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Specialisations in Politics

'Politics' means different things to different people. 

Politics is a broad umbrella for a range of different areas of study and research. The Department of Politics is home to experts in a number of those areas, allowing students to choose from a rich variety of papers and specialise in an aspect of Politics of most interest to them. 

Students are welcome to discuss their options with the coordinator of each specialisation.

Political Theory

Political theory deals with the BIG ISSUES: what is a good and just society? What is power? Is freedom always a good thing?
If you want to learn how to engage in thoughtful arguments about politics in its broadest sense, political theory is for you.

Coordinator

Associate Professor Vicki Spencer, vicki.spencer@otago.ac.nz

Papers

New Zealand Politics/Policy Studies

The politics and policies of government shape our lives in various ways. To understand how and why this is so, you need to do more than read a few electronic news sources – you need to study central aspects of New Zealand politics.

Accordingly this specialisation helps you to learn more about NZ’s governmental institutions and policy-making, elections and political parties, political culture, role of the media, political economy, neoliberalism, class, gender and ethnicity, Maori politics, environmental issues, political inequality, and NZ’s foreign policy.

Coordinator

Dr Chris Rudd, chris.rudd@otago.ac.nz

Papers

International Relations

IR focuses on understanding and explaining the relations between states, issues of war and peace, the possibilities for international cooperation, the causes of inequality, and how the international system evolved and developed.

Coordinator

Professor Robert Patman, robert.patman@otago.ac.nz

Papers

Comparative Politics / Area Studies

Comparative politics tries to identify similarities and differences between governmental and political systems, in order to answer questions such as: are some systems more effective than others? how do people participate in politics? does culture affect politics? Area studies addresses such questions by focusing on particular parts of the world, such as the Middle East or the Pacific.

Coordinator

Associate Professor Jim Headley, james.headley@otago.ac.nz

Papers