Political Science and International Relations
Are you interested in making a difference to the world around you? Does the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s democracy interest you? Do news about politics and elections in other countries capture your interest? Are you concerned about major issues in international politics and international security? How about issues such as development, human rights, health, environment, nationalism, foreign policy, or peace and conflict? How social change happens and how power and resources are allocated in society? Do you want to think, study, examine, and critically analyse these questions and pursue a career based on your interest? If so, you should study Political Science and International Relations.
Political Science is often called the study of who gets what, where, how, and why. It is the independent and informed study of our communities and how we make decisions collectively as governments, why we behave as we do as citizens, and how we make public policy choices for the future.
Political scientists use a variety of theories, ideas, tools, and methods to: examine local, national, regional, and global processes, institutions, and relationships; to consider how we ought to live as political communities; and how we can create change.
- The Department of Political Science and International Relations at UC has attained national and international visibility for the strength of its teaching and academic research. Academic staff members are recognised internationally in fields as diverse as democracy, environmental politics and policy, humanitarian intervention, science and technology policy, Chinese politics, East Asian politics, South East Asian politics, and international security and international relations.
- Academic staff members foster an environment in which students are supported toward achieving their goals as citizens, young leaders and as scholars, and where networks of fellow graduates and employers are nurtured to help with career planning and mentoring.
- UC is ranked first in Aotearoa New Zealand for research in Political Science, International Relations and Public Policy (Te Amorangi Mātauranga Matua | Tertiary Education Commission 2018 PBRF assessment).
There are five introductory 100-level POLS courses. Students intending to major in Political Science and International Relations are recommended to take 30 points at 100-level.
Each first-year course has two hours of lectures and a one-hour tutorial per week.
200-level and beyond
At 200 and 300-level students have a wide choice of courses drawn from across the range of Political Science and International Relations specialisations and inspired by the research of our staff who all work actively on social issues. Topics are grouped into four broad pathways:
- international relations
- comparative politics (the study of individual nations and/or group of nations)
- public policy (how we make choices as communities)
- political thought.
Topics can include human rights and aid; media and politics; nationalism; citizenship; power; environmental politics; science and technology politics and policy; the politics of race and ethnicity; national and regional politics in East Asia, Europe, the United States, and Aotearoa New Zealand; disaster recovery; urban planning; new business leadership; and changing political thought and ideas.
Political Science and International Relations students gain a versatile set of skills that can be applied in a wide range of exciting careers both within politics (international, national, and local political institutions eg, the UN, humanitarian inter-governmental organisations, parliaments, city councils) and in more diverse areas such as law, business, education, and journalism.
Recent graduates have been employed in the Ministries of Defence, of Justice, and of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as Kaitohutohu Kaupapa Rawa | Treasury, Te Puni Kōkiri, Pāremata Aotearoa | Parliament, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Te Tira Tiaki | Government Communications Security Bureau, Te Pā Whakamarumaru | Security Intelligence Service, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and Rīpeka Whero Aotearoa | Red Cross.
Political Science and International Relations specialists fare well in roles that value a questioning mind, superb communication skills, and a strong understanding of systems and social issues such as the news media, trade unions, teaching, and the finance industry (eg, banking and investment).
A number of our senior students have also gone on to further study and to teach at prestigious overseas universities.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Political Science and International Relations.
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