Show More


Course Catalog

Political Science

Topics of interest to political scientists include how governments function and should function; differences and similarities among the approximately 200 national political systems in the world; relations between and among the nations of the world as well as the role of nongovernmental actors in these relations; and ways of better understanding such phenomena as authority, conflict, legitimacy, political parties, elections, interest groups, international organizations, coup d'etats, and executive, legislative and judicial decision-making. The department offers both a major and a minor in Political Science. In the political science department at DePauw, as in virtually every political science department in the United States, a disproportionate number of courses treat the American political system. But there are also courses on political systems in other countries and regions (Europe,the Middle East,China, India, and the Third World more generally), on relations among and between nations, and on issues and questions that transcend the politics of any particular place. Many Political Science students enhance their understanding of politics through relevant off-campus experiences, including internships in various government offices, participation in election campaigns, Winter Term travel, and studying overseas or in Washington for a semester. Political Science majors and minors have gone on to successful careers in elected and appointed government positions, journalism, business, research, teaching, and law. Students wishing to count courses taken off campus toward a major or minor in political science must have prior approval from their academic advisor and the chair of the department. It is not recommended that courses substituting for POLS 110, 130, 150 or 170 be taken off-campus.


Requirements for a major

Political Science

Total courses required Nine
Core courses 5 total. Must complete three of four subfield introductory courses (POLS 110, POLS 130, POLS 150, POLS 170), a course from any level in the other subfield, and POLS 450.
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses Three (including POLS 450)
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of POLS 450 with a grade of C or better.
Additional information

POLS 156 cannot be counted as credit for a political science major.

Recent changes in major POLS 230 and POLS 270 were renumbered to POLS 130 and POLS 170. The Core Courses requirement was changed from POLS 110, POLS 150, POLS 230, POLS 270, POLS 450 to the above. Effective for all entering Fall 2010 and as an option for students entering prior to Fall 2010. POLS 230 and POLS 270 may be substituted for POLS 130 and POLS 170. 3/1/2010.
Writing in the Major The Research Methods and Writing course, required of all majors, fulfills the writing in the major requirement. The course provides an overview of some of the quantitative and qualitative research methods political scientists use to draw conclusions about the political world. It also teaches students the writing skills specific to political science. By the end of the course, it is expected that students would have learned how to find an interesting topic and pose a research question; how to obtain and analyze data (qualitative or quantitative); how to read and think critically and use various methods of inquiry (theoretical, historical, comparative, behavioral, and post-behavioral); and how to formulate a thesis statement and write a scholarly literature review. Students are required to (1) write a series of short essays that engage with a variety of research tools and methods (argument, critique, textual analysis, content analysis, discourse analysis, participant-observation method, interviews, etc.); (2) engage in peer review exercise, and (3) write a literature review, a research proposal, and/or an analytical or argumentative paper. They receive feedback from the instructor on each assignment and are expected to revise drafts in response to comments received. To satisfy the major's requirement in political science, a student must earn the grade of C+ or above in the course.

Requirements for a minor

Political Science

Total courses required Five
Core courses Two from POLS 110, POLS 130, POLS 150, POLS 170
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses One

Courses in Political Science

POLS 110

American National Government

This course will serves as an introduction to the American political system. The three branches of the national government and the roles of political parties, elections, public opinion, interest groups, and other political actors will be addressed. Each version of the course will use a different lens to study American National Government: POLS 110A American National Government; POLS 110B American Government: The Political System Today; POLS 110C American National Government: Race and Privilege; POLS 110D American National Government: The Data; POLS 110E American National Government: The Power of Individuals. Only one POLS 110 course may be counted toward degree and major requirements.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences May not be repeated for credit. 1 course

POLS 130

Elements of Political Theory

This course offers an introduction to selected topics in Political Theory. It covers a range of thinkers, from the ancient Greeks to the Enlightenment thinkers of Europe and closes on a contemporary note that asks us to reflect on the theoretical underpinnings of our time. It explores the political implications and limits of texts by Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, Burke, Marx, and Arendt, reading them in chronological order with an eye toward changes in concerns and concepts across time. May count towards European Studies minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 150

