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Friday, April 9, 2010

Political Science Course Review UTM

This is in no way exhaustive, and these are just some of the courses I took at university with some of the profs. Some have left unfortunately. Also, if you have any questions do leave a comment on this post and I'll get back to you! Ps, this is just for the political science courses at UTM, Geography (GGR) and History (HIS) and CCIT (CCT) courses will be blogged about later. Oh, and I didn't know the actual names of some of the courses, but the codes are all correct.

POL111: Politics of Canada: Professor Johns
·         Amazing course because of the professor. Seriously, it was such a tragedy when Professor Johns left UTM! He was the most amazing lecturer; a bitter and ascorbic version of John Stewart. He really gave the most amazing and engaging lectures and he always took the first ten minutes of class to just talk about daily events. He would engage the students and your belly would laugh after his lectures were over because of the lectures. I wish he taught more at UTM! As for the course content, I might have not been the best judge because I had already taken so many political science courses beforehand so it was all review for me. But for a first year looking to just skim the surface of political systems in general, it was informative and easy. Just one midterm, one paper and one exam and tutorials.
POL113: ideas and Ideologies: Professor Lippincott
·         Ask anyone at UTM who their favourite professor is; chances are if they’ve taken Poli Sci it will be Lippincott. He’s an amazing lecturer and just SO hilarious that coming to class early in the morning for him was worth it. The course content is ok IF you are into political theory or philosophy. Surprisingly, that's what I’m best at; give me Plato or Hobbes and I’m pretty much good to write a paper. BUT for those who don't know about theory, this course would be really dry. Granted, if you want to do a political science specialist / major, you must take POL200 and this is a nice intro. I *hated* the essay for this course though, and it was my lowest mark in first year. The essay was to apply political philosophy to the show of survivor. It may sound easy, but it was a bore and the TAs marked it as if we were in our fourth year. The midterm was super easy though, and the exam was easy too. But take it just for Lippincott and you would probably still have a good impression of the course!
POL114: World Issues: Professor Johns
·         My FIRST poli sci course! Ah, professor Johns, he is the one that made me want to study political science. Every lecture of his was a treat! The course was really good, taught me *a lot* about basic political institutions, political figures, basic history and the like. The TAs were good, nothing to complain about. The format was easy; midterm, essay, tutorials and exam. Everyone had something to say in tutorial because if you read the newspaper / watched TV you could just discuss those topics.
POL242: Methods: Professor Lachapelle
·         Such a wonderful professor that I thought made all the statistics material really easy to learn! Seriously good at lecturing and really, really helpful! I know the material can be confusing for some students because its math based and those who are not mathematically inclined may tend to find it challenging. But I live and breathe quantitative analysis, so it was great for me. The course structure was good too; just four assignments and a in-class exam or a paper. I loved this course, but I would say be cautious to take it if you don't need it, it could drop your GPA if you don't understand statistics and statistical analysis (regression, control tables, crosstabs, etc).
POL208: Intro to International Relations: Professor Yaniszewski
·         Good prof. I took this in the summer and it was a very easy, laid back course. It was interesting and the Prof was engaging. He gave *a lot* of details and tested you on those details so make sure to take good notes if you ever have him as a professor. The course was really good, we learned theory at first and then actual case studies. The course had a 15% tutorial and that was a bit of a bore. I found the lectures to be better than the tutorials. There was a midterm, an exam, tutorials and one essay. He has his own citation style so make sure to follow this because he takes off a lot of marks if you do not follow it to a tee!
POL200: Political Theory: Professor Ferry
·         Professor Ferry is so nice! He was so understanding and gave out extensions when you really needed them. I like political theory so this course was a breeze for me. Well not a breeze, I did do a lot of work, but it wasn’t too hard if you know what you’re talking about. The lectures were informative about the content of what you were reading so it wasn’t bad. The course style was two essays, tutorials, little quizzes in class and an exam. The quizzes helped getting you on track with the reading, and the tutorials were 20% and were really easy.
POL214: Canadian Government and Politics: Professor Pond
·         Really funny prof! I just wish that I tried harder in the class. He gives a lot of information and its easy to follow. I hated my TA and I never went to tutorial and the other TA who marked screwed everyone over. I’ve never gotten such low marks before, especially in a second year political science course! I loved the prof though. There were two essays, a midterm, tutorial and an exam. I studied by butt off for the exam and it was really hard, harder than my third year political science courses.
POL302: Politics of Western Europe and the European Union: Professor Yaniszewski and Schatz
·         So the professor changed half way through the year. Thank God for Yaniszewski in the first half; made it so simple with a midterm and a simple essay. His lectures were full of little details you had to know, but easy to get an A. With Schatz there was considerably more work involved; you MUST be prepared for lectures. This means having done all the readings beforehand. We focused on Islam in Europe for the second half. If you don’t know diasporic theory, get up to date with it for this course. The topic really interested me, so I did well. The exam was easy but hard. He gave you a bunch of maybe essay questions beforehand, so you had an idea that one of them would be on it, but it was impossible to write out 10 essays before an exam. But this was a really high mark for me so I will not complain. Format of the second half was an essay and the exam.
POL354: Russian politics: Professor Johns
·         Took this solely for my favourite prof! The lectures were really interesting. Truly, this course was the foundation for all the other courses I ended up taking in Russian history. I wrote a lot of papers on Russia throughout undergrad, that's for sure! Just awesome course, awesome prof. I may not have enjoyed the course that much if it weren’t for the prof though. There was a midterm, an essay and an exam. Easy A.
POL327: Comparative Foreign Policy: Professor Jurgensen
·         This professor is SO wise! I feel weird saying that, but it’s true. He knows everything. He’s a good lecturer, but be prepared for a lot of theory discussion in the beginning. The fun part of the course is after the midterm when you talk about case studies. Also, he can be really fast and the details are really important, so ask him to slow down and write really fast! His midterm was a little hard, but the final exam was easy. There was also one paper which was easy too.

