The discipline of political science explores the exercise and legitimisation of political power. Those who pursue and exercise power include candidates in elections, members of political leadership bodies, heads of state, appointed leaders in the public sector, government employees, political parties, interest groups, large companies, states and international organisations. At the University of Helsinki, teaching in political science is divided into two study tracks: political and organisational studies and world politics.
Research in political science examines global and international as well as national and local issues. Research topics include phenomena within the public and governmental sphere, such as elections and referenda, and political institutions from the UN and EU to nation states and municipalities. The discipline also investigates political opinions, parties, non-governmental and labour market organisations, civic movements, and the political activities of Finnish and international companies. In addition, research in political science analyses everything from gender equality to populism.
Research in political science has a vivid connection to social philosophy as well as ideological and conceptual history when discussing the field, nature, ethics and other features of politics. At the University of Helsinki, political science is based on a pluralist philosophy and encompasses empirical statistical research as well as social criticism and interpretative research that applies more recent approaches.