and intractable than those that grip political life itself. What is politics? Answers range all the way from, at one extreme, Plato's "the art whose business it is to care for souls," to, at the other extreme, Harold Laswell's "who gets what, when, how." For this reason, the study of politics makes uncommon demands on one's critical faculties; in fact, it is the leading aim of political science to cultivate just this capacity for critical reflection. To be sure, the student of politics can expect to be asked to master a great mass of plain facts, with a view to explaining what makes bureaucracies work; how great powers rise and fall; what constitutes the difference between an effective public policy and a misguided one; how one designs an unbiased opinion poll; what factors shape international decision-making; and so on. Indeed, important disciplines within Political Science address questions like these. But not even the greatest exertion of fact-mongering can relieve the student of the need to ponder the more far-reaching questions: Who ought to rule? What is legitimacy? Are liberty and equality compatible? How does one adjudicate between competing ideas about democracy? What are the abiding needs of human beings as such? Are we by nature political animals? In short, one cannot study the doings of citizens, public servants, and governments in abstraction from the attempts, from Plato onwards, to define the very nature of politics itself.

Perhaps it might be said that political science caters to every taste, from those preoccupied solely by the question of how one can rise to be premier of Ontario, to those whose chief longing is to glimpse the true nature of justice. Put less vulgarly, this suggests that the study of politics encompasses the entire range of human concerns in their full diversity. Aristotle went so far as to claim that political science is the "ruling science" insofar as it inquires not merely into this or that aspect of human affairs, but looks to the comprehensive order within which all human activities and practices are governed. It seems fair to say that the subsequent development of Political Science as an intellectual discipline has not left behind this ancient claim, but confirmed it ever anew.

It may be admitted that graduates in Political Science do not typically go on to become professional politicians. More frequently, they proceed to careers in law, journalism, the civil service, and government-business relations.

Students are urged to consult the UTM Political Science Handbook and the Political Science Undergraduate Studies (available in the Political Science office, Room 3125 William G. Davis Building and on the departmental website), both of which are published in the spring, for detailed information on course offerings.

Students contemplating taking either 300 or 400 level courses in Political Science at the St. George Campus are advised to consult their website for instructions.


  • 200 level POL courses require standing in either one full 100 level POL course or in at least 4.0 credits.
  • 400 Level Topics Courses.
    The number of courses and the actual content of the courses will vary from year to year. For details on specific courses to be offered, along with their individual prerequisites, consult the UTM Political Science Handbook. Only minimum prerequisites are listed here.

Students should also review the Degree Requirements section
prior to selecting courses