Contacts | Program of Study | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements: The Long Paper Path | Summary of Requirements: The BA Thesis Path | Grading | Honors | Courses Outside Political Science That Will Be Approved | Courses
Undergraduate Program Chair
Student Affairs Administrator
Political science contributes to a liberal education by introducing students to concepts, methods, and knowledge that help them understand and judge politics within and among nations. A BA degree in political science can lead to a career in business, government, journalism, education, or nonprofit organizations; or it can lead to a PhD program in the social sciences or to professional school in law, business, public policy, or international relations. These are only some recent examples of options that have been chosen by our graduates.Back To Top
The department requires twelve political science courses. Students who write a thesis must take ten courses, plus two required courses: PLSC 29800 BA Colloquium and PLSC 29900 BA Thesis Supervision. Students not writing a thesis must take twelve courses.
Up to four courses from outside the department may count toward these requirements. A list of pre-approved outside courses is maintained by the department and can be found below. To count other courses toward the major, students must submit a petition to the program chair, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. (See the section below for more information on submitting a petition.)
To gain a broad understanding of political science, the department believes that students should take a wide range of courses. To ensure that breadth, students must take at least one course in three of the following four subfields: Political Theory, American Politics, Comparative Politics, or International Relations. A course on Aristotle, for instance, would be classified as Political Theory (which is called subfield "A"). To identify the subfields, refer to the letter at the end of each course description. When students submit a petition asking that a course outside the department be used to meet political science requirements, they may also ask that the course count toward a specific subfield. For example, a petition might ask that a course from the Department of Philosophy be used to meet our subfield requirement in Political Theory.
The four subfields are:
A. Political Theory: the history of ancient and modern political philosophy, the history of American political thought, and several varieties of contemporary political theory
B. American Politics: American political institutions, behavior, opinions, development, and public policy
C. Comparative Politics: the politics of particular foreign countries and regions and the comparative study of particular political phenomena such as leadership or state formation
D. International Relations: theoretical approaches to the study of politics among nations, the international relations of particular regions, the foreign policies of particular countries, and such topics as international political economy and military security
Students who are majoring in political science must write one long paper. There are two paths to meeting this requirement: the Long Paper Path and the BA Thesis Path. NOTE: Students may decide in their fourth year to pursue the Long Paper Path instead of the BA Thesis Path; however, those students are reminded that they are required to complete twelve courses (excluding PLSC 29800 BA Colloquium and PLSC 29900 BA Thesis Supervision).
The Long Paper Path. Students who do not wish to write a BA thesis must submit a form to the departmental office signed by an instructor who verifies that their paper meets the following guidelines:
The BA Thesis Path. Writing a BA thesis will meet the writing requirement in political science and may also qualify a student for consideration for honors; see sections below for more information. In either case, the paper is typically from thirty-five to fifty pages in length and must receive a grade of B or higher. Students choose a suitable faculty member to supervise the writing and research process. The deadline for submitting two copies of a BA thesis to the departmental office is 4 p.m. on Friday of the fourth week of the quarter in which the student expects to graduate.Back To Top
|12 Political Science courses *||1200|
|Fulfillment of the writing requirement|
|10 Political Science courses *||1000|
|PLSC 29800||BA Colloquium||100|
|PLSC 29900||BA Thesis Supervision||100|
Students must take at least one course in three of the four subfields.
It is possible for students with extensive course work in political science to pursue more specialized topics that are not covered by regular courses. They have the option of registering for PLSC 29700 Independent Study, to be taken individually and supervised by a member of the political science faculty. Students must obtain prior consent of the program chair and the instructor, as well as submit the College Reading and Research Course Form that is available from their College adviser. The substance of the Independent Study may not be related to the BA thesis or BA research, which is covered by PLSC 29900 BA Thesis Supervision. NOTE: Only one PLSC 29700 Independent Study course may count toward requirements for the major and may be used to meet the subfield distribution requirement.
During the Winter Quarter of their third year, students considering a major in political science will have the opportunity to attend a meeting with the program chair that will introduce the political science program, provide information about requirements, and answer questions. The time and place of this general meeting will be announced via email. To receive this announcement and other information about the Department of Political Science, students should sign up for the undergraduate email list either in the departmental office or at political-science.uchicago.edu/undergrad-listhost.shtml.
