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Undergraduate Questions & Answers








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What is Political Science and what can I do with a Political Science degree?

Political Science has always been a useful general degree for many occupations. It involves the study of government and politics using systematic methods to draw objective conclusions. This includes a focus on political parties, the electoral process, interest groups, governments and how they operate, and the policies they put forward.

Political Science is the most common university degree for individuals wishing to pursue a career in law or in public administration and politics. Training in Political Science is ideal for students planning to attend law school as our discipline focuses on many of the same skills and knowledge bases required of law students; these students may wish to complete a Minor in Law and Society. This includes analytical thinking and effective communication as well as expertise about the nature of government and institutions. Likewise many Political Science graduates find the field offers solid preparation for a career in the civil service and of course pursuing political interests.

Finally some students go on to pursue graduate studies in the field which open doors to academic and research-oriented careers. That said, a growing number of students in the field find that their training opens doors outside of these traditional career paths, such as journalism. fAccording to the Government of Canada’s Job Futures, recent graduates from undergraduate Political Science programs across Canada have been successful in starting careers in administrative and regulatory occupations, as secondary and elementary school teachers and counselors, and as technical inspectors and regulatory officers. A Political Science degree may also lead to employment in journalism or perhaps with a non-governmental organization (NGO). A growing number of graduates also find careers in the private sector, such as working for industry, as their research and communication skills are in increasing demand in the knowledge based economy, both in Canada and around the world.

Why should I choose Memorial for studying Political Science?

Memorial has both a highly successful undergraduate program as well as a rapidly growing graduate program. Students come from all over the world to study politics at Memorial. Although Memorial is the one of the largest universities in Atlantic Canada, with the best library in the region and fine computing facilities, the classes in Political Science are small enough to ensure that students benefit from personal engagement and insights with professors. We provide a distinctive and stimulating environment for learning in St. John's, the province’s capital and a very safe, friendly city with great historic charm, a vibrant cultural life, and easy access to a wide range of outdoor activities. There are many reasons to choose Memorial.

Our faculty members’ areas of specialization are wide ranging, including the study of Newfoundland, Canadian, international, and comparative politics - with a particular emphasis on the study of European politics and on public policy. Within these areas faculty members in our department have particular expertise in the study political behaviour and political theory. Please see individual faculty members' Web pages for more specific areas of interest.

Does it matter that I’m not politically opinionated?

No. Political Science is just that: a science. It involves the study of politics, including behavior, culture, history, processes and structures. In fact, entering the field with an open mind may serve as an advantage. That said, students studying Political Science will find it helpful if they have a basic awareness of current events and public affairs.

How many people study Political Science at Memorial?

At any given time there are upwards of 250 students working towards a Bachelor of Arts who have declared Political Science as their Major and about 100 students who have declared Political Science as their Minor. By university standards our class sizes are relatively small. First and second year courses can have anywhere from 30 to 200 students. Third year classes range in size from 10 to 60 students while fourth year classes are normally limited to 20 students.

Are there many social activities organized among Political Science students?

Yes. For instance there is an active Political Science Students’ Society and a student journal.

Do I need science and math credits to enroll in Political Science?

Memorial University's admission requirements for applicants who have followed the high school curricula of other Canadian provinces include the following. Applicants from other provinces of Canada are required to have successfully completed Grade XII in the University Preparatory Program (in the case of Quebec students, Secondary V Certificate) with a passing mark in each of the following Grade XII academic or advanced-level subjects and an overall average of not less than 70% compiled from the grades received in the courses selected: English, Mathematics, Laboratory Science (1 of Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Geology or Physics), Social Science/Modern Classical Language, Elective. For further information concerning specific provinces, applicants may contact the University by writing to the Admissions Office, Office of the Registrar, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, A1C 5S7, or by e-mail at

Insofar as admission of students from other provinces is concerned, waiver of the mathematics or science requirement is granted by the Admissions committee. A waiver of both requirements sometimes will be approved. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Once admitted and registered as a student in Political Science you will discover that hardly any Political Science classes involve mathematics at the undergraduate level. The one area where it is useful to have some math background, and this would be the case for studying Political Science at any university, is where the "science" side of political study comes in. Usually this is when you take an Honours degree or Master's degree rather than a basic B.A. degree. It's usually when you take courses involving the measurement of public opinion (e.g., polls and surveys), political economy or perhaps game theory. In our case that typically occurs in third year and is only required for Honours degree students.

