About Political Science
About Our Subject
Political Science is the academic discipline that systematically studies the various dimensions of political life. It is the systematic study of what some scholars will define as “who gets what, when and how.” While politics is often seen as being a contest for power, and political science does study power, it interprets power in its broadest sense. This includes how power is produced and reproduced, who has or should have power, how power is or should be organised and exercised, how conflicting claims to power are or can be reconciled.
At the UC political science programme, we study a wide range of political phenomena, generally falling within the four broad traditional fields of comparative politics (the comparative study of political institutions, processes, and cultures in different countries and regions of the world), political philosophy (the study of ways of thinking about politics, both past and present, and the values underlying political arguments), public policy (the study of the policy process and its outcomes), and international politics (the relations between states and regions).
By studying political science the student develops an intellectual framework for making sense of political life – whether locally, nationally, or globally – that is critically essential in understanding our increasingly global, technological and complex world. More importantly, UC political science students are equipped with strong analytical and practical research skills (through our emphasis on research methods and the development of strong written and oral communication skills) which are applicable to a wide range of activities and careers. We aim to encourage critical, innovative, and principled thinking about politics and to equip our students to become leaders, policymakers, scholars, and competent and active citizens.
For more details, see Planning a Political Science Degree
About Our Programme
The Political Science programme at the University of Canterbury is one of the largest programmes in the College of Arts. The programme has attained national and international visibility for the strength of its academic programmes, staff members, and scholarship. In a 2007 report by the NZ Ministry of Education, Canterbury's Political Science programme is ranked as the top political science programme in the country based on the academic impact of its research internationally (* see note below). Another report based on the visibility of staff publications in top international academic journals ranked Canterbury's political science programme 10th in Australasia, the only programme in New Zealand ranked in the top 10 (** see note below). Academic staff members have served in leadership positions in national and international professional associations, as editorial board members of leading international academic journals, and as advisors to governments and other policy-making organizations.
* Smart, Warren and Marieke Weusten. 2007. Comparing the Academic Impact of Research by New Zealand and Australian Universities 1981-2005. Wellington : New Zealand Ministry of Education.
** Simon Hix. 2004. “A Global Ranking of Political Science Department.” Political Studies Review.
About Our Students
At Canterbury, we take pride in the education and training of our undergraduate and postgraduate students. Canterbury Political Science alumni can be found working for various government ministries and agencies, economic and international organisations, news media, as well educational institutions both in New Zealand and abroad. Many of our students have also chosen to continue their postgraduate training in numerous universities both in New Zealand and overseas.
Recent graduates have entered the following areas and institutions:
- government and political institutions - the Prime Minister's Department, State Services Commission, Te Puni Kokori, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, Internal Affairs, Treasury, Transport, Tourism, Social Development, Parliament, various political parties
- economic organisations (e.g., IBM, Mobil Oil, banks, producer boards, and trade unions)
- news media (radio, television, and print media)
- education (primary, secondary, and tertiary)
- overseas postgraduate education (e.g., Yale, Syracuse, Chicago, ANU)