Political Science

Requirements & Courses

  • Major Requirements
    1. Common core — POL 201, 202, 302 and 401 (12 credits total).
    2. Disciplinary breadth — one course from each of the following groups (16 credits total):
      1. American Politics:  100, 101, 141, 241, 242, 243, 245, 335, 341, 345;
      2. Comparative Politics: POL 100, 111, 115, 211, 212, 215, 217;
      3. International Relations: POL 100, 121, 127, 221, 225, 226/227, 325, 326, 327 and 328/329;
      4. Political Theory: POL 100, 131, 231, 232, 233, 234;
    3. POL 100 may only be used to satisfy one group. With instructor approval based on content, the following courses may be used to satisfy any group: POL 381, 382 (Washington Semester); POL 385, 386, 387; POL 499; or POL 500. Only 8 credits of POL 226/227 and 328/329 may count towards the major.
    4. Sub-disciplinary expertise — 8 credits: Students must complete two additional upper-level courses, 200 or higher, both taken from one group;
    5. Major Cognates: MTH 116, PSY 220 or BTC 280 (Biostatistics);
    6. At least 24 credits must be upper-level (200 or higher);
    7. Minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA;
    8. Satisfactory completion of the Graduate Record Advanced Examination, MFAT, or departmental comprehensive evaluation;
    9. Departmental honors: Completion and public presentation of a senior thesis; minimum 3.5 GPA in Political Science, and 3.3 GPA overall.
  • Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include POL 100 and 201 and at least 16 credits at the upper level. POL 401 is recommended. Only four credits from 226/227 and 328/329 may count for the Political Science Minor.

  • Four credits from POL, with the exception of practicum or independent study courses, count towards the Distributive Requirements in the Social Sciences.

