Course Descriptions

The European Union class concludes with an inter-university competition that occurs in Washington, D.C., each fall. "The simulation demands that students inhabit an “alter ego,” including actual members of the European Parliament (MEP), the legislative body of the EU. During the simulation, students representing various EU member states debate proposed legislation. Throughout the three-day event, students are challenged to sharpen their rhetoric, deploy strategy and outfox the villains, all while thinking and speaking as their alter ego would."

Political Science majors must earn a passing grade in six core courses (eighteen credits). These courses provide every student with a foundation for domestic and international, and empirical and normative approaches to studying politics. Normally these courses must be completed at the University of Scranton. 

In addition to the six core courses, Political Science majors must complete an additional seven electives (twenty-one credits). Depending on their interests, students can focus on domestic or international politics or a combination of both.

Finally, we believe that students should have a firm grounding of United States, European, and world histories. Four History courses are required to complete the Political Science cognate. If you have an interest in an area outside of Europe, Latin America for example, please speak with the Chair of the Political Science Department to see if you might be able to arrange another series of courses to satisfy the cognate rquirements. Political Science minors must earn a passing grade in six courses, including American National Government I and II (eighteen credits).

Several Political Science courses also contribute towards the fulfillment of University-wide General Education and program-specific requirements. 

American National Government I (PS 130, S): Addresses key principles of American government: democracy, constitutionalism, separation of powers, and federalism. It also covers political parties, voting, public opinion, interest groups and the media.

American National Government II (PS 131, S): Addresses structures and functions of the branches of government: Congress, the presidency, bureaucracy, and the courts. It also covers civil rights and civil liberties, and an overview of domestic and foreign policies.

Political Science Research (PS 210, Q, W): Consideration of both qualitative and quantitative research methods in the study of Political Science. Topics include: primary source material, legal research, analysis of aggregate data and survey data, and use of focus groups. Special consideration is given to survey research and public opinion polling. Course also introduces principles of univariate, bivariate and multivariate statistical techniques.

International Relations (PS 212, S): This course examines the prominent tenets of international relations as an academic discipline. Secondly, students are provided with basic knowledge and tools for analyzing the international system as it unfolds today. A constant theme is bridging the gap between theory and practice of international relations.

Comparative Politics (PS 217): Political institutions of Germany, France, Britain, and selected Third World nations are analyzed with focus on elections, parties, interest groups, and foreign policies.

Political Science majors must also complete one of the following two political philosophy courses:

Classical Political Ideas (PS 313, D): An examination of philosophical questions about politics (including the nature of law, morals, justice, and authority; and the role of ideas in political and social life) in classical texts from East and West, from Lao Tzu and Plato to the beginnings of modernity and Machiavelli.

Modern Political Ideas (PS 314, D): Examination of philosophical questions and politics (including the nature of law, morals, justice, and authority; and the role of ideas in political and social life) in the modern texts from East and West, from beginnings of modernity with Machiavelli to Marx and Mao.

State and Local Government (PS 135, S): The structures, processes, and politics of state and local government are analyzed. Also considered: the constitutional position of state and local governments; the changing relationships among federal, state, and local governments; and policy areas of interest to students in the class (educational policy, criminal justice policy, etc.).

Women’s Rights and Status (PS 216, S, D): Examines public policies that impact the legal, political, economic, and social status of women in the U.S. A historical exploration of women's rights will be the foundation for exploration of women's rights and status today. The future prospects of women's rights and status will be discussed.

Women, Authority and Power (PS 227, S, D): In our representative democracy, women are a minority of elected and appointed government officials. This course studies the historical and current paradox of women and U.S. public policy decision making. It examines the role of women in pressure politics, their integration into positions of political authority, and the future prospects for the political power and authority of women.

Environmental Laws and Regulations (PS 230, S): Consideration of the variety of statutory laws legislated by Congress, as well as the variety of administrative rules and regulations promulgated by the executive branch. Policy areas include air pollution, water pollution, solid and toxic waste disposal, management of public lands, and the regulation of nuclear power. A brief introduction to international cooperation and conflict.

Environmental Policy Process (PS 231, S): The role of legislative, executive, and judicial institutions in shaping the content of environment policy. Discussion of the processes by which such policies are formulated and implemented, including consideration of the impact of federalism. 

Public Administration (PS 232): A study of the structures, scope and processes of American public bureaucracies. The growth of the executive branches of governments, the role of public bureaucracies in our democratic government, and the experiences of American public bureaucrats are analyzed.

