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Queen's University

Elective Courses

PMPA students may complete five optional course credits through courses only or through courses and an independent research project. Students normally complete three optional courses during the spring terms in their first two years in the program. The final two optional credits may be taken at any time within three years of initial PMPA program registration.

MPA 812 - Law and Public Policy

It is essential for policy professionals (whether within government or in the broader public sector) to have a working knowledge of legal principles and legal reasoning. In this course, we will review the fundamental elements of the Canadian legal system, and then explore case law showing how legal instruments can be used to implement policy choices. We will also review examples where law can restrict available policy choices.

MPA 827 - Financial Management (Offered Summer 2015)

Financial literacy for policy makers and implementers is the aim of this course. It focuses on the tools that public managers in all parts of the public sector need to ensure the successful use of resources to carry out public policy. In achieving this, it will give students an understanding that financial considerations play in

  • How to understand and interpret financial information
    • Basic accounting concepts
    • Financial statements
  • The elements of sound financial management in public sector organization
    • Resource allocation and costing
    • Planning and budgeting
    • Cash forecasting
    • Management control
  • Elements of internal and external financial accountability
    • Reporting
    • Accountability
    • Internal and external oversight.

Learning will be focused on hands-on group and individual exercise, case studies and practical application of the principles.

MPA 838 - Economic Analysis of Health Policy (Offered Summer 2015)

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to economic concepts and analysis relevant to health, health care and health care systems.

MPA 840 - Economic of Social Policy

The course is a non-technical examination of the economics of social policy in Canada. There is little or no graphical analysis – rather the course uses narrative discussions of economic concepts of market failure, incentives, efficiency and equity, among others, to examine the forces that shape Canadian social policy and to examine how policy design affects the outcomes associated with given policies. We begin with a discussion of the main elements of policy analysis and how economic analysis contributes to it. A major theme of the course is that social policy must reflect the economic, demographic and social conditions of the time – to put our discussions in context we review major economic changes over the past 40 years to track the evolution of debts and deficits, trends in international competitiveness and changes in the nature of work, as well as demographic trends and other social changes that might affect the ability of our social programs to deliver on their objectives. We discuss the measurement of poverty and examine trends and vulnerabilities of certain societal groups to it. A similar discussion occurs with respect to income inequality. The latter part of the course looks in depth at three policy areas: the retirement income system, employment insurance, and a broad set of income support programs. Here we look at the structure of policy and how design features create problems of inequity, inefficiency and create the wrong kinds of incentives.

Students will be required to complete two pieces of work. First, a policy paper, maximum 20 pages, that offers an economic examination of a social policy issue. The topic will be agreed between student and instructor. There will also be presentations by students on social policy topics not covered otherwise. These will include topics in education, post-secondary education, gender differences in labour markets, childcare, etc. I will really not know exactly how this works until enrolment numbers are available.

MPA 844 - Canadian Economic Policy (Offered Summer 2015)

The Canadian Economic Policy Course is designed to:  review the underlying economic concepts governing most of Canadian economic policy at the federal and provincial level; examine the political institutions and their incentive structures within which economic policy decisions are made; review several of the most important policies and programs at the federal and provincial level where economic analysis might be useful; maximize the interaction with experienced policy advisers on current economic policy issues and options; and provide a forum for student led discussion and debate on current policy questions.

MPA 851 - Public Policy and the Third Sector  (Offered Summer 2015)

MPA 851 is a survey course and it is designed to introduce you to the most important topics about civil society organizations (CSOs) (e.g., nonprofit organizations, grassroots organizations, social enterprises, etc.) and the relevant public policy topics (e.g., welfare state, nonprofit-government relationship, etc.).

This course has three parts. The first part provides an overview of the course. “Definition and Debates” describes the controversial boundary of the study and the definitions of the various CSOs. Next, we will focus on the relationship between the state and the service nonprofit organizations. The course also provides an understanding of other common CSOs in addition to nonprofit organizations: faith-based organizations, grassroots organizations, international NGOs, and online organizing. The second part of the course focuses on financial sustainability and financing alternatives, primarily from the lens of organizational forms. We will discuss the current situation of nonprofit financing (“Market, State, or Value?”) and other alternative ways to generate sustainable revenue (“social enterprises” “co-ops,” and “co-production”). The last part of this course provides some practical topics: the legal context, accountability issues and ethics.

MPA 852 - Stakeholder Management

This course is designed to familiarize students with various forms of political participation and representation in Canada. In particular, we will examine practical approaches and tools for fostering citizen and group involvement in policy decision-making within the context of larger conceptual questions about democracy, representation and citizenship.

MPA 853 - The NonProfit Sector and Population Health

This course provides students with a theoreticaland empirical understanding of the social determinants of population health, and the manner in which “social capital” mediates between social determinants and population health. Described as the third sector, nonprofit sector, voluntary sector, and community organizations, social capital facilitates social interaction, brings individuals together (bonding and bridging social capital) through shared values, mutual trust, and networks to realize certain goals. As much as social capital enhances individual cooperation and facilitates coordinated actions, it also increases health and wellbeing of the individual and the community by providing instrumental and emotional support. While the principal focus is contemporary Canadian society, the course examines materials from other developed and developing countries to highlight specific case studies on the role of the third sector in population health in Canada and around the world. In this context, the emerging policy implications for health care in Canada are examined. 

MPA 857 - Public Policy in China

This course presents students with a introduction to terms and dialogue used in current policy debates in China.  It will provide students with a general introduction to Mandarin Chinese and focus on terms that are often used in debates and dialogues with officials.  Students will also be taught the interpretation of certain expressions and phrases that politicians in China commonly use and in what contexts should they be employed.  (Delivered at Fudan University, China, to participants in the SPS-Fudan interchange program.)  

MPA 858 - Chinese Economic Reform

This course is broadly concerned with the political economy of the economic reform in China.  It will also provide students with a general introduction to the Chinese history, geography, culture and pre-reform economic system.  With this background in place students will learn lessons from recent Chinese experience concerning privatization and the reform of the state-owned enterprises, dual economy and reforms in rural and financial sectors, impacts of deregulation and reforming of state monopolies.  Finally, students will discuss globalization and the current challenges facing the Chinese economy. (Delivered at Fudan University, China, to participants in the SPS-Fudan interchange program.)

MPA 860 - Reconciling Indigenous Policy

As Canada’s “two founding nations” myth is slowly being exposed and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples are being recognized, Canada’s public policy framework which ostensibly respects Aboriginal peoples is crumbling.  Canadians are learning that their history is rife with mass human rights violations, broken treaties and promises, and policy foundations best summed up by Duncan Campbell Scott when he said “I want to get rid of the Indian problem.… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question…” 

Yet, the “Indian Question” is alive and well.  It is difficult to imagine any major development project, new legislation or major public policy happening  in Canada that does not involve Aboriginal peoples.  Internationally, Canada’s reputation has suffered because of its handling of Aboriginal issues. 

Canada is the first, “First World” country to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine one of the darkest chapters of its history, the Indian Residential School Era, and to help us imagine a brighter future.  The challenge for policy makers, legislators and Aboriginal leaders is to act in a manner consistent with the principles and values inherent in the word Reconciliation. Through readings, class discussions and guest speakers, students will have the opportunity to better understand why we are in an Era of Reconciliation and explore public policy options regarding the Aboriginal agenda.

MPA 861 - Governance in First Nations

MPA 863 - Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector is no longer the exclusive domain of senior officials and HR professionals. Increasingly, managers at all levels play a critical role in identifying and helping to resolve HR issues in their teams and organizations. This course is designed to provide a graduate-level, practical overview of HR Management in the Public Sector making with a view to enhancing public sector performance in an era of fiscal restraint. Current questions and issues in HR Management will be explored and students will be actively involved in discussions on HR Management practices in the modern public sector workplace. While many of the readings and course material are drawn from the federal public service, students are encouraged to read and share information from other public sector jurisdictions. 

MPA 866 - Ethics in Public Service (Summer 2015)

Workplace processes, relationships and outcomes are often affected by the underlying values and ethics of the workplace players, both individually and collectively.   Where bureaucrats and politicians have different values and ethics, and there is no forum where these differences can be discussed, conflict is inevitable.