Students who plan to write a BA thesis must attend a second meeting with the program chair in Spring Quarter of their third year. This second meeting will answer questions and provide information on methods for doing research in political science, how to find an appropriate topic for a thesis, and how to choose a suitable faculty adviser. By the end of eighth week of Spring Quarter, students who intend to write a BA thesis must have completed a brief (one or two page) proposal describing their topic, chosen a faculty adviser, and received a written agreement from the faculty adviser that he or she will supervise the project. A signed copy of the approved proposal must be filed in the departmental office. The proposal form is available here. Students studying abroad in Spring Quarter of their third year should correspond with the program chair about their plans for the BA thesis before the end of Spring Quarter. Out-of-residence students should proceed to write their proposal and should conduct the process of choosing a faculty adviser via telephone or email.
Students who choose to write a BA thesis are required to participate in in Autumn and Winter Quarters of their fourth year. The colloquium is designed to help students carry out their BA thesis research and to offer feedback on their progress. It meets weekly in Autumn Quarter and biweekly in Winter Quarter. Although the course meets over two quarters, it counts as a single course and has a single grade. The final grade for the colloquium is based on the student's contribution to the colloquium during both quarters. NOTE: Registration for PLSC 29800 BA Colloquium is limited to either Autumn or Winter Quarter of the fourth year, but attendance is required in both quarters. Students who plan to study abroad during Autumn or Winter Quarter of their fourth year must contact the program chair in advance to make arrangements to meet the BA Colloquium requirement.
During their fourth year, students who choose to write a BA thesis must register with their BA thesis faculty adviser for one (and only one) quarter of PLSC 29900 BA Thesis Supervision. NOTE: Students are required to submit the College Course Reading and Research Form, which is available from the College advisers. The final grade for the course will be based on the grade given the BA thesis by the faculty adviser.
Students who plan to double major may complete the political science requirements by either the BA Thesis Path or the Long Paper Path. Students who write the BA thesis must attend the political science BA Colloquium even if the other major requires attendance at its colloquium.
A request to use a single BA thesis for two majors requires the approval of both program chairs on a form available from the student's College adviser. Students should consult with the departments by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, if neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both departments, is available from College advisers or at college.uchicago.edu/policies-regulations/forms-and-petitions. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation. To be considered for honors in political science, however, the thesis must be evaluated by the faculty adviser and preceptor using the criteria specified in the section below. Students can meet the writing requirement in the Long Paper Path with a paper written for another department, but they must also meet the requirement that they complete twelve courses in political science.Back To Top
Courses that meet requirements for the major are typically taken for quality grades. However, students may take up to two courses on a P/F basis if they receive prior consent from the instructor.Back To Top
Students who have done exceptionally well in their course work and who write an outstanding BA thesis are recommended for honors. A student is eligible for honors if the GPA in the major is 3.6 or higher and the overall GPA is 3.0 or higher at the beginning of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate. Students who wish to be considered for honors are required to register for PLSC 29800 BA Colloquium and PLSC 29900 BA Thesis Supervision and to submit a BA thesis.
Students may count up to four courses outside the Department of Political Science toward political science courses required for the major.
Students may choose from the list of pre-approved courses at the end of this section without submitting a petition. For updates to this list, visit the departmental office or the department's website at political-science.uchicago.edu. The department also maintains a list of courses that students routinely ask about that it has denied.
Other courses that are offered by other departments at the University of Chicago will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Such courses must have political science content and must deploy methodology relevant to the study of political science. Students must submit a formal petition to the program chair that presents a clear, complete statement of the student's request and the student's reasons for the request. The petition must include the name of the course instructor, the course title, and the course number; and, if possible, a course syllabus should be attached to the petition. Students may submit petitions soon after completing a course, but, because not all petitions are approved, it is preferable to obtain prior consent. The department will not consider petitions submitted after the second week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate. For more information, visit college.uchicago.edu/policies-regulations/forms-and-petitions.
Students transferring from other institutions who wish to apply credit to their political science major for course work taken at another institution should petition the program chair shortly after matriculation. The petition should include a complete description of the course and professor; and, if possible, a course syllabus should be attached to the petition. If the petition is approved, up to four courses outside the department may be counted toward a political science major. The department will not consider petitions submitted after the second week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate. NOTE: A one-semester course at another institution that grants at least three semester hours equals one course in the major at the University of Chicago.
