BSocSc (Hons) in Government & International Studies

Programme Requirements

Academics Year 2020-21 onward

I. Major Required Courses

24 units

POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science

3 units

POLS 1005 (3,2,1)

This is a course which introduces students to a comprehensive review of the field of political science. Basic concepts, political theories and methodologies, political institutions, political parties are all examined. The Subfields of comparative politics and international relations are also integral parts of the course so as to lay down the foundation for further studies. Political developments in Europe and China are frequently employed as examples and related to the introduction of political ideas.

POLS 2006 Introduction to Political Economy

3 units

POLS 2006 (3,2,1)

Political economy, with its roots in the European 17th and 18th centuries, was the forebear of what developed in the twentieth century into the two separate disciplines of political science and economic. However, it has become defined in the last twenty years as that sub-discipline of political science and economic which examines the relationship of the individual to society, the economy, and the state with a particular focus on state-market interactions and intersections. It is the study of relations and choices, of structures and institutions, of scales from the personal and local to the national, international, and global. Its originators include John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Max Weber. Including choice theory and market theory, system theory, development theory and public policy theory, contemporary political economy examines the historic and human behavioural linkages among values/morals, politics, economic reality and economic reasoning. Its prime question concerns the role of politics in the economy and the effects and constraints of the economy on the power and functions of politics and of the state.

POLS 2007 Introduction to Research Methods

3 units

POLS 2007 (3,2,1)

This is a course designed to enhance students' ability to perceive, evaluate and understand political phenomena through a systematic introduction to a wide range of approaches, methods and theories of political science. Basic research procedures and academic writing are the other foci of the course. Students are encouraged to analyse and explain the current political development of Europe, China or Hong Kong with the help of particular perspectives and research methods.

POLS 2015 Government & Politics of Hong Kong

3 units

POLS 2015 (3,2,1)

This course examines the development of politics and political institutions in Hong Kong from its colonial founding to the present. The institutional framework of politics in Hong Kong and the development of political culture in Hong Kong are introduced, and the outlines of Hong Kong's past and present relationship with mainland China are explored with a focus on the Basic Law and the ongoing reforms after the assumption of sovereignty by the People's Republic of China.

POLS 2017 Foundations of International Relations

3 units

POLS 2017 (3,2,1)

This is a course which introduces students to the basic concepts, methods and processes of International Relations by focusing on four major "perspectives" that have framed analytical work in the field, namely "Realism-Power Politics", "Dominance- Dependence", "Transnationalism-Interdependency" and "Cultural Interactionism". International Relations seeks to build upon and integrate the disciplinary foundations students obtained in the first-year Political Science and Political Economy courses. It does this through a "level of analysis" approach and through a problem-solving treatment of issues relevant, where possible, to Hong Kong's interaction with its own region and with other areas of the globe.

POLS 2025 Foundations of Political Philosophy

3 units

POLS 2025

Prerequisite: POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science

This course investigates the fundamental issues in contemporary political philosophy. In every society, individuals live under a shared set of social, political, and economic institutions. How these institutions define the fundamental term of their social cooperation and distribute rights and duties among them will have a profound and pervasive impact on their life prospect. Political philosophy is ultimately about how these fundamental terms of social cooperation ought to be defined so to treat each individual fairly.

POLS 3006 Statistical and Survey Methods for Political Science

3 units

POLS 3006 (3,2,1)

The aim of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding and working knowledge of quantitative research methods in political studies. It is intended for students who plan to conduct research by designing and implementing their own survey. The course will be divided into three parts. The first part discusses some basic principles of survey research and introduces different research designs as well as survey tools. The second part covers the basic statistical techniques in the data analysis. The final part looks at real-world public opinion surveys and discusses the best practices in writing a research report using quantitative methods. Based on the principle of learning by doing, we will deploy SPSS or R, twoa major statistical computing packages for social sciences, to conduct research assignments. By the end of the course, students are expected to develop the capabilities to identify puzzles, develop hypotheses and design questions to test hypotheses; collect data, enter data and transform data; and perform basic univariate, bivariate and multivariate data analyses.