You should note that Memorial B.A. degree requirements include six credit hours or two courses in numeracy/science. This requirement can be satisfied through completion of courses in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Science, Geography laboratory courses, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Psychology, and Science.

Who should I contact for more information about Political Science at Memorial?

Aside from drawing upon the information available on this Web site, please feel free to contact our undergraduate advisor or our graduate advisor with general questions, or any member of our Department with specific questions.

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Where can I find information about Political Science courses at Memorial?

Our undergraduate courses page is a great resource for students and includes examples of course syllabi. These courses have been designed to introduce students to major areas within Political Science. Starting at the 2000 level, courses are divided into several study streams. These are:

The Office of the Registrar has the latest online information about course offerings. If you have the name of the course instructor who is scheduled to teach the course you may also wish to contact him or her directly for more information.

How often is a course usually offered? What courses are offered from May to August?

The next semester's course offerings are usually not finalized until the middle of the previous semester. Guidance can be obtained through the Head of the Department, the undergraduate advisor or graduate advisor, or the instructor of a particular course that you are interested in. Information about the frequency of undergraduate offerings is also available on our undergraduate courses page. As a rule of thumb, there are considerably more choices during the Fall and Winter semesters, and 1000-level and 2000-level courses tend to be offered more often than 3000-level or 4000-level courses. Of note, we are aware of increasing demand for online and distance education, and are working to provide more such options.

What types of distance education courses are available?

The Department of Political Science currently offers the following undergraduate courses by distance. Others are under development -- please contact the Head of the Department for more information.

  • POSC 1000 (Introduction to Politics and Government) by Web
  • POSC 1010 (Issues in Canadian Politics) by Web
  • POSC 2800 (Intro to Canadian Politics and Government) by correspondence
  • POSC 3610 (Public Administration in Canada) by Web
  • POSC 3880 (Newfoundland and Labrador Politics) by correspondence

Three other courses do not feature regular class meetings: the undergraduate internship course (4600) and the Honours Essay courses (4010, 4011).

What undergraduate work internships does the Department offer?

The undergraduate internship (for students working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree) requires enrollment in Political Science 4600 and offers a critical work experience opportunity. The course includes a writing component that is related to a part-time placement in government, voluntary organizations, political parties, unions, or other institutions involved in public affairs. The number of openings varies year-to-year and admission to this course is competitive. Placements are for 12 weeks at eight hours per week, in addition to regularly scheduled class meetings. The prerequisites for this course are 15 credit hours in Political Science courses with a 70% average and a minimum total of 60 credit hours completed overall. The course administrator must sign you in to the course (you cannot simply add it online).

What Political Science research and writing courses are offered?

One of the core requirements for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Memorial is to complete six credit hours in courses in Social Sciences or Humanities which are designated as research/writing courses. They are designed to provide you with the research and writing skills that can help you find and communicate information now and in the future. Students get practice in organizing, analyzing, drafting and editing, to make your communication orderly and clear. To allow time for acquiring and refining these skills, at least 30 per cent of these courses are devoted to research and writing. In Political Science, we offer 2010 Research and Writing in Political Science. Although 2010 is offered in the Fall and Winter semesters this is not usually the case in the Spring semester. Enrollment tends to be limited to 35 students and POSC 1000 is a prerequisite.

Who should I contact to find out what a course textbook is going to be?

You should contact the course instructor who is scheduled to teach the course directly for information about the course textbook and syllabus. Alternatively you can contact the Department office.

I am trying to register for a course but have been put on a waiting list. Will I still get in?

What happens is that registration preference is given to students who have declared a Political Science Honours, Major or Minor. Enrollment in some courses (such as 2800 Intro to Canadian Politics and Government) is briefly held for those students to ensure that they can enroll in required or preferred courses. Once this temporary holding period of approximately two to three weeks ends, any students on the waiting list are automatically enrolled (subject to course enrollment limits). For most first and second year courses getting enrolled is rarely an issue.

I can’t add a Political Science course online. Why?

