Politics is the study of how power is organised and used, nationally and internationally.
Power relations affect every aspect of our lives, determining what we may think, say and do, and how we can co-operate to make the world a better place.
What better time to study politics? So much of what we see in the news is about politics, including Brexit, the US election, the civil war in Syria, and the Treaty of Waitangi. By studying politics, you will gain a balanced, analytical and insightful understanding of topics that may be sensationalised in the media. Empower yourself to know the difference: study politics.
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Why study Politics?
Politics is a practical field of study that empowers you to better understand the world and take part in informed decision-making. It is also an intellectually stimulating field.
Whether we like it or not, politics affects all of our lives. No matter where in the world you venture, politics is always a popular and sometimes delicate topic of conversation. Whether you want to forge a career in politics, or simply understand the world a little better, everyone would benefit from learning about politics.
Our graduates find exciting, challenging and highly-rewarding careers in a broad range of fields across New Zealand and around the world. Many of our graduates continue on to study towards a postgraduate degree at prestigious international universities.
“I was initially worried about how I would cope at a famously elite global university. However, I can honestly say the quality of education at Otago is world class.”
Ben Abraham,BA(Hons) graduate, Rhodes Scholar, University of Oxford PhD candidate
Politics at Otago
Otago Politics lecturers are all experts in their fields, and all are actively engaged in research that enriches their teaching.
Our approach to the study of politics is a blend of traditional and modern analysis. The breadth of the discipline of politics is reflected in the wide range of papers on offer at Otago. At Otago, politics is arranged into four fields:
- International Relations – study internationalconflicts and co-operation between states
- New Zealand Politics – understand the politicsof Aotearoa
- Political Theory – ask important theoreticalquestions about the nature of power and justice
- Comparative Politics – compare the politics ofa range of countries and regions
Studying Politics at Otago assumes no prior knowledge. If you have an interest in national and international affairs, you should consider including some politics in your degree.
Qualification options are listed below. Politics is also part of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) degree programme.
Politics is an excellent subject to study alongside another of interest, either as a double-major in the BA, alongside a Science subject in the BASc, or as a double degree with Law or Commerce, and other options.
Politics for every student
Politics is also available as a minor within a range of degree options, or simply as an additional interest paper to strengthen your degree.Consider what an understanding of people and power, conflict and co-operation would add to a degree in areas such as Law, International Business, History, Economics, Geography, Management or Psychology.
International student exchange
The opportunity to study at an international university and understand another culture is an invaluable educational experience for a student of politics.
The department offers a range of postgraduate programmes. The twelve-month long Master of Politics (MPols) and Master of International Studies (MIntSt) degrees are excellent options for students interested in specialising in a particular area of politics or seeking an extra edge when considering their future career options. We also offer two research degrees – the Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
“The strength of Otago’s Politics Department is its breadth. In one degree you can take anything from political philosophy to environmental politics.”
Carys Goodwin, BA(Hons), DipLang graduateUniversity of Cambridge MPhil candidate
Politics graduates have the ability to analyse issues logically, to challenge conventional assumptions, to consider different options and viewpoints, make informed decisions, and act with flexibility, adaptability and creativity.
In addition to these specialist skills, our programmes enable you to develop a range of personal and professional skills that are highly valued by employers.
A politics degree has helped many graduates secure jobs such as policy analysts, diplomats, working with refugees, journalists, business leaders, lawyers, public servants, consultants, and even politicians
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom)
- Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc)
- Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)
- Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))
- Master of Politics (MPols)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Politics
|100-level||Two 100-level POLS papers||36|
Two 200-level POLS papers
One further POLS paper at 200-level or above
One of CHIN 241 Contemporary Chinese Society, GEND 201 Introduction to Feminist Theory, GEND 208 Governing Bodies, PHIL 227 Morality and Politics:Hobbes to Hume, PHIL 228 Ethics, PSYC 204 Justice, Race and Class, or PUBH 203 Health Policy and Politics, may be substituted for one 200-level POLS paper
Four 300-level POLS papers
198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts
Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Politics
Master of Politics (MPols)
Minor subject requirements
Politics as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
|100-level||See below|| |
Five POLS papers, at least three of which must be above 100-level, including one at 300-level.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website