Political Science

Requirements & Courses

  • Major Requirements

    Thirty-six credits which must include:

    1. POL 401
    2. At least twenty additional upper level credits. (No more than eight credits from POL 226/227 and 328/329 may count toward the major.)
    3. Successful completion of the departmental comprehensive examination. The exam will require that students demonstrate competency in three of the following four subfields of political science: American politics and public policy (APP), comparative politics (CMP), International Relations (INR) and Political Theory (THE). Students can determine the subfield to which a course belongs by noting the explanatory caption that appears in parentheses at the end of the course description.
    4. For topics courses designated POL 180, 280, and 380, consult with the instructor or political science chair to determine which subfield the course falls under.
    5. Departmental honors requires the completion of a senior thesis, successful defense before the department, and public presentation of the thesis
  • Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include:

    1. At least sixteen upper level credits in POL (No more than eight credits from POL 226/227 and 328/329 may count toward the major.)
  • Four credits from POL, with the exception of practicum or independent study courses, count towards the Distributive Requirements in the Social Sciences.

Courses

  • POL
    101
    .
    The American Political System
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    111
    .
    Introduction to Comparative Politics
    4 credits
    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. (CMP)
  • POL
    115M
    .
    Ethnic Politics Case Studies
    4 credits
    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. Spring Term only. (CMP)
  • POL
    121
    .
    World Conflicts and Problems
    4 credits
    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. (INR)
  • POL
    127M
    .
    Presidential Library Research
    4 credits
    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. Spring Term only. (INR)
  • POL
    131
    .
    Modern Ideals and Ideologies
    4 credits
    This course examines the most influential ideologies of the modern era including liberalism, conservatism, socialism, communism, fascism, and liberation ideologies.(Cross-listed as PHL-131) (THE)
  • POL
    141
    .
    Intro to Public Mgt & Policy Analysis
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    180
    .
    Topics in Political Science
    2-4 credits
    Examines special political subjects in both the foreign/international and American realms.
  • POL
    211
    .
    Western European Politics
    4 credits
    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. (CMP)
  • POL
    212
    .
    Eastern European Politics
    4 credits
    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. (CMP)
  • POL
    215
    .
    Making and Breaking Nations
    4 credits
    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. (CMP)
  • POL
    217
    .
    Arctic Politics and Science
    4 credits
    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). (CMP)
  • POL
    221
    .
    Analysis of International Politics
    4 credits
    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. (INR)
  • POL
    225
    .
    International Law and Organizations
    4 credits
    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. (INR)
  • POL
    226
    .
    Model United Nations “A”
    2 credits
    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. (INR)
  • POL
    227
    .
    Model United Nations “B”
    2 credits
    Preparation to represent an assigned country at a Model UN competition through examination of current international issues and UN organizational structures and processes.(INR)
  • POL
    231
    .
    American Political Thought
    4 credits
    Explores American political thought from the founding to the present. Key themes considered include majority rule and minority rights, participatory versus elite theories of democracy, the tensions between democracy, freedom and equality, and civil disobedience. (THE)
  • POL
    232
    .
    Ancient Political Thought
    4 credits
    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 as PHL-232.) (THE)
  • POL
    233
    .
    Current Controversies U.S. Politics
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    234
    .
    Modern Political Thought
    4 credits
    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 s PHL-234.) (THE)
  • POL
    236
    .
    Contemporary Political Thought
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: POL-131 or Permission
    This course explores contemporary debates in political theory regarding justice, democracy, freedom, equality, and rights. Do contemporary democracies distribute resources and opportunities fairly? Do they treat all citizens equally? Are they sufficiently democratic? Is capitalism a just economic system? Does it support or undermine democracy, freedom and equality? (THE)
  • POL
    241
    .
    U.S. Presidential Elections
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    242
    .
    Comparative Environmental Health Policy
    4 credits
    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 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    245
    .
    The Political Experience
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    280
    .
    Topics in Political Science
    2-4 credits
    Variable topics in political analysis.
  • POL
    305
    .
    Constitutional Law
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    315M
    .
    Ethnic Politics Case Studies
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: 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. Spring Term only. (CMP)
  • POL
    317
    .
    Politics of Fear and Hate
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: One political science course or permission.
    This course explores the rise of “Radical Right” political parties across Europe in recent years. We explore the large literature on such political movements, which focus primarily on either economic grievance or xenophobia. We build a cross-national dataset to test hypotheses using time-series regression analysis. We will use both Microsoft Excel and SPSS as a central part of the course.
  • POL
    325
    .
    U.S. Foreign Policy
    4 credits
    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. (INR)
  • POL
    326
    .
    U.S. National Security Policy
    4 credits
    Analyzes emergence and evolution of post- WWII national security state. Assesses impact of changing international environment on conceptions of “national security.” (INR)
  • POL
    327M
    .
    Presidential Library Research
    4 credits
    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. Spring Term only. (INR)
  • POL
    328
    .
    Advanced Model UN “A”
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: 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. (INR)
  • POL
    329
    .
    Advanced Model UN “B”
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: 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. (INR)
  • POL
    341
    .
    Public Policy Analysis
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    345
    .
    Public Administration History & Theory
    4 credits
    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. (APP)
  • POL
    380
    .
    Topics & Problems in Political Science
    4 credits
    Courses on special political subjects in both the foreign/international and American realms.
  • POL
    381
    .
    Washington Semester
    4 credits
    Credit awarded for student participation in seminars and coursework. (American University)
  • POL
    382
    .
    Washington Semester
    4 credits
    Credit awarded for student participation in seminars and coursework. (American University)
  • POL
    385
    .
    Political Science Practicum
    1 credit
    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 credits
    Comprehensive capstone study of politics within the context of a distinct theme in political science.
  • POL
    499
    .
    POL Independent Study: Readings
    1 credit
    Individual study of particular topic or problem area; intensive reading; problem formulated with instructor consent.
  • POL
    500
    .
    Senior Thesis
    4 credits
    Under supervision, student formulates a project topic or research program, conducts research, then prepares and publicly presents a senior thesis. Required for departmental honors.