Students registered at the University of Chicago who wish to receive credit for courses taken at other institutions must receive approval. Students may submit petitions soon after completing a course, but, because not all petitions are approved, it is preferable to obtain prior consent. The department will not consider petitions submitted after the second week of the quarter in which the student intends to graduate. Credit will be granted only for courses that meet departmental standards, whether they are taken at institutions within the United States or abroad.
University students who wish to receive credit for courses taken abroad should petition the program chair within one quarter of their return. NOTE: The Office of the Dean of Students in the College must also approve the transfer of all courses taken at institutions other than those in which students are enrolled as part of a study abroad program that is sponsored by the University of Chicago. For more information, visit college.uchicago.edu/newstudents/examination-credit-and-transfer-credit.Back To Top
Students may draw on the following courses to count toward political science courses required for the program. Some courses may not be offered every year, and other courses will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For updates, visit political-science.uchicago.edu or the departmental office. Please note that students may choose from this pre-approved list without submitting a petition; any of these courses will automatically count as one of the four courses outside the Department of Political Science that may be used for the major.
ANTH 21254 Intensive Study of a Culture: Pirates (C)
ANTH 21318 Language, Politics, and Identity (C)
ANTH 22000 Anthropology of Development (C)
ANTH 22205 Slavery and Unfree Labor (C)
ANTH 22715 Weber, Bakhtin, Benjamin (A)
ANTH 25235 NGOs and Humanitarian Subjects (C)
ANTH 29715 The Politics of Ethnicity in Burma (C)
BPRO 22400 The Ugly American Comes Home (B)
BPRO 28100 What Is Enlightenment? (A)
BPRO 29000 Energy and Energy Policy (B)
EALC 22501 Political and Intellectual History of China in the Middle Period, A.D. 150-650 (C)
EALC 22630 Democratization of South Korea in Literature and Visual Drama (C)
EALC 25001 Change, Conflict, and Resistance in Twentieth-Century China (C)
ECON 20710 Game Theory: A Formal Approach (A)
ECON 22300 Business Ethics in Historical Perspective (B)
ECON 26010 Public Finance (B)
ECON 28600 Economic Analysis of Law (B)
ECON 28700 The Economics of Crime (B)
EEUR 24500 Cult of Personality: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao (C)
ENST 21800 Economics and Environmental Policy (B)
ENST 23100 Environmental Law (B)
ENST 24101 U.S. Environmental Politics (B)
ENST 24400 Is Development Sustainable? (B)
ENST 24700 Environmental Policy (B)
ENST 24900 Global Environmental Politics (C)
FNDL 21603 Machiavelli and Machiavellism (A)
FNDL 22301 The Ethics of Albert Camus (A)
FNDL 22704 Plato's Republic (A)
FNDL 24401 American Originals: Franklin and Lincoln (A)
GEOG 25300 Seminar: Problems in the Human Geography of the Middle East (C)
GNSE 23304 Women and Power: Rights Politics in International Perspective (A)
GNSE 27700 Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy (A)
HIJD 41801 Religion, Culture and Politics (A)
HIJD 47705 Jewish Political Theology (A)
HIST 12100 War in the Middle Ages (D)
HIST 13801 Post Soviet Union, 1945 to 1953 (C)
HIST 17202 Globalization (C)
HIST 17702 War in American Society: Violence, Power and the State (B)
HIST 18000 War in Modern American Society (B)
HIST 18500 Politics of Film in Twentieth-Century American History (B)
HIST 18600 U.S. Labor History (B)
HIST 21500 John Locke in Historical Context (A)
HIST 22706 Slavery and Freedom in the Atlantic World (C)
HIST 22800 Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy (A)
HIST 23301 Europe, 1660-1830 (C)
HIST 23303 Europe, 1930-Present (C)
HIST 23004 Montesquieu and the Enlightenment (A)
HIST 23401 Genocide Euro Jews, 1933-1945 (C)
HIST 23702 Soviet History Survey (C)
HIST 24402 History and Popular Culture in Japan (C)
HIST 24702 Globalization and Asia (C)
HIST 25306 History of Modern Economic Thought (A)
HIST 25600 Contemporary Central Asia (C)
HIST 25902 History of Israeli-Arab Conflict (C)
HIST 26206 The "Southern" Age of Revolution (C)
HIST 26311 Great Migrations (B)
