Graduate Program


The Department of Politics at Acadia University offers a 12-month, thesis-based Master of Arts (MA) program to a small and select cohort of students. These students are drawn from the Atlantic region, across Canada, and around the world. The program fosters a close relationship between MA students and faculty in order to offer a flexible and rigorous academic foundation. The program provides comprehensive training in the discipline for those students who wish to continue their studies at the PhD level. It also prepares students for work in the public and private sector, in the areas of journalism, advocacy, international development and organization, education, and law. Your master’s degree in the Department of Politics will help you unite great ideas and urgent practice.  

Program Objectives

·         To provide students with comprehensive instruction in the fields of Canadian politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

·         To give students the opportunity to work with supportive faculty in developing and carrying out innovative thesis projects.

·         To help students develop the analytical, critical, and interpretative skills, as well as oral and written presentation skills, that prepare them for work in the public and private sectors or further graduate work at the PhD level.

For students interested in political theory, in addition to the MA in Politics, some faculty members in the department contribute to an interdisciplinary MA program in Social and Political Thought. For more info see


Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Many of our MA students are attracted to the small scale of both Acadia university and the Town of Wolfville, an intimate community located in Nova Scotia’s beautiful Annapolis Valley. With a vibrant cultural scene, a variety of cafes, restaurants, and shops, and great locations for outdoor activities, the Town of Wolfville and surrounding area offer a welcoming and stimulating home for students.Halifax, the largest city in Atlantic Canada, is approximately an hour’s drive from Wolfville. The Halifax Stanfield International airport, with direct flights to major cities in Canada, the eastern US, and some international destinations, is also approximately an hour’s drive from Wolfville.


Application Procedure

Information regarding MA application procedures and the program is available by telephoning 902-585-1288 or emailing Application forms are available online:


Admission Requirements

Successful applicants typically hold a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Politics or Political Science, with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the last two years of study. We occasionally admit candidates without honours degrees or with degrees in other disciplines; however, we may require coursework in the politics department prior to admission to the MA depending upon the actual qualifications of individual candidates. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator if you have questions about your eligibility.



To apply, please send a complete application package found online:


Your application must include:

·Application form 

·Three letters of reference

·Curriculum vitae

·Undergraduate university transcripts

·A sample of your recent written work(maximum 15 pages, double spaced)

·A general statement of your proposed thesis research

·Application fees as required by Acadia University

·Foreign students must also take the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) and achieve a minimum score of 580 (paper) or a computer-based score of 237.


Applications are due February 1st for applicants who would like to be considered for funding.   Applications are accepted after February 1st as long as there are places remaining for the upcoming academic year.

Graduate Funding

All completed applications that are received by February 1st will be considered for an Acadia Graduate Award (AGA), currently worth up to $9,000. 

Program of Study

Students are required successfully to complete 6 one-term courses, chosen in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, submit a formal master’s thesis proposal, and complete and defend a master’s thesis in an area of study determined in consultation with a thesis supervisor.


Most students enroll in the full-time, 12 month program. It is also possible to enroll as a part-time student.


Program Requirements

1. Courses: POLS 5143 (Master's Colloquium), and five additional courses. Of these five:


  a.) Students must take at least one course in three of the four subfields:                           

i.   Canadian Politics: POLS 5103, 5203, 5303, 5403, 5603, 5803

ii.  Comparative Politics: POLS 5193, 5293, 5693, 5893*  

iii.  International Relations: POLS 5183, 5283, 5383, 5483*, 5783*, 5983*,  IDST 5186        

 iv.  Political Theory: POLS 5043, 5243, 5343, 5443, 5743


*POLS 5483, 5783, and 5883 can be counted as International Relations or Political Theory, but not both. In some years, POLS 5983 may count as Comparative Politics.


 b.) Students may take one MA-level directed readings course from a faculty member in any department or one MA-level course from a cognate department, subject to the approval of that faculty member and the graduate coordinator.


2. Thesis Proposal: All MA students are required by the Office of Graduate Studies to submit a formal thesis proposal. The thesis proposal should be 1500-2500 words, excluding the bibliography. It should include/discuss the research question, preliminary argument, methodology, relevant literature, and preliminary chapter breakdown of the thesis.  


With the advice and support of their supervisor, students will complete a draft of their formal proposal and present it to the department as part of the Master’s Colloquium (POLS 5143) in November. A final draft of the proposal, signed by the supervisor, is due to the Graduate Coordinator by the first day of classes of the Winter term. The Graduate Coordinator will ensure that the student receives a copy of the signed proposal and that a copy is kept in the student’s departmental file.


3. Thesis: POLS 5960. The thesis may not exceed 40,000 words in length except with the permission of the department. The department encourages students to complete and successfully defend the thesis within 4 months after the completion of course work.


Graduate Courses

Not all courses are offered every year. Please consult the Timetable or Graduate Coordinator for information on courses offered in a given year.


POLS 5043 CRITICAL POLITICAL THEORY  "Critical theory" refers to a tradition of holistic, interdisciplinary political theory grounded in a critique of domination. Thinkers studied in this course may include Adorno, Baudrillard, Benjamin, Butler, Derrida, Foucault, Haraway, Jameson, and Marcuse. Emphasis is placed on close reading and discussion of primary texts.

POLS 5103 CANADIAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS 1  Special topics course in Canadian government and politics.

