Honours in Politics is a one-year postgraduate degree requiring full-time study.
If you have completed your BA with an average grade of at least a B+ for the appropriate 300-level papers*, you are eligible for admission to the BA (Honours) or the Postgraduate Diploma in Politics (see below).
The requirements for the completion of the BA (Honours) in Politics are: POLS 490 and 60 further 400-level points from POLS 402-433.
Applications for the BA (Honours) can be submitted electronically via the University of Otago webpage.
If you wish to discuss further study options, please contact Dr Chris Rudd (Honours Coordinator).
a B+ average means an average of at least 6 using the following grade averaging scale:
A+ 9, A 8, A- 7, B+ 6, B 5, B- 4, C+ 3, C 2, C- 1, D 0, E 0, Aegrotat 3, Absent 0
POLS490/491 is a research dissertation of 15,000 words (excluding footnotes, bibliography, and appendices). It is either a piece of original research on a specified research question, or a more wide-ranging discussion of a topic which gives a critical account of existing literature and knowledge.
Students are appointed a supervisor and also meet regularly with the 400-level co-ordinator to ensure steady progress is maintained on the dissertation. The due date is the last Friday of classes in semester one (POLS 491) or semester two (POLS 490).
Statement on 490/491 extensions
The due date for POLS490 and POLS491 is a strict deadline. Extensions will only be provided in cases of unforeseen circumstances which significantly restrict a student’s ability to complete the dissertation on time. This does not include work commitments, or any other activities entered into voluntarily. In cases where there are serious unforeseen circumstances, the student should discuss them with the 400-level co-ordinator at the earliest possible opportunity.
The BA (Honours) requires full time study. It is possible to study part time at the 400-level towards a Postgraduate Diploma.
The requirements for the completion of the Postgraduate Diploma in Politics are: POLS 490 and 60 further 400-level points from POLS 402-433.
A Diploma for Graduates comprises one full-time year, or part-time equivalent, of papers chosen to form a coherent course of at least 120 points. The papers are usually at undergraduate level and at least 72 points must be at the 300-level. The Dip Grad is thus not a postgraduate qualification as such, but is a useful bridging study for graduate students who have completed a major in one subject and who then wish to prepare to undertake postgraduate work in another.
Fourth year Honours and the Postgraduate Diploma courses are the equivalent of the course work for the first year of the MA. Therefore, those who have completed them can earn an MA by doing a thesis only. The criterion for admission is a BA (Honours) degree with a pass at Second Class Honours, First Division or better, or the equivalent standard in the Postgraduate Diploma. A Masters thesis consists of 30,000 to 40,000 words of text, excluding appendices, footnotes, and bibliography. Full-time candidates can usually complete the thesis in 12 to 18 months and the Department encourages students to stick to that time limit. (Part-time candidates are allowed up to four years to complete).
Candidates will be allocated a supervisor for their work. These supervisors are trained to supervise candidates and will advise on topics and sources. An induction series of seminars will be held at the beginning of the course of study to explain research techniques, data collection, storage and retrieval, and thesis writing procedures and requirements. Candidates must see their supervisors at least once a month whether or not they consider they have any progress to report. Naturally, more frequent consultation is often desirable particularly in the early and the writing up stages.
No student should assume they have a topic until they have a supervisor who has determined that the topic is researchable, within the supervisor’s field of competence, and can be completed in 18 months of full time work. In order to get knowledgeable supervision, the Department on occasion has co-opted a co-supervisor from outside the Department. Format should conform to the recommendations in the pamphlet “Notes on the preparation of theses”, available at the central library. For further information, see Dr Vicki Spencer.
Prospective students should carefully read the University’s Handbook for Masters’ Degrees that is available.
The Department of Politics, along with other participating departments, offers students the option of a taught Master of International Studies (M.IntSt). The M.IntSt programme is multi-disciplinary in nature and consists of four Masters level courses (which all participating students have to take) taught by staff from four disciplines plus a 20,000 word research project which is started at the beginning of what is an intensive twelve month course. The components of the programme are:
International Politics (INTS 502)-Semester 1
International Legal Issues (INTS 504)-Semester 1
The Global Economy (INTS 503)-Semester 2
Global Peace and Conflict (INTS 509)-Semester 2
Research Dissertation (INTS 505)-Full Year
International Politics (INTS 502) examines contending international theories, actors in the international system, security dimensions of international society and some key issues in contemporary global politics, including morality and human rights, the threat of international terrorism and the North-South divide.
