University of Sydney Handbooks - 2021 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 gives students the knowledge, theoretical understandings, and practical skills that underpin a successful career that engages with politics at the domestic level. You will focus on how individuals engage with politics, and how governing bodies that shape peoples’ lives make decisions.

You 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

The Politics major and minor requirements are listed in the Politics unit of study table.

Learning outcomes
No. Learning outcome
1 Evaluate and apply key concepts, theories and methods used across the discipline of political science.
2 Compare and evaluate key elements of political systems, including their government institutions, political parties, interest groups, social movements, patterns of political participation, political values and political cultures.
3 Evaluate political events and issues in light of normative and empirical theories of politics.
4 Engage in independent evidence-gathering using a range of methods and sources, including digital sources, to answer research questions about politics.
5 Demonstrate effective oral and written skills in communicating ideas about politics to different academic and non-academic audiences using a range of media.
6 Assess the ethical implications of different political practices, including those that are central to citizenship.
7 Demonstrate problem-solving skills and interpersonal communication, skills through project work in disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts, through the evaluation of competing perspectives on the ethical and political consequences of policy proposals.
8 Demonstrate knowledge of the multidisciplinary nature of politics by establishing theoretical and empirical connections with the other disciplines that have shaped and continue to influence politics including international relations, law, economics, sociology, history and gender and cultural studies.
Advanced coursework

The Bachelor of Advanced Studies in SSPS offers students the opportunity to apply their social science skills and knowledge to complex and tangible social, cultural, political and economic problems. Students will have the opportunity to apply and further develop their methodological, analytical and communication skills as they undertake primary research, learn to harness big data for critical social science research and diagnose and propose responses to contemporary and persistent social, cultural, political and economic challenges. Students will also be given the opportunity to further develop their capacity to translate social science research and analysis into effective contributions to public and policy debates.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Politics advanced coursework units of study page.


The Department of Government and International Relations offers systematic and extended study in key areas of politics and international relations. Two advanced coursework 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 thesis. 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 chosen area.

Honours admission requirements

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.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Politics honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

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