Curriculum Guideline

Politics and Ethics

Effective Date:
Course Code
POLI 2200
Politics and Ethics
Political Science
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week/semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week/semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

Instructor presentation of the course will involve the use of formal lectures, structured group work, and in-class discussion of assigned materials. Additional readings may be assigned for each course unit and placed on library reserve or via selected websites. Audio-visual and interactive materials may be used.

Course Description
This course will examine political controversies that raise fundamental ethical issues in contemporary public life and the political choices of public officials. The course will analyse the ethical dimensions of public policy and examine basic questions such as the proper place of ethics in politics, the difference in ethical behaviour in the public and private spheres, and whether the state should be neutral with respect to moral beliefs. Specific topics and issues will include, for example, the limits of political power, the rule of law, conflict of interest, minority cultural rights, health care, and debate over the welfare state.
Course Content
  1. Introduction to ethics and politics.
  2. The limits of political power.
  3. Debates over the role of ethics in politics.
  4. Conflicts of interest and patronage.
  5. Governance, public policy and ethical choices.
Learning Outcomes

Upon conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the main ethical theories and approaches to assessing politics and government;
  2. address basic issues such as the proper role and place of ethics in politics, the nature and limits of political obligation, and under what circumstances individual or social interests should prevail;
  3. critically assess a selected range of governance and policy issues confronting local, regional, and national governments.
Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be based on course objectives and in accordance with the policies of Douglas College and the Department of Political Science. A minimum of 40% of the student’s course grade will be assigned to examinations, a minimum of 30% will be assigned to the various components of a formal research essay, and a maximum of 30% will be based upon components such as quizzes, short essays, participation, and class presentations. Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor in course outlines.


One example of an evaluation system:


Participation                                    10%

Quizzes                                          10%

Research-based position papers        30%

Mid-term exam                               25%

Final exam                                     25%

                                Total:           100%

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


Textbooks and readers will be selected based on instructor expertise and preference, and in consultation with the Department of Political Science. There are a range of textbooks and readers that can fulfill course objectives. Some examples include:


Carmichael, Don, Tom Pocklington and Greg Pyrcz. Democracy, Rights and Well-Being in Canada

      (Toronto: Harcourt Canada, 1999).


Greene, Ian and David Shugarman. Honest Politics (Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, 1998).


Hare, R. M. Essays on Political Morality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).


Klosko, George. Democratic Procedures and Liberal Consensus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


Mancuso, Maureen et al. A Question of Ethics: Canadians Speak Out (New York: Oxford University

     Press, 2006).


Skoropski, John. Ethical Explorations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).


POLI 1101 or POLI 1102 or POLI 1103 or permission of the instructor