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:

    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.
  • Course Subfield Designation Summary:

     

    American Politics/Public Policy (APP):

    POL-101, 141, 233, 241, 243, 245, 305, 341 and 345

     

    Comparative Politics (CMP):

    POL-111, 214, 217 and 317

     

    International Relations (INR):

    POL-121, 127, 221, 225, 226, 227, 325, 326, 327, 328 and 329

     

    Political Theory (THE):

    POL-131, 231, 232, 234 and 235

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
    .
    Forming More Perfect Unions
    4 credits
    To “Form a more perfect Union,” political leaders build institutions by creating constitutions. These institutions are attempts to solve immediate problems but also give rise to new problems, and no one set of institutions is appropriate for all contexts or moments in time. In this course students will participate in simulations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Mexican Revolution, and the building of post-apartheid South Africa. By examining three “constitutional moments” in depth, students will better understand the dynamics, aspirations, and limitations of constitutions, preparing them to explore the political system of any country, past or present.
  • 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 and 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
    214
    .
    Latin American Politics
    4 credits
    Latin America has been a focus of political scientists for decades, as these 19 diverse countries share many features and yet also represent a wide array of political experiences and trajectories, including: communist revolutions; bloody civil wars; military dictatorships known for massive human rights violations; presidential autogolpes; and, yes, even stable democracy. In this course, students will explore the dynamics that shape Latin America through simulations of the Mexican Revolution and post-dictatorship Argentina and research projects highlighting particular aspects of politics in the region. (CMP)
  • POL
    217
    .
    Democracy’s Slow Death
    4 credits
    By any number of measures, democracy is slowly retreating around the world as authoritarianism increasingly succeeds in limiting the power and impact of voters. While historically these efforts were dramatic and abrupt, whether violent insurrections, sudden autogolpes, or military coup d’etats, in recent years has become much more likely for democracies to be slowly hollowed out from within by democratically-elected leaders. This course explores the decline of democracy around the world. Students will develop a dataset of political institutions to test a range of theories attempting to explain this decline. Some background in statistics is recommended but not required. (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
    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
    310
    .
    Political Science Statistics
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: One POL course or transfer equivalent
    Statistics is the dominant methodological approach in social science, including political science. In this course, students will learn the mathematical underpinnings and software for multivariate regression analysis, the dominant methodology in the field (among others). Political Science Statistics will use some of the most prominent databases in the field as the foundation for instruction and teach students basic and advanced Microsoft Excel techniques as well.
  • POL
    317
    .
    Politics of Fear and Hate
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: POL 310; any one POL and one statistics course (MTH 118, 242; DAT 115; PSY 220); or permission
    Populist parties, particularly on the political right, have been increasingly successful in recent elections, particularly in Europe and the Americas. Scholars increasingly seek to explain the appeal of these anti-elite, often xenophobic, parties in recent years in so many different countries. In this course, students will build a dataset and, using linear regression analysis in Microsoft Excel, test a range of hypotheses to better understand this increasingly common political phenomenon. (CMP)
  • 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 and 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 and 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.