Political Science Courses

Political science courses help hone the skills you'll need for law school. They include courses that offer a basic introduction to law, experience in reading cases and legal theory, as well as advanced courses that delve into specific legal issues. Students interested in law school should take at least one course covering each of these areas.

I. General introduction to American Law
POL 207 Introduction to American Law
Knowledge of American law is important to everyone living in the United States, and this course provides an introduction to areas of law that most people will encounter in their daily lives. This course begins with an examination of the U.S. court system and the role of lawyers in the United States. Next it covers criminal law and criminal procedure. Several classes cover various aspects of civil law such as consumer law, contracts, torts, and family law. The course concludes by studying constitutional law and employees' rights in the workplace. 3 credits.
II. Courses emphasizing reading of cases
POL 222 International Law
A case study approach to the nature, role, and function of international law. Special attention is given to the origins and sources of international law and to its role in the contemporary international relations. 3 credits.
POL 242 Congress and Legislative Process
An examination of the United States Congress and its role in the political process. Topics studied will include the relations between congressmen and their constituencies, congressional elections, the internal formal and informal structure of Congress, and the nature of congressional decision-making in various policy areas. Prerequisite: POL 101 or permission of instructor. 3 credits.
POL 309 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
This course examines how the Supreme Court has determined the extent to which individual rights and liberties are protected by the Constitution. Most readings are taken from Supreme Court opinions that explain how provisions in the Bill of Rights affect government regulation of individual behavior. Prerequisite: POL 101 or permission from the instructor. 3 credits.
POL 310 The Supreme Court and the Constitution
The role of the Supreme Court in the American system of government. A study of major constitutional problems that have arisen in the light of representative Supreme Court decisions. Prerequisite: POL 101 or permission from the instructor. 3 credits.
III. Courses emphasizing legal theory
POL 201 Introduction to Political Theory
A survey of political theory from Aristotle to the present. The development of political ideas and the writings of major political theorists in their historical and institutional contexts. 3 credits.
POL 311 Introduction to Legal Principles
This course examines whether the law is or should be guided by moral principles and, if so, what these principles ought to be. It considers the ideals of punishment and whether punishment should be devised so as to provide retributive justice or to advance social utility and deterrence. Students are introduced to some of the major schools of legal thought and to principles underlying some of the major bodies of law or constitutional law, in particular the relationship between democracy and constitutional law. Prerequisites: POL 101 or permission of the instructor. 3 credits.
IV. Advanced-level courses
POL 246 Judicial Politics
The judicial branch of American government as a policy-making institution. The course studies how judges use their power to influence the outcomes of trials and other legal proceedings and how they reinterpret laws and regulations through judicial review. The course also examines how judges influence the processes that guide government agencies, and in certain cases directly determine both the policies and the procedures of certain agencies. The course concludes by considering recent developments that affect the power that American judges have over policy decisions. 3 credits.
POL 535 Executive Prerogative (experimental course)
This course studies how Presidents have expanded their powers beyond those granted in the Constitution. The course begins with a historical survey of major Presidential decisions that have expanded the power of the executive branch. Substantial focus is given to the actions of the Bush and Obama Presidencies in fighting terrorism, engaging in intelligence-gathering, and supporting popular uprisings abroad, as well as in preventing the judiciary from reviewing the constitutionality of their actions. 3 credits.