New Courses and Special Topics Courses

This page contains descriptions for new and special topics offered in the Department of Political Science. Special topics courses are developed to complement existing courses, and cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in our main curriculum. Please see the UTSC Timetable for the course days and times.

New Courses for the 2023-2024 Academic Year

POLB56H3 - Critical Issues in Canadian Politics

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of the Canadian political system and the methods by which it is studied. Students will learn about the importance of Parliament, the role of the courts in Canada’s democracy, federalism, and the basics of the constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and other concepts and institutions basic to the functioning of the Canadian state. Students will also learn about the major political cleavages in Canada such as those arising from French-English relations, multiculturalism, the urban-rural divide, as well as being introduced to settler-Indigenous relations. Students will be expected to think critically about the methods that are used to approach the study of Canada along with their strengths and limitations.

Prerequisite: Any 4.0 credits
Exclusion: (POLB50Y3), (POL214Y), POL214H
Breadth Requirements: Social and Behavioural Sciences

POLB57H3 - The Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights

This class will introduce students to the Canadian constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Students will learn the history of and constitutional basis for parliamentary democracy, Canadian federalism, judicial independence, the role of the monarchy, and the origins and foundations of Indigenous rights. The course will also focus specifically on the role of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and students will learn about the constitutional rights to expression, equality, assembly, free practice of religion, the different official language guarantees, and the democratic rights to vote and run for office. Special attention will also be paid to how rights can be constitutionally limited through an examination of the notwithstanding clause and the Charter’s reasonable limits clause.

Prerequisite: Any 4.0 credits
Exclusion: (POLB50Y3), (POLC68H3), (POL214Y)
Breadth Requirements: Social and Behavioural Sciences

POLC35H3 - Law and Politics: Contradictions, Approaches, and Controversies

This course examines different methods and approaches to the study of law and politics. Students will learn how the humanities-based study of law traditionally applied by legal scholars interacts or contradicts more empirically driven schools of thought common in social science, such as law and economics or critical race theory. Students will understand the substantive content of these different approaches and what can be gained from embracing multiple perspectives.

Prerequisite: POLB30H3 and POLB56H3 and POLB57H3
Breadth Requirements: Social and Behavioural Sciences

POLD31H3 - Mooting Seminar

This course will offer senior students the opportunity to engage in a mock court exercise based around a contemporary legal issue. Students will be expected to present a legal argument both orally and in writing, using modern templates for legal documents and argued under similar circumstances to those expected of legal practitioners. The class will offer students an opportunity to understand the different stages of a court proceeding and the theories that underpin oral advocacy and procedural justice. Experiential learning will represent a fundamental aspect of the course, and expertise will be sought from outside legal professionals in the community who can provide further insight into the Canadian legal system where available.

Prerequisite: POLB30H3 and POLC32H3 and an additional 1.5 credits at the C-level in POL courses
Enrolment Limits: 25
Breadth Requirements: Social and Behavioural Sciences
Course Experience: Partnership-Based Experience

POLD46H3 - Public Law and the Canadian Immigration System

Immigration is one of the most debated and talked about political issues in the 21st century. Peoples’ movement across continents for a whole host of reasons is not new; however, with the emergence of the nation-state, the drawing of borders, and the attempts to define and shape of membership in a political and national community, migration became a topic for public debate and legal challenge. This course dives into Canada’s immigration system and looks at how it was designed, what values and objectives it tries to meet, and how global challenges affect its approach and attitude toward newcomers. The approach used in this course is that of a legal practitioner, tasked with weighing the personal narratives and aspirations of migrants as they navigate legal challenges and explore the available programs and pathways to complete their migration journey in Canada.

Prerequisite: 1.0 credits from the following: POLC32H3, POLC36H3, POLC39H3
Enrolment Limits: 25
Breadth Requirements: Social and Behavioural Sciences
Course Experience: University-Based Experience


Special Topics Courses

Winter 2024

POLC40H3- Current Topics in Politics

Instructor: Assistant Professor Julian Campisi
Topic: Canadian Defence & Security Policies in Comparative Perspective

This course investigates the politics and policies that underpin our national defence, intelligence and security communities. Unlike the US and some other countries, in Canada, defence, security and the military culture do not take up as much political oxygen, nor are they as intertwined with national sentiment/pride. Canada’s security influence abroad is also lacking compared to allies and adversaries. Yet the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has placed a larger spotlight on Canadian (and Western) security concerns. This course thus places emphasis on defence and security policies in Canada in order to give students a clear and nuanced understanding of the Canadian intelligence, security, and defence communities, with a specific focus on different government agencies, their institutional make-up, and policies. We will study these through a policy lens, and in comparative perspective vis-à-vis other allied nations and organizations such as NORAD & NATO.

POLD41H3- Advanced Topics in Politics

Instructor: Associate Professor Aisha Ahmad
Topic: The Survival Lab: Solving Wicked Problems Without the State

This course examines global wicked problems – such as climate change, terrorism, famine – that have catastrophic consequences for human life. Yet, the goal of this course is not simply to uncover the political and social reasons behind these crises; rather, it challenges students to face these problems head on, finding new ways to innovate and adapt to maximize chances of survival under extreme conditions. The course focuses on complex crises occurring in the most vulnerable and stressed places on earth, and it begins with a blanket presupposition that political solutions to these problems have failed. Based on that assumption, students are then challenged to identify novel ways that human beings can adapt to survive, without help from states or international organizations. This is neither a seminar nor lecture course, but an ideas incubator where students will develop and stress test ideas for increasing resilience in the most fragile parts of the world.

This is an advanced course topic in International Relations that assumes prior knowledge of International Security, Global Governance, and International Development Studies. Students should have completed POLB80, POLB81 and POLC09 in order to successfully engage and complete the course.