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Curriculum

The Political Science major is designed to provide students with an understanding of political concepts and the organization and functioning of political systems. The curriculum focuses on the nature of both the American political system (the context within which it operates, the forces that seek to influence it, and the consequences for our nation) and international political systems (global perspectives on political issues, the dynamics of international relations, and the functioning of global institutions and international alliances). Students in the major will develop critical thinking, close reading, and analytical research and writing skills.

Learning Outcomes

A successful political science graduate is expected to:

  1. Explain the processes of the American political system, including the functions of and interactions among the different branches of the federal government;
  2. Explain the processes of political systems outside the U.S., including variation in the structure and role of governments of different nations and the role of international relations;
  3. Apply political philosophy and theory to issues of U.S. and international politics;
  4. Utilize appropriate political science research methods in preparing written arguments about political issues.

Curriculum Requirements

At least 18 credits in the major must be at the 3000/4000 level.

General Education Requirements (30 credits)

Students are required to complete 30 credit hours as part of the General Education Program.

Political Science Major Requirements (39 credits)

HIPS 2900 - Research Methods in History and Political Science (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction to the research methods that political scientists, historians, and international studies scholars use to answer questions. The course is intended to provide students with analytic tools with which they can critically evaluate research in these fields and train the student to pose and answer research questions of their own. Students complete a semester-long research assignment with an emphasis on using appropriate methodology, employing original sources, developing interpretative skills grounded in creative and responsible scholarship, improving writing skills, using discipline specific citation, and delivering oral presentations. Prerequisites: POLS 1200 or INST 1500 or one HIST course and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 1010 - American Government and Politics (3 credits)

An introduction to the processes of the American national and local forms of government. Included are the nature and structure of government, its characteristics and functions, and the intimate relation of government to other interests. 

POLS 1200 - Introduction to Political Science (3 credits)

This course will provide the student with an overview of political science with an emphasis on such topics as: the formation and evolution of government institutions and structures; the evolution of political participation, culture and ideology in both a domestic and international context; and policy formation and implementation (both domestic and foreign); and international relations. In doing this, students will be introduced to the basic vocabulary of the discipline, learning about the different ways that political issues and processes are studied. 

POLS 2010 - Comparative Government (3 credits)

This course will examine the elements of foreign political systems such as constitutions, political parties, institutions, historical development, and ideology using the United States as a frame of reference. Attention will be given to how legislation is enacted, how elections are conducted, and the relationship between the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government. 

POLS 2100 - State and Local Government (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide a basic knowledge of how state and local governments operate, and how political decisions are made by these governments. The course will also address how federalism impacts these units of government. It will examine the political actors--legislators, governors, interest groups--that affect state and local politics, as well as specific local/state policy issues. Prerequisite: COMP 1500 or COMP 1500H.

POLS 2300 - International Relations (3 credits)

This course will introduce students to various theories and concepts used by scholars in the field of international relations and demonstrate their practical application to understanding major issues in contemporary international politics such as war, globalization, international trade and finance, the role of international organizations, ethnic conflict and peacekeeping, proliferation of nuclear weapons, migration and poverty, and the role of international organizations and NGOs. Prerequisite: COMP 1500 or COMP 1500H. 

POLS 3100 - Political Theory (3 credits) OR PHIL 3670 - Social and Political Philosophy (3 credits)

POLS 3100 - Political Theory (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize students with major authors and concepts in political theory. Emphasis is placed on both historical and contemporary debates surrounding important political concepts such as authority, justice, liberty, and democracy. The course will also consider major political theories and political ideologies that influenced past societies and continue to shape the world. Prerequisites: POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H.

PHIL 3670 - Social and Political Philosophy (3 credits)

This course will examine significant philosophical contributions to an understanding of politics and society. Among the questions it will address are: What is the nature and basis of the state? Which form of government is best? How do we determine whether political institutions are just? What conceptions of human nature underlie various political philosophies? How are social goods and burdens justly divided? This course will draw from classical, modern, and contemporary sources in political philosophy. Prerequisite: COMP 2000, 2010, or 2020 or COMP 2000H.

Select 6 credits from the following courses:

LGST 4270 - Judicial Politics and Process (3 credits)

This class will examine both the formal and informal practices and rules that shape the American judicial system. Using a political science/legal anthropology approach, it will ask who uses the courts, why they use the courts, and what they hope to achieve. In doing so, it will seek to assess the effectiveness of American justice by analyzing such topics as the formal structures of the American judicial system and the judicial appointment, socialization, and the decision-making process. Prerequisite: LGST 2500 and COMP 2000, COMP 2010 or COMP 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 3200 - The Congress (3 credits)

This course is an intensive look at the legislative branch of the American government, exploring the politics, processes, and policies that make up the Congress. The course focuses on how Congress works, including factors such as constituent pressures, the media, lobbyists, campaigns, representation and elections, party leadership, committee power, rules and procedures, and inter-branch relations. Emphasis is given to the modern Congress and how historical developments have impacted the modern political process, through attention to a variety of current issues such as homeland security, health care, immigration, defense policies, education, and the environment. Prerequisite: POLS 1010 or POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 3400 - The Presidency (3 credits)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the American presidency, including the evolution of the office; presidential powers; relations with Congress, the courts, the mass media and interest groups; public opinion; electoral politics; White House decision-making; and the president's impact in domestic and foreign affairs. This course will examine both individual presidents and the presidency as an institution. Prerequisites: POLS 1010 or POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 3600 - Voting and Elections (3 credits)

