Political Science Courses

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Political Science Courses overview

Political science is the effort to understand the systems and thought processes that govern global political systems. It is a social science that observes the interaction between politics and the distribution of scarce resources in an attempt to construct a general conception of how political systems operate. Postgraduate study provides students with a broad spectrum of knowledge in topics of import, which can include the design of policy, the effects of culture or economics issues on a government, or how politics operates in different regions.

Political thought can be traced back over 2,000 years ago all over the world, from ancient India’s Arthashastra written between 350 - 275 BCE to Aristotle (384 - 322 BCE), often regarded as the father of political science. The great events of times to come inspired a deluge of political thought from descending figures throughout the medieval period, renaissance, enlightenment, 19th and 20th centuries.

Modern political scientists have a wealth of theory to evaluate, with more practitioners than ever before taking it up. Their ideas help shape people's’ conceptions of politics as we know it.

Is political science for me?

Political science is for those with the curiosity to learn about how world political systems function and the myriad factors that influence them. It provides insight into history, psychology, law, philosophy, economics and more to build a complete picture. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving and modelling information, political science could very well be for you.

Study pathway

Political science can be taken all the way up to a PhD. Graduate certificates and diplomas are available for shorter periods of study, with master degrees offering an extensive coursework foundation.

Graduate certificates offer the shortest duration of postgraduate study, taking six months of full time study or one year part time to complete. They’re offered by the University of Queensland and other institutions to students from any discipline. It’s even possible to be admitted without any degree at all, provided applicants have at least two years of relevant work experience in something like public policy. There are a great deal of subject choices available in these courses, most of which there simply isn’t time for in six months. Some of these include:

  • Principles of global law
  • International crisis management
  • Globalisation and economic development
  • Global health & development
  • Managing organisational behaviour

Graduate diplomas are very similar to certificates, differing only in their length. These programs take one year of full time study to complete, or up to two years part time. Institutions like Macquarie University offer these to applicants under similar conditions, namely they must either hold a bachelor degree in any discipline or have relevant work experience. Although choice of units ought to identical to those for graduate certificates, the extended study duration allows students to take twice as many.

Master degrees offered by institutions like Deakin University take two years of full time study to complete, or up to four years part time. Entry is granted either to those who’ve completed a bachelor degree in any discipline, or graduate certificate or diploma. These courses can either be focussed on research, coursework or some combination of the two. This makes them an excellent way of gaining specialised knowledge in addition to the standard core units normally taught.

Doctorates represent the pursuit for the highest level of expertise, taking four years of full time study to complete or up to eight years part time. Institutions like ANU offer these exclusively to the highest-caliber students, requiring at least second-class honours in a four year bachelor’s degree to enter. Those with a standard three year degree can enter, given they have several years of prior relevant work experience. The course itself entails extensive supervised research into a topic of the student’s choice, which culminates in a thesis of up to 100,000 words. Alternatively, students can undergo a PhD by publication in many cases.

Employment options

The following are just some of the employment options available to those proficient in political science.

Policy advisor

These professionals provide governments and corporations with valuable advice regarding policy development. They’re able to help answer questions, like whether or not XYZ policy was effective or what went wrong. This is accomplished through a number of methods, from going out and interviewing stakeholders to modelling data or analysing and interpreting reports. Consulting firms like Keybridge PPE or FTI Consulting are highly focussed on exactly this, making them ideal employers for political science postgraduates.

Public relations specialist

Entering public relations as a political science graduate is an intriguing choice. Although these professionals aren’t working toward developing government policy, graduates can use their extensive knowledge of intercultural relations to promote an agenda and maintain favourable public image. This is a role that requires charisma and conviction in equal measure. Companies like Edelman lead the way in this field, making them employers to aspire for.  

Political consultant

In this field, graduates advise a political candidate on how to get elected. They use their knowledge of past and contemporary political processes to appeal to voter sentiment or address issues that stand out. Consulting firms tend to be the best option when it comes to getting a job in this field.

Advice for Political Science Courses

Gavel with law books on the background.
Study advice

Understanding the intersect between economics, government and private sector can lead to momentous decisions that shape society. A postgraduate qualification can grow this understanding.

Inside the House of Representatives in Canberra, Australia
Study advice

Political science is a discipline spanning hundreds of years, but what’s it like to learn about and be a student of?


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Student Stories

Crawford School of Public Policy
Tim Studied Master of National Security Policy at Crawford School of Public Policy


Edith Cowan University (ECU)

Discover courses, get advice from staff, watch demos and enjoy music, food and games.

Edith Cowan University (ECU)

Discover courses, get advice from staff, watch demos and enjoy music, food and games.