HIST 26405 US Imperialism in Latin America (C)
HIST 26601 Postcolonial Theory (A)
HIST 26802 Colonial Rule in South Asia (C)
HIST 27010 Politics of Reproduction in Historical Perspective (B)
HIST 27108 The Politics of Mass Incarceration, 1945-Present (B)
HIST 27301 War, Gender, and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century America (B)
HIST 27400 Race and Racism in American History (B)
HIST 27900 Asian Wars of the Twentieth Century (C)
HIST 27901 Asia American History (B)
HIST 28102 Business History in the Late 20th Century (B)
HIST 28400 Modern American Legal History (B)
HIST 28402 US and the World Since 1945 (B)
HIST 28404 Politics of Reproduction in Historical Perspective (B)
HIST 29410 Cultural Globalization: History and Theory (D)
HIST 29500 Law and Social Theory (A)
HIST 29507 Overcoming Torture: Past and Present (C)
HIST 29600 Chicago and the South Side (B)
HMRT 20100 Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (A)
HMRT 20200 Human Rights II: History and Theory (A)
HMRT 20300 Human Rights III: Contemporary Issues in Human Rights (A)
HMRT 20500 Human Rights and International Relations (D)
HMRT 21200 Armed Conflict and Politics of Humanitarian Action (D)
HMRT 22230 State Collapse and State Reconstruction (D)
HMRT 23630 Secularism and Religious Freedom in America and South Asia (C)
HMRT 24701 Human Rights: Alien and Citizen (D)
HMRT 26101 Accountability for International Human Rights Abuses (D)
HMRT 26300 Practices of Othering and the Logic of Human Rights Violations (D)
HMRT 26400 What is a Human? The New Sciences, the Nature/Culture Divide and Human Rights (A)
HMRT 27400 Sex Trafficking and Huma Rights (A)
HMRT 27500 Human Rights in Africa: A History of Twentieth Century Articulations (D)
HMRT 28602 Health Care and the Limits of State Action (D)
HMRT 29500 Reason & Passion: The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (D)
INST 23101 Contemporary Global Issues I (D)
INST 23102 Contemporary Global Issues II (D)
INST 23310 Do POWs Have Rights? The Geneva Conventions from 1864 to Today (D)
INST 27301 The Politics of Global Governance (D) NOTE: INST 27301 may be used as a “regular” political science course in the major; it will not be counted as a petitioned course.
INST 28201 Chinese Foreign Policy (D)
INST 28250 The Global Condition (D)
INST 28303 Introduction to European Issues (D)
INST 28400 Lectures on International Organizations (D)
INST 28801 Propaganda States of the Twentieth Century (C)
INST 29302 U.S. Intervention in Latin America (D)
INST 29315 American Globalization: 1607 to Present (D)
INST 29500 Transnationalism (D)
LLSO 22400 Rhetorical Theories of Legal Reasoning (A)
LLSO 24300 American Law and the Rhetoric of Race (B)
LLSO 24711 Lincoln: Slavery, War, and the Constitution (A)
LLSO 27401 American Originals: Franklin and Lincoln (A)
MATH 19510 Mathematics Methods for Social Sciences I (A)
MATH 19520 Mathematical Methods for Social Sciences (A)
MATH 19610 Mathematics Methods for Social Sciences II (A)
MATH 19620 Linear Algebra (A)
MATH 20300 Analysis in Rn I (A)
MATH 20400 Analysis in Rn II (A)
MATH 20500 Analysis in Rn III (A)
NEHC 20505 Jews Under Islamic Rule (C)
NEHC 20511 Islam and the State (A)
PBPL 22100 Politics and Policy (B)
PBPL 22300 Problems of Public Policy Implementation (B)
PBPL 25300 Social Welfare in the United States (B)
PBPL 25630 Poverty, Work, and Family Policy (B)
PBPL 25800 Public Choice (B)
PBPL 26200 Field Research Project in Public Policy I (B)
PBPL 26300 Field Research Project in Public Policy II (B)
PBPL 26709 Public Policy: The Great Books and Articles (B)
PBPL 26920 Identity, Advocacy and Public Policy in Chicago (B)
PBPL 27501 Regulating Speech (B)
PBPL 27705 Human Rights and World Politics (C)
PBPL 29304 Urban Neighborhoods, Urban Schools (B)
PHIL 20703 The Social Contract Theorists (A)
PHIL 21000 Introduction to Ethics (A)
PHIL 21300 Torture and Contemporary Moral Thought (A)
PHIL 21423 Introduction to Marx (A)
PHIL 21580 Libertarianism (A)
PHIL 21600 Political Philosophy (A)
PHIL 21605 Justice (A)
PHIL 24410 Human Rights and Human Nature: Philosophical Approaches (A)
PHIL 24790 Self-Transformation and Political Resistance: Michel Foucault, Pierre Hadot, Primo Levi, Martin Luther King, Jr (A)
PHIL 24800 Foucault and The History of Sexuality (A)
PHIL 27504 Plato's Republic (A)