Courses

  • POL
    100
    .
    Introduction to Political Science
    4
    Introduction to the discipline of political science. Explores certain key themes and concepts of the discipline, such as politics and power, and considers some of the different approaches that political scientists use to study the political world. Introduces the discipline’s four subfields of political theory, comparative politics, international relations and American politics, and explores the connections between them.
  • POL
    101
    .
    The American Political System
    4
    Study of institutions and processes of politics and government. Contemporary political problems. Primary focus on federal government with some attention to state and local politics.
  • POL
    103
    .
    Reel Politics
    2
    Exploration of the portrayal of American politics in historical and contemporary films.
  • POL
    111
    .
    Introduction to Comparative Politics
    4
    Examines concepts and approaches to comparative political study, comparative functions, processes and structures. Explores issues and concerns such as political change, democracy, effectiveness and stability.
  • POL
    115
    .
    Ethnic Politics Case Studies
    4
    Explore the nature of ethnic identity, its potential for and actualization of political activism and violence, and survey the role political institutions play in mitigating or eliminating ethnopolitical activism.
  • POL
    121
    .
    World Conflicts and Problems
    4
    Examines a selection of world conflicts in terms of their causes and prospects for war, control or settlement. Explores world-wide problems, needs and efforts among states to deal cooperatively.
  • POL
    127
    .
    Presidential Library Research
    4
    Research visit to a presidential library. Lower level focuses on primary source investigations on topics of student interest. Upper level is preparation for a substantial research paper potentially leading to a senior thesis and/or published article.
  • POL
    131
    .
    Introduction to Political Theory
    1-5
    Introduction to normative political theory, both historical and contemporary. Includes analysis of central concepts of politics such as power, freedom, justice, democracy and equality. Explore key modern ideologies, such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, fascism and political Islam. Cross-listed with PHL-131.
  • POL
    141
    .
    Intro to Public Mgt & Policy Analysis
    2-8
    Study of leadership and administration in public organization, including relationship between bureaucracy and the executive, judicial and legislative branches; development of organizational theory; policy-making and implementation process; bureaucratic ethics; and reconciliation of democracy and bureaucracy. Recommended for those considering careers in public service or jobs affected by public policy.
  • POL
    180
    .
    Topics in Political Science
    2-4
    Examines special political subjects in both the foreign/international and American realms.
  • POL
    *
    201
    .
    Nature of Political Inquiry
    4
    An introduction to political science research, including the nature of political inquiry and research methodology. Development of an actual research project.
  • POL
    *
    202
    .
    Political Science Journal Club
    2
    Four credits from Political Science
    The journal club introduces students to contemporary research in Political Science; concurrent sections of 202 and 302 will meet jointly. This seminar will evaluate recent peer-reviewed articles published in top-tier political science journals, helping students become familiar with contemporary research across a variety of topics. At the 202 level, students will be expected to engage with the material and actively participate in discussion.
  • POL
    *
    211
    .
    Western European Politics
    4
    Comparative study of the main political systems of Western Europe. Examination of European Union and its policies, processes and outcomes. Comparative analysis of short- and long-term implications of European economic integration for the rest of the world.
  • POL
    *
    212
    .
    Eastern European Politics
    4
    A survey of contemporary Eastern European politics at a turbulent time that often attracts international attention to that region. Analysis of some of the transformation and continuity in the region’s politics and society.
  • POL
    *
    215
    .
    Making and Breaking News
    4
    Regionalism and nationalism represent two persistent and significant political forces in most countries today. Indeed, for many countries they pose the most significant threat to these state’s continued viability. This course explores these political phenomenon in Europe through hands-on research as students contribute to building a database of European regions, build GIS maps of regional data, and engage in both quantitative and qualitative analyses of these areas.
  • POL
    *
    217
    .
    Arctic Politics and Science
    4
    Survey the current state of scientific research examining polar melting. Explore the international legal and strategic implications of polar melting globally, with particular emphases on the five countries claiming polar waters (the U.S., Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway).
  • POL
    *
    221
    .
    Analysis of International Politics
    4
    Study roles of the state, international and non-state actors in international politics; theories of conflict, conflict control and resolution; and prospects for world community.
  • POL
    *
    225
    .
    International Law and Organizations
    4
    Analyzes historical evolution of international law, its purposes, principles and relationship to the international arena. Study of international organizations and their impact on international legal order.
  • POL
    *
    226
    .
    Model United Nations “A”
    2
    Preparation to represent an assigned country at a Model UN competition through examination of current international issues and UN organizational structures and processes. Course fee.
  • POL
    *
    227
    .
    Model United Nations “B”
    2
    Preparation to represent an assigned country at a Model UN competition through examination of current international issues and UN organizational structures and processes.
  • POL
    *
    231
    .
    American Political Thought
    4
    Historical and contemporary meanings of democracy, its assumptions and implications: tensions between theory and practice, majority rule and minority rights, civil disobedience, economic-political democracy, institutionalization of democratic procedures, and the future of democracy.
  • POL
    *
    232
    .
    Ancient Political Thought
    4
    Exploration of key ideas in ancient and medieval political thought. The works of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Epicurus, Augustine and Aquinas are considered. Key questions addressed include: Is democracy superior to rule by the enlightened few? Are humans by nature political creatures? What is the proper relation between the individual and the state? Is the state a natural entity? Cross-listed with PHL-232.