This course will focus on the process and procedures by which American public opinion is formally tallied: voting in elections. Emphasis will be placed on deepening an understanding of the theory and practice of American politics by exploring the right to vote, the forces that shape who votes, and the many ways that the vote can be manipulated without breaking the law. Prerequisites: POLS 1010 or POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

Select 6 credits from the following courses:

LGST 3400 - Comparative Legal Systems (3 credits)

A study of the interrelationship between cultures and legal systems; how legal systems develop as a response to, and expression of, the cultures from which they derive. Prerequisite: COMP 2000, 2010, or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

LGST 4420 - War Crimes (3 credits)

This course focuses on the issue of war crimes as well as trials of war criminals during the last hundred years. Students will consider the development and evolution of the law particularly as it relates to the definition of war crimes, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Students will examine key historical trials as well as consider how war crimes doctrines are being applied currently in national and international venues. Prerequisite: one LGST course and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 3500 - Global Politics (3 credits)

This course offers an issue-based examination of world politics. Drawing on theories and practices in the field of international relations, the course will examine pressing and important problems in the world today such as global warming, terrorism, failed states, international public health, transnational organizations, human rights, drug trafficking and global crime. Each issue will be framed in appropriate theoretical, historical and contemporary perspectives, and problem solving exercises will be utilized in order to arrive at a fuller understanding of the dynamics of world politics. Prerequisites: POLS 2300 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H.

POLS 4100 - European Union (3 credits)

This course will examine the historical development, the political parties, and the institutions (Commission, Parliament, Council of Ministers) of the European Union. Attention will be given to how European Union policies are developed, enacted and enforced as well as the effect of European rules upon the domestic legal systems of the twenty-seven member states. Students will consider to what extent the European Union will continue its development in terms of both increased horizontal and vertical integration. Students will also appraise to what extent the European Union protects the human rights and economic interests of its citizens and how effectively it functions as a unit in the international arena. Prerequisites: POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

Select 6 credits from the following courses:

HIST 3010 - Constitutional History I (3 credits)

A study of the origin and development of the American constitutional system from the colonial period to 1870. The course will examine seminal decisions of the United States Supreme Court during this period in their political, social, and economic context. Prerequisites: one HIST course; and COMP 2000, COMP 2010, or COMP 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

HIST 3020 - Constitutional History II (3 credits)

Continuation of the study of the constitutional system of the United States. The course covers the period 1870 to the present with special emphasis on Supreme Court decisions in the areas of federal-state relations, individual liberties, and civil rights. Prerequisite: HIST 3010.

HIST 3400 - U.S. Foreign Relations (3 credits)

This course will examine the emergence of the United States as the dominant political, economic, and military power on the world stage in the twentieth century. Students will attempt to identify reasons for this development and endeavor to come to a fuller understanding of the nature and scope of America's global commitments. The course will trace the development of American foreign relations from the Spanish-America War of 1898 through the Cold War, concluding with an examination of the evolution of American foreign policy in the post-Cold War and the ramifications of recent developments at home and abroad. Prerequisite: one HIST course and COMP 2000, 2010, or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

LGST 4100 - The First Amendment (3 credits)

This course focuses on study of the First Amendment, emphasizing freedom of speech and religion and how those rights have been exercised and interpreted both historically and in the modern era. Prerequisites: LGST 2500 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

LGST 4310 - Individual Rights and the Law (3 credits)

A study of the crucial role the Supreme Court has played in the expansion and diminution of the rights of individuals. This course focuses on civil rights issues (discrimination on the basis race, sex, etc.) and the rights of the individual to privacy. Prerequisites: LGST 2500 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 4200 - Latin American Politics (3 credits)

This course will examine the politics of Latin America. Emphasis will be placed on the political, economic, and social developments that have contributed to Latin America?s current state of development. The course will also examine the political development of Latin American states, the impact of the Cold War, internal political conflict and the role of the military in these conflicts, and democratization and social movements. Some of the aspects that will be highlighted are the effect of colonization on the region?s economic development, the impact of revolution, and the effects of migration. Prerequisites: POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 4300 - Middle Eastern Politics (3 credits)

This course will examine the politics of the Middle East. Emphasis will be placed on the political, economic and social developments that have contributed to current tensions in the Middle East. The course will also examine the political development of Middle Eastern states, the phenomenon of Arab nationalism, Islamism, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, democratization, oil and economic development and regional security. Some of the aspects that will be highlighted are an understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict, events surrounding Iraq, and changing patterns in other countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Prerequisites: POLS 1200 and COMP 2000 or 2020 or COMP 2000H. 

POLS 4900 - Special Topics in Politics and Public Affairs (3 credits)

An advanced course in selected topics in politics/public affairs. Specific focus to be announced. May be repeated once for credit, if content changes and with written consent of division director. Prerequisites: one POLS course and COMP 2000, 2010, or 2020 or COMP 2000H.

The Bachelor of Arts degree requires at least 24 credits of coursework from the following disciplines: ARTS, DANC, FILM, HIST, HUMN, LITR, MUSC, PHIL, and THEA, as well as an intermediate degree of competency in a foreign language (generally, a minimum of 6 credits or another demonstration of competency).

The academic program and curriculum requirements listed on this page are from the NSU Undergraduate Student Catalog. Students are bound by policies and curricula published in the catalog in effect the semester they enter the university, unless an agreement is made with appropriate NSU administration officials allowing them to abide by policies published in a later catalog.

View sample 4-Year Academic Plan

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