Course Descriptions

Required Courses

POLN 101 - Introduction to American Politics. 

This course studies (i) the current state of American politics, including the leading issues of the day, (ii) the historical and constitutional foundations of the national government, and (iii) the major institutions of the federal government, including Congress, the presidency, and the judiciary. In depth-analysis of the Congress probes policy making and organization of the Congress and it evaluates the performance and functioning of Congress as a representative institution. Additional segments of the course deal with public opinion, the media, and American political economy. 3 credits. Offered every semester.

POLN 102 - Comparative Politics. 

This course provides a basic understanding of core concepts of politics, institutions and behaviors, as well as an overview of the political systems of key contemporary European states. The course will focus on the functions, structures and types of behavior and activity that are common to them and to all states, and will also address the historical, cultural and other factors that lead to divergence among them. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 103 - International Relations. 

How nations and transnational actors interact in the international arena and why they behave the way they do with reference to power, balance of power, deterrence, imperialism, diplomacy and negotiations, international law, international organization, collective security, war, and the interrelationship between international economic issues and international politics. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 201 - Introduction to Political Theory. 

A survey of political theory from ancient Athens to the early 19th century. The course focuses on the concepts of government authority, political obligation, and individual rights as developed by major Western political theorists, and considers their application to current-day political issues. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 202 - American Political Theory

This course is a historical introduction to major ideas and theories in American politics. These are presented through a variety of sources including foundational documents, pamphlets, speeches, articles, Supreme Court decisions, and books. Students learn about the context in which the ideas develop and analyze their suitability to solve contemporary political problems. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 493 - Advanced Topics in Social Science. 

This course is required for all political science majors, usually in their senior year. Students focus on a major sub-field of political science that varies from year to year. A major research paper and oral presentation are required. Prerequisite: senior status or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered annually.

Additional required courses for Honors majors

POLN 495H - Senior Honor Thesis I

This is the first semester of a two-term course sequence required for honors majors. Students identify a topic, conduct research, and prepare an annotated bibliography and literature review. Prerequisite: Senior Status. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 496H - Senior Honor Thesis II

This is the second semester of a two-term course sequence required for honors majors. Students write and revise an extensive paper and present it orally to a panel of political scientists. Prerequisite: Senior Status and successful completion of POLN 495. 3 credits. Offered annually.


MATN 261 - Statistics for Social Science Majors

Basic concepts in descriptive and inferential statistics including measurement scales, frequency distributions, measures of central tendency and distribution, correlation coefficients, linear regression, probability theory, binomial distribution, and parametric and non-parametric tests of significant differences. Prerequisite: MATN 111 or examination. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 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. Offered biannually.

POLN 212 - International Organizations

The nature and functions of international organizations with special reference to the achievements, problems, and prospects of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. Attention is also given to the impact of regional organizations such as the Common Market. Prerequisite: POLN 103. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 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. Offered annually.

POLN 226 - Public Administration

This course examines how federal, state, and local governments provide services in the United States.  Students learn how the tasks a government agency performs influence its organizational structure and culture, and why work incentives differ among government employees.  The course also examines the constraints that the judicial and legislative branches place upon government administration, as well as restrictions imposed by ethics laws.  The course concludes with examination of privatization of government services, leasing of infrastructure, and innovative public-private partnerships. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 241 - The Presidency

A study of executive power under the US Constitution. Focuses on the how presidential power has changed from 1789 to the present as a result of presidential practice and Supreme Court decisions. Attention is also given to the role that Congress, the Supreme Court, and the media have on presidential power. Prerequisite: POLN 101 or permission of the instructor. 3 credits.

POLN 242 - Congress and the 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: POLN 101 or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 244 - American Political Parties and the Electoral Process

The structure and operation of American political parties, with emphasis on their organization, leadership and political role. The course will also examine electoral strategies, the use of polls and the media, the effects of issues and personalities, and recent campaign financing laws. Prerequisite: POLN 101 or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 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 on occasion directly determine both the policies and the procedures of certain agencies.  3 credits. Offered by request.

POLN 261 - Government and Politics of Israel

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the political system of the modern State of Israel. Areas to be studied include the ideological foundations of the state, its political culture and environment, its political, governmental and socioeconomic institutions and processes, and the impact of demographic and religious issues. This course may be taken either for Political Science credit or for Judaic Studies credit, but not for both. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 304 - The Politics of the Middle East 

This broad survey of contemporary Politics of the Arab Middle East studies the historical, religious, geopolitical, cultural, and socioeconomic forces that shape the region’s development. The course also presents an overview of contemporary Middle East states and regional rivalries within the context of the international system. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 305 - The Third World in International Politics

The emergence of the developing nations as significant members of the international system will be examined. Emphasis will be placed on the conflicting goals and interests of the developed and developing nations. Prerequisites: POLN 103 or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 307 - Terrorism and Insurgency.

