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BA - Political Science as a major

If you’re fascinated by the history and creative activities of humankind and how this shapes societies and our future, then a Bachelor of Arts (BA) is for you. Our graduates are in demand for their flexible skills, practical outlook and depth of understanding they bring to their roles.

Political Science at Waikato offers a broad spectrum of political knowledge on both national and international issues. You'll seek answers to some of the most difficult political issues of today and gain skills for many potential career paths.

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Key information

Years: 3
Points: 360
Start Dates: Semester A (February) and Semester B (July)
Fees (Domestic): $6,117-$7,132 per year
Fees (International): $24,425 - $31,795 per year
Entry Requirements: Undergraduate International
*Tuition fees shown are indicative only and may change. There are additional fees and charges related to enrolment please see the Table of Fees and Charges for more information. You will be sent an enrolment agreement which will confirm your fees.

Career opportunities

  • Advocate
  • Central and Local Government Officer
  • Foreign Affairs and Trade Worker
  • Māori Development Policy Adviser
  • Media Analyst
  • Policy Analyst

Degree Planner

Degree planner — BA in Political Science

Year 1

One of
POLSC101 or POLSC102

One of
POLSC 101 or 102, or IRSST 103 or 104

One from List A
(see BA Papers below)

Field of the Degree
100 Level

Field of the Degree
100 Level



Year 2

One of
POLSC201 or POLSC211

One of

Any POLSC2 Paper
or PHILO215

One from List B
(see BA Papers below)

Field of the Degree
200 Level




Year 3

Any 300
Paper listed below

Any 300
Paper listed below

Any 300
Paper listed below

Any 300
Paper listed below

One from List C
(see BA Papers below)




  • Stream
  • Elective
  • Compulsory

In Political Science we study all aspects of political life. We ask such questions as: Why do some crises lead to conflict while others are resolved peacefully? What lessons can we draw from the policy experience of other countries? How ought we to deal with the growing international environmental crisis? Why does democracy survive in some countries and not in others? Can we have both freedom and security - or must we choose between them? What did the great political thinkers of the past really say?

Political Science comprises four main areas of study. Comparative Politics examines the political institutions and societies of particular countries, and looks at the comparisons and contrasts between them. International Relations focuses on the relations between states, on their foreign policies, and on international organisations like the UN and NATO. Political Theory examines theories about politics and society, and the philosophical and methodological questions that arise in studying political life. Public Policy explores and evaluates the processes by which national, regional and local institutions of the state formulate and implement policies. Students taking political science papers may focus on one or more of these areas, or follow a broader programme reflecting the diverse interests of political science.

Political Science is available as a major for the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Social Sciences. Political Science may also be taken as a second major or as a minor, subject to academic approval of the Faculty in which the student is enrolled.

To complete Political Science as a single major, students must gain 135 points from papers listed for Political Science, including 105 points above 100 level, and 60 points above 200 level. Students must include POLSC101 and POLSC102, or 15 points from POLSC101 and POLSC102 and 15 points from IRSST103 and IRSST104; and POLSC201 and POLSC211, or 15 points from POLSC201 and POLSC211, and 15 points from IRSST206 and POLCY212.

To complete Political Science as part of a double major, students must gain 120 points from papers listed for Political Science, including 90 points above 100 level, and 45 points above 200 level. Students must include POLSC101 and POLSC102, or 15 points from POLSC101 and POLSC102, and 15 points from IRSST103 and IRSST104; and POLSC201 and POLSC211, or 15 points from POLSC201 and POLSC211, and 15 points from IRSST206 and POLCY212.

To complete a minor in Political Science, students must complete 60 points from the papers listed for the Political Science major, including at least 30 points above 100 level. Students must include at least one of POLSC101 or POLSC102, and one of POLSC201 or POLSC211; and select their remaining papers from the papers listed for the Political Science major.