International Legal Issues (INTS 504) gives a foundation in the basic principles of international law, then proceeds to examine the role of legal principles in world affairs on topics such as the use of force, the law of the sea, self-determination, and human rights.
The Global Economy (INTS 503) covers the microeconomics of international trade and the macroeconomics of the world economy. The focus is on recent trends in, and likely prospects for, the global economy.
Global Peace and Conflict (INTS 509) examines theoretical explanations for peace and armed conflict, alternatives to violence, conflict resolution theory and practice, post conflict development and peace-building, reconciliation and transitional justice.
With respect to the research dissertation, work on this project should commence at the beginning of the programme - a student can join the M.IntSt in February or July during the academic year - and must be completed within the following 12 months. Please note this is a truly multidisciplinary programme, and involves teaching from four academic disciplines - Politics, Law, Economics, and Peace & Conflict Studies. Each of these disciplines are responsible for determining the content and internal assessment requirements of each course. Students have six contact hours per week and there is a 60-40 split between the exam and internal assessment for each taught component of the course. That is to say, 40 per cent of a student's mark is determined by internal assessment (coursework normally consisting of 24 essays, seminar presentations and assignments) in each of the four courses that are taken as part of the M.IntSt programme.
Applicants for the M.IntSt should normally hold a four year Honours degree at a level of at least Upper Second Class or the international equivalent, or have alternative qualifications or experience acceptable to the Pro- Vice Chancellor in the Humanities Division. For a more detailed description of this degree programme, please consult the M.IntSt website http://www.otago.ac.nz/mintst or ask Donna Jackson in the Politics Department Office for further information.
The Department of Politics along with other participating departments offers students the option of a taught Master of Indigenous Studies (MIndS). This degree allows students to explore, question and learn about the unique bodies of knowledge about indigenous customary, environmental and cultural practices. This degree requires at least twelve months of fulltime, or the equivalent in part time, study to complete. The normal admission requirement is a four-year degree, but applications will be received from alternatively qualified students who have at least three years relevant experience. For further information see Dr Janine Hayward.
A PhD is earned by dissertation only and normally takes three years to complete. BA Hons or PGD candidates who perform with distinction on their course work or show unusual research promise may be allowed to proceed directly to the PhD degree; otherwise doctoral students are expected to have completed a Masters degree. If an MA thesis promises to be of unusual quality and scope, the candidate may be allowed to upgrade an MA registration to a PhD. Candidates will be allocated a supervisor or supervisors. An induction Programme is presented to familiarise new PhD candidates with research methods and techniques, data sources, data storage and retrieval, and thesis writing procedures and requirements. Please consult with the PhD co-ordinator, Prof Philip Nel, for further information.
You can download the Department of Politics Posgraduate Handbook here. (PDF Format). This handbook contains nearly everything you need to consider PostGrad study in the department.
Honours students and postgraduates, in consultation with supervisors, need to consider carefully the potential ethical implications of their research, in accordance with University Policy in this regard. See policy documents and forms at http://www.otago.ac.nz/acadcomm/ethics.html).
If the intended research involves interviews with politicians, other public figures, government officials, or members of the community, ethical approval must be sought. University policy makes provision for two types of ethical approval (Category B can be approved at the department level while Category A requires approval from the University Ethics Committee), depending on the level of anonymity and the potential political risk involved. Please consult with the Coordinator of the Department's Ethics Committee, Dr Carla Lam, about the type of approval necessary for your intended research. They can also provide you with a template on which to base your application for Departmental approval.
The Department regularly holds research-in-progress seminars for all staff and honours and graduate students. All honours and graduate students and department staff are expected to participate in departmental seminars at which papers on research-in-progress receive constructive feedback. In addition, visiting scholars present papers of interest to the Department at convenient times. Seminars are advertised on the Politics notice boards and on our website.
Depending on enrolment numbers and the divisional budget, a number of positions of tutor are allocated to the Department each semester. These positions are normally attached to 100- and 200-level papers.
Being a tutor is a great way to enhance your CV and to build your experience in speaking to and working with groups of peoples. Competition for the available positions is intense, and tutoring positions are usually reserved for PhD and Masters students in the first place, and for students who major in Politics and have completed their third year of study in Politics.
Should you want to be considered for one of the positions available in a semester, please email your CV and study record to Sharon Pine, the Departmental Administrator, (email@example.com).
Closing dates for applications are 1 February for the 1st semester, and 30 June for the 2nd semester.