Judicial Politics (PS 310): Role of the federal and state court systems in our constitutional democracy, with an emphasis on their policy making functions. Consideration of the factors shaping the judicial philosophies and political orientations of federal and state justices and judges.

Constitutional Law I (PS 311): An examination, by means of case law, of the demands of liberty and the demands of democracy within the American Constitution. Topics include federalism, the separation and division of powers, social issues tied to industrialization and urbanization, commercial and property rights, and the rights of the poor and the oppressed as they arise in our legal framework.

Constitutional Law II (PS 312): An examination, by means of case law, of the demands of liberty and the demands of democracy within the American Constitution. Topics include federalism, the separation and division of powers, social issues tied to industrialization and urbanization, commercial and property rights, and the rights of the poor and the oppressed as they arise in our legal framework.

Contemporary Political Thought (PS 315): A study, based on primary materials, of the current state of the controversies in contemporary political thinking. A wide range of perspectives, from far left to far right, will be analyzed and critically examined. Minimally, the works of John Rawls, Robert Nozick, C.B. MacPherson, Isaiah Berlin, and Leo Strauss will be included.

Parties, Elections, and Interest Groups (PS 317): Discussion of the historical development and current status of political parties in the United States. Emphasis on the functions performed by political parties in our system vs. their functions in other systems, such as parliamentary democracies. Emphasis also on factors shaping the creation, maintenance, and political power of organized interest groups. 

Public Personnel (PS 322): An examination of public personnel administration and management. Theories of organization, personnel management, civil service history, current issues in personnel administration and management are considered.

Politics of the Budgetary Process (PS 325): Public budgeting in theory and in practice is discussed. Historical reforms and the inevitable politics of the process are considered. Use of budget simulations allow for practical experience. (Prerequisites: At least two of PS 130, PS 131, PS 135, PS 231, PS 232 or permission of instructor)

U.S. Congress (PS 327): Discussion of select Federalist Papers in order to appreciate the founders' views on human nature, the nature of government, democracy, and legislatures. An examination of the structure and function of the contemporary United States Congress, including the impact of political parties and interest groups on the business of Congress. Theories of representation are also considered.

The American Presidency (PS 329): This course focuses on the American presidency – historical development, powers of the office, elections, models of the presidency and, to a lesser extent, the relations between the president and Congress, and the president and the Judiciary.

Modern Africa (PS 213, D): An introduction to the politics of major African states with emphasis on ethnic, racial, and religious tensions as well as the gropolitics of the region.

Latin American Politics (PS 219, S, D): Overview of the political cultures and political dynamics of Latin America. A series of representative nations is examined to provide a general overview of the region. Topics include historical figures and events, the processes of democratization and modernization, and contemporary politics.

Politics in Russia (PS 222): This course considers Russian politics and colonialism from the Revolution to contemporary economic efforts to move toward capitalism. The politics of the remnants of the Soviet empire are examined and Stalin and Bolshevik experiment are also examined.

Politics of Ireland (PS 223): Ireland's political history predates the creation of the Irish Free State in 1992 and this course examines the major events and important influences that led to the creation of the Irish polity and political structures as well as contemporary politics in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Constitution, Irish parliamentary government, the political parties, and contemporary political issues are covered.

Irish Political Culture (PS 296): Irish political culture is summarized as "all politics is local." This course examines Irish political culture and contemporary issues through interactions with Deputies in the Irish Parliamnet, staff, officials in Government Departments, officials of the political parties, and community leaders. The location is Dublin with trips to other locations.

Central America (PS 323, S, D): This course provides an overview of contemporary Central American politics. Special attention is given to the revolutionary upheavals in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The course also explores current challenges to the region's economic and political development such as crime, free trade and relations with the United States.

Modern China (PS 328, D): Study of modern Chinese politics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Problems of modernization, Westernization, and communism in the People's Republic of China.

Western Europe in World Affair (PS 330): This seminar provides an historical, political, and analytical foundation for understanding the profound political and economic changes facing Europeans today. This involves studying the two world wars, the formation of Cold-War alliances and security systems, the European integration movement, the foreign policies of major European states, and organization of post–Cold War Europe.

The European Union (PS 331, W): Provides an indepth study of the European Union and its 25 member states in order to prepare students for an intercollegiate simulation of the EU, which is held in Washington, DC, each December. Student examine the EU's theoretical and historical foundations, its institutions and policy procedures, and the ongoing challenges for European integration. 

Modern Japan (PS 332): This course examines the history and politics of Japan; the period of the shoguns; the reforms of the modernizing Meiji era at the end of the 19th century; the Japanese effort to conquer Asia; the postwar political structure; the question, "Is Japan a democracy?"; and the economic miracle of the present.

