Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Political Science

Majoring & Minoring

Courses in the major are divided into several broad categories

American Politics:  The American Politics subfield includes the following courses: American Politics 32-114, Religion and Politics in America 32-314, Law and Politics 32-324, Public Policy 32-334, Texas Politics Internships 32-344, The American Presidency 32-354, Issues in Constitutional Law 32-514, Legislative Politics 32-524, and Topics in American Politics 32-714.

Comparative Politics:  The Comparative Politics subfield includes the following courses: Comparative Politics 32-144, European Politics 32-414, Middle East Politics 32-424, Women and Politics 32-434, Latin American Politics 32-614, Contemporary Japanese Politics 32-624, Contentious Politics 32-634, The Chinese Cultural Revolution 32-644, Advanced Research Seminar in Latin American Politics 32-764, and Topics in Comparative Politics 32-754.

International Relations:  The International Relations subfield includes the following courses: International Politics 32-284, International Organization 32-484, International Political Economy 32-494, U.S. Foreign Policy 32-584, International Peace and Violence 32-664, Topics in International Politics 32-774.

Political Theory: The Political Theory subfield includes the following courses: Introduction to Political Theory 32-234, Political Ideologies 32-374, American Political Thought 32-364, Gender and Political Theory 32-444, Environmental Political Theory 32-454, Modern Political Theory 32-564, Contemporary Democratic Theory 32-574, Critical Social Theory 32-684.

Major in Political Science

Major in Political Science: Ten courses 

Please note: the following description of the major applies to course catalogs starting in 2013-2014.

The major is designed to give students breath and depth across the four traditional subfields listed above, while also developing research skills in these different areas. Toward that end, as part of the major, students also take two 500-600 level “craft of research” course in preparation for their Capstone seminar. 

The array of courses students are expected to take is described below, but each Political Science major’s program is worked out in consultation with members of the department to ensure proper balance of courses in each category.

* PSC32-114 American Politics

* PSC32-144 Comparative Politics

* PSC32-284 International Politics 

* PSC32-234  Introduction to Political Theory

* Three additional political science courses from any subfield in the major (though only one of these courses can be drawn from the following list of courses: Political Ideologies 32-154, Gender Politics 32-164, Japanese Politics, Culture, and Society 32-174, Film, Literature, and the Cold War 32-184). 

* Two political science “craft of research” classes at the 500-600 level. At least one (but preferably two) of these courses must be taken prior to enrolling in the senior Capstone seminar. 

* PSC32-964 Senior Seminar (Capstone)

How the Major Works

American Politics (32-114) and Comparative Politics (32-144) are the two gateway classes to the major. Students planning to major or minor in political science should begin with these two classes.

Introduction to Political Theory (32-234) and International Politics (32-284) are the second level of introductory courses. Both of these courses also serve as the department’s “Writing Attentive” classes. Students must take one of these courses prior to enrolling in the 500-600 level “craft of research” courses.

After completing these four classes, students can enroll in any upper-level political science course, in any subfield. 

Graduating seniors must take the Senior Capstone Seminar (32-964) during the fall or spring semester of the senior year. Students should submit an application for the senior seminar to the department chair the spring of their junior year. Since the 500-600 level “craft of research” courses are designed to prepare students for Capstone, at least one (but preferably two) of these courses must be taken prior to enrolling in Capstone. 

A year-long research project culminating in an Honor’s Thesis may replace the Capstone experience, but please note: students may only submit a research proposal for an Honor’s Thesis by invitation of the department. In unique circumstances, students may also offer an Independent Study in lieu of the Senior Seminar, with prior departmental approval.

Minor in Political Science

Minor in Political Science: Five courses 

  • PSC32-114 American Politics
  • PSC32-144 Comparative Politics
  • PSC32-234 Introduction to Political Theory
  • PSC32-284 International Politics

    One additional approved course in Political Science at or above the 300 level. The array of courses students are expected to take is described below, but each Political Science major’s program is worked out in consultation with members of the department to ensure proper balance of courses in each category.

Paired Major with International Studies 

It is also possible to complete a 14-course program in International Studies that pairs a major in Political Science with an additional “concentration” of three courses on either East Asia, Europe or Latin America, plus two courses at the 300 level or above in an appropriate language and a semester or longer study abroad experience. Your Capstone project must also focus on your area of geographic concentration. Please see the International Studies Program for further details.

Teacher Certification in Political Science

See the Education Department for information regarding teacher certification in Political Science.

Capstone Seminar

Our department’s senior Capstone course is designed around two intertwining goals. First, Capstone gives you an opportunity to collaboratively and collectively analyze a topic of broad importance to the discipline in a deep and sophisticated way, through shared readings and discussions with your professor and other advanced political science students. But secondly, the Capstone course also provides the structure and support for you to undertake your own original research, culminating in a research project that you propose and carry out over the course of the semester that explores the seminar’s broad topic in a more narrow, particular, located, and grounded way of your own choosing.

Your Capstone experience will progress through the stages of writing a research proposal or prospectus that includes a literature review and will culminates in an essay of about 20 pages that matches a specific method of analysis to your research question and analyzes an appropriate body of facts and data to test the thesis and to assert and defend the argument. You will also participate in the scholarly practice of presenting your research findings to your political science peers and other members of the S.U. community, to share your knowledge, field questions from an interested audience, and gather additional feedback from others as you revise your project.

Previous Capstone courses have focused on the following themes, for example: “Terrorism,” “Leadership,” “Political Ethics,” “Liberalism and Its Discontents,” and “Conflict Mapping Contentious Politics.” All of these topics have been chosen because of their salience to the four primary subfields of political science. In other words, all of these topics can be productively studied from the vantage point of American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations or Political Theory and all of them can be valuably analyzed using the concepts, conventions, and methods of these different parts of the discipline. Your own particular research project will map onto, hang off of, and intervene into these broad common themes in some key way, though the way you design your project can and should be guided by your own particular course of study, past research experiences, regional interests, and intellectual passions.

Please note: if you are an International Studies major with a disciplinary focus on political science, your Capstone project must analyze some topic within your specific geographic region. At least 50% of the project must focus on your chosen region.