David M. Last


I try to fit the course to the student.  In many cases, upper year students take junior year courses,  and our generally small class size at RMC allows me to tailor the content to student interests and prior learning.  I try to ensure that all my courses are accessible online, either through RMC Moodle or my website.  Both onsite and online delivery can be interrupted by personal or local circumstances, network outages, network attacks, or failure of personal devices and software.  These are just things we have to work around.   The primary means of delivery for most of my courses is on site, in classrooms in conjunction with the RMC learning management system, Moodle. The back-up systems are Zoom, email, and my personal web site for posting materials in the event that we are denied access to campus or networks.  I will normally ask students at the beginning of a course  to provide alternate means of communication in case the college network is disrupted.

Class delivery

In August I will send a class syllabus to students enrolled in my classes.  Before that you can find a syllabus from previous years linked below.  You will get a normal class schedule for each course, and the expectation at the College is that students will attend classes as scheduled. My classes are set up for both synchronous and asynchronous delivery.  If you are unable to attend classes for any reason, you have the option of making up the material online.

Office Hours

I am available for individual appointments for at least six hours each week in person (G406) by phone, or VTC (Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime). My schedule is posted on the home page. Office hours are normally one-on-one, but I’ll schedule group help sessions for assignments on demand.

Written assignments

Written assignments are both formative (learning how to research and write) and evaluative (demonstrating that you know how to research and write). Written work is typically submitted through Turnitin, which checks for similarity with other materials available electronically. This protects your work from being copied because it is stored in the online database. Major written assignments are usually submitted in stages — typically a proposal, annotated bibliography, outline, drafts, and final version. New guidelines on use of  generative artificial intelligence (AI) are included in my course outlines.

Experiential learning

As an alternative to traditional written assignments, I provide the opportunity to learn by doing, with marks assigned for a report on what you did and what you learned. This requires coordination and approval, so there’s more involved than just picking a topic. To be eligible, you must discuss your plan within the first three weeks of class, and have it approved before week 4. Recent experiential learning includes: speaking to local activists to learn how they organize; observing homeless youth and mapping services available; making enquiries through municipal, provincial, or federal government; tracking a complaints process or ombudsman response; exploring changes in laws and regulations that affect you.  I’m open to discuss anything. Projects must be related to the course, achievable, legal, and must manage risks.  With students spread out across the country, we have an opportunity for some interesting learning.

International Social Time

In the first week of classes I will learn more about each of your personal circumstances and backgrounds. Some of you might want to connect online with cadets at other military academies. Through IAMA and ISMS, we have contacts in more than two dozen countries, and we will attempt to have some online social events using Zoom to share perspectives on military academies. Let me know if you’re interested.

POE102 Introduction to Political Science

Intended as a general introduction, this course addresses political ideas (ideologies), actors (individuals, collectives, sectors), Institutions (governance, the state, globalization), and processes (conflict, development, democracy). It also provides a guided introduction to academic writing through a series of short assignments. The mark is divided between the final exam (40%) short written assignments (40%) and weekly participation (20%). In 2023-2024 we are experimenting with a greater emphasis on political economy, to reflect the links between political science and economics.

Special circumstances and challenge exams

POE102 is sometimes taken by upper year students who have transferred into the program, or been unable to schedule it earlier.  If you have already completed POE116, POE205, or equivalent courses, you may be eligible to write a challenge exam. Speak to me about this.  Contact me before the beginning of classes in order to discuss whether this is the best option for you.  Challenge exams must be requested before the first class, and  are typically written in the first week of classes. See Academic Regulations.  Another alternative is to take a modified version of the course that fits your personal interests and fills gaps in your knowledge.  The basic learning objectives can be met in a variety of ways.

