University of Sydney Handbooks - 2017 Archive

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Government and International Relations

The Department of Government and International Relations is part of the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS).

About the major

A Government and International Relations major (also known as political science) provides an opportunity to study the workings of government and the distribution of power in society from an extremely wide range of angles. This includes:

  • Politics at the global level: the study of the politics of countries around the world, as well as the way these nations interact in the international arena (foreign affairs, strategic behaviour and diplomacy)
  • Politics at a national level: the study of Australian politics, including the role of political parties and elections, interest groups and social movements, and the position of Australia in its region
  • Comparative politics: looking at the way politics is conducted in different nations, and the impact of different political systems and structure on the distribution of power in society
  • The policy-making process and the way governments create and implement public policy
  • Environmental politics and policy making practices, and
  • A wide range of specialist topics focusing on specific aspects of the political system, political philosophy, and specialist areas like human rights, media, and security.

Graduates from this major will have the skills desired by public, private and non-profit organisations, domestically and internationally.

Pathway through the major

A major in Government and International Relations requires at least 36 senior credit points from the unit of study table, including at least six credit points from 3000-level units of study.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Government and International Relations. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

The undergraduate major in Government and International Relations is a flexible area of study, which permits students to undertake general or focused learning from the first year of study. Because of the wide range of sub-disciplines within the teaching of politics at the University of Sydney (including, but not limited to: international relations, Australian politics, comparative politics, public policy making, political theory, environmental politics), you are encouraged to develop your own learning pathways through our key teaching areas. Given the breadth of our unit of study offerings, it is possible to focus on some sub-disciplines, with a wide range of specialist subjects to add value to the degree program to indulge specific personal interests.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete 12 junior credit points, depending on your interests. Junior units of study provide a broad introduction to the subject area and prepare you for study at senior level.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You complete at least 36 elective credit points from senior-intermediate (2000-level) and senior-advanced (3000-level) units of study. Senior-intermediate units of study deepen your understanding of government and international relations and introduce you to research methods in the field. You can specialise by concentrating on units about a particular region or theme, such as domestic Australian politics or the politics of globalisation, or take a broader selection from across the available units of study according to your interest.

You must complete at least six credit points from senior-advanced (3000-level) units of study as part of your major in Government and International Relations. Senior-advanced units of study further deepen your understanding of the field and its methodologies.

Honours Program

Honours in Government and International Relations is a challenging, one-year program designed for students seeking to develop and apply their skills in Political Science at an advanced level.

Students intending to proceed to honours must complete 48 senior credit points in Government and International Relations with an average of 70 percent or above, and including completion of GOVT2991: Political Analysis, GOVT3993: Power and GOVT3994: Research Preparation.

Contact/further information

Department website:

Chair of Department: Professor Colin Wight

Phone: +61 2 9351 3090

Undergraduate Coordinator: Dr Robert MacNeil
Phone: +61 2 9036 9079

Govt. IV Honours Coordinator and Govt II and III Honours: Dr Ryan Griffiths
Phone: +61 2 9351 4882

A list of all 2016 academic coordinators can be found at