University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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About the major

Politics is the study of the nature of government, and the distribution of power at the domestic level. The major in Politics will give students the knowledge, theoretical understandings, and practical skills that underpin a successful career that engages with politics at the domestic level. Students will focus on how individuals engage with politics, and how governing bodies that shape peoples’ lives make decisions. Students will compare key elements of political systems, including government institutions, political parties, interest groups, elections, patterns of political participation, and social movements. At the end of the major students will be equipped with the key concepts, theories and methods used across the discipline of political science.

Key research and teaching areas include:

  • 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;
  • politics at a domestic 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;
  • the policy-making process and the way governments create and implement public policy, and;
  • key issues; elections, political protest, environmental politics, leadership, state economies, constitutions and differing political systems.

Graduates from this major will have the skills desired by public, private and non-profit organisations, domestically and in different political contexts across the world.

Requirements for completion

A major in Politics requires 48 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 12 credit points of compulsory 1000-level core units *
(ii) 12 credit points of compulsory 2000-level core units *
(iii) 18 credit points of selective 3000-level units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level Interdisciplinary Project units

A minor in Politics requires 36 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:
(i) 12 credit points of compulsory1000-level core units *
(ii) 12 credit points of compulsory 2000-level core units *
(iii) 12 credit points of selective 3000-level units

* Selective units can replace core units already completed in another major

First year

In level one, all students are given a basic grounding in the core elements of both politics and international relations. Students will be introduced to political theory, comparative political systems, and the history of international system and international relations theory. Students can also take an additional optional unit on the Politics and Political Culture.

Second year

Students will take a dedicated unit in Political Analysis and a core unit Politics, which covers the main areas of the discipline; Australian politics, public policy, leadership, electoral systems, and political economy. There are opportunities for students to take additional Politics units depending on the overall structure of their degree.

Third year

All students will be required to complete an interdisciplinary unit focusing on real world problem solving. In addition, students can choose from a broad range of selective units.


If you commenced your degree prior to 2018, admission to honours requires a major in Politics with an average of 70 percent or above.

If you commenced your degree in 2018, admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Politics with an average of 70 percent or above. You will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major, prior to commencing honours.

The Department of Government and International Relations offers systematic and extended study in key areas of politics and international relations. Two advanced course work units cover national, comparative, and international politics. Students are also required to take a research design unit that prepares them for the research they will complete in the extended dissertation. The content of this research is to be negotiated with a dedicated project supervisor, who will be a member of the academic staff with expertise in the chose area.

Advanced coursework

Students with a keen interest in politics can take 4 advanced units in the subject and also complete a research project on a topic of their choice. There is also the possibility of exchange visits to designated University partners across the world.

24-36 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Contact and further information

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