Comparative Politics and Government

An examination of major theories of comparative politics applicable to liberal democratic, communist and developing Third World systems. Theories of modernization and development, functionalism, systems analysis, dependency and underdevelopment, political economy, state-society relations, corporatism and neo-corporatism in both Western and non-Western settings. May count towards European Studies minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 156

Advanced Placement in Political Science

Advanced placement credit for entering first-year students. A. U.S. Government. B. Comparative Politics. POLS 156 cannot be counted as credit toward a POLS major.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 170

International Politics (formerly POLS 270)

An analysis of continuity and change in world politics, focusing on the units of analysis; patterns of conflict and competition, cooperation and order, and constraint; the structure of the international system; the international agenda and emerging trends and issues such as globalization and terrorism; and the current state of world order and its future.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 197

First-Year Seminar

A seminar on a theme related to political science. Open only to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 210

Political Parties (formerly POLS 310)

Parties, public opinion, elections, and voting behavior in the context of the American political system.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 220

African American Politics

This course focuses on how the continuing struggle for Black political empowerment has helped influence and shape the current African American political community. An interdisciplinary approach incorporating economics, history and sociology will be used to gain an overall understanding of the African American community and its critical influence upon the American political system.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 226

State and Local Government

The theory and especially the practice of subnational government in the U.S. Topics include intergovernmental relations; government institutions; elections, parties, and interest groups; taxing, spending and economic development activities; and policy problems besetting state and local governments and metropolitan areas.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 235

Equality and Justice

This course investigates multiple dimensions of the principle of equality, such as equality in nature, equality among the sexes, equality among classes and equality before the law. It puts them in the context of broader discussions of justice and interrogates the relationship between the two through a close reading of texts by Cicero, Locke, Goldman, Fanon, Nietzsche and Wendy Brown. Some of the questions raised by this course include, does an embrace of equality lead to a tolerant and socially just polity where resources and opportunity are available to all? Or does an uncritical adoption of equality lead to a stunted and conformist politics that is reluctant to accept change and restricts individual freedom?

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 240

Contemporary Political Ideologies

A survey of contemporary worldviews based on value and belief systems that generate sets of attitudes and behaviors toward political institutions and processes. Ideologies such as enthno-nationalism, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, feminism, liberation theology, globalism and environmentalism are treated.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 253

China and India in the 21st Century

Why do the two Asian giants, India and China, with more than 38 percent of the population of the world, matter to the rest of the world at the beginning of the 21st century? What are China's superpower prospects? Will nuclear India attain great power status? What is the future of communism and the prospect of political freedom and democracy in China? Is Indian democracy stable? What are the sources of instability of Indian government? What does a weak central government mean to Indian federalism? The dynamics of ethnic minorities in China? The future of secularism in India? The nuclear dynamics in Sino-Indian relations? These questions and many others will be explored in this course.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 254

Government and Politics of Western Europe

Political systems of selected countries in Western Europe; their historical and cultural settings; parties and elections; decision-making; problems of foreign policy. Considerable attention to the European community, the movement toward economic and political integration and its impact on political systems of member countries. May count towards European Studies minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 290

Topics in Political Science

An examination of selected topics in political science.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 299

Internship in Political Science

Supervised participation in a special (and usually competitive) internship program outside the University.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

POLS 315

The Legislative Process

Focus on the U.S. Congress. Examines rules, procedures and structures of Congress, as well as sources and motivations of legislative behavior. Emphasis is on the development of an understanding of how Congress works and why Congress as an institution and individual members of Congress function as they do.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 316

The Presidency

Seeks first to develop students' understanding of the powers and imperatives of the American presidency, as well as an understanding of the president's role in the American political order. Primary attention also given to examination of presidential success in office: what makes a good president, what citizens look for in a president, what strategies and/or behaviors are more or less likely to result in successful presidencies.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 318