100 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
IRSST103Introduction to International Relations20A (Hamilton), 20A (Online) & 20A (Tauranga)
This paper provides an introduction to the study of international relations in an era of globalisation. It covers the historical background, key concepts and theories, case studies, and contemporary developments in the study of world politics.
IRSST104Introduction to International Security20B (Hamilton), 20B (Online) & 20B (Tauranga)
This course is an introduction to the study of international security. It examines a variety of contemporary security issues and explores how and why conflict emerges in the international system.
POLSC101Politics in the Ancient World20A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to politics at the dawn of Western civilization. Topics include Athenian democracy, the Roman republic, Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, political idealism and political realism.
POLSC102New Zealand Politics and Policy20B (Hamilton) & 20B (Tauranga)
This paper provides a foundation for the study of political science and public policy, with a particular focus on the study of government, politics and policy in New Zealand.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
IRSST206International Relations: The Security Agenda20B (Hamilton) & 20B (Tauranga)
This paper introduces students to International Relations' dynamic and evolving security agenda and covers some of the most urgent contemporary security concerns.
MAORI250Māori Politics20A (Hamilton) & 20B (Tauranga)
This paper examines Maori and Indigenous politics in a broad sense, from key ideas such as sovereignty, tino rangatiratanga, and autonomy, through to crucial forms of resistance via various political structures including local, Iwi, national and global Indigenous movements.
PHILO215Moral and Political Philosophy: A Historical Introduction20A (Hamilton)
A study of the moral and political philosophy of thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Hume and Mill. This paper uses Plato's Republic to introduce students to central issues in Moral and Political Philosophy, including questions about virtue, happiness, justice, liberty, democracy, tyranny, feminism, art, censorship, and moral educat...
POLCY212Power, Politics and Policy Analysis20A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to public policy analysis. Students focus on the role of politics, public participation and policy in addressing society's big problems, how they are framed and defined, and how solutions are developed and implemented within the context of the policy process.
POLSC200Politics and the Media20A (Online) & 20A (Tauranga)
This course provides an introduction to the complex relationships between mass media, politics, and democratic society. It examines the power of the media in influencing political processes, policies, behaviour, and perceptions.
POLSC201Modern Political Thinkers20A (Online)
This course examines the ideas of a number of modern political thinkers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx.
POLSC211Political Systems around the World20B (Hamilton)
The paper introduces the comparative study of political institutions, the study of the politics of a number of countries, their similarities and differences, from established democracies to authoritarian regimes.
POLSC224Terrorism, Violence and the State20B (Hamilton)
Terrorism is an increasingly prominent global phenomenon. We will clarify it conceptually and situate it historically with theory and case studies in situating it in comparative political and International Relations analysis.
POLSC229US Politics20B (Online) & 20B (Tauranga)
Students in this course explore the foundational elements of the United States, its governing institutions, the extent of public influence within the system, and major contemporary policy issues that the country faces.