United States - Latin American Relations (PS 333): An introduction to the political, economic, and security relations between Latin America and the United States from the beginning of the 19th century through the present day. Present day topics include regional trade arrangements, democracy promotion, drug trafficking, immigration, and the impact of 9/11. 

Comparative Civil Wars (PS 334, S): The course introduces students to the comparative study of civil war. We discuss conceptual issues, review arguments related to their origins, examine how they vary in terms of intensity, use of child soldiers, refugee movements, and violence against civilians, and investigate how they end. (Prerequisites: At least one of PS 212, PS 217, PS 240, or permission of instructor.)

Women in the Global Community (PS 335, D): Examines women's experiences in a global context. Studies women who emerge as elected political representatives and policy makers in various international areas. Considers women as citizens in a complex global community, by exploring the abuse of women in war, and women's empowerment to fight global poverty and protect women's rights.

Politics of Islam (PS 338): The political ideology of Islam; efforts to establish theocracies in a number of states from Iran to Egypt to Malaysia and Indonesia; Islam as a political opposition in such countries as the Philippines, Russia, and China; Shiite versus Sunni sects; the politics of Israel and the Islamic states of the Middle East; OPEC; the Palestinian question; political terrorism; Islam as an expansionist ideology.

Special Topics in Political Science (PS 284, PS 384): Study and analysis of selected topics in the field of Political Science. The particular topic or topics will vary from year to year depending on the instructor and changing student needs.

Seminar in International Studies (IS 390, W): The topic of this course varies each semester. Required for International Studies majors. Other advanced undergraduates may take this course with permission of the professor. This course may be used for either History or Political Science credit.

Scranton and the World (PS 110, FYOC, FYDT): Introduces students to the scope (what we study) and methods (how we study) of political science through an analysis of major sociopolitical issues, philosophies, and public policy perspectives of the discipline's subfields; makes students more sophisticated consumers of diverse empirical research; and develops abilities to gather, evaluate, and disseminate information.

U.S. Foreign Policy: Cold War and Aftermath (PS 318, W): Examines and analyzes critically the content of American foreign policy in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. Special emphasis on themes, goals and means of American foreign policy, particularly national security.

U.S. Foreign Policy Process (PS 319, W): Examines the actual formulation and implementation of Anerican foreign policy within the decision making process. Analyzes what the process is, who the decision makers are, and internal and external variables of policy making in the U.S. Involves at least two indepth American foreign policy case studies.

September 11, 2001 and Beyond (PS 340, W): Analyzes the major social and political events directly related to September 11, 2001.  It examines the causes and consequences of 9/11 including the emergence of Al Qaeda, U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and U.S. efforts to ensure the safety of Americans at home and abroad.

Political Science credit can also be earned through the completion of one or more internships.

History of the United States to 1877 (HIST 110, CH): The political, constitutional, social, and economic development of the United States from the colonial period through the era of Reconstruction.

History of the United States from Reconstruction to the Present (HIST 111, CH): The political, constitutional, social and economic development of the United States from Reconstruction to the present.

Europe: 1500 to 1815 (HIST 120, CH): European history with concentration upon the political aspects of European development.  The rise of national monarchies; political, social, economic and intellectual developments; industrialism, the new nationalism and liberalism.

Europe: 1815 to the Present (HIST 121, CH): European history with concentration upon the political aspects of European development. The rise of national monarchies; political, social, economic, and intellectual developments; industrialism, the new nationalism and liberalism.

In addition to meeting requirements for students majoring or minoring in Political Science and International Studies, political science courses also meet several different General Education requirements for students in any major. The letters after each course reflect the General Education requirement that the course meets in addition to three credits towards the completion of the Political Science major or minor.

  • Social and Behavioral Science - S;
  • Writing-Intensive - W;
  • Diversity - D;
  • Quantitative Reasoning - Q;
  • First-Year Oral Communication - FYOC; and
  • First-Year Digital Technology - FYDT.

In addition to supporting the Political Science major, many of our courses satisfy degree requirements in University-wide minors and concentrations, including

  • Latin American Studies (Survey of Latin American Politics; Central America; and United States - Latin American Relations);
  • Women's Studies (Women’s Rights and Status; Women, Authority and Power; and Women in the Global Community);
  • International Studies (all International-oriented Courses and several Blended Courses);
  • Environmental Studies (Environmental Laws and Regulations and Environmental Policy Process); and
  • Peace and Justice Studies (Women’s Rights and Status; Women, Authority and Power; Central America; Comparative Civil Wars; September 11, 2001 and Beyond; and Women in the Global Community).