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Anonymous said...

what is political science about?
how is it like in UTM and is it hard?
please give me info. i'm going into this program and im kinda scared

Marz's Bar said...

@Anonymous 11:56
Hi there!
Political science is basically about power; who holds power in the world stage (as in, is it governments, organizations such as the WTO or IMF, etc). If you are taking the major or the specialist, you have to study political theory (basically philosophy of how governments stay in power, legitimize themselves or human nature regarding how to govern people) and introductory courses such as Canadian politics (how the political system in Canada is run as well as case studies of Canadian political action throughout the years) and international relations (ours focused a lot on Europe, but it introduces you to basic structures like the WTO and how it is run, as well as pressing issues like genocide laws and world court systems, etc). In your third year courses, you will get to pick whichever courses you would like to focus on. For me, in my history minor I had already focused a lot on Russia, so Russian politics was a must, as well as other courses which focused on international politics, such as in China and India. I liked the global politics perspective a lot and took more of those courses as compared to the ones focusing solely on Canada. You get to pick your own and I suggest you take whichever ones interest you the most as those are the ones you'll likely get the best mark in.
As for is it hard? I personally do not think so, but it really all depends on what your strengths are. If you are good at writing essays and papers and arguing your points very strongly in writing then you will do alright. My one friend is better at writing labs and doing math as compared to hard core essays and pretty much flunked out of two political science courses at UTM even though she is a smart girl. It is about knowing your strengths and weaknesses academically and improving on them. You will definitely find these out in your first year of university. Read my post below about UTM and get some pointers like visiting the library for writing help. Also, talk to your first year profs and get information on how to improve yourself in their courses. They are rarely ever scary and like students! They can give you the best tips to succeed in their courses.
Lots of people go into political science hoping to go into Law School after their undergrad, as political science courses really make you argue effectively for what you think is right or wrong in a particular situation. If this is your dream, then go for it. But don't just take it to get into Law School because you can take anything really to get into Law School. Take it because you like it. You are paying $5000 a year, so making it worth your while is extremely important. Plus, law schools generally will not even consider your application until you have at least a 3.5 GPA, which is very hard to do at UofT. And do not let others fool you into saying the St.George campus is harder or easier. Both campuses are the same as I've taken a lot of classes at both and have really found no difference in my marks from UTM and downtown.
If you have any other questions, do leave a comment again, I'd love to hear from you! Hope that helped.

Anonymous said...

What are some necessary skills that a high school student entering PoliSci at UTM should develop in order to succeed?

Marz's Bar said...