POLS 5143 MASTERS COLLOQUIUMThis colloquium course provides a forum for MA students to develop and present their thesis proposal and ongoing research, as well as introducing them to significant theoretical and methodological approaches to Political Science. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5183 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1Special topics course in International Relations. 

POLS 5193 COMPARATIVE GOVERNMENT 1Special topics course in comparative government and politics.

POLS 5243 ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICAL THEORY  This course examines whether or how the values of justice, democracy, and ecological sustainability can be mutually compatible. Competing visions of "the good life," strategies for political change, and conceptions of "nature" are examined in light of contemporary environmental crises.

POLS 5283 INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONSThis seminar course explores the role of IOs in global politics. It considers their historical origins and evolution, the political, economic, and social forces that impact their operations, and their effectiveness.

POLS 5293 POLITICS OF DEVELOPMENTThis seminar course critically explores politics and political economy in the Third World, beginning with a discussion of "development". Subsequently, it explores legacies of colonialism, strategies and political impact of economic development, violent and peaceful political transitions, and factors mobilizing global and local civil society and social movements. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5203 POLITICS IN THE MARITIMES An exploration of political changes in Maritime Canada. Particular attention is paid to regional political cultures, electoral styles, party politics, leadership, federalism, Maritime Union, and public policy.

POLS 5303 APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF CANADIAN POLITICSThis course critically examines theoretical and methodological approaches to issues prominent in the literature on Canadian politics and government. We explore the theoretical and methodological assumptions and policy implications of issues including the role and nature of the Canadian state, national and sub-national political cultures, party competition, and elites.

POLS 5343 POLITICAL THEORY 1This course develops ideas central to political philosophy by means of analytic and interpretive inquiry. The specific 'topic' for each offering is available from the department.

POLS 5383 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 2  This course explores the key theories of international relations and world politics. Readings will be selected from classic and contemporary writers.

POLS 5403 CANADIAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW  The role of the judiciary in the Canadian federal process and major constitutional problems traced back to Confederation. Discussion of the leading constitutional decisions of the Privy Council, the Supreme Court of Canada and the major trends in Canadian constitutional law including the Charter and the Division of Powers. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5443 POLITICAL THEORY 2An advanced seminar in political philosophy which examines either a central concept or important works in the tradition of political philosophy. The particular content for each offering is available from the department at fall registration.

POLS 5483 POLITICS OF NEW GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIESThis seminar explores political implications of advances in science and technology. In addition to the political impact of mass media, robotics and nuclear technology, we explore the impact of cyber-technology, bio-technology, nano-technology on war, security, human rights, global governance and democracy. We ask how technological change affects the future of the world.

POLS 5543 DIRECTED READINGS: SPECIAL TOPICSDirected readings by MA students under the supervision of an individual faculty member.

POLS 5603 FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES: LAW, POLITICS AND POLICY IN CANADAExplores the socio-political, historical, legal, economic and cultural aspects of the decolonization and self-determination efforts of First Nations peoples. Students will explore the multiple dimensions of aboriginality, the evolution of Aboriginal-State relations, the legal battles for Aboriginal rights to land, resources, and self-government. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5693 DEMOCRACY & THE MARKETExplores contemporary challenges to democratic and democratizing states in the context of economic globalization. Theoretical analysis concentrates on the relationship between economic and democratic development and its influence on demands for and distribution of rights and material benefits. Theories illustrated using case studies from developed and developing societies. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5743 POLITICAL ECONOMYA survey of theories and models which have sought to explain the interrelationships among the state, the society, and the economy of a country, and the relationship between political power and economic and social (under)development in the context of globalization.

POLS 5783 APPLIED INTERNATIONAL ETHICS  This seminar course is a critical exploration of ethical dilemmas in contemporary international politics. A special emphasis will be placed on cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches to issues such as international justice; war; terrorism; global poverty; sovereignty; human rights; women's rights; humanitarian affairs and intervention; and the environment. prereq: Admission to the MA program or permission of instructor.

POLS 5803 CANADIAN PUBLIC POLICYThe social, political, cultural, and institutional forces which shape the form and content of public policy, the rationality of the policy process, the mushrooming of state activities, and the actual impact of governmental programs. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5883 POLITICS OF HUMAN RIGHTS This course examines what human rights mean, why they matter, and how they have come to influence contemporary global politics. We explore the political, legal and ethical dimensions of human rights standards from a variety of perspectives in Political Science and the subfield of International Relations. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

POLS 5893 THEORY AND POLITICS OF CITIZENSHIPExplores what citizenship means, how it develops, and how it is practiced in glabalizing and multicultural societies. Theoretical debates about the meaning of citizenship will be complemented by case studies exploring migration/immigration, multiculturalism in advanced democracies, and struggles for the rights of women and indigenous peoples. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.


POLS 5983 THE POLITICS OF ASIA/PACIFIC  This seminar explores modern and global issues affecting the Asia/Pacific community. The course explores three important analytic frameworks: global/regional, "glocal" and local. The global/regional focus explores institutional governance, security and economics issues before and after the Cold War. The "glocal" focus develops the competing flows that complicate the global/regional framework. The local focus explores how global connections emerge within local events. Prereq: Admission into the Graduate program.

IDST 5186 PEACEKEEPING: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVESThis course examines all the elements of modern peacekeeping from consolidating security to ensuring good governance and promoting economic rehabilitation. It also looks at the major players involved on both the military and civilian sides including NGOs and presents a series of peacekeeping missions.