POLS 3017 Government & Politics of China

3 units

POLS 3017 (3,2,1)

An introductory course to the government and politics of contemporary China presenting China's political changes after the fall of the Manchu Empire and focusing on the political system of the People's Republic of China since the late 1970s.

II. Major Elective Courses (Eleven courses from the following)

33 units

EURO 2007 The Political Economy of the European Union

3 units

EURO 2007 (3,2,1)

This is a course which examines the causes and historical evolution of European integration and looks analytically at the institutions and the policies of the European Union. It provides a focused examination of the political economy of European integration, highlighting the dynamic relationship between economic and political integration and the respective roles of the member states, the EU institutions, and the market. Moreover, it highlights the complexities and difficulties in constructing a European constitutional order and offers a critical examination of the process of institutional building. It provides a critical review of the main theoretical contributions to the debate on European integration, and explores the prospects for the enlarged EU in the post-communist era.

EURO 2015 Model European Union

3 units

EURO 2015 (3,2,1)

This course seeks to familiarize students with the framework and procedures of international negotiations. It presents the participants with a unique chance of taking part in a simulation of European Council (summit) meetings and thereby gaining "hands-on" experience in perparing for and conducting multicountry political deliberations about current real-life issues. In the process, they will also study in a comparative perspective the political, economic and social backgrounds of European Union member states. The simulation systematically encourages peer learning. The negotiations will include three levels of bargaining: interpersonal, national and international, as participants will be acting as Heads of Governments of all existing EU member states, required to reach political consensus at the end of the simulation.

EURO 3205 Comparative Politics of Post-Communist Central Europe

3 units

EURO 3205 (3,2,1)

This is a course which examines new European Union Members States in Central Europe (in particular, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) from both historical and comparative perspectives. It begins with a discussion of the nature and weaknesses of the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the causes and processes leading to the 1989 upheavals in the region. It then considers the paradoxes and obstacles in the course of post-Communist transitions to democracy, the market economy and the civil society. The key issues of democratic consolidation and pro-market transformation will be addressed.

EURO 4005 Current Issues of European Integration

3 units

EURO 4005 (3,2,1)

This course aims at offering students a clear overview of the economic, political, social and diplomatic issues raised by recent institutional developments of the European Union. On the one hand, it consolidates knowledge of institutional structures and key policy-making processes in the recent years. On the other, it raises critical awareness of the deeper theoretical and practical questions these developments pose. One of the main components of the course is the growing importance of globalization and the opening of Europe to other regions of the world, in particular China and East-Asia. The course integrates theoretical perspectives and case studies.

POLS 2016 Social Movements and Contentious Politics

3 units

POLS 2016

This course introduces students to the study of social movement and contentious politics in a comparative perspective. The first part of the course distinguishes contentious politics from the normal political process and introduces the early theories of contentious politics. The second part examines the theoretical building blocks of the field, including the political opportunity structure, mobilizing structure, and frames. We apply these conceptual toolkits to real-world examples to understand why movements emerge, how they evolve and what changes they brought about. The third and final part critically interrogates the validity of classical theories of contentious politics by focusing on recent social movements around the world. By the end of the course, students should have a good grounding in the contentious politics literature and should be able to analyse social movements from a theoretical perspective.

POLS 2026 Ethics, Social Well-being, and Public Health (NEW)

POLS 2205 European Politics and Society: French Political and Government System

3 units

POLS 2205 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: EURO 1008-9 Europe: Unity and Diversity or POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science

After a brief presentation of the legacy of the past (i.e. the French Revolution and the various regimes which followed), the core of the course is an examination of the evolution of the French political and government system from the unstable structures of the Fourth Republic to the more effective presidential regime that exists today. Basic concepts of political science, theories and methodologies acquired in POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science are applied here to the study and analysis of one of the major nation states in Europe.