@Anonymous 6:27
Hello, thanks for leaving your question.
I think one necessary skill that a high school student should develop should be the ability to write a very effective essay. I'm not sure if you have ever heard the saying "expect to get 10% lower in everything you do in university than in high school", but generally this is true. This means that if you are coasting by in English right now with an 80, expect a 60 - 70 range marks in your first year especially. However, that is not to say that high school English classes are the best way to learn to write for political science; the type of writing that is required is very technical, consistent and streamlined. You should never go into more detail than is necessary and you should be able to synthesize a 20 - 25 page journal article into a page maximum typed up in your own notes. I find one skill that high school students really seem to be lacking is the ability to really synthesize and boil down what they have read into a summary of the key points and thesis of another author. You will need to do this for not only your essays, but for any required readings from the course. Another thing is to really argue your points well in class and on paper, you must be able to memorize key arguments in the field and the authors who have made those arguments in the past. Don't get fooled into thinking that political science is all about your opinion. It is not. It is basically about what points are the strongest and how well they can be argued.
A really big skill (which I'm not sure if you will be able to acquire while in high school) is being able to effectively research for journal articles using a library database. The quality of your sources will make a big difference in your grade. Those papers which represent the key literature within the field that you are writing about / studying about will do much better than one that is missing information. In many first year classes, library helpers come and show everyone how to use the library database and I suggest you learn everything they have to teach you. They also have helpers at the library that you can just go and talk to about your research and they will help you bring up amazing articles. Moreover, always ONLY quote academic sources (mostly peer reviewed journals and books) in your essays and never anything from the internet, wikipedia especially. Most of our professors will not even look at a paper if it has a wikipedia source in it.
Also, time management skills are really important in university in general. Everything will be due all at once and it is generally really hard to get an extension (professors do not care unless its extenuating circumstances). So plan ahead, get your research done well in advance and start to think about your papers sooner rather than latter. University gets hectic, but it's short and sweet (only 8 months out of the year!)
Hope this helped a bit, and please feel free to leave me anymore questions, I'm happy to help :)

Steve said...

Hey Marz's,

Just two brief questions for you. Have you took POL346Y5Y - Urban Politics? and what do you feel about the course. The other question is a follow-up on POL200, does this course has more reading than any other POL courses?
Thanks a lot for your time

Marz's Bar said...

Hey Steve!
Unfortunately I didn't take urban politics. Do you know who teaches it? If I've taken that professor then I could try to help you out with that one.
As for POL200, yes, there are a lot more readings and Professor Ferry gives you random quizzes to make sure that you keep up with all the readings. I think that some other POL courses have just as much, but because the POL200 readings are a bit more confusing, they are harder to get through and seem like alot more work. While it's not a bird course, its certainly not impossible to do well. I think the quality of your essays has a lot to do with the mark you'll get in the course, so ask Prof Ferry for help. He's really good at explaining things to his students and it'll generally help you get a better mark. Hope that helps!

Steve said...

Hi Marz's,

You are so helpful, may gods bless you for all the work you have done so far to guide us!!! I will for sure listen to your feedback. Yeah, the Prof. that is teaching the Urban Politics course is Bramwell, A., I think he/she could be a part-time lecturer. Anyway, last question is that, would you suggest to take POL200 during the summer time? I found that the course has always been offered during the summer. Again, thank you so much!!

Marz's Bar said...

Hey Steve!
Aww, you are too kind, I'm glad that it's helping you out!
I'm not sure if I would necessarily recommend that you take POL200 in the summer. It depends on your own schedual and how you handle summer courses. Generally I like summer courses better because it allows me to focus on one subject and I do better when I don't have five other things to worry about. However, I know for others that summer course marks tend to be lower just because the tendency to study is less (its summer after all!) and the material is so condensed that its hard to keep up. I actually found that in POL200, because I took it in the summer, that doing all the readings on time was a challenge and I would skip a lot of them especially since I was taking another credit that summer with it. I got a good mark in the end though, so if you're better at working under pressure with stricter deadlines and you have generally excelled in summer courses, then yes, I would recommend that you take it in the summer. During the year, I find that because of the material, it would be hard to keep track of all the readings that I would be doing for a course like POL200. But if you like to take your time and know it will take you a long time to read the books and to finish the papers and if the material is incredibly challenging to you, then take it during the year when you have more like to just grasp the subject matter and ask for help from the professor. Hope that helps you out!

Anonymous said...

wow, thank you for the detailed reply..
very informative

Anonymous said...

thank you very much for ur response

Anonymous said...

hello Marz
im in poli sci second year and wondering if you could tell me what were the easier poli sci courses? also if you know of any of the prefferred Sociology second yr courses to take?
thanks

Marz's Bar said...

There aren't a lot of second year POL courses, and a lot of whether the course is easy or not depends on the professor and the TA marking. But from what I've taken, POL208 (intro to international relations) and POL214 (Canadian Politics) were fairly easy.

Anonymous said...

thanks for replying

what about comparative politics second year?
pol200 and 214 are mandatory
but intl relations, comparative politics, and american politics and methods are not
out of those four you would say intl is easiest and what does methods entail if you know?

thank you again

Marz's Bar said...