PPHA 32501 Red State, Blue State: Public Opinion, Elections and Policy (B)
PSYC 23850 Groups: Attachment, Conflict and Resolution (B)
PSYC 23900 Political Psychology (B)
PSYC 24300 Qualitative Methods in Social Sciences (A)
PSYC 32550 Psychology of Ideology (A)
SALC 20700 Critics of Colonialism (A)
SOCI 20111 Survey Analysis I (A)
SOCI 20116 Global-Local Politics (B)
SOCI 20120 Urban Policy Analysis (B)
SOCI 20138 Politics/Participation/Organization (B)
SOCI 20146 Culture and Politics (B)
SOCI 20169 Global Society and Global Culture: Paradigms of Social and Cultural Analysis (C)
SOCI 20171 Law, Organizations, and Markets (B)
SOCI 20173 Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Neighborhood in American Society (B)
SOCI 20193 Religious Politics in the Neo-Liberal Epoch (C)
SOCI 20209 Culture and Social Networks (B)
SOCI 21800 Social and Political Movements (B)
SOCI 22700 Urban Structure and Process (B)
SOCI 23100 Revolutions and Rebellions in Twentieth-Century China (C)
SOCI 23500 Political Sociology (B)
SOCI 25500 Survey Research Overview (A)
SOCI 26900 Globalization: Empirical/Theoretical Elements (C)
SOCI 27900 Global-Local Politics (B)
SOCI 28050 Understanding Social Change in China (C)
SOSC 20600 Qualitative Methods in the Social Sciences (A)
STAT 22000 Statistical Methods and Applications (A)
STAT 23400 Statistical Models and Methods (A)
Many students ask about the following courses. Petitions will be denied to use courses on this list for political science credit.
ECON 19800 Introduction to Microeconomics
ECON 19900 Introduction to Macroeconomics
ECON 20000 The Elements of Economic Analysis I
ECON 20100 The Elements of Economic Analysis II
ECON 22200 Topics in American Economic History
ECON 26600 Economics of Urban Policies
Any introductory civilization studies courses.
AP 5 Statistics.
PLSC 20513. Institutions and Institutionalism. 100 Units.
Institutions attract a great deal of attention from political scientists, economists, and sociologists because it is widely believed that institutions structure and direct individual behavior. Instead of the social world being composed of rational, atomistic individuals acting to maximize their utility, social scientists have pointed out that individual action is partially determined by informal institutions such as social norms, and formal institutions like constitutions and laws. According to some, institutions can even influence a country's economic and political development. But to what does the word "institution" actually refer, and how do we think about institutions? What is this thing called 'neo-institutionalism' and where did it come from? In this course, we will examine the three major approaches to institutions referred to as rational choice, historical, and sociological. In doing so, we will also address the theoretical foundations and fundamental assumptions of each approach. This examination will present different meanings of institutions, different notions about how they originate and change, and different ideas about their effects on the social world. Case studies will accompany the exploration of each approach to see how the different conceptions of institutions have affected their analysis. (C)
Instructor(s): M. Viedma Terms Offered: Autumn
PLSC 20693. Psychology of Power: Hobbes, Spinoza, & Nietzsche. 100 Units.
This seminar will examine the development of the concept of power as a psychological principle in Hobbes, Spinoza, and Nietzsche. The moderns give unprecedented significance to the notion of power, especially making it a central term of analysis for moral psychology and political philosophy. What is power? In what sense do human beings desire power, and is this desire good or bad? Does an inclination to power come from the passions or reason? What is the importance of scientific or theological meanings of power for the psychological-political concept? We will consider the relation between the modern notion of power and classical liberal understandings of natural right, liberty and equality, the sovereign state, and war and peace. What is achieved, theoretically and politically, by explaining human phenomena through a concept of power, and what is sacrificed?
Instructor(s): Brian Bitar Terms Offered: Winter 2013
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 20601,SCTH 20693
PLSC 20800. Machiavelli: The Prince and Discourses. 100 Units.