POLS 2206 European Politics and Society: German Political Systems and Society

3 units

POLS 2206 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: EURO 1008-9 Europe: Unity and Diversity or POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science

The course studies the structure of successive political systems in Germany within their historical context. Special emphasis will be placed on the traumatic experience of the Third Reich, its origins and its consequences in the post-war construction of a "social-constitutional state", a "social market economy", and the current multi-tiered political system of the Federal Republic of Germany, as it is embedded today in the European Union.

POLS 3206 Government & Politics of Japan

3 units

POLS 3206 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science

The course focuses on the political development of Japan since 1945. It begins with a historical overview of the rise of modern Japan and an examination of the legacies of the Second World War. The workings of the major political institutions, central and local, are studied, with particular reference to the process of policy-making. It goes on to identify the main political actors, political parties, business groups and labour unions and examines political culture and mass electoral behaviour. The role of Japan in the international system is also assessed.

POLS 3225 Religion and Politics

3 units

POLS 3225

This course initiates students into the complex interplay between religion and politics. It takes religions as social facts whose theological claims may or may not be factually true or verifiable, but the political consequences of which are nonetheless real and observable. From electoral campaigns to the divergent views on proper church-state relations, from domestic political institutions to fault lines in international politics, major religious traditions have all left their marks in them and are laying new tracks. This course explores some of these phenomena and provides students with theoretical and conceptual tools to analyse them. It guides the exploration and comparison of political worldviews proffered by, inter alia, the monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – through the reading of selected scriptures and other primary and secondary sources. The political energies released by secularisation, a process that affects all religious communities to varying degrees, are also examined in conjunction with the process of political modernisation. The ultimate goal is to prepare students for a multi-directional world in which religious traditions, secularization and de-secularization co-exist as forces and processes to be harnessed for the common good.

POLS 3226 War and Peace

3 units

POLS 3226

This elective course builds on the foundations of International Relations (POLS 2017) and is designed to deepen the knowledge of the students regarding the general aspects of both war and peacebuilding looking at those issues from several angles, i.e. theoretical, legal and institutional. It provides students with the necessary conceptual tools and analytical skills, allowing students to understand the causes of military conflicts and to devise strategic peacebuilding plans to manage, transform and resolve conflicts as well as preventing their recurrence.

POLS 3227 Greater China: State and Society

3 units

POLS 3227

The course aims to introduce students, who may have had no previous opportunity for systematic study of Chinese politics, to the state-of-the-art English-language academic literature on the subject. Through reading and discussion, students should acquire a sophisticated understanding of the changing institutions and processes of politics in China, as well as a good grasp of many of the key issues now confronting the Chinese polity in the course of its reform and opening to the world. Students will also be exposed to, and have an opportunity to compare and evaluate, a number of the most important conceptual tools, research methods, and analytical approaches that have been utilized by scholars in the study of Chinese political affairs. The intention is to enable students to follow and understand the scholarly debates in the many areas covered by the course, as well as to develop their own capacity to contribute to those debates.

POLS 3235 Comparative Democracies: The United Kingdom and The United States

3 units

POLS 3235

This course aims to compare and contrast the systems of government and the politics in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Theoretical frameworks and conceptual tools are introduced to explain the variants of democratic regimes, as well as the various pressures and challenges to which the two democratic regimes are exposed. It examines both the changes and the continuities in the institutional principles and structures, the political processes, and the policy-making patterns.

POLS 3236 Gender and Politics

3 units

POLS 3236

The course is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the relationship between gender and politics around the world, with a specific focus on East Asia. It will provide a general overview of the gender politics scholarship from a range of theoretical and methodological approaches. By covering five key topic areas, the course will examine the gendered character of citizenship, political participation, political institutions, and representation.