Courses that cannot be added online, such as 4600 (Internship), require the permission of the course instructor. Please get in touch with the appropriate instructor for further information.

Would a fourth-year course be okay for someone with no Political Science experience?

We would not recommend that you take a 4000-level course without any prior Political Science background. The expectation, as noted in our Calendar entry, is that students should have completed at least four Political Science courses, including two at the 3000-level, before taking a 4000-level course. With no Political Science background, you would be at a serious disadvantage. For this reason all 4000-level courses have formal prerequisites.

Will my courses from many years ago still qualify towards a Political Science degree?

You would need to go over your transcript with the Head of the Department. Somebody with such institutional knowledge would be able to identify and recognize older courses as they relate to current courses.

Where can I find exam schedules online?

The Office of the Registrar has the latest online information about final exam schedules, course offerings, and the Political Science university calendar entry.

What kinds of certificate programs related to Political Science does Memorial offer?

Memorial offers three certificate programs that include Political Science components: public administration, criminology, and the politics of Newfoundland and Labrador. Summaries of each of these follow below.

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At what level or year of schooling should I declare a Major in Political Science?

Students applying to the university can indicate on their initial application form that they want to pursue a Political Science Honours or Major, but are not required to. Students may alternatively declare one of these or a Joint Honours, Double Major or Minor at any time thereafter, preferably by the end of the first year of studies, and/or after having completed at least two courses in the subject. This is done by completing an Intake Form for the Department (required for Honours) and a Declare/Change form that can be obtained from and returned to the Registrar's Office. While the selection of an Honours, Major or Minor may be made later than the second year of university studies, it is recommended that a choice be made as early as possible in order to ensure that required courses are taken in sequence. Please see the Faculty of Arts Degree Regulations in the University Calendar.

What are the requirements for completion of an Honours degree in Political Science?

Please see the B.A.(Hons.) degree in Political Science section of our website and our university calendar entry.

What are the required courses for Political Science Majors?

Please see the B.A. degree in Political Science section of our website and our university calendar entry.

Will I burn out if I take three courses in my Major in my second year of study?

Only you can judge how you can handle your workload. A course that is of particular interest is likely to be offered again in future years or semesters. On the other hand, if you're really enthusiastic and like the topic, then there are no regulations saying that you cannot take a specific course now. In fact, in our calendar entry we recommend that Political Science Honours and Major candidates complete four Political Science courses in their second year, and that Minor candidates complete two Political Science courses. However the decision is ultimately yours.

Is it possible to do a joint Honours degree in Political Science and another subject?

The basic answer is "yes," but you need permission of the Head of each Department. Please see the Joint Honours section of our website and our university calendar entry.

How long does it take to become a lawyer if I begin by studying Political Science?

Political Science is often a starting point for law school because there is so much discussion about how government works, because we look at the politics involved with bills being introduced and eventually passed into law, and because some upper year courses do focus on legal matters exclusively. As for duration, this can vary depending on where you study. Completion of most Memorial undergraduate degrees requires four years. Other Canadian universities have three, four, and five year programs. Towards the end of your bachelor's degree you will need to apply to get into law school to earn a legal degree (which takes about three years). Therefore, to become a lawyer, you're looking at approximately seven years of study (with good marks). That said, in your first year of university study you may wish to explore a variety of courses in different faculties, to get a feel for what truly interests you. And don't be afraid to change - a good number of students change their minds about applying to law school because their interests are different than when they arrived here. All of this is perfectly normal.

What kinds of Minors do students who Major in Political Science tend to declare?

There are a wide range of minoring options available at Memorial. In recent years Political Science Majors have declared Minors in areas such as Aboriginal Studies, Anthropology, Business, Economics, English, French, Folklore, Geography, German, History, Law and Society, Linguistics, Mathematics, Philosophy, Psychology, Religious Studies, Social/Cultural Studies, Sociology, Spanish, and Women's Studies.

Do I have to declare a Minor in Political Science? If so, at what point?