Download POE102 syllabus (2021)

POE205 Canadian Politics and Society

This is a mandatory course in the common core curriculum for ROTP cadets. This means that it is taught in multiple sections, and that certain elements must be common across all sections and both language groups.  I normally teach at least one section.  The common elements are society (political socialization, and social cleavages),  government (executive, legislative, administrative and judicial functions, federalism), and politics (elections, policies, public administration).  Politics is not a spectator sport - it affects your lives and you are players in it. We will spend some time looking at where you get your news and information, and every week we will examine what’s going on in the world of politics. Early in the course you will commit to subjects for your written assignments, and some of you may opt for experiential learning projects (see above).

Download POE205 syllabus (2023)

POE214 Comparative Politics

Formerly numbered POE320, this is an introduction to comparative politics, which is both a subject of study within political science (e.g. comparing government institutions) and a method for studying  subjects (e.g. comparative processes, causal mechanisms, etc.).   Along with POE220 Research Methods in social sciences, POE214 should set you up to explore relevant questions in your academic and professional life.

Download POE214 syllabus (2023)

POE372/374 Science, Technology, and Society

These are two courses offered in a new format for both engineering and social science and humanities students. For MSS students, it also counts as a military elective.

POE372 Science, Technology, Politics, Society and the Environment

This is a two-period per week lecture course offered to engineering students for a half-credit as an alternative to HIE289. The mark is divided between quizzes and a final exam.

POE374 Science, Technology, and Public Policy

This is a three-period per week lecture/seminar course open to all students for a full credit.  Both classes attend the common lecture component, and 374 students participate in an additional online seminar each week. The mark is divided between seminar participation and a written assignment.

The course includes four modules, beginning with analytical tools to link science, technology and society. We then consider environment and growth, society and employment, and in the final module look at defence procurement in Canada.

Download course brochure

Download POE372/374 syllabus (2021)

 Qualitative Methods for Security Research (WS657)

In the past I have taught WS507 Research Methods.  Both graduate and undergraduate students often approach research subjects for which their academic background may not have prepared them well.  I have assembled some resources on this site  that are intended to help graduate students and undergraduate thesis writers who may not have access to all the handbooks and reference works that provide the latest thinking about how to design research projects, collect and analyze qualitative data, and disseminate results.

Go to qualitative methods materials

Graduate and Undergraduate Supervisions

I typically supervise at least three or four students a year. Undergraduate supervisions may be a one-credit directed reading  in a course I normally offer, but which is not scheduled, or it might be an honours thesis.  Graduate supervisions may be projects or theses for the MA in War Studies, the RMC Masters of Public Administration (MPA) or the Masters of Defence Studies (MDS).   I have also supervised Canadian Forces College students in the shorter “Solo Flight” written assignments.  A list of supervisions can be found here.

RMC’s Student Supervisor Regulations can be found here (these should be checked against the most recent version on the RMC web site).

NCM Executive Professional Development Program (NEPDP)

Academic Bridging Program for NEPDP

I have been the academic advisor for the NEPDP since 2014. This is a one year higher education experience intended to help selected MWO/CWO/CPO candidates to prepare for employment at the strategic level.  The program has recently changed to require completion of an advanced certificate, consisting of nine upper year credits (300 and 400 level courses).  To enable academic success, I offer an online academic bridging program which should take about 5 days to complete, with additional one-to-one coaching for any areas requiring more help.  

Programme de transition universitaire pour le PQPFM

Je suis le conseiller académique du PQPFM depuis 2014. Il s'agit d'une expérience d'un an dans l'enseignement supérieur destinée à aider les candidats sélectionnés  à se préparer à un emploi au niveau stratégique. Le programme a récemment changé pour exiger l'achèvement d'un certificat avancé, composé de neuf crédits de niveau 300 et 400. Pour permettre la réussite scolaire, j'offre un programme de transition académique en ligne qui devrait prendre environ 5 jours, avec assistance individuelle supplémentaire pour tous les domaines nécessitant plus d'aide.

This is a privately hosted personal website. RMC, DND, and Government of Canada are not responsible for its content.  Last updated June 2023.

David Last, CD, PhD

Associate Professor, Political Science

Royal Military College of Canada

Call: +1(613)532-3002