POLS 3237 Social and Political Developments in Contemporary China

3 units

POLS 3237


This course examines the state-society relationship in contemporary China. It will begin with an overview of the political context and reform strategies of the 1978 economic reform. The main part of this course will focus on a critical assessment of the social consequences of the reforms in different domains, including rural governance, industry, administration, the third sector, etc. The course will provide students a fundamental understanding of how the state has sought to shape the society and how the society has responded in China in the post-reform era.

POLS 3245 China and the World

3 units

POLS 3245 (3,2,1)

This course is designed to provide Government and International Studies majors and China Studies students with knowledge of Chinese foreign policies during the Cold War and Post-Cold War era. Being a socialist country with a strong nationalistic posture, how China situates herself in the world arena, and shifts her foreign policies from pro-Soviet stance (1950s) to isolation (1960s) then opening up to the West (1970s), will be thoroughly examined. The efforts of constructing a "Chinese Theory of International Relations" by Chinese policy analysts will also be studied.

POLS 4207 Comparative Public Administration

3 units

POLS 4207 (3,2,1)

For GIS major: (1) POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science, POLS 3017 Government and Politics of China and POLS 2015 Government and Politics of Hong Kong; and (2) POLS 2205 European Politics and Society: French Political and Government System, or POLS 2206 European Politics and Society: German Political Systems and Society, or POLS 3207 Government and Politics of the UK, or POLS 3215 Government and Politics of the US
For ES major: EURO 2007 The Political Economy of the European Union

This course aims to examine critically the major concepts and theories of public administration within a comparative framework. It compares the European model with those of other countries such as USA, China and other Asian countries. Case studies from those countries will be used in lectures, tutorials, and as research foci for students. Problems in the stages of policy formulation and implementation will be studied with emphasis on two major variables, the civil service and the legitimating ideology of the state concerned. Comparative policy formulation, implementation, ethics, problems, and politics-bureaucracy relations will be discussed with a specific reference to its application in the Hong Kong settings.

POLS 4225 Political Cultures & Economies in Transition

3 units

POLS 4225 (3,2,1)

For GIS major: POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science, POLS 2006 Introduction to Political Economy or POLS 2015 Government and Politics of Hong Kong
For ES major: EURO 1008-9 Europe: Unity and Diversity and EURO 2007 The Political Economy of the European Union

This is an interdisciplinary course which explores the recent political and socio-economic evolution of selected societies in the East and West. It focuses on the dynamic interplay of political, economic and cultural forces at the state level of the international system. It also considers similar forces at the regional and global levels which may link or interact with the development of states. Emphasis will be on Hong Kong and China, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Soviet successor states, and the European Union in exploring such transitional currents.

POLS 4226 Public Policy and Governance

3 units

POLS 4226 (3,2,1)

This course introduces public policy analysis to students, particularly how to understand these issues as relations between governments and different segments of society, such as professional interests, social and civic organizations, local communities, etc. Students will be taught to identify main public policy issues such as economic growth, social inequalities, urban development, community conflicts and environmental protection faced by contemporary governments. The course further goes beyond description of the substance of policies and seeks to introduce students to theories and ways of thinking about the policy process as well as the ideas, practices and institutions of governance.

POLS 4227 Security Studies

3 units

POLS 4227 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: POLS 2017 Foundations of International Relations

This course is designed for third- or fourth-year GIS major students or advanced master candidates. It seeks to deepen their knowledge in important fields of IR that are security and strategy. The course will address five main areas of security studies: theoretical approaches to security, key concepts of security, institutions of security, contemporary challenges to security and strategy in general.

POLS 4236 Theories of International Relations

3 units

POLS 4236 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science and POLS 2017 Foundations of International Relations

This course aims to investigate the various theoretical and analytical frameworks in the field of international relations. In an increasingly interdependent world where the new world order is yet to be established, a review of the dominant paradigms in international relations will facilitate a better understanding among students of the transformation of global order in the world in the world entering a new millennium.