This course is a reading and discussion of The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, supplemented by portions of Livy's History of Rome. Themes include the roles of princes, peoples, and elites; the merits of republics and principalities; the political roles of pagan and Christian religion and morality; war and empire; founding and reform; virtue, corruption, and fortune; the relevance of ancient history to modern experience; reading and writing; and theory and practice.(A)
Instructor(s): N. Tarcov Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 29300,PLSC 32100,SCTH 31710,LLSO 21710
PLSC 21015. Class Politics in America. 100 Units.
At least since Tocqueville described the United States as "born equal," an American class-based politics has been thought impossible. Indeed, the absence of a major class-based political party in the United States, akin to the social democratic parties of industrial Europe, is a topic of perennial scholarly inquiry. But in an age of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, with income inequality rising and both parties trading charges of "class warfare," class politics seems to be on the ascent. Yet union density has plummeted and the welfare state is desiccated. What does it mean, then, to speak of "class" in the American political context? Does the nation's unique form of liberal democracy render class a perpetually moot concept? Or, have changing political-economic conditions given class the explanatory power it previously lacked? In investigating "class," the course will pay special attention to the ways in which the concept plays out against the welfare state, taxation and unionization, as well as the inequality debate. It will also consider how class overlaps with and diverges from ideas about race and culture. Above all, the course will ask: What does class mean in the United States, how does it inform political thought, and to what extent does it motivate political behavior? (B)
Instructor(s): E. Porter Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 21114. The Fall and Rise of Finance in the U.S. 100 Units.
This course explores financial development in the US from the 1930s to the present. The course will be divided into three parts. The first part will address the domestic and international regulations of the financial sector after the Great Depression. The second part will examine the transition period when the regulated financial regime was dismantled and the financial innovations bloomed. Here, we will analyze the causes of this critical transition through a number of methodological and theoretical perspectives. The last part will cover various social phenomena related to the rise of finance: the stock market boom, the housing market boom, and the recent financial crisis. (C)
Instructor(s): Y. Ki Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 21212. Armed Actors in the State in the Middle East. 100 Units.
This course is designed to provide undergraduate students with an understanding of the political roles of militaries and other armed actors. The course covers major debates on armies and state-building, civilian control over militaries, coups and regime change, police powers, non-state armed actors and the economies of armed actors. Theoretical claims will be discussed while examining empirical cases from the Middle East. The political developments that have been sweeping across the region offer us an opportunity to revisit some of the claims about the role of armed actors in politics. The objective of this course is twofold; to provide an overview of the major theories in the civil-military relations literature, and to examine how these theories apply to, or differ from, the historical and contemporary developments in the region. With that in mind, the reading materials are selected to provide a broader theoretical background as well as knowledge of select cases. (C)
Instructor(s): D. Rashed Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 21214. Political Islam. 100 Units.
This course examines political manifestations of varied interactions between Islam, politics, and economics both theoretically and in key cases. The course begins by providing an historical account of the international system in the "postcolonial period," i.e. the period ending WWII (approximately 1945) until the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979). Here, it highlights how and why international institutions were created and, consequently, continued to influence ideas about politics and economics in the "Islamic World." The course goes on to analyze Islamic resurgence, revolution, islamization, and – most recently – the Arab Revolutions as cases alleged to either involve or be motivated by modes of Political Islam. It endeavors to provide students with a meaningful assessment of discourses about, as well as issues and challenges in, hegemonic understandings of "Political Islam" by unearthing assumptions and generalities in claims about seemingly opportunistic apprehensions and redeployments of Muslims, their beliefs, and their political actions. It is guided by the following overarching questions: What comprises the political and economic realities of both Muslims and Muslim countries today? How can we analyze and understand interactions between Islam, politics and economics in a fairly coherent and objective fashion? Is there a set of variables that link manifestations of the social, political, and economic spheres in cases as diverse as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Palestine and the Sudan? By the conclusion of the course, students will be armed with historical knowledge as well as the tools necessary to objectively assess whether and how "Political Islam" can be a useful analytic category. (C)
Instructor(s): K. Rhone Terms Offered: Spring
PLSC 21301. Network Theory for International Relations. 100 Units.