300 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
GNSEX303Intersectionalities: Identities and Inequalities20A (Hamilton)
This paper provides a comprehensive review of the historical context for understanding contemporary issues of race, gender, sexuality, and social class. It investigates micro and macro level experiences and the social construction of identities. In doing so, this paper looks at how power is distributed in society, the theories that...
IRSST301International Relations: The Context, Theory and Practice of New Zealand Foreign Policy20B (Hamilton)
This course delivers a comprehensive historical overview of New Zealand foreign policy from the beginning of the 20th century, and considers the role government departments play in the creation and implementation of policy.
IRSST315International Politics of Asia20A (Hamilton)
It provides an introduction to, and analysis of, critical issues in Asia. Issues may include some, or all, of the Kashmir dispute; the situation on the Korean Peninsula; the South China Sea disputes; and tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
IRSST331Cyber Security and the Global Politics of the Internet20A (Online)
This course explores the global politics of cyber security and the internet. It covers the major political/strategic/theoretical debates around enhancing the security of computer systems and how states and non-state actors are responding.
POLCY318Global Environmental Politics and Policy20B (Hamilton)
This paper explores contemporary debates on environmental politics, sustainability, justice, and environmental governance. It examines the political processes underpinning the search for cooperative solutions to environmental dilemmas, including climate change.
POLSC300Religion and Political Violence20G (Online)
This paper examines religious attitudes to political authority and political violence. Students study the writings of major thinkers in the Christian tradition including Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin.
POLSC390Directed Study20A (Hamilton), 20B (Hamilton), 20G (Hamilton) & 20S (Hamilton)
This course comprises a programme of individual research and assessment undertaken by a student working under supervision of an academic staff member.
SOCIO302Globalisation and International Development20B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the impact of globalisation on both developed and developing countries. Special focus is placed on the labour-capital relation. Applied methods of comparative analysis are also introduced.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
ANTHY520Tribes, Empires, Nations20B (Hamilton)
This paper examines tribes, empires, and nations as historically distinct types of political systems, and the ongoing influence of tribal and imperial cultures and institutions in diverse contemporary nation-states.
IRSST502Security Issues in South East Asia20A (Hamilton)
After a brief conceptual and historical introduction to security in the region, the paper goes on to consider a range of contemporary security issues. These include ethnic conflict, militant Islam, maritime security, and relations with the major extra-regional powers.
IRSST505International Security, Strategy and Technology20A (Hamilton)
This course offers an introduction to Strategic Studies with particular emphasis on how developments in science and technology affect warfare, conflict, and the use of force in international relations.
IRSST506International Relations and Global Security20B (Hamilton)
This paper teaches and utilises major international relations theories to consider pressing global issues. This includes the causes of war and peace, globalisation, the Cold War, the widening security agenda, terrorism, the environment, inequality, new technologies, and international institutions.
IRSST507Cyber Security and Cyber Warfare20B (Online)
This course examines the political, strategic, legal and economic debates around cyber security and cyber warfare. Particular emphasis is placed on how militaries, national security agencies, and law enforcement are adapting to online threats and incorporating cyber in their strategic planning.
POLSC501Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice20A (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to the fundamentals of policy analysis, and develops skills for higher-level research in public policy. A key focus is developing critical awareness of policy processes, of the drivers of change, and of the role of both 'evidence' and public participation in policy-making, in the pursuit of inclusive ...
POLSC503Democratisation, Democracy and Mass Politics20B (Hamilton)
The concepts, approaches and literature of democracy, democratisation and mass politics, including theories of elitism, authoritarianism and transition to democracy and mass political psychology, democratic socialism, and democracy and capitalism, as well as an examination of relevant case studies.
POLSC537Environmental Politics and Public Policy20B (Hamilton)
This paper introduces students to the complexities and challenges of environmental policy processes, and develops skills in scholarly research on environmental policy making. A significant focus of the paper is on analysing and understanding the complex intersections of institutions, culture, science and technology, and systems of ...
POLSC590Directed Study20A (Hamilton), 20B (Hamilton), 20D (Hamilton) & 20X (Hamilton)
Students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of their own interest under the guidance of academic staff.
POLSC591Dissertation20A (Hamilton), 20B (Hamilton), 20D (Hamilton) & 20X (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
POLSC592Dissertation20X (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
POLSC593Political Science Thesis20X (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
POLSC594Political Science Thesis20X (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.

800 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
POLS800Political Science MPhil Thesis20X (Hamilton)
No description available.

900 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
POLS900Political Science PhD Thesis20I (Hamilton) & 20X (Hamilton)
No description available.

For more information about subject requirements please refer to the catalogue of papers for the most up to date information. If you have any questions and need more advice contact one of our friendly student advisors phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4080 or email:

Please note: For all graduate subject requirements check the information provided in the papers section above.

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Subject links

Political Science and Public Policy Programme

Study in Tauranga

You can complete your BA in Māori and Indigenous Studies without leaving the Bay. To discuss your options with a Future Students Advisor in Tauranga email


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4080
General and undergraduate email:
Graduate and postgraduate email: