Selecting Courses

The Politics Department offers 100-level courses in fundamental concepts, institutions, and theories; these courses have no prerequisites. Courses at the 200 and 300 levels explore in greater depth a broad range of periods, political systems and institutions, conflicts and movements, and political theories. See the Politics chapter of the course catalog for descriptions and prerequisites.

First-Year Students

First-year students who are considering Politics as a major should begin taking the introductory classes in each of the four fields: Politics-104: American Politics; Politics-106: Comparative Politics; Politics-116: World Politics; and Politics-118: Introduction to Political Ideas.

Four Fields

The Department of Politics offers students courses within all four fields, as well as courses that cross the lines between them.

  • Political theory tackles the contested meanings of freedom, equality, power, justice, community, and individuality, as well as the clashing ideological perspectives by which different people make sense of political life. It also explores the ideas of influential political theorists from Plato to Thomas Hobbes to Hannah Arendt.
  • American politics studies the history and current organization of political institutions at the national, state, and local level in the United States. It also examines popular conflicts in America over private rights and material interests; racial, class, and gender inequality; and public goods, including the good of American citizenship itself.
  • Comparative politics covers the spectrum of political histories, systems of government, public policies, political parties, and social movements across the world. It examines, for example, parliamentary systems, ethnic conflict, authoritarian regimes, immigration policy, and nationalist movements from Asia to Europe to the Americas to Africa and the Middle East.
  • International politics investigates U.S. foreign policy, international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the World Criminal Court; the politics of population migrations; war, terrorism, and international security; and the political dilemmas sparked by economic globalization and such border-crossing problems as resource depletion and environmental decay.

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