Hi,
Well I took methods and I really enjoyed it, but the class average was around 55%, and most people found it really hard because it was all statistics. If you're good at statistics, then you will ace methods. The only reason I didn't list that as easy is because most people either drop out of it or are close to failing it because its not your typical political science course. There is a fair amount of math involved, but it can be a great course if you want to learn how to do data analysis.
I've never taken comparative politics, so I can't really tell you if its easy or not, but American politics I know is hard unless Lippencott is teaching it. I know a lot of people drop out of American Politic because they think its easy, but its not. Out of all of those, International Relations was the easiest when I took it a couple years ago. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

thanks

pol200 is like a theory course right?
what does it entail? and is canadian politics really interesting and a lot like international relations?
and as ive heard all these courses just entail short answer and essay?
so somewhat like first year poli sci courses in that sense?

finally also do u know anything about sociology courses?

Marz's Bar said...

Hey,
POL200 is a theory course and you start off by reading Plato, Hobbes, Machiavelli, etc and doing essays about certain themes. People only say its hard because the essays are hard, but its nothing too bad. We had a couple quizzes to see if we were keeping up on the readings. The final exam was kind of hard only because its hard to remember all the texts you have read in the entire year and specific passages of them.
Canadian politics was not *that* interesting, but its not the most boring (especially if you have Professor Pond, who is great!) But no, its sadly not like International Relations. I heard that they have changed IR from when I took it, so its completely different and apparently harder than Canadian Politics now (it wasn't when I was there). Canadian politics was two essays (marked really hard!) and one midterm (marked very easy) and the final. The final was the worst because not a lot of what you studied was asked and so you had to make up things on the spot. It was the hardest final I've taken fora pol sci course. The IR final when I took it was really easy, just basic short answer stuff. First year pol sci was really easy because I found they marked really easy, but in second year they start to mark a little harder, but again, there is also a fair amount of luck you have if you get an easy TA.

And no sorry, I've never taken a sociology course.

Anonymous said...

hey do u know of Prof Bejarno?
and what of Schatz? they are teaching Comparative politics

Marz's Bar said...

Hi there,
I don't know of Prof Bejarno, but I have taken a course with professor Schatz (POL302) and he's a hard marker and expects you to have all your readings done and participate in class a lot. Also, his lectures aren't very "planned" out like other professors. His main goal is to get a class discussion regarding the readings going on.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was wondering if you know anything about POL340Y - International Law, and which would you recommend I take - POL340Y or POL113? I'm only a minor so I'm only doing this purely for interest. Which of these is the most interesting in terms of material?

Marz's Bar said...

Hello,
That's a good question. POL340 is hard but interesting. The reason being that mostly all poli sci people want to get into law school and believe that this course will be a major help or advantage to them. For this purpose, the professors keep this class exceptionally hard. However, the content is incredibly interesting. As for POL113, the content is not as interesting as POL340 but its significantly easier.
I think that if you're taking it as an elective, take the easier one (POL113) as it'll boost up your GPA. But if you're really gung-ho about learning about international law and think that you'll be able to keep up with the course load, then by all means take that one. But you will have to work harder in POL340 so it's just a warning.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTERESTING IDEAS

Anonymous said...

Hey, your blog is very helpful but I have a question to ask you I am actually planing to take pol 208 in the summer but was wondering do the tutorials have any presentations or is just participation or attendance if you could please let me know that will be great.Thanks

Anonymous said...

POL208 is a GREAT course in the summer. Tutorials are just participation and attendance; there might be presentations but they'll probably be very informal and not major.

generic cialis 20mg said...

Hello, I do not agree with the previous commentator - not so simple

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am just wondering what the lowest grade 12 mark average was that still got accepted to UTM. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

can you describe pol327 a little more? is the prof engaging and is it a relatively easy course. im confused between this or pol340 (international law), which one do you think would be a better choice? thanks

Anonymous said...

Could you please recommend me a bird course? A GPA booster course. Please include the course code and the name of the instructor you had.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey I have a question about getting in to UofT and UTM, if you have a 78% and then 80% average in grade 12 do you think there are any chances of getting into UofT of UTM for polisci and history?

thanks

Anonymous said...

Yes. Not just a chance; you will get in for sure.

Anonymous said...

UofT usually accepts as low as 76, and UTM goes as low as 74. Those bare minimums aren't indicative of the quality of each school, though..it's got more to do with the number of applicants. Both schools give the same degree and many courses are taught by the same professors, and to the same (if not harder at UTM) standards.

Anonymous said...

Hey im just wondering which political science course would be good for a 1st year life science student who needs to finish their social science credit?

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Anonymous said...

Hey I'm just wondering which political science course would be easy to take over summer school? Right now I'm in first year and I'm planning on taking a second year political science course over the summer!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Can someone please answer:"which political science course would be easy to take over the summer?". I m in the middle of declaring a subject post in pol. sci(only have 1.5 credits in pol)and signed up for summer abroad but unsure about my status in those courses. Need to start creating plan B!

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