Political Science

Course Descriptions

POSC 1003 – U.S. Government – 3 credit hours

Introductory survey of the American political system, including study of the philosophical basis of American government, the three branches of the federal government, federal-state relations, civil rights, political parties, campaigns, the role of the media, and lobby groups. Course rotation: All semesters.

POSC 2113 – Political Theory Through the Ages – 3 credit hours

In this class, selected political theorists from classical antiquity, the medieval period, the Renaissance, and the modern era are used to examine a series of major questions (e.g., human nature, power, authority, justice, and liberty), which are central to political theory and political science. In addition, students are introduced to the origins of our Western political thought and culture. This course is discussion-oriented and designed to develop the student’s critical reading and thinking abilities. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Spring of odd years.


POSC 2203 – U.S. Congress – 3 credit hours

Examines the role of the legislative branch in the American political system. While the focus is primarily on the U.S. Congress as a whole, we also discuss such topics as representation, the sources of legislative power, the institutions involved in formulating legislation, and the people who participate in the legislative process. In the process, the role elections, leadership, and parties play in the legislative process will be examined. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Fall of even years.

POSC 2213 – International Relations – 3 credit hours

An investigation of the basic factors in international politics, including the origin and nature of the state system; the concepts of sovereignty, diplomacy, and war; international conflicts and disputes; and the relationship of international politics to international economics in the conduct of foreign affairs. Course rotation: Spring.

POSC 2303 – Comparative Politics – 3 credit hours

This course provides an introduction to comparative politics. It aims to provide students with the tools necessary to study politics and society in comparative perspective. Within political science, the subfield of comparative politics is concerned with studying politics in countries outside the United States. This course is designed to give students an introduction to processes of political and economic development both within and across countries around the world. In the process, the issues raised will challenge students to think, analyze, and write with both creativity and rigor. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Fall of odd years.

POSC 2403 – U.S. Foreign Policy – 3 credit hours

A study of the formulation and implementation of American foreign policy. Attention is devoted to how political institutions (President, Congress, bureaucracy, etc.) interact to produce foreign policy. Major issues of American foreign policy, both past and present, are discussed, with particular emphasis since the events of September 11, 2001. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Spring of even years.

POSC 3213 – Public Policy – 3 credit hours

A study of the development, implementation, and impact of government policies, with a primary focus on the United States. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Spring of odd years.


POSC 3303 – Terrorism & Political Violence – 3 credit hours

Terrorism, a violent tactic with a strikingly long history of use, has become a central security concern and political issue in the U.S. in recent years. This course relies on both theoretical and empirical literature to examine a host of questions about terrorism in an advanced, intensive, discussion-based seminar. In particular, we investigate the definition(s) of terrorism, its historical use and evolution, the motivations of various types of groups that employ or have employed this tactic, different forms of terrorism, variation in state responses to terrorism (where and when terrorism successfully results in concessions), and the effectiveness of a range of counterterrorism strategies and tactics. Prerequisites: POSC 1003 and either POSC 2213 or instructor’s permission. Course rotation: Fall of odd years.

POSC 3313 – International Law – 3 credit hours

This course offers an overall examination of the international legal system. In addition to learning how international law is made and applied, we will also analyze the major concepts, bases, and most famous cases of public international law. A portion of the class is also dedicated to illustrating practical challenges international law faces due to an ever more globalized world. The topics we cover will range from the sources and subjects of international law, to the settlement of disputes, to the law of the sea, to issues of jurisdiction, and to the laws of war, just to name a few. Prerequisites: POSC 1003 and either POSC 2213 or instructor’s permission.

POSC 3403 – Ethnic Conflict & Civil War – 3 credit hours

This course reviews both classic and cutting-edge scholarship on internal political violence, with an emphasis on the causes, organization, consequences, and termination of civil wars and ethnic conflict. The incidence of this violence has risen rapidly in the past two decades and it poses a major humanitarian issue. The readings explore why political leaders, communities, and individual citizens turn to violence against their neighbors and how order can be re-established. We will also study the organization, recruitment strategies, and battle tactics of armed groups. Throughout the course, we will also discuss methods available to political scientists researching ethnic violence or civil war. Prerequisites: POSC 1003 and either POSC 2303 or instructor’s permission. Course rotation: Fall of even years.

POSC 3503 – Politics of the Middle East – 3 credit hours

A study of the politics of the Middle East, with particular focus on the sources of conflict in the Middle East. These sources include religion, colonialism and imperialism, great power rivalry, resource conflict, and levels of development. These sources are applied to the variety of conflicts in the region, including intra-Arab disputes, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the notion of civilizational conflict between the West and Islam, and the implications for transformation in the Middle East. Prerequisite: POSC 1003.

POSC 3TX3 –Topics in International Issues in Political Science – 3 credit hours

May include such topics as international organizations, political ideologies, the Cold War, the politics of film and television (e.g., Star Wars, Dr. Strangelove, Charlie Wilson’s War, Wag the Dog, Battlestar Galatica), dictatorship and anti-democratic political systems, and/or other,various international relations or comparative politics themes. This course may be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Fall of odd years.

POSC 4203 – The American Presidency – 3 credit hours

An examination of the nature and development of the presidency and its role in the American political system. The presidency is defined broadly to include both the presidential office and the institutional structures in the White House and the Executive Office of the President that have grown up around it. Prerequisite: POSC 1003. Course rotation: Spring of even years.

POSC 4903 – Capstone in Political Science – 3 credit hours

A capstone course which emphasizes research and writing, intensive reading, and discussion of selected political topics in a seminar setting. Prerequisites: POSC 1003 and PSYC 4703 and PSYC 4903 and either senior standing or instructor’s permission.

POSC 4TX3 – Topics in Political Science & Politics – 3 credit hours

Includes the study of a variety of current issues in political science and politics. May include the following topics: civil liberties and civil rights; presidential elections; American politics in film and television (e.g., House of Cards, Dallas Buyer’s Club, The American President, The Contender); politics and the media. This course may be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite: POSC 1003.

POSC PN00 – Professional Internship in Political Science – 3-12 credit hours

Required work experience in an occupational area related to student’s interest or focus. Students must have a minimum of 120 clock hours worked and write a scholarly paper related to the work experience. In addition, students must keep a reflective journal. Grading: Credit/No Credit.