Research Methods: Research Design

A critical examination of research designs used by political scientists in the last half century in their attempts to understand political reality. The theory and practice of experimental designs will be compared and contrasted with other ways of gathering data that can lead to reliable inferences about political reality.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 323

The Politics of Race

This course explores the centrality and significance of race in the modern American political system. The course covers, but is not limited to, the role of race in electoral politics, urban politics, the political and social attitudes of Americans and the debates about the scope and function of the federal government.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 324

Politics of Civil Rights and Liberties

Analysis of civil rights and civil liberties policies in the United States and of the processes that produce those policies. Emphasis will be on policies relating to the practice of democracy (freedom of expression and associated freedoms), criminal justice, and "discrimination". Treatment of the policy process will include an examination of the roles of judicial, legislative and executive branches and the activities of interest groups.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 330

Governments and Politics of the Middle East

This course focuses on the Middle East in international politics as well as the internal politics of the region. Special attention is given to the rise of the state system, the dynamics of modernization, major political movements, ideologies, religions and social and economic change.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 335

Muslim Political Thought

This course is an exploration of the resurgent tradition of Muslim political thought. It begins with an examination of the canonical thinkers Al-Farabi and Ibn Khaldun and then proceeds to Hourani's account of the confrontation and engagement of Arab theorists with a largely European liberalism. Their readings, critiques, adaptations, challenges to, and expansions of liberalism remain powerful in the shaping of contemporary Muslim political thought. It then turns to an exploration of key texts of political Islam, including controversial works by Qutb and Maududi. It closes with an examination of Women and Islam through an exploration of contemporary debates surrounding the issue of veiling.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 341

American Political Thought

An introduction to American political thought that concentrates on important debates and controversies that have contributed to shaping American political life.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 351

Government and Politics of Russia and the CIS

Examines the origins and nature of Bolshevik movement and the 1917 revolution; the ideological and institutional sources of the Soviet state and party structures; Stalinism as totalitarian experiment; the erosion of the Soviet system; its economic decline and crisis; the reasons for the failure of the Gorbachev reform effort; the Moscow coup and implosion of the system; subsequent Russian political and economic reforms; selected events in some CIS republics. May count towards European Studies minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 352

Politics of Developing Nations

An introduction to the similarities and unifying characteristics of heterogeneous developing nations. Emphasis on diversities to be found in different regions of the Third World. The focus is on issues and problems and not countries and regions, though case studies are used for illustrative purposes. The course covers theories and approaches to the study of the Third World; changes in the Third World (political, economic, governmental and regime); contemporary issues (hunger and famine, multinationals, foreign debt and the New International Economic Order); and Third World ideologies and movements (nonalignment, developmental socialism, anti-Americanism and Islamic revivalism).

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 360

African Politics

This course surveys issues in and approaches to the study of African politics. Special emphasis is placed on the African development crisis through an accounting of varying levels of success and failure across the continent. Specific concerns include: governance, civil and interstate war, international political economy and the development of the state system.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 370

American Foreign Policy

The process of formulating and implementing American foreign policy. The development of American traditions regarding foreign policy, the main factors influencing American foreign policy since World War II and specific policies toward regions and countries of the world.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 382

Global Issues

An analytical survey of global issues: their essence, management and political implications. The course starts with a theoretical framework for the study of leading global issues, such as global security, population growth, global political economy, food, ethno-nationalism, terrorism, human rights, consumption of non-renewable resources and the integrity of the environment. Institutions, values and policies are emphasized in the context of growing interdependence among nations and related issues of integration and conflict.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 384

International Law

Contemporary problems relating to law and legal institutions in the global community. The nature, sources, and application of international law; international instruments; membership in the international community; state and non-state actors; duties and responsibilities at the global level; war and peace.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 390

Topics in Government and Politics

An examination of selected topics related to political science.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

POLS 450

Senior Seminar

This course, offered in multiple and independent sections, focuses on theory and analysis in the various fields of the discipline and in the discipline as a whole.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

POLS 499

Independent Study

Intensive reading and research in American politics, political theory, comparative politics and/or international politics. Permission of instructor and department required. May not be taken pass/fail.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course