This course introduces students to prominent concepts and precepts of social network theory (SNT). We will examine how SNT has recently been applied to generate novel solutions to prominent puzzles in the study of international relations. Instead of relying on a textbook approach, we will become sensitive to the main intuitions behind SNT through careful study of empirical work in political science, sociology, and economics. Each reading for this course introduces a set of network-analytic tools, and deploys them in a way that does not require advanced training in what has become an increasingly technical methodology. The course is divided into three parts, each of which focuses on a different level of analysis. (D)
Instructor(s): M. Staisch Terms Offered: Spring
PLSC 21302. Blood Boundaries of Belief and Belonging: Religion and Violence. 100 Units.
How do religious actors and religious organizations get imbricated in the production of violence? In the past decade, the interconnections between religion and violence have seized the American imagination. Are the reasons why religious actors perform acts of violence, or construct organizations that specialize in the deployment of the means of violence different from those of "traditional" political actors? Thinking about religion in terms of violence highlights the suffering created by these acts, which brings the problem of meaning to the foreground. As terrible as "senseless" or "purposeless" acts of violence are, many scholars of religion and violence note that violence seems more horrific when it has a clear purpose, particularly a religious purpose. There appears to be a conceptual horror associating the institutions and groups, which are ostensibly dedicated to "what is most important in life" with systematically ending human lives in service to religious ideals. This leads us to ask, "For what purposes do religious actors use violence?" This class will argue that religious people use violence, as one tool among many, to discipline the self and the world so that they conform to a religious ethic. We will examine five different religious groups from across a variety of world regions and political contexts that have used violence and reason through other theories of religious violence. Furthermore we will examine the idea that 'cults' and extremists are more predisposed to using religious violence than their more mainstream counterparts. This course, therefore, is primarily about the relationship between meaning, authority, and violence for actors whose concerns are generally considered to be other-wordly. (D)
Instructor(s): J. Stevenson Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 21314. Psychoanalysis and Politics. 100 Units.
This course offers an introduction to psychoanalytic approaches to political thought. The following, general questions motivate the course: What can psychoanalysis tell us about forms of affective investment in political life, investments that others have attempted to theorize as aesthetic, ideological, non-rational, or ethical in nature? Can a theory of unconscious drives help us develop a more compelling account of the relation of the individual to social forms, including intractable forms of 'art' and 'culture' that often elude political theorizing? What does psychoanalysis have to contribute to the ongoing debate over defining those 'basic needs' whose fulfillment is promised by liberal political orders in exchange for the repressions that those orders require? (A)
Instructor(s): A. Campi Terms Offered: Spring
PLSC 21814. Global Democracy. 100 Units.
Long a pejorative Greek word, "democracy" has arguably come to function as a single cosmopolitan standard for legitimate political authority. Yet the ideological triumph of democracy in the modern age has occurred alongside a variety of theoretical and institutional challenges to a central pillar of regime-oriented democratic theory: the territorial sovereign nation state. This democratic theory seminar explores the conceptual, normative, and institutional challenges that come with decoupling democracy from the nation-state. To what extent does regime-oriented democratic theory provide resources for dealing with these challenges? To what extent is "global democracy" a viable extension of the concept? The course will address these and other questions by applying a globalizing perspective on important themes at the intersection of democratic theory, global justice, and international law literatures. The first half of the course will introduce students to important theoretical debates regarding such topics as sovereignty, citizenship, nationalism, accountability, and cosmopolitan ethics. The second half of the course will feature case studies on several important normative challenges: namely, (1) the problem of immigration and open borders; the (2) demands of global distributive justice; and (3) the challenges of constructing global governance institutions. (A)
Instructor(s): G. Arlen Terms Offered: Spring
PLSC 22200. Introduction to Political Economy of Development. 100 Units.
This course introduces the political economy of development. Our key question is: Why is life in some countries and regions "better" than in others? We explore different approaches to this question, using theories from economics and politics. Along the way, we examine a selection of topics of substantive interest that may include poverty, inequality, corruption, gender and development, health, the rule of law, microcredit, and remittances. (C)
Instructor(s): A. Simpser Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Advanced standing.
PLSC 22400. Public Opinion. 100 Units.
What is the relationship between the mass citizenry and government in the U.S.? Does the public meet the conditions for a functioning democratic polity? This course considers the origins of mass opinion about politics and public policy, including the role of core values and beliefs, information, expectations about political actors, the mass media, economic self-interest, and racial attitudes. This course also examines problems of political representation, from the level of political elites communicating with constituents, and from the possibility of aggregate representation. (B)
Instructor(s): J. Brehm Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 22400,LLSO 26802
PLSC 22600. Introduction to Political Philosophy. 100 Units.
In this course we will first investigