PhD Program

About Us

* Please see - Funded PhD Research Opportunity available to an incoming PhD


Western has excellent research centres and groups as well as a strong researched-oriented faculty who are very diverse. Western also offers financial assistance, employment as a teaching assistant, professional development training on topics such as teaching, publishing, applying for academic jobs and applying for funding as well as a number of exciting seminar series and opportunities for students to present their own work.

Our doctoral students have been very successful. Every year, many of them present papers at key conferences such the Canadian Political Science Association conference and the International Studies Association conference. They have also recently conducted field research in places such as Uganda, Iraq and the Canadian Arctic. Other achievements include publications in scholarly journals such as: Air & Space Power Journal, International Journal, Canadian Student Young Pugwash Publication Volume 2 and have won awards including the International Students Association-Canada Student Paper Prize won by Cameron Harrington.

Applicants to the program must demonstrate a high level of academic performance.  Applications should include sufficient information about research plans to enable the program to identify possible supervisors.  Applicants do not need to obtain a possible supervisor prior to application.

Our Strengths in Canadian Politics

  • Federalism and multilevel governance
  • Local/urban politics and governance
  • Provincial politics
  • Parliaments and legislatures, executives and cabinets, political parties, constitutional politics
  • Electoral politics, political and voting behaviour, public opinion, electoral systems and reform
  • Political leadership
  • Women and politics, identity politics
  • Canadian public policy and political economy

Our Strengths in Comparative Politics

  • Democratization and state-society relations
  • Transitional justice and human rights
  • Religion and politics
  • Comparative leadership, federalism and urban politics
  • Comparative political economy
  • United States
  • Latin America
  • Middle East, South Asia, Islam and the Muslim world
  • EU, Europe, Eurasia, Ukraine

Our Strengths in International Relations

  • International conflict and security
  • Canadian foreign and defense policy
  • US foreign policy
  • Comparative foreign policy: Asia, US, Canada, NGOs and foreign policy
  • Transitional justice and human rights
  • Post-conflict reconstruction
  • Global governance and regimes
  • Global environmental politics
  • International political economy

Our Strengths in Local Government

  • Multilevel and local governance
  • Governance of city-regions
  • Urban political economy and local economic development
  • Comparative urban politics
  • Local public policy and policymaking
  • Centre-local relations

Our Strengths in Political Theory

  • Global and historical justice
  • Democratic theory
  • History of political thought:  Britain, France and the Enlightenment
  • Critical, poststructuralist and postmodern theory

The PhD program requires

  • 6 half courses in the first year including:
    • 2 courses in the first field
    • 2 courses in the second field
    • 1 methodology course: Scope and Methods of Political Science
    • 1 elective course, may be a special topics course
  • Comprehensive exams in the first and second fields completed in the Fall of the second year (view guidelines)
  • A cognate skill completed in the second year such as a second language test or extra methodology course (qualitative or quantitative methods)
  • Thesis proposal completed in the second year
  • PhD thesis including dissertation defense

Your PhD thesis is a major piece of research and writing on a subject chosen by the candidate and approved by the department. It is undertaken under the supervision of a faculty member in the department who is a specialist in the field, with the assistance of a committee. The latter may include a member of a related department or faculty. In view of the importance attached to the doctoral thesis and the research orientation of the program, applicants are expected to have a fairly well developed idea of their proposed research topic at the time of application.