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The Co-op Courses: 260W, 360W & 460W

Students working towards a political science co-op degree follow the normal process as their peers who are pursuing a regular Honours or Major in Political Science, with the key difference being that co-op students must complete three full-time work term courses: 260W, 360W and 460W. They must also maintain a high marks standard to be eligible to continue in the program.

Preparing for the work term
Students in the PSCE program must complete professional development seminars delivered by the Division of Co-operative Education in the semester before their work term. These are designed to introduce and prepare you for the work placement and deal with topics such as résumé preparation; interview training; work term evaluation; preparation of reflective essays (including confidentiality matters); career planning employment seeking skills; self-employment; ethics and professional concepts; behavioural requirements in the workplace; assertiveness in the workplace; and industrial safety.

The Co-operative Education coordinator will help you with the job competition. This includes sending out job descriptions, accepting applications, arranging interviews, and making job offers. Students can develop their own job opportunities but they must communicate their intensions to do so with the coordinator. Any such jobs must be approved by both the coordinator and Political Science faculty member.

Requirements during each work term
Each placement normally involves 35 hours of work per week for 12 weeks, totalling a minimum of 420 hours. In addition to their performance in the work placement, students are evaluated on written assignments submitted to the Department of Political Science, such as a briefing note, cabinet paper and a reflective essay. During each of 260W, 360W and 460W, students will be expected to observe the following.

First week: Provide a completed confidentiality and professional conduct agreement to the Division of Co-operative Education coordinator. This agreement will confirm the work term and includes contact information for both the student and the employer.
Within two weeks: Submit a plan of learning objectives to the Division of Co-operative Education coordinator.
Mid-semester: The student and their supervisor each have a private interview with the Co-operative Education coordinator to monitor the student's progress in the workplace.
At the end of the placement: Submit a work log form that has been regularly initialled by the employer, the reflective essay, and the Employer's Evaluation of Work Term form.

During the work term, the Co-operative Education coordinator monitors students and is the liaison between the university, the student and the employer.

Staying in the program
Students must maintain a full course load and good grades to continue in the PSCE program. Specifically, PSCE students must:

  • maintain a full course load (15 credit hours) in each academic term;
  • maintain a cumulative overall average of at least 65% in all of their courses;
  • maintain a cumulative average of at least 70% in their political science courses

At the end of each semester, students should monitor their grades as the university calendar stipulates that students' status in the program is to be assessed at the end of each semester. At a minimum their transcripts will be reviewed by the Department of Political Science when students seek permission to enrol in 260W, 360W and 460W.

Students who do not maintain the required averages and/or course load will be required to withdraw from the PSCE. Such students may apply for readmission in a subsequent year after re-establishing the required averages.

POSC 260W: Work Term 1
The first work term normally begins after you have completed four academic terms; for most students this means the summer after your second year of study. This tends to be students' first work experience in a professional environment and you will be expected to learn, develop and practice the high standards of behaviour normally expected in the workplace.

To enroll in 260W you will need the written permission of the designated Political Science faculty member on a course change form. This permission will only be granted if a student meets the following criteria:

  • enrolled in the PSCE program;
  • has completed a minimum of 6 courses (18 credit hours) in Political Science including POSC 1000 and 2800 – we strongly recommend 2010 and 2600;
  • has a minimum overall average of 65%;
  • has a minimum average of 70% in POSC courses; and,
  • has recently completed professional development seminars delivered by the Division of Co-operative Education.

POSC 360W: Work Term 2
The second work term normally begins after you have completed six academic terms and 260W; for most students this means the Fall semester of your fourth year. In this placement you will build your knowledge and work-related skills in a position that involves more responsibility and challenge. Students are expected to demonstrate an ability to deal with increasingly complex work-related concepts and problems.

To enroll in 360W you will need the written permission of the designated Political Science faculty member on a course change form. This permission will only be granted if a student meets the following criteria:

  • enrolled in the PSCE program;
  • has completed a minimum of 9 courses (27 credit hours) in Political Science – we strongly recommend that all required 2000-level Political Science courses have been completed as well as a 36xx or 38xx course;
  • has completed POSC 260W;has maintained a minimum overall average of 65%;
  • has maintained a minimum average of 70% in POSC courses; and,
  • has recently completed professional development seminars delivered by the Division of Co-operative Education.

POSC 460W: Work Term 3
The final work term usually begins after you have completed seven academic terms and 360W; for most students this means the summer of your fourth year (i.e., when you would normally be graduating if you had pursued a regular degree). POSC 460W involves a placement in a highly challenging position with greater independence and responsibility where you will contribute to your employer's problem-solving and management processes.

A feature of co-op is that students apply what they learn in the classroom to work placements, and vice versa. Therefore they must return to complete courses after their last work term (i.e., to be eligible for the degree 460W cannot be their final course).

To enrol in 460W you will need the written permission of the designated Political Science faculty member on a course change form. This permission will only be granted if a student meets the following criteria:

  • enrolled in the PSCE program;
  • has at least third year standing;
  • has completed a minimum of 11 courses (33 credit hours) in Political Science – we strongly recommend that at least one 4000-level Political Science course has been completed;
  • for Honours students, completion of POSC 4010 is strongly recommended;
  • the student must still have academic courses remaining after the conclusion of 460W;
  • has completed POSC 360W;
  • has maintained a minimum overall average of 65%;
  • has maintained a minimum average of 70% in POSC courses; and,
  • has recently completed professional development seminars delivered by the Division of Co-operative Education.

Note for Honours students
The selection of Honours Essay semesters must be discussed with the student's Essay supervisor. Honours students are strongly recommended to complete POSC 4010 (Honours Essay I) before they enrol in POSC 460W. Otherwise they may face a delay in being eligible for graduation, because 4010 and 4011 may not be completed concurrently (i.e., they must be taken in separate semesters). With permission of the Head of the Department, the student's Honours Essay supervisor and the PSCE designated faculty member an Honours student who has completed 4010 may be eligible to enrol in 4011 while enrolled in 460W.

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