Research and teaching in the field of political science has existed at the University of Bern since 1961. In that year Erich Gruner was appointed ad personam to the newly created professorship for "Sozialgeschichte und Soziologie der schweizerischen Politik" (Social History and Sociology of Swiss Politics), which he held until his retirement in 1984. He was one of the formative pioneers of Swiss political science and wrote various standard works in the field of Swiss party, parliamentary and association research. In 1965 Prof. Dr. Erich Gruner founded the “Forschungszentrum für schweizerische Politik (Research Centre for Swiss Politics), which later became the Institute for Political Science at the University of Berne. In the early days, its activities consisted mainly of third-party-funded research on Swiss politics, including, for example, the Année Politique Suisse, which has been published since 1965, and the Vox analyses conducted from 1977 to 2016. At the beginning, teaching activities were modest and took place within the framework of a supplementary subject in economics. After an interim management by Prof. Dr. Peter Gilg, Wolf Linder was elected in 1987 as holder of the professorship for Swiss Politics and director of the Institute for Political Science.
With the election of Prof. Dr. Wolf Linder, the subsidiary subject of political science was introduced at the University of Berne. This was followed by an expansion in teaching and an extension of research to other areas of political science. With the creation of a second professorship in 1993, which Prof. Dr. Klaus Armingeon held for Comparative Politics and European Policy until 2020, political science became a major subject in Bern. As of 2007, the Institute had three full professorships and two assistant professorships. The third professorship in political sociology was filled by Prof. Dr. Marco Steenbergen and, since August 2011, by Prof. Dr. Markus Freitag. With the appointment of Prof. Dr. Adrian Vatter to the Chair of Swiss Politics to replace Prof. Dr. Wolf Linder, who retired in summer 2009, the Institute continues its research activities in the field of Swiss politics. The Bachelor of Social Sciences was introduced in 2009. This study program is offered in cooperation with the Institutes of Sociology and Communication and Media Studies. In 2010, in addition to the Master of Political Science, the Mono-Master of Swiss Politics and Comparative Politics was introduced. In 2014, the assistant professorships were converted into associate professorships, which are held by Prof. Dr. Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen (Comparative Politics) and Prof. Dr. Karin Ingold (Policy Analysis). Karin Ingold has held a full professorship since 2020. Klaus Armingeon retired in the same year. He was succeeded by Prof. Dr. Fabio Wasserfallen. Today's research and teaching focuses on the structures, processes and content of Swiss politics, comparative political science, European and environmental policy as well as attitudinal and behavioural research within the framework of political sociology. The main focus is on developments in Switzerland in a European comparison.