Political Science and International Relations


Certificate in Arts
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Graduate Diploma in Arts
Postgraduate Certificate in Arts
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts
Master of Arts
Master of International Relations and Diplomacy
Master of Policy and Governance
Doctor of Philosophy

Bachelor of Commerce (minor only)

2015 Model UN

Jane Marine, Political Science PhD candidate at the 2015 Model UN event held at UC.


Are you interested in making a difference to the world around you? Human rights? The future of New Zealand or other communities? International affairs? Critical policy issues such as health, the environment, or peace? How social change happens and how power and resources are allocated in society? Do you want to think about these questions and pursue a career based on your interest? If so, you should study Political Science and International Relations.

Political Science is often called the study of who gets what, where, how and why. It is the independent and informed study of our communities and how we make decisions collectively as governments, why we behave as we do as citizens, and how we make public policy choices for the future. Political scientists use a variety of ideas and tools to examine local, national, regional, and global processes, institutions and relationships and to consider how we ought to live as political communities and how we can create change.

Why study Political Science and International Relations at UC?

The Political Science programme at UC has attained national and international visibility for the strength of its teaching and academic research. The Department of Political Science and International Relations is recognised internationally in fields as diverse as democracy, environmental politics and policy, humanitarian intervention, science and technology policy, Chinese and South East Asian politics, and regional and international relations.

Staff foster an environment in which students are supported toward achieving their goals as citizens, young leaders and as scholars, and where networks of fellow graduates and employers are nurtured to help with career planning and mentoring.

Political Science and International Relations students come from a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. Many study the subject alongside subjects such as History, Geography, languages (in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Te Reo Māori), Media and Communication, Law, and areas of Commerce and Science.


See all Political Science and International Relations courses

100-level courses

There are five introductory 100-level POLS courses. Students intending to major in Political Science and International Relations are recommended to take 30 points at 100-level. 

Each first-year course has two hours of lectures and a one-hour tutorial per week.

200-level and beyond

At 200 and 300-level students have a wide choice of courses drawn from across the range of Political Science and International Relations specialisations and inspired by the research of our staff who all work actively on social issues. Topics are grouped into four broad pathways:

  • international relations
  • comparative politics (the study of individual nations)
  • public policy (how we make choices as communities)
  • political thought.

Topics can include human rights and aid; media and politics; nationalism; citizenship; power; environmental politics; science and technology politics and policy; the politics of race and ethnicity; national and regional politics in East Asia, Europe, the United States, and New Zealand; disaster recovery; urban planning; new business leadership; and changing political thought and ideas.

Further study

The BA(Hons) in Political Science and International Relations requires passes in six courses and successful completion of an individual research project, and is normally taken over one year of full-time study. Students can also study towards the Master of International Relations and Diplomacy, and the Master of Policy and GovernanceMaster of Arts and PhD degrees are by thesis only.

Career opportunities

Political Science and International Relations students gain a versatile set of skills that can be applied in a wide range of exciting careers both within politics (international, national and local political institutions eg, the UN, humanitarian inter-governmental organisations, parliaments, city councils) and in more diverse areas such as law, business, education and journalism.

Recent graduates have been employed in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, and Justice as well as the Treasury, Te Puni Kōkiri, Parliament and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Government Communications Security Bureau, Security Intelligence Service, Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the Red Cross.

Political Science and International Relations specialists fare well in roles that value a questioning mind, superb communication skills and a strong understanding of systems and social issues such as the news media, trade unions, teaching and the finance industry (eg, banking and investment).

A number of our senior students have also gone on to further study and to teach at prestigious overseas universities.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Political Science and International Relations.

More information

School of Language, Social and Political Sciences

Phone +64 3 369 3377

Locke Building - see the School's website for up-to-date location details.

Postal address
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Alice Hartley

Alice Hartley

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