Examines the nature of terrorism and insurgency, with an emphasis in their causes. This focus is designed to increase understanding of how to counter terrorism and insurgency or to resolve the issues that give rise to them. Consideration is also given to methods and politics of threat assessment. Prerequisite: POLN 101, POLN 102, POLN 103, or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

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: POLN 101 or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 310 - The Supreme Court and the Constitution

A study of the role of the Supreme Court in US government. Examines how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution through close reading of major decisions about the structure and power of the federal government. Prerequisite: POLN 101 or permission of the instructor. 3 credits.

POLN 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. Prerequisite: POLN 101 or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 315 - American Foreign Policy

This course explores the making of U.S. foreign policy, covering historical and contemporary challenges. It analyzes the sources of American foreign policy, incorporating realism and liberalism perspectives. The course examines Cold War impacts on state-building and their consequences today. Pivotal events, actors, and nuclear weapons are explored, along with post-Cold War issues like NATO expansion and humanitarian intervention. Current challenges, including China's rise, privatized military force, and the role of government branches in foreign policy, are addressed. The focus is on understanding how the U.S. engages globally, including the president, Congress, and public opinion. 3 credits.

POLN 318 - Scandals & Accountability

This course explores the evolution and development of political scandals, the impact of major political scandals on American politics, and their role as catalysts for reform of the political system. Among the topics addressed are Teapot Dome, Watergate, Iran-Contra, presidential impeachments & trials and others. Eligible for History credit. Prerequisite: POLN 101 or HISN 220 or HIST 221 or permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 328/PSYN 328 - Psychology & Politics

This course offers an overview of the interrelationship between psychology and politics and the impact of key concepts in both disciplines on the political system, political behavior and the political process. Among the areas to be studied are value formation, perception & reality, rationality & decision-making, leadership & authority, persuasion, measurement & evaluation, and political violence. Prerequisite: POLN 101 or PSYN 101. 3 credits. Offered annually.

POLN 330 - Political Communication

This course offers a comprehensive understanding of the interplay of media and politics in the United States and the methods by which politicians, candidates and others seek to influence the public.  Students develop and refine skills in written, verbal, and visual communication using traditional and social media.

POLN 335 - Women and Politics in Comparative Perspective

Women comprise over half the population of the world, yet exercise far less political power than men. This course examines the factors that contribute to women’s involvement (or lack thereof) in politics, as well as the consequences of their representation and participation. The course will examine whether and how women’s voting behavior and policy preferences are distinct from those of men. It will also explore women’s political candidacies for office, including the roles of ideology, parties, and media coverage. This will include a review of how women’s political involvement varies globally and conclude by considering future trends in women’s political participation.

POLN 350 - Social Movements and Revolution

This course will examine important questions related to the emergence and evolution of social and political movements and revolutions, including: What are the defining features and driving forces of a social movement? What social and political factors shape their successes (or failures)? The class will examine major analytic topics concerning social movements, including recruitment, participation, strategy, leadership, organization, repression, diffusion, mass media, and outcomes. The course will cover an array of social movements, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Iranian Revolution, the anti-nuclear movement, student movements, and the pro-democracy movement in China.

POLN 360 - Debating Justice

This course teaches students to debate current issues in public policy with reference to the underlying values of American law and government. Through the format of competitive Lincoln-Douglas debating, students develop affirmative cases that are linked to these values. Students also learn argumentative strategies and cross-examination skills. 3 credits. Offered biannually.

POLN 481-482 - Independent Study

These courses are for students who wish to take a course on a topic not addressed by a current political science course. 3 credits each. Offered by request.

POLN 485 - Legislative Internship

Select students work as supervised interns in local Congressional and state legislative offices. Prerequisite: Departmental permission. 3 credits. Offered every semester.

Prerequisite: POLN 101, one additional course in Political Science, and departmental permission

POLN 486 - Communal Internship

Students work as supervised interns in selected community agencies. Prerequisite: Departmental permission. 3 credits. Offered every semester.

Prerequisite: POLN 101, one additional course in Political Science, and departmental permission

POLN 487 - Governmental Internship

Students work as supervised interns in the executive or judicial branches of federal, state, or local government. Prerequisite: Departmental permission. 3 credits. Offered every semester.

Prerequisite: POLN 101, one additional course in Political Science, and departmental permission

POLN 494 - Senior Honors Project in Political Science

This course is students who plan to write a substantial research paper on a topic not addressed by a current political science course. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. 3 credits. Offered by request.