A student is required to have a Minor (or else a second Major) in order to graduate. It is recommended that the Minor be declared in the second year of studies in order to ensure that required courses are completed in good time. In addition, since places in many senior Political Science courses are reserved for Political Science Honours, Major and Minor candidates, declaring a Minor will be of help in ensuring that students are able to register in courses of their choosing. You declare your Minor by completing a "Declaration/Change of Academic Program" form and submitting it to the Office of the Registrar. In the Faculty of Arts you need a 60% average or higher on the required number of Minor courses (excluding 1000-level courses).

What kinds of Majors do students have who opt to declare a Minor in Political Science?

Students from all sorts of other disciplines choose to pursue a Minor in Political Science. In recent years, this has included students majoring in Anthropology, Business, English, French, Geography, German, History, Philosophy, Pre-Pharmacy, Psychology, Human Kinetics and Recreation, Religious Studies, and Sociology.

Which courses must I complete for a Minor in Political Science?

Please see the Minor in Political Science section of our website and our university calendar entry.

I already graduated, but can I turn a Political Science Minor into a Major?

The Memorial degree regulations state that a student working towards a degree can, instead of a Minor, "complete a second Major program and must follow all General and Departmental or Program Regulations for this Major program". Completion of a second Major program or granting a Minor after a Major has been completed may be feasible. If you have already qualified for your degree you should check with the Registrar's Office and/or with the Academic Advising Centre to confirm this information. You may also wish to take a look at the certificate programs.

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I signed up under the old program. How do the changes affect me?

As of September 2009 there are a number of changes that may affect you. If you have “Grandfathered” status but are in the early stages of your studies you may elect to follow the new requirements rather than the old ones. If you are nearing graduation then at a minimum you will need to become familiar with new course numbers and, if you are an Honours candidate, you will need to review the revised Guidelines Governing Honours Essays.

What happens if I have taken a course that no longer exists in the curriculum?

The course will continue to be identified on your transcript as it existed at the time that you took it. For example, if you completed POSC 2000 “Introduction to Political Thought” in 2008, you do not need to take the adjusted version 2100 “Introduction to Political Theory” because they are the same course (which is why there would be a credit restriction to prevent you taking 2100). In this example POSC 2000 would remain as-is on your transcript.

Should I switch into the new program requirements?

As a rule of thumb, students should continue following the program requirements that ordinarily apply to them. This is especially true for upper-year students. However, in some instances lower-year students may want to follow the requirements that took effect in September 2009. It is up to each student, in consultation with an advisor at Memorial, to compare the old and new requirements to determine which best fits with their needs.

Do I now need POSC 1000 to graduate with an Honours, Major or Minor?

Grandfathered” students do not need POSC 1000; all other Political Science students do need POSC 1000, with one exception. A Political Science student who, prior to September 2009, had completed both of POSC 1010 and 1020 but who had not yet completed a 2000-level course or above in Political Science is exempted from the POSC 1000 requirement.

Do I have “grandfathered” status if I haven’t applied for an Honours, Major or Minor in Political Science?

Your status is determined exclusively by whether or not you had completed a 2000-level or higher Political Science course before September 2009. Though we do encourage students to declare after a couple of Political Science courses, for the purpose of determining your “grandfathered” status it doesn’t matter whether or not you have done so.

There are prerequisites for all 4000-level Political Science courses. What do I do if I don’t have the prerequisite courses?

Grandfathered” students may substitute listed prerequisites in 4000-level (except 4010, 4011, 4600) Political Science courses with at least 12 credit hours in Political Science including at least 6 credit hours at the 3000-level. Furthermore, course instructors (with the permission of the Head of the Department) can opt to sign in a student to a course, so someone who do not have the prerequisites but believes that he/she has sufficient preparation for the course should get in touch with the instructor.

I am an Honours student and I noticed that the Guidelines Governing Honours Essays have been updated. What do I need to do?

All Honours candidates need to review the Guidelines prior to enrolling in 4010 (formerly 4950). To take that course declared Honours candidates need to complete the “Honours essay learning contract” on page 2 of the Guidelines and submit with an add/drop form to the Head of the Department. Declared Honours candidates must provide these completed documents to obtain permission to enroll in 4010.

I am also working towards a certificate program. How do the changes affect my ability to complete the required courses?

In most cases you need to identify the comparable course to the one required by your program. For instance, if you need POSC 2710 “Introduction to Canadian Politics I”, then you need to take POSC 2800 “Introduction to Canadian Politics and Government” which is essentially the same course. If it isn’t immediately obvious the way to figure this out is to look at the credit restrictions in the university calendar and on the courses page of the Political Science website.

