Department of Political Science

University of Peradeniya

Undergraduate Programme

The Department of Political Sciences offers undergraduate programs of either three years (General Degree) or four years (Special Degree) duration. Students who successfully complete the two semesters of their first year with a minimum of 30 credits have the option of following either a General Degree or a Special Degree in Arts Program.

Undergraduate Syllabus

100 Level Courses

200 Level Courses

300 Level Courses

400 Level Courses


100 Level Courses

PSC 101: Introduction to State and Government

This course introduces the basic concepts related to the state and government. The course commences by introducing the nature and scope of political science and the main approaches to its study. The course then focuses on the emergence, development, and the nature of the nation state and the key theories related to it. Particular attention is paid to study the position the nation state occupies in the contemporary international system, its relationship with the citizens, and how the process of globalization impacts upon the modern state. Some key political concepts such as sovereignty, separation of power, power and authority, civil society and governance will also be introduced to the students. Finally, the course will provide a basic understanding of public policy, policy formulation, and the process of policy implementation.

PSC 102: Government and the People

As the title of the course suggests, it introduces the key organs of government, and the avenues and agents through which people in society relate to their government. The course will provide an understanding of different models of governments and the working of governmental institutions in modern states, and how people relate themselves to the process of governance. The course will study political parties, pressure groups, systems of representation, and elections, in a comparative perspective, and provide an understanding of such concepts as political culture, participation, and socialization.

200 Level Courses

PSC 201: The Political System of Sri Lanka I

This course gives students an understanding of the background variables affecting the behavior of political institutions and decision-making processes in Sri Lanka. Some of the main topics covered in the course are political party systems including minority politics, political culture and socialization, religion and politics, media and public opinion, issues and problems related to constitution making, election and election administration, devolution and local government, public service and Civil Service administration, and foreign relations of Sri Lanka.

PSC 203: Elements of Public Administration-1

The objective of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the scope of the study of public administration and the basic theoretical approaches utilized in the discipline.

The following main areas will form the core of this course: An introduction to the study of public administration and the scope of the subject; Public administration and private administration; Public administration and the other social sciences; Politics and administration; Basic theories of organization: classical theorists, Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management, administrative principles movement by Fayol, Gullick and Urwick; The human relations school: Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne experiment; The theory of the bureaucracy—Max Weber; Organization theory—understanding organization, formal and informal organizations, principles of organization, and the bases of organization.

PSC 205: International Politics

This course focuses on studying the nature of international society, and its actors and their roles. Particular emphasis will be paid in the course to the study of nation states and their behavior. Students will also be introduced to the theories of international politics, national power, national interests and how states act in the international society in order to realize national interests.

The main areas covered in the course will include the following: Understanding international society and its actors; Approaches to the study of international relations; Actors—States, Inter-government organizations, Non-governmental Organizations, Multinational Corporations; Nation states, their characteristics, and the evolution of the nation states system; National power and its determinants; National objectives and the instruments of achieving national objectives—foreign policy and diplomacy, penetration, propaganda, intervention, and war.

PSC 207: Political Theory I

The main objective of this unit is to provide an insight into the development of political theory from the ancient period to the end of the medieval period. The course will study the major political thinkers from Plato to Martin Luther within their respective socio-economic backgrounds.
The topics covered in the course will be: The nature and scope of political theory; Greek political theory—Plato and Aristotle; Ancient Indian political theory—Buddhist political thought and Kautilya; Roman political theory—Polybius, Cicero, and Seneca; Medieval political theory—St. Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Marsilius of Padua, and William of Ockam; Political theory of the Renaissance and Reformation—Machiavelli, Thomas More, Jean Bodin, Grotius, Richard Hooker, Martin Luther, and Calvin.

PSC 202: The Political System of Sri Lanka II

This course is designed to enhance the knowledge and understanding of students about the governmental systems practiced in Sri Lanka since 1931. The course will commence by examining the features of the Donoughmore Model and move on to study the Westminster Model introduced through the Soulbury system and its adaptation made under the republican constitution of 1972. Finally, the course will
focus on the Presidential system introduced in 1978. In studying all the models given above the course will pay particular attention to the background within which each of these constitutional systems was introduced, their actual operation at ground level, and their performance.

PSC 206: International Politics II

This course t focuses on the restraints on the behavior of states in international society and the effectiveness of those restraints in establishing and maintaining international peace and security, and managing the struggles for power among states.

The key aspects covered in the course will include the following: Balance of power—meaning and nature, characteristics, types of balance of power; Collective security— meaning and nature, international and regional security; International institutions—League of Nations, United Nations, NATO, WARSAW, OAS, ANZUS; International law—international and regional sources, International Court of Justice and application of international law; Disarmament and arms control—definitions and the need for disarmament, steps towards disarmament: PTBT, NNPT, SALT-I & 11, INF, START and difficulties and obstacles; World public opinion—nature, role and its effectiveness; World government—the concept, the UNO as a World Government; Multinational corporations and nation States; Inter-governmental and non- governmental organizations.

PSC 208: Political Theory II

The main objective of this courset is to study the growth and development of political theory from the seventeenth century to the present. The course will study the main political thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to John Rawls.

The following will form the core subjects covered in the course: 17th century political theory in England—Thomas Hobbes, Harrington, Levellers, Diggers, John Locke; Political theory in 18th century France—Montesquieu, Rousseau; Political theory in 18th century Germany—Immanuel Kant, George Wilhelm Hegel; English and American political theory of the 19th century—Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, J.S.Mill, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, T.H.Green, Thomas Jefferson; The political theory of Marx, Engels, and Lenin; and Patterns and trends in 20th century political theory—Antonio Gramsci, Althusser, John Rawls and J. Habermas.

PSC 204: Public Policy—Theory and Practice

The course is an introduction to the scope and the field of policy science and the basic theoretical framework used in policy making, the basic characteristics of public policy, the difference between public and private, the development of policy science and the study of public policy. Secondly, the course introduces the cycle of policy process, focusing on such aspects as policy agenda setting, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation, and policy evaluation.

300 Level Courses

PSC 301: Conflict Analysis: Theories and Issues

The main objective of this course is to provide a theoretical knowledge of national and international conflict, their character, patterns, and causes of their development.

The course will begin by tracing the origin and development of the discipline of conflict studies. This will be followed by a study of classical conflict theory and its main exponents including Marx, Engels, Max Weber, and George Simmel. Under modern conflict theory and theorists, attention will be focused on Lewis Coser, Ralf Dahrendorf, Michael Hechtor, James C. Davies, C. Johnson, Ted Gurr, and S.P. Huntington. Other themes covered in the course will include selected theories of international conflict; Game Theory; Prisoners’ Dilemma; Causes and patterns of modern international war; Ethnic conflict in the contemporary world; Patterns of contemporary social conflict; and Civil war and insurgency.

PSC 302:Conflict Analysis: Case Studies

The main objective of this course is to provide an insight into the aspects of inter-state and intra-state conflict, selected according to regions and topicality.

The course seeks to study in depth selected cases of inter-state and intra-state conflicts and conflict movements drawn from different regions of the world: Inter-state conflicts—India and Pakistan; Israel and Arab countries; Iraq and Iran. Intra-state conflicts—Myanmar (Burma); Sudan; Cyprus; Northern Ireland; India; Pakistan; Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The course will also focus attention on the role of the United Nations Organization (UNO) and regional governmental organizations as well as non-governmental organization such as Amnesty International, International Alert, ICRC and UNHCR, related to these conflicts. Finally the course will study the impact of conflicts manifested as refugees, displacement and disappearances.

PSC 303: Comparative Politics

This course will introduce students to some widely used concepts and approaches in the study of Comparative Politics and Government in countries representing different stages of development as well as diverse sociopolitical systems.

This course will begin by tracing the origin, development, and nature of Comparative Politics. Secondly, it will consider traditional and modern approaches to the study of this subject. Thirdly, different concepts such as Systems Analysis, Structural-Functional Analysis, Political Development, Political Modernization, Political Culture, and Political Socialization will be studied.

PSC 304: Comparative Government

The main objective of this course is to understand the basic structures and actual functioning of modern governments. Students will be introduced to the salient features of the governments of the USA, UK, France, India, and the Soviet Union, each representing a dominant model of government in the contemporary world. Attention will also be paid to the different ways in which people relate themselves to the process of governance.
The course will commence with an introduction to the process of constitution-making in these countries, and go on to examine the salient features of their constitutions. Next, themes such as rule-making structures—especially Presidential, Prime Ministerial, and hybrid models—and the ascendancy of the Executive in these countries, will be studied. The course will then study the judiciary in these countries—its nature, functions, and independence. The course will finally cover the different models of representative systems and party systems found in these countries.

PSC 305: International Organizations

The central objective of this course is to provide an in-depth understanding to students of various types of international organizations and their role and significance in the modern international political system.

The course will study the main theories of international integration, the growth and development of international organizations, and types and functions of international organizations. International organizations such as the European Union, Organization of African States, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Association of South East Asian Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Warsaw Pact, The Commonwealth of Nations, The Non-Aligned Movement, Colombo Plan, The International Committee of the Red Cross, and Amnesty International, will be studied in detail, paying particular attention to their structures and the role they play in the international system. Attention will also be paid to the dynamic role played by multinational corporations in the contemporary international system. Another topic considered in the course is International Organizations and the Nation State System: Issues and Problems.

PSC 306: The United Nations System

The main objective of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the structure and the working of the United Nations System. The course will also study the role the United Nations System plays in the modern world and the extent of its effectiveness.

This course first seeks to study in depth the United Nations System, paying particular attention to its origin, aims, founding principles, organizational structure, powers, and functions. Secondly, the course will focus on the system’s peace keeping role and the application of the policy of Collective Security. The third focus of the course will be arms control and disarmament, and the fourth, the application of international law and the working of the International Court of Justice. Fifthly, the course will study the role of the UNO in the promotion and protection of human rights, and in the world economic and social development carried out through its affiliated organizations. Finally, the course will evaluate the performance of the UNO in a changing world.

PSC 307: Theories of Public Policy

This course will introduce students to the theoretical and practical approaches relating to the formulation and implementation of public policy.

The course will first consider theoretical approaches to policy making, namely, Power Approaches, Institutional Approaches, and the Public Choice Approach. Secondly, the course will study approaches to the implementation of public policy: the top-down approach, the bottom-up approach, and the modern managerial approach.

PSC 308: The Bureaucracy in Contemporary Democracies

This course seeks to broaden students’ understanding of public administration by examining historical and current developments in public administrative systems in selected developed and developing countries.

The countries selected for study in this course are Britain, France, India, and Sri Lanka. For the British system the central focus will be the Northcoate-Travelyan Reforms of 1854, the Fulton Review, the Management Reforms between 1979 and 1999, and the present organization of the British administrative system. For the French administrative system, the focus will be on the historical factors that led to the development of an “administrative state,” the unique features of the French administrative system, and the most recent changes. For the Indian system, attention will be paid to the origins of the modern administrative system, the constitutional framework, and the basic features of the present system including those of the Central Secretariat, All India Services, Central Services, and the State Public Administration. For Sri Lanka, the focus will be on the origins of the modern administrative system, the colonial bureaucracy, the post-Independence period with emphasis on the reforms of the 1960s and the 1970s, and the basic features of the present system—All Island Services, the Provincial Public Service, the Public Service Commission, etc.

PSC 309: Gender and Power

The objective of this course is to bring into focus the essential relationship between gender and power and its significance in understanding the functioning of political institutions and processes in modern states.

This course will first discuss the differences between the concepts of gender and sex. Next the focus will be on the relationship between gender and social power. The course will demonstrate how approaches to feminism such as liberal, Marxist, socialist, radical, existentialist, and postmodernist, could be used in the study of women and family, the private and the public domains, patriarchy, and the oppression of women. The course will also be directed towards the politics of the women’s movement from suffrage to equal rights, and its transformation and development after the 1970s in the direction of globalizing these ideas. Attention will also be paid to the topic of gender vis-à-vis the state, citizenship, political power, nationalist movements, and war and peace.

PSC 310: Gender and Politics in Sri Lanka

This course is intended to provide students with a broad knowledge of gender and politics with special emphasis on Sri Lanka.

This course will first cover feminist approaches to politics. Thereafter, attention will be paid to the changing status of Sri Lankan women with special reference to the period following the attainment of Independence. The course will focus on the inception of the feminist movement in Sri Lanka and how it has developed after the 1970s. Thereafter, the interest of Sri Lankan women in politics, their participation in politics at the national, provincial, local and grass-roots levels, the role played by them in political parties, in pressure groups, and in administration, will be studied. The course will also examine the influence of feminism on policy making in Sri Lanka in comparison with developed countries.

PSC 311: Human Rights

This course seeks (a) to provide a systematic survey of existing international, regional, and national human rights instruments, standards, and enforcement mechanisms, and (b) to encourage students to acquire an empirical knowledge of human rights from a political science perspective.

In its introductory section, the course covers the basic concepts of human rights, human rights principles, the nature of human rights, and the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights and democracy. The course then moves on to a brief survey of the historical development of human rights, and of international human rights instruments, namely, the International Bill of Human Rights, the International Convention on Racial Discrimination, the Rights of the Child, Discrimination Against Women, and Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers, etc. Next, the course will study international and regional human rights systems, and the existing processes of international human rights standards, focusing on individual rights, group rights, and the International Humanitarian Law. The final section of the course will focus on human rights protection mechanisms existing in Sri Lanka with particular reference to the country’s legal obligation to the international system.

PSC 312: Political Sociology

The main objective of this course is to study the contributions made by social thinkers to the origin and development of the discipline of Political Sociology, and to understand its key concepts and theories.

The course will first focus on the origin and development of political sociology, its scope, and the different approaches used in its study. In this context, a detailed study will be made of the contributions made by Montesquieu, Auguste Comte, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, and Max Weber to the development of the sociological approach to politics. This will be followed by a study of Elite Theories, Behaviouralism and Post-Behavioralism, Political Recruitment, Political Leadership, Political Participation, Ethnicity, Class, Caste, the Nation State, NGOs, Civil Society, and Political Power and Authority.

PSC 313: Political Sociology: Issues, Events, and Trends

The main objective of this course is to familiarize students with the empirical aspects of political and civil movements and their behavior from the standpoint of political sociology.

The course is divided into two broad subject areas. At one level, it will study the sociological basis of such familiar contemporary political phenomena as globalization, electoral behavior, election monitoring, the political role of the military and the police in the Third World, and political ideology and civil movements in South Asia. At another level the course will examine the sociological basis of political parties and pressure groups, political communication, public opinion, and political culture. Particular attention will be paid to understanding the sociology of insurgency, revolution, and ethnic and caste politics, in relation to South Asia.

400 Level Courses

PSC 401: Modern Political Ideologies and Concepts

The main objective of this course is to familiarize students with the key political ideologies and concepts of today.

Main course topics: Understanding political ideologies and concepts; Nationalism; Fascism; Republicanism; Feminism; Environmentalism; Conservatism; Religious fundamentalism; Democracy; Social democracy and democratic socialism; Sovereignty and national self-determination; Equality; Liberty; Property; Rights.

PSC 402: The Politics of Developing Areas

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the political dynamics of the developing countries and to provide them with the necessary analytical tools to explore further the structures, functioning and change in those political systems.

At the outset the course will examine the rationale for identifying the developing countries as a distinct category in the study of comparative politics. This will be followed by an examination of the main theories of political development, after which the course will proceed to understand the problem of state building in developing countries with special focus on their historical heritage and the social context. In this, attention will be paid to the colonial nexus, the operation of transplanted institutions, civil society/state interactions, civil military relations, the role of ideology in political development, and the issue of development and democracy. A country each from Latin America and Africa, which may vary from semester to semester, will be identified for class discussion and detailed study.

PSC 407: Comparative Public Administration

The objective of this course is to guide students to examine the administrative and management practices in modern government by understanding the theoretical and practical approaches relevant to the filed of comparative public administration.

In the introductory the course covers the development of comparative approach in the study of public administration; the traditional and modern approaches; and the scope and field of comparative public administration. The second section of the course will examine in detail the comparative methods applied in the field, namely: (i) Model based analysis—the Bureaucracy Model and the Prismatic Model; (ii) Culture based analysis—the Bureaucratic Culture; and (iii) The framework approaches—Bureaucracy and policymakers, and bureaucracy and the civil society. The third section will examine innovations and changes currently taking place in the administrative systems of Britain, the US, France and Sri Lanka in a comparative perspective, focusing on Public Choice Theory, the New Public Management (NPM) and the Policy Approach.

