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Politics and Ethics

Course Code: POLI 2200
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Political Science
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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.

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.

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%

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.

course prerequisites

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

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.