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Political Science

Who gets what, when and how? Who rules? Where does the power lie in Canada? What drives globalization? Can it be stopped? In political science, we consider these and other questions in looking at the future of Canada and other countries around the world.

We also look at issues such as justice, freedom and democracy and the relationship between individuals and governments. At the international level, students examine the cause of conflicts, the conditions for peace and the impact of regionalization and globalization on individuals and communities.


photo of Paul Di Ianni

Paul Di Ianni

B.A. Honours Political Science & History, M.A. Political Science, McMaster University2008

External relations officer, Ontario College of Teachers

“I learned that being an active participant in discussions with classmates and professors was much more fruitful than sitting on the sidelines. Speaking up and readily accepting that there are other viewpoints out there is what I found most rewarding, along with seeing how fellow students, staff and professors would go the extra mile to ensure that a student would succeed.”

Focus of Study

International Relations

Covering globalization, international relations theory, international organizations and international political economy.

Comparative Politics

Theories of comparative politics, methodology of comparative analysis, knowledge of selected geographic areas and political systems, human rights, regional integration and state policies.

Political Theory

Examines political theory and the questions and ideas that provide a basis for political action. Major areas of study include the political thought of the ancient Greeks, liberal-democratic theory including theories of the market and the political economy critique of liberal theory.

Public Policy

Studies the way in which governments, citizen groups, business, and other actors interact in the development and implementation of government policies. Students specializing in public policy learn how to analyze government efforts to address public policy problems.

Canadian Politics

Public policy formation, social movements, political parties, organized interests, foreign defense and economic policy.

Public Law & Judicial Studies

The specialization on Public Law and Judicial Studies examines the role that constitutional, administrative, criminal and international laws attempt to play in limiting or controlling the use of power by governments in democratic states.  It also critically examines the extent to which the judiciary and courts are key players in democratic systems and assesses their potential to fulfill or extend upon their intended roles.

Political Science Degree Options

All Social Sciences students start off in Level I. At the end of first-year, students who meet the requirements outlined below can pursue one of the following degree options in Political Science:

  • Honours B.A.
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in one of POLSCI 1AA3, 1AB3, or POLSCI 1G06 A/B.

  • Honours B.A. Specialization in Public Law & Judicial Studies
    Selection is based on academic achievement. Students must have a Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) and a grade of at least C in one of POLSCI 1AA3, 1AB3, or POLSCI 1G06 A/B.

  • Combined Honours B.A. in Political Science & Another Subject
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in one of POLSCI 1AA3, 1AB3, or POLSCI 1G06 A/B. Satisfaction of admission requirements for the Honours program in the other B.A. subject.

  • B.A.
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 3.5 including a grade of at least C- in one of POLSCI 1AA3, 1AB3, or POLSCI 1G06 A/B.

Please note that enrolment in the Specialization in Public Law & Judicial Studies is limited, therefore possession of the published minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.


The Department of Political Science also offers the following Minors that can be taken alongside another degree program:

  • Minor in Political Science
  • Minor in Public Leadership
  • Minor in Justice, Law & Order

Political Science Program Details

Political Science Students

Our undergraduate students run a very successful McMaster Political Science Students Association (MPSSA) and participate in a range of activities such as the yearly Model United Nations event. Please explore these pages for further information and contact us if you have any questions. 

Political Science Students Association

Build Your Skills

Some of our faculty research includes:

  • The impact of globalization and the reasons for anti-globalization demonstrations
  • Racism and tolerance in the United States and France
  • Private non-governmental authorities in the international system (for example, private authority of the Internet)
  • Latin American and South Asian politics
  • The political experience of refugees
  • Reasons for economic success of East Asia

Also note, political science students have the opportunity to combine theoretical and practical learning: in Political Science 2NN3 “Politics by Design” and 3NN3 “Statistical Analysis of Primary Data”(previously POL SCI 3N06 “The Science & Methods of Politics”), as they conduct a general social survey of the student body and analyze the data in Political Science 3PR3 “Practice of Politics”, as they engage in political activity.

Skills you will cultivate include:

Political Science offers an extremely broad skill set which prepares students for a variety of career opportunities. During your time at McMaster you will develop the following skills:

  • Broad know-how in national and international issues
  • Seeing more than one side of an issue
  • Evaluating arguments and research data
  • Expressing ideas clearly and logically
  • Setting and meeting research objectives
  • Excellent verbal written communication skills
  • Planning and organizing work leading to the solution of the problem
  • Identifying key factors in power situations

Our graduates have been successful at finding interesting and rewarding careers in a range of fields in both the public and private sectors

Examples of career paths include:

  • Journalists
  • Policy Analysts
  • Data Analysts
  • Lawyers
  • Media and Communication Coordinators
  • Political Assistants
  • Human Resource Personnel
  • Teachers
  • Public Relations Officers
  • Community Workers
  • Management Consultant
  • International Analyst

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