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Political Science

Students majoring in political science are required to take the department’s introductory course in each of the four subfields. We strongly encourage students to complete all four introductory courses by the end of the sophomore year. In addition to these introductory courses, political science majors must take at least six upper-division courses for a minimum total of 10 courses and a maximum of 14 to complete the major. Of the six upper-division courses, at least one must be in American government, one in political philosophy, and one in either international relations or comparative politics. For outstanding students, there is the possibility of undertaking a two-semester honors thesis in the senior year. Majors are also strongly encouraged to take courses in related fields like history, economics, and sociology. Proficiency in a modern foreign language is highly recommended as well.

Advanced Placement: Students with a score of 5 in American Politics and Government and/or Comparative Politics and Government do not have to take the relevant introductory course (Principles of American Government or Comparative Politics), but still have to take a minimum of 10 courses.

Majors: Students who may be considering Political Science as a major should choose a course from the courses listed on the First-Year Student website under Political Science.



POLS 100
Principles of American Government
Common Area: Social Science

This course aims to provide an introductory overview of American government through study of the principal public documents, speeches and constitutional law cases that define the American political tradition. By tracing the development of U.S. political institutions from the Founding to the present, the course examines the ways in which American political ideals have become embodied in institutions as well as the ways in which practice has fallen short of these ideals. The course introduces students to contemporary ideological and policy debates, and prepares them for the role of citizen.


POLS 101
Introduction to Political Philosophy
Common Area: Philosophical Studies or Social Science

This course introduces students to some of the major alternative philosophic answers that have been given to the fundamental questions of political life, such as the nature of the good political order and the relation of the individual to the community. Authors to be studied include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others.


POLS 102
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Common Area: Social Science

This course provides a comparative analysis of political processes and institutions in Western liberal democracies, Communist and post-Communist states, and democratic and non-democratic countries in non-Western states. The course will focus on alternative models of modernization and on the causes of, and prospects for, attempts to democratize in countries throughout the world.


POLS 103
Introduction to International Relations
Common Area: Social Science

This course introduces students to major theories and concepts in international politics and examines the evolution of the international system during the modern era. Principal topics include the causes of war and peace, the dynamics of imperialism and postcolonialism, the international sources of wealth and poverty, the nature and functioning of international organizations, the legal and ethical obligations of states, and the emergence of global environmental issues.



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