  • POL
    *
    233
    .
    Current Controversies U.S. Politics
    4
    Examine the ethical and empirical dimensions of some current political controversies in the U.S., such as the death penalty, gay marriage, torture, terrorism, affirmative action and euthanasia. Introduction to relevant concepts in ethical theory, law, political philosophy and empirical inquiry in order to provide the framework to think knowledgeably and critically about these issues.
  • POL
    *
    234
    .
    Modern Political Thought
    4
    Analysis of selected original works of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, the American founders, Bentham, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche. Emphasis on relevance to contemporary political thought and issues. Cross-listed with PHL-234.
  • POL
    *
    241
    .
    Presidential Leadership
    4
    Studies the links of elections and the media, campaign fundraising, electoral strategies, the role of the media in shaping campaigns, and the impact on public policy; offered especially in national election years, where the election can serve as a laboratory to test theories.
  • POL
    *
    242
    .
    Comparative Environmental Health Policy
    4
    Comparative analysis of the environmental-health policy process. Emphasis on applied research related to current government or non-governmental organization projects or concerns.
  • POL
    *
    243
    .
    Public Opinion and Voting
    4
    The course explores how Americans form their political beliefs and values, and how those beliefs and values influence their voting behavior. The impact of ideology, economic class, ethnicity, religion, and education are considered.
  • POL
    *
    245
    .
    The Political Experience
    4
    Explores nature of elective and administrative politics in state and local governments. Integrates cognitive and experiential learning. Includes field trips and interviews with state/local leaders in government, interest groups and media.
  • POL
    *
    280
    .
    Topics in Pollitical Science
    2-4
    Variable topics in political analysis.
  • POL
    *
    302
    .
    Political Science Journal Club
    2
    POL-202
    The journal club introduces students to contemporary research in Political Science; sections of 202 and 302 will meet jointly. This seminar will evaluate recent peer-reviewed articles published in top-tier political science journals, helping students become familiar with contemporary research across a variety of topics. At the 302 level, students will be responsible for article selection and leading discussion of the material. Students will prepare a substantive research proposal, including literature review, which can then be further developed into a senior thesis.
  • POL
    *
    315
    .
    Ethnic Politics Case Studies
    4
    POL-215
    Explore the nature of ethnic identity, its potential for and actualization of political activism and violence, and survey the role political institutions play in mitigating or eliminating ethnopolitical activism.
  • POL
    *
    325
    .
    U.S. Foreign Policy
    4
    Study of goals of American foreign policy and U.S. role in changing world; structure, processes and politics of foreign policy-making; and U.S. foreign policy since end of WWII. Analysis of selected current U.S. foreign policy concerns.
  • POL
    *
    326
    .
    U.S. National Security Policy
    4
    Analyzes emergence and evolution of post- WWII national security state. Assesses impact of changing international environment on conceptions of “national security.”
  • POL
    *
    327
    .
    Presidential Library Research
    4
    Research visit to a presidential library. Lower level focuses on primary source investigations on topics of student interest. Upper level is preparation for a substantial research paper potentially leading to a senior thesis and/or published article.
  • POL
    *
    328
    .
    Advanced Model UN “A”
    2
    POL 226 and 227
    Examine in detail the functioning of the central bodies of the UN community, including the General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC and specialized agencies. Also address the role of nongovernmental organizations, regional and subregional organizations and individual states. Only four credits may count toward the major.
  • POL
    *
    329
    .
    Advanced Model UN “B”
    2
    POL-226 and 227
    Examine in detail the functioning of the central bodies of the UN community, including the General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC and specialized agencies. Also address the role of nongovernmental organizations, regional and subregional organizations and individual states. Only four credits may count toward the major. Course fee.
  • POL
    *
    335
    .
    Constitutional Law
    4
    POL-100
    Case law study of the Supreme Court’s interpretations of U.S. Constitution in the areas of the governmental structures and processes and civil rights and liberties. Different approaches to interpreting the Constitution are also considered.
  • POL
    *
    341
    .
    Public Policy Analysis
    4
    Study of policy process, particularly policy evaluation. Focuses on such policies as educational, environmental, economic and social welfare. Emphasis on learning evaluation methodologies through application to current public policy issues.
  • POL
    *
    345
    .
    Public Administration History & Theory
    4
    Study of the development of modern public bureaucracies and the relationship of bureaucracy and other governmental institutions, particularly through analysis of original works on public administration from Woodrow Wilson and Max Weber to more recent commentaries.
  • POL
    *
    380
    .
    Topics & Problems in Political Science
    4
    Courses on special political subjects in both the foreign/international and American realms.
  • POL
    *
    381
    .
    Washington Semester
    4
    Credit awarded for student participation in seminars and coursework. (American University)
  • POL
    *
    382
    .
    Washington Semester
    4
    Credit awarded for student participation in seminars and coursework. (American University)
  • POL
    *
    385
    .
    Political Science Practicum
    1-4
    Placements in government, political institutions and related agencies may be made available by the Department or may be arranged by students in consultation with the Department.
  • POL
    *
    401
    .
    Senior Seminar
    4
    Comprehensive capstone study of politics within the context of a distinct theme in political science.
  • POL
    *
    499
    .
    POL Independent Study: Readings
    1-4
    Individual study of particular topic or problem area; intensive reading; problem formulated with instructor consent.
  • POL
    *
    500
    .
    Senior Thesis
    4
    Under supervision, student formulates a project topic or research program, conducts research, then prepares and publicly presents a senior thesis. Required for departmental honors.