A Canadian first

The Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management is an important first for Canada.  Programs in applied political skills and analysis exist at other prestigious post-secondary institutions, including Fordham University in New York City and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  The Riddell program has been explicitly designed to inform and bolster electoral politics and parliamentary democracy in Canada and beyond.

Program Description and Course Content

Through a one-year course of study students will focus on the range of skills required for political management.

The Riddell program admits 25 students annually to a five-credit degree designed to be completed in a calendar year of study.

There will be four credits of coursework to be completed in the Fall and Winter semesters.

The capstone of the degree is a 10-week internship that places students in ministers’ and members’ offices, with party organizations, government relations firms or polling and political marketing companies, or attaches them to particular campaigns, where they will learn by observing and participating, complementing their coursework with practical experience.

Working closely alongside one another throughout the academic year, each cohort will develop professional associations amongst themselves that will stand them in good stead as they enter the world of political practice, no matter that they may be on opposite sides of a partisan divide.

Small classes will allow for intensive study and exploration of issues surrounding all aspects of political management.  And while the program is explicitly designed for those who intend to launch careers as staff to elected politicians, it will also be of value to those who may wish to go on to work for organizations and agencies that seek to influence government policy and priorities, whether these be NGOs, public or private sector companies, or grassroots movements.

Core Courses

POLM 5001 and 5002: Institutions and Governance I and II

These courses focus on how political power is exercised in Canada and how that pertains to political management. Through an examination of the roles, functions and responsibilities of Canada’s political institutions and the sources of power and legitimacy within the political system, students will understand how public policy originates, how it is shaped through the political, federal-provincial, bureaucratic and parliamentary processes, and how it can be managed to turn an idea into legislation, building support for its adoption and then implementation after legislation has been passed.

POLM 5003 and 5004: Strategic Communications I and II

These courses will explore the range of issues involved in formulating and implementing successful political strategic communications. That will involve developing messages and a communications approach around a policy or legislative measure, using consultation and public opinion research in developing and testing the success of that approach, the role of the traditional and new digital/social media in the process, how to deal with interest groups and how to address the crises that often emerge in such processes.

POLM 5005 and 5006: Political Management I and II

These courses examine the theories and practice of political management in Canada. Their focus is issues ranging from ethical behavior to relations between political staff and public servants, political parties, parliament, caucus, cabinet and the public. Attention will also be paid to the practical human and administrative challenges of managing a political office as well as establishing priorities in the face of a constantly changing array of political and public pressures.

POLM 5098:  Practicum Placement

This course requires supervised work experience over 10 weeks in an appropriate placement approved by the graduate supervisor.  It culminates in a 30-page (or equivalent) analytical work graded by the academic supervisor and one other member of the Carleton University faculty.

Elective Courses

POLM 5010: Polling and Opinion Research

This course considers the different elements of polling such as questionnaire design, sampling design, interviewing, data analysis and interpretation and how this helps understand the process by which citizens make decisions about political issues.

POLM 5011: Political Campaigns

This course discusses the latest trends and innovations in political campaigns: use of new technology and social media, campaign organization, fundraising, development of messages, GOTV efforts and how they are used in leadership, local, issue and national campaigns.

POLM 5012: Political Advocacy

This course explores the knowledge, mechanics and skills to necessary to succeed in the practice of political advocacy in Canada. In specific terms, the course examines the skills necessary to be a successful public advocate: strong public policy knowledge, in-depth knowledge of the political system, strong strategic/crisis communications skills and the ability to explain complex problems and solutions clearly and concisely.

POLM 5013: Political Management and the Media

This course looks at the organization and practices of major media with special attention given to the coverage of public officials, public policy issues and legislative battles. The course offers practical insights on the formulation of strategies designed for getting favorable coverage for public officials and public policy debates.  It will pay particular attention to the current and seismic changes in the media as agencies of public address, and the consequences for politics and governance.

POLM 5014: Political Marketing

Using case studies and simulation exercises, the course will provide students with an understanding of the different political marketing tools and how they should use them. Topics covered in the course will include political marketing strategy, market intelligence, consultation and participation, political product development and branding, and marketing practices in government.

POLM 5015: Political Policy Landscape

This seminar will focus on the key issues facing government. While the issues will vary from year-to-year, the objectives will be to provide students with an in-depth understanding of specific policy questions and an opportunity to integrate political management skills into policy discussions.

POLM 5905: Special Topics in Political Management (Prime Ministerial Leadership in Canada)

This course applies a political management perspective to the exercise of prime ministerial power in Canada. Using several theories and case studies, it seeks to uncover which styles of leadership are most successful in a variety of political contexts.