Political Science Major

Department of Political Science and International Affairs

Department Faculty

The Political Science Program

Political Science, the study of how various political systems work, is a Bachelor of Arts degree program. Courses ranging from urban politics and government to international politics are offered. The department also provides many outlets through which students can gain practical knowledge of the field, including visits to Virginia’s state capital and to Washington, D.C., internships in governmental offices, and involvement in major political events, such as the United Nations’ student conference. Political Science is a good background for a career in law, urban planning, teaching, government, and private enterprise; it also lends itself to further study in graduate school.

Requirements for the Political Science Major

Thirty-six (36) credits including PSCI 101, 102, 201, and one political science class, which may also be used to fulfill other political science major requirements, designated as “Writing Intensive.” One course each to be chosen by faculty advisor and student from each of the following subfields: American Politics; Comparative Politics; International Relations; Political Theory; Fifteen (15) additional credits in political science. PSCI 101-102 is a prerequisite to all Political Science courses, except PSCI 201.

Political Science Course Offerings

Political Science course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of PSCI in the course listings.

PSCI 101-102 is a prerequisite to all Political Science courses, except PSCI 201.

101 – Introduction to Political Science (3)

Survey of the basic concepts and theories of political science, including comparative analysis of political institutions and ideologies.

102 – Introduction to International Relations (3)

Survey of major issues in international politics and foreign affairs, with emphasis on global awareness of states, regions, and politics in the international system.

201 – American Government (3)

Principles of Political Science as applied to American national government.

202 – American Public Policy (3)

A study of selected issues in public policy, including those related to the economy, health care, poverty, education, and the environment.

301 – Comparative Government of Western Europe (3)

Comparative analysis of the governments of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

302 – The Politics of Soviet Successor States (3)

A comparative analysis of politics in Soviet successor states and the legacy bequeathed to them by communist rule in the U.S.S.R.

304 – Contemporary American Politics (3)

In-depth analysis of selected problems in contemporary American politics.

311 – Congress and the Political Process (3)

Analysis of the contemporary role of Congress in its relation to the Presidency, the federal bureaucracy, and pressure groups.

312 – The American Presidency (3)

Analysis of the modern Presidency and its role in the American political system.

313 – U.S. Federal Judiciary (3)

Analysis of the Federal judiciary and its role in the American political system.

315 – Alliance Politics (3)

Prerequisites: PSCI 101 and 102.  The study of the origins, management, and consequences of alliances.

321 – Theories of International Relations (3)

Analysis of major theories of international relations. Topics include war, peace, international security, political economy, and global institutions such as the United Nations system.

323 – Latin American Politics (3)

Comparative analysis of politics in Latin America, including historical precedents and contemporary systems in several of the region’s countries.

324 – U.S. – Latin American Relations (3)

Study of U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America, including its major historical developments and contemporary challenges.

332 – Metropolitan Problems (3)

Analytical study of the problems of American cities and other areas.

334 – Political Parties and Elections in America (3)

Structure and function of political parties; conduct of elections; pressure groups.

350 – Politics of Developing Countries (3)

Analysis of major issues and theories of political development in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, including political modernization and decay, civil society, and North-South relations.

351 – International Political Economy (3)

Analyzes the interplay of politics and economics in international economic relations. Focuses on contemporary debates over issues such as trade and monetary relations, foreign investment, foreign aid and debt, economic development and globalization.

353 – Indian Foreign Policy (3)

Prerequisites: PSCI 101 and 102.  Analysis of Indian foreign policy in the Post-Cold War era.  Emphasis on challenges India faces in security and economic issue areas.

354 – Politics of South Asia (3)

Study of political life in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

355 – Politics of the Middle East and North Africa (3)

Study of politics in Iran, Israel, Turkey, and the Arab World. Featured topics may include Islam and politics, nationalism and the impact of Westernization, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and politics in the Persian Gulf.

356 – American Foreign Policy (3)

Problems facing the United States in its search for national security and international stability.

357 – Russian Foreign Policy (3)

Analysis of the foreign policy of post-communist Russia.

360 – Theory and Practice of Revolution (3)

Comparative analysis of theories of revolution and case studies of selected revolutions.

362 – The Politics of Central and Eastern Europe (3)

Study of political life under both communist and post-communist rule in Bulgaria, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the former Yugoslavia.

363 – Mass Media Politics (3)

Study of the role of the mass media in shaping political attitudes and events.

366 – Government and Politics of China (3)

The study of political and economic development of the People’s Republic of China from both historical and conceptual perspectives, including discussion of political and economic reform since 1978, rising differentiation within Chinese society, human rights, and prospects for democracy in China.

367 – East Asia in World Affairs (3)

The role of East Asian countries in international affairs. Special emphasis is placed on the examination of the foreign policies of China and Japan, the development of Greater China, tension on the Korean Peninsula, and cooperation and conflict in the Pacific Rim over national security, trade issues, and human rights.

370 – Women and Politics (3)

Provides an overview of the major issues concerning women and politics. This course examines the historical evolution of women’s participation in American politics, analyzes the experience of women as voters, candidates, and officeholders, evaluates the impact of specific public policies on women, and, considers the status of women from a comparative perspective.

372 – Gender and Development (3)

Prerequisites: PSCI 101 and 102.  The course examines the domestic and international political forces that shape women’s access to education, healthcare, work, freedom from violence and other development-related resources, particularly in the developing world.  It analyzes the impact of public policies on women’s lives and the latter’s ability to influence the political process.

387 – Security and Conflict Studies (3)

Analysis of contemporary security and conflict challenges (e.g., proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction) with an emphasis on frameworks for choosing best policies to address these challenges.

391 – Research and Writing in Political Science (3)

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Principles of research and writing techniques for political science.

422 – American Civil Liberties (3)

Intensive analysis of civil liberties in the United States, based primarily upon decisions of the Supreme Court.

441 – History of Political Thought I (3)

Examination of the contributions of the great political theorists from Plato to Burke.

442 – History of Political Thought II (3)

Examination of the contributions of modern political philosophers.

444 – Political Movements and Organizations in Latin America (3)

Intensive analysis of political organizations and movements in contemporary Latin America. Topics may include political parties, guerrilla movements and populism.

450 – US Political Film (3)

An examination of the political meaning and implications of influential American films, paying particular attention to the changing political and cultural messages found in films from different decades.

471 – Political Science Seminar (3)

Intensive reading and group discussion of selected topics in political science.

491 – Individual Study in Political Science (3)

Directed individual research on approved problems in political science.

499 – Internship (Credits variable)

Supervised off-campus experience, developed in consultation with the department. Up to 3 credits can be applied to the major.