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The Learning And Career Opportunities Provided By A Degree In Political Science.

Career Planning Resources

Graduating Student Profile: The Reverse Funnel
Political Science at the University of Calgary prides itself in offering a set of courses and learning experiences aimed at widening student's horizons. Because our course offerings and methodologies are diverse, students entering our program are not directed into a narrow occupational field, but rather, have a choice of a number of different, though related fields. The notion of choice is most important: political science widens student's life horizons, and also provides them with an informed and supportive environment in which they can experience what it is to make an important life-choice. Imagine an education in political science as a reverse funnel: it will open up possibilities for career choices and lifelong learning. This broad preparation makes political science an ideal degree for those wishing to keep their career options as open as possible.

If they choose to, students completing a B.A. in Political Science may obtain specific, career-oriented training in a number of areas. Training in primary research skills - whether archival, qualitative or quantitative - as well as in analytical and communication skills can be used in a range of areas and careers. These include public opinion polling, market research, public relations, management, human resource departments, political risk analysis, political advocacy, and political parties. As well, political science graduates work for the many companies that now have government relations departments or are employed as lobbyists and political analysts for companies and interest groups wishing to influence government. After a number of years of reduced employment, public services across Canada are now involved in the largest round of hiring in the past 30 years, making it a particularly good time for those with an understanding of the principles and institutions of government to gain employment. Degrees with an emphasis on international or comparative politics as well as international political economy provide good access to job opportunities in foreign affairs, international organizations and corporations and a stepping stone to further study, such as in international law or the study of foreign languages. Many of our students go on to successfully complete professional qualifications in Law, Education, and Busines Administration (MBA) programs.

The skills and competencies exhibited by political science graduates will vary depending on how they have structured their degree. All should have strong analytical and writing skills, and many will be competent with statistical analysis. This sound methodological training is readily adapted to a number of career environments.

Students graduating with a B.A. in Political Science have:

1. a thorough knowledge of political science, its various sub-disciplines, major themes, and analytical techniques as well as basic analytical techniques from other disciplines (such as law, history, international relations, sociology, anthropology, geography, psychology).

2. a well developed ability to conduct their own, original research of one or more forms such as archival, oral history, participant observation, statistically representative or other forms of qualitative research.

3. the skills required to produce interpretive analytical reports of various forms, such as written, visual or oral presentations, based on data acquired in research.

4. an international perspective on political science research, the nature of change in the global political community, and the complex character of processes such as globalization.

5. an understanding of human cultural and political variability whether within Canada or the global community, and an attendant appreciation of others' viewpoints and culture-specific attitudes, ideals and practices.

6. the preparation necessary to undertake career work in areas directly associated with political life, such a party organizations, advocacy groups, parliaments, social movements, as well as public service and related organizations, and para-political occupations such as public opinion polling, political analysis, risk management analysis, public and media relations, and other fields such as management and marketing.

7. the preparation, as generalists combining knowledge and skills from humanities, social sciences and natural sciences for a wide range of careers, and perhaps most importantly, vigorous participation in civil society and public debate over the nature of the "good society".

Statement of Purpose and Program Objectives: Core Competencies and Careers
The Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science provides students with an understanding and appreciation of the art of politics by enabling them to explore the location and use of power in society. The setting varies from the realm of international politics to political developments within single states, from the field of political thought to the social and psychological forces influencing the behaviour of individuals. Some students may concentrate on the explanation of political behaviour, while others may focus on the values and ideologies embodied in the institutions of government. All areas overlap in a common quest for understanding of the political past, present and future. Political Science students have experience in thinking about how best to construct knowledge. They understand the ways in which politics pervades our lives and how political institutions attempt to help us achieve the "good society".

Students may choose to pursue a degree that widens their career choices, or structure their degree in order to meet particular career objectives. Political science graduates find employment in a wide array of fields too numerous to list: from Prime Ministers to comedians (Kim Campbell to Robin Williams). Alternatively, it is possible to structure a political science degree in order to take up a career in such areas as public opinion polling, market research, public relations, management, human resource departments, political risk analysis, political advocacy, and political parties, policy analyst, lobbyist, intergovernmental relations, government-business relations, international economics, international organizations, foreign affairs, and the various public services. Our graduates are also successful in subsequent Law or MBA programs.

Students know how to gather relevant information about politics and society, critically analyze this data, and communicate this analysis to others. Students are trained in a range of skills :

  • designing research projects
  • identifying and collecting relevant data and evidence
  • categorizing and critically analyzing data, whether textual or numerical in form
  • understanding the nature of reasoning and argumentation, and
  • utilizing various means of communicating the results of their work.

This critical and creative process is aimed at ensuring students are capable of assessing claims about the social world in which they find themselves, and thinking about this world in new ways. Political science graduates are capable of self-direction in seeking knowledge and truth within one or more of the thematic strengths of the department noted above.

In a "shrinking world" that is always changing, political science provides unparalleled training in understanding the political institutions of other countries and regions, and the tools to analyze how they work and will respond to new realities. The research, analytical and writing skills acquired in political science will meet the requirements of a broad range of occupations that require informed, intelligent and thoughtful individuals. These skills and knowledge include:

1. the ability to examine written material and oral presentations critically to assess the implications of factual material and the veracity of the opinions and arguments based on those facts.

2.the ability and desire to engage with social and political problems, to acquire relevant data, and use insight, knowledge, reasoning, and technical skills to analyze that data and develop logical solutions.

3.the ability to gather information, asses its importance, and organize it for use.

4.the ability to effectively communicate ideas and information verbally, visually and in writing

5.an international and culturally sensitive perspective that assesses and evaluates actions and communication with reference to relevant cultural and political values and frameworks.

6.practical experience in the methodologies of at least two of the five sub-disciplines of political science, plus in most cases, statistical analysis, in order that graduates are able to analyze political information and data, generate new ideas and knowledge, and take these skills to new fields of endeavor.

7.an interdisciplinary training that engenders an understanding of and respect for the complexities of life and the requirement for multifaceted approaches to understanding social and political problems and issues and creating solutions.