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What's involved with going to study in Europe for a semester?

A semester abroad at Harlow or at one of the European universities with which we have an exchange agreement is part of the requirements for the European Studies Minor. The Political Science Department usually organizes a semester once every two years. The types of courses offered vary but are usually centered on a European topic. Interested students have to apply with the professor who is in charge of that particular semester/program.

Can I study Political Science abroad and have my courses count at Memorial?

A Letter of Permission must be obtained from the Registrar's Office in advance. After the form has been completed, it will be sent to the Department Head who will evaluate the proposed courses and provide an equivalent Memorial Political Science course if possible. In particular, there is a possibility that Memorial can award academic credit for students participating in the European Summer School in Prague. You should speak with Professor Croci and the Head of the Department. Any course considered for credit should involve an amount of work equivalent to a Memorial course. A one week course taught at a Summer School does not qualify.

Can Political Science courses from another university be transferred to Memorial?

Yes. Courses successfully completed at accredited Canadian and international universities and colleges are eligible for transfer credits at Memorial. Where possible, a transfer credit for a specific Political Science course is awarded; in cases where a course completed at another institution is not offered at Memorial, an unspecified transfer credit at the appropriate level is awarded. Application for transfer credits must be made on an Application for Transfer Credit Evaluation form and submitted to the Registrar's Office for evaluation.

Where should I look for housing in St. John’s?

Housing, Food, & Conference Services provides both on-campus and off-campus housing solutions for students of Memorial University. A range of support services for non-local students is available elsewhere on the Memorial Web site.

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Where should I go for academic advice?

There are a number of places where students can obtain assistance with their studies. For information about studying Political Science, such as receiving guidance with making your course selections, please contact the department's undergraduate advisor. Other support services include the Writing Centre for help with writing papers; the Counselling Centre which, apart from providing help with personal problems, runs courses on things like time management and study skills; and the Centre for Career Development for career information, assistance with gaining work experience, and insights into preparing to enter the work force. For general advice about their schooling, students can visit the Academic Advising Centre in SN-4053; the Centre's phone number is 864-8801. Once students have completed two years of study they may choose to have a "degree audit" performed by a staff member in the Registrar's Office. Students may also choose to speak with one of their current or past instructors.  Students may find the Arts Core Monitoring Form helpful in planning their course schedules so that they fulfill all the requirements of the BA.

What is the procedure if I wish to challenge an exam, test grade or essay mark?

The University allows students to request that their final examination be reread. A formal request, accompanied by a $50 fee, must be made to the Registrar's Office. This is then sent to the Department Head who will ask a faculty member other than the original instructor who graded the exam to reread it after first removing all existing grading marks and comments. The $50 fee is refunded if the final course grade is raised, but is not refunded if the final course grade remains the same or is lowered. Further information can be found in section 4.7.5 of the University Regulations. However, there is no provision for term tests to be reread, and there is no procedure for challenging an essay mark other than discussing the matter with the course instructor.

I need an academic reference to support an application. What should I do?

Please do not hesitate to ask a Political Science faculty member who is familiar with your academic performance to provide a reference for you.

What should I do if I do not want to confront a professor one-on-one about an issue?

In the event that a student has a concern and does not wish to discuss the matter with the individual instructor, the student is encouraged to contact the Head of the Department, who will try to resolve the issue and/or provide guidance to the student.

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Where is the Political Science department located? What are the main office hours?

We are located in the Science building, which is next to Computing Services, Biotechnology, and Chemistry-Physics (see map). Our general office room number is SN-2028. As outlined in the “Contact Us” section of our Web site, our mailing address is: Department of Political Science, Science Building, Room 2028, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, A1B 3X9, Canada. Our office is open weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm Newfoundland Standard Time (+1.5hrs from Eastern Standard Time). It is closed between 1-2pm and from June to August the office is open until 4pm.

I can't reach a course instructor. What should I do?

Please contact the Department's undergraduate advisor who will attempt to answer your question and/or put you in touch with the course instructor that you are looking for. Alternatively you may contact one of the administrative staff in our Department office.