PSC 406: Political Systems in China and Japan

The main objective of this course is to study within a comparative framework the basic structures and the actual functioning of the political systems of Japan and the People’s Republic of China. Students will be introduced to the salient features of the government and politics of these two countries that represent the two dominant models of government in the contemporary world, where the models have been adapted to the specific historical and social conditions that obtained in each society.

The course will commence with an introduction to the two different systems of government in China and Japan and go on to examine the specific features related to their legislatures, executives, and judiciary. This will be followed by a detailed examination of the models of political party and representational systems. Particular attention will be paid to the nature of the party/state relations in the socialist and democratic models of government. Finally, the course will familiarize students with the specific features of the two economic systems, their radical transformation, and the significant role each of them plays in the global economy, with a view to understanding their political dynamics.

PSC 403: Liberalism and Socialism

The main objective of this course is to introduce the origin and development of socialism and liberalism to provide a broad understanding of their trends, nature and scope.

Main course topics: Classical and new liberalism; Socialism before Marxism—utopian socialism; Classical Marxism; Anarchism; Socialism after Marx—guild socialism, syndicalism, Fabian Socialism, Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism; Maoism and Gramscism; Revisionism and Euro-communism; New leftism—Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Herbert Marcuse; Neo-Marxism and Neo-Liberalism; and Current trends in liberalism and socialism.

PSC 404: Issues in Sri Lankan Politics

Thiis course is designed to guide students in the study of different theoretical perspectives in political science by focusing on contemporary issues in Sri Lanka politics. The course identifies six broad issue-areas related to Sri Lanka politics given below:

Issues pertaining to the socio-economic and cultural system; Issues pertaining to the constitutional system; Issues pertaining to the local and regional government; Issues pertaining to the administrative system; Issues pertaining to the foreign policy in Sri Lanka; Issues pertaining to political participation.

In each issue-area problems will be identified for detailed examination, with particular attention being paid their contemporary relevance. The department will review the topics covered in the course from time to time in order to keep abreast of evolving political dynamics.

PSC 408: Development Administration

This course aims at understanding the field and scope of development administration, focusing on “the administration of development” by public administrators in developing countries.

The introductory section covers the emergence of development administration as a field of academic study and the scope and parameters of development administration. The second section covers topic such as the public policy approaches to development; policy problems and policy issues to be handled by the administrative systems in developing countries such as participatory development, poverty alleviation, and rural development; and the participation of non-government organizations, privatization, and contracting out of service provisions, etc. The third section covers organizational aspects relating to development planning, decentralization policies including fiscal and budgetary decentralization, empowering sub-national and local governments, and improving managerial focus in the development programs undertaken by developing countries.

PSC 409: Foreign Policy of Sri Lanka

The objective of this course is to make students understand the process of foreign policy making and foreign policy of Sri Lanka since Independence.

The subject areas covered in the course include: Definition and different explanations of the nature of foreign policy and diplomacy; Factors influencing foreign policy decision making in Sri Lanka; The institutional framework of foreign policy making in Sri Lanka; and Major approaches to the study of foreign policy.

The course will then proceed to study in detail Sri Lanka’s foreign policy towards the west from 1948 to1965, Sri Lanka’s foreign policy towards its neighbors, Sri Lanka’s relations with the communist powers, and Sri Lanka’s relations with Japan and the Middle East. Finally the course will examine Sri Lanka’s relations with key multi-national organizations, focusing in particular on the UNO, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

PSC: 410 Politics of South Asia

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the political systems in the South Asian region and to guide them in an in-depth study of the similarities and differences among the states in the region:

The subject areas covered in the course will include; The colonial experience and the emergence of South Asian countries as independent states; The notion of South Asia as a distinct region; The strategic importance of the region; Similarities and diversities among the states in the region; A study of the constitutional structures and the political systems of selected countries in South Asia; The problem of nation building and the issue of military intervention in politics; and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The course will also focus on intra-state relations in South Asia with special reference to Indo-Pakistan relations in the post-cold war era and the issue of nuclear proliferation in the region