This course will review the academic literature on values and ethics in public service, examine some recent examples of apparent ethical lapses in the public sector, and consider ways of dealing with ethical and values-based conflicts.

Course Objectives: 

By the end of the course, students will be expected to: show an ability to critically analyse academic research on values and ethics in public service; recognize value based and ethical conflicts in the workplace; and have a better understanding of how to deal with these conflicts in a positive and productive manner.

MPA 867 - Canadian Cultural Policy

This course will identify conceptual issues in Canadian cultural policies, as well as institutional responses by public and private bodies. The focus will be on pan- Canadian policies adopted by the federal government. There will also be references to provincial and municipal initiatives, notably (but not exclusively) in Quebec. Culture will be examined in the broad sense of political goals which are often described as ‘enabling Canadian voices to tell Canadian stories, strengthening the ties that bind a diverse country’. 

MPA 868 - Business, Government & Global Economy

MPA 870 - Public Policy Issues in Africa

Summer interchange

MPA 871 - Approaches to Policy Development

This course begins with a paradigm that provides integration of all aspects of policy development into a cohesive framework. For example, it brings together diverse aspects of policy development such as social and economic policy objectives, social/economic/environmental tools, federal/provincial interaction, taxation/spending, certainty/uncertainty into drawing desirable approaches to policy formulation.

It will review aspects of this policy formulation by looking at individual policy components in the overall context in three parts: what is theory; what is actual practice; where are the gaps?  Finally it offers an opportunity for students to provide suggestions for a change in actual policy. 

MPA 873 - Government Budgeting: Politics and Process (Offered Summer 2015) 

The essence of government budgeting is how the political executive decides whogets how muchto do what– the process by which limited funds are allocated to turn policy ideas into implementation action. But the political executive does not budget in isolation; budgetary process outcomes are also affected by central budget agency dynamics, Parliament’s role in granting spending approval and how the government is held to account for its spending. 

The objective of this course is to shed some light on these inter-related processes and the budgetary politics that shape the way key players behave. The course material will focus primarily on the federal government (and thus on budgeting in a Westminster-based parliamentary system), but provincial budgetary processes are very similar and the case study is based on a provincial government. Although the course will touch on revenue generation, it is neither a tax policy nor an economic policy course. Neither does it require quantitative skills beyond basic arithmetic. 

Classes will be a mixture of instructor presentations, in-class exercises and student led discussions. One or two guest-speakers are proposed but that will be confirmed before classes start. Grades will be based on one individual assignment and a case study to be completed in groups. 

MPA 874 - Public Sector Reform

The aim of this course is to examine the path of public service reform between two crises -- a crisis of governability in Canada and the other advanced democracies in the 1970s, and a second crisis that began with the panics of 2007-2008. The period between those two crises was one in which ideas about the structure of government changed in fundamental ways. This course will begin with a brief discussion of the character of the first crisis, and the schools of thought that influenced the response to that crisis. The largest part of the course will examine various reform initiatives within the public sector that were undertaken in an effort to respond to that crisis, with the aim of understanding the long-term impact of those initiatives.  The final part of the course will briefly consider how ideas about the structure of government have changed as a result of the current governance crisis. 

MPA 875 - Reforming Government Services (Offered Summer 2015)

This course will study some of the persistent policy errors Governments make. They typically run fiscal policy in a pro-cyclical fashion, spending wildly in the good times and slamming on the brakes when deficits mount in bad times. They loosely define policy objectives and then introduce and operate programs that often pay little attention to effectiveness or efficiency. The policy focus is usually short term with little attention paid to investments that might offer substantial future returns. Such facets of policy will be addressed from the perspectives of: the historical record, explanations and solutions. The scope with be international and Canadian with the latter including federal, provincial and municipal. Among the policy areas studied will be: fiscal policy, monetary policy, health, education, social, labour market, environment, regulation and public service delivery. The course will draw upon but not be restricted to the report of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario Public Services (February 2012). 

MPA 877 - Energy Policy

This course is designed to review the broad interconnection between global economic growth, energy resource supply, geopolitical energy security, climate change and the development of energy policy in North America; review the technologies and economics of electricity production, transmission, distribution and consumption/conservation; review current policy issues in Ontario’s electricity policy, particularly in respect of the use of oil, coal, natural gas, renewable and nuclear energy as well as conservation; and maximize the interaction with practicing policy advisers on current energy issues and policy options. 

MPA 879 - Indigenous Governance

This course will examine some of the history of policy-making in Canada with respect to First Nations governance. This will include an examination of the Indian Act, historical and modern treaties, the Charlottetown Accord and recent legislative tools aimed at good governance. We will also examine some examples of First Nations governance thatexisted prior to “contact” and continue to exist today. The course will also examine some policy and governance issues that highlight difficulties in federal, provincial and First Nation approaches to governance. We will explore some of the policy and governance issues that have come to the forefront as a result of recent court cases and government legislation.

It will explore some best practices regarding governance in First Nations and in Tribes in the Unites States and Canada. This will include examining management tools that can help enhance good governance. These tools include a management framework, financial management, leadership tools including negotiating, conflict resolution and leading a team. 

MPA 880 - Canadian Foreign Policy

This course looks at foreign policy from a practitioner’s perspective. The course addresses what foreign policy is, why it matters to Canadians, how it is made and the international context in which it is pursued. It highlights the growing inter-connectedness of domestic and international policies. Through lectures and case studies, students will explore the dynamics of the foreign policy process, learn how to assess international developments and issues, and develop skills to provide foreign policy advice.

MPA 881 - Government Communications

This course is meant to provide an introduction to the complex and often controversial world of government communications. In many ways strategic communications are at the core of modern government as it copes with the stresses and speed of an interconnected global society. Increasingly, and sometimes counter-productively, communications considerations drive priorities and decision- making as governments struggle to connect with citizens and electors and to win permission for and acceptance of policies and programs. There is often dynamic tension between the communications objectives and responsibilities of the professional civil service and the political requirements of the governments it serves. 

MPA 882 - Comparative Social Policy

This course examines the major contours of social and economic policy during the last
few decades in rich nations, with a focus on the USA, the UK, Canada, France, and Sweden. Some topics include economic policy, health care, the expansion of higher education, housing and urban planning, family policy, income inequality, globalization, interest group activity, trust, redistribution, and taxation. MPA 882 may be of interest to those seeking a comparative perspective on the main challenges facing Canada in an age of rising trade, growing income inequality, health care inflation and an aging population. We will examine the roots of contemporary problems and success stories alike. 

MPA 886 - Human Rights in Policy Design

Human rights principles affect all statutes and policies. This course introduces students to these principles and how to incorporate them into any policy or program being developed. The course also examines the risks and costs of not adopting a human rights lens to policy design by drawing on recent examples.

MPA 887 - Arctic and Northern Issues

The objectives of this course are to introduce students to the complex issues facing the Arctic and Northern Canada from both a Canadian and an international perspective, and to develop policy options for dealing with them. The course has been structured so that as many of the different stakeholder views as possible (but not all) will be presented, analyzed, and questioned. The topics covered in the course will range from an understanding of the rapid environmental change under way through to the geopolitical challenges which are emerging as the interest of non-Arctic nations in Arctic issues is enhanced. 

MPA 888 - Practical Program Evaluation

This course addresses the real-world contexts and methodological approaches to public policy performance monitoring and program evaluation commonly found in federal and provincial jurisdictions.  Stakeholder relationships are discussed in the selection and use of performance information to serve accountability purposes.

MPA 889 - Policy Leadership (Offered Summer 2015)

This course will be of interest to those wishing to explore both Indigenous and non-Indigenous approaches to leadership.  The course will explore both theoretical and practical aspects of leadership as well as some of the skills essential to the art and science of leadership.  The course will be of particular interest to those wishing to explore and develop their own leadership style.

MPA 897 - Directed Reading

This course is designed for individual students with special interests that may not be satisfied through course offerings in a given year. It will normally be a directed reading course, under the close supervision of an assigned faculty member with expertise in the chosen subject field. Permission of the Graduate Coordinator required.

MPA 898 - Master's Research Project 



School of Policy Studies, Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.3020