POLS 4237 Topics in Asian Politics

3 units

POLS 4237 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science and Year IV Standing

The course is intentionally designed to be flexible in order to allow discussion of a range of contemporary issues in Asian politics.

POLS 4245 Topics in Comparative & Global Politics

3 units

POLS 4245 (3,2,1)

Prerequisite: POLS 1005 Foundations of Political Science and Year IV Standing

The course is intentionally designed to be flexible in order to allow discussion of a range of contemporary issues in global politics.

POLS 4246 Topics in European Politics

3 units

POLS 4246 (3,2,1)

The course is intentionally designed to be flexible in order to allow discussion of a range of contemporary issues in European politics.

POLS 4247 Comparative Electoral and Party Politics

3 units

POLS 4247

Elections and political parties are two central institutions of modern representative democracies. Elections decide who get to govern while political parties recruit candidates, compete for votes, and formulate policies for government action. Against this backdrop, the course is designed to familiarize and enhance students' understanding on basic theories and examples of party system, election mechanics, and voting behavior. Moreover, the course will equip students with the knowledge to systematically interpret contemporary elections and parties from the comparative perspective.

POLS 4255 Comparative Regionalism and Regionalization

3 units

POLS 4255

This advanced course explores regionalism and regionalization as concept and historical process of regional cooperation and integration. It seeks to explain the different levels of regional integration by examining the historical, geopolitical, cultural and economic factors shaping the reception of regionalism and the process of regionalization, taking Europe and Asia as prime examples. It further integrates the study of the two regions with a knowledge of interregional relations from a long-term perspective: the pre- and post-colonial development of Asians’ ties with Europe, and Europeans’ economic, political, and cultural exchanges with Asia. The challenges posed to Asian-European relations by the unprocessed historical memories of colonialism and multipolarity in world politics, and the threats of regional disintegration or regional hegemony brought about by rejuvenated nationalisms will also be critically reviewed within the framework of intra- and interregional cooperation and understanding.

POLS 4256 Comparative Authoritarianism and Democratization

3 units

POLS 4256

The course examines the major theories of authoritarianism and democratization and assesses the process of democratization in a comparative context. The first part of the course discusses the meaning and consequences of authoritarianism, explores different regime types and explores the dynamics of authoritarian regimes and how they maintain resilience. It then examines why authoritarianism spreads, and seeks to understand the phenomenon of authoritarian reversal and resilience through case studies. The second part of the course discusses theories and measurements of democracy and democratization, the dynamics of democratization, and different forms of democratic and hybrid regimes. It then applies the theories and evaluates the democratic transitions in East Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

POLS 4257 International and Global Justice

3 units

POLS 4257

This course examines some of the key moral and political questions for a changing world. While globalization has led to an unprecedented level of prosperity and innovations, millions of people are still born into unimaginable poverty. Human beings are still divided along national and class lines. What does global justice mean facing these stark divides - and why does it matter? Students of this course will be invited to engage in some of the most pressing issues of international and global justice, such as human rights, climate change, migration, and war, and reflect upon their significance

POLS 4265 Topics in Political Theory and Philosophy

3 units

POLS 4265

The course is intentionally designed to be flexible in order to allow discussion of selected issues in political theory and philosophy.

POLS 4266 China-EU, Prospects. Opportunities and Challenges (NEW)

III. Honours Project

(6 units)

POLS 4898-9 Honours Project

6 units

POLS 4898-9 (6,*,*)

Prerequisite: Year IV Standing in the GIS major

A final year project is required from all prospective graduates of the GIS major. The project is an extended written report on a specific topic within the field of political science, produced by the student under the supervision of a member of staff.

IV. Social Sciences Common Core

4 units

V. University Core

13 units

VI. General Education (GE) Programme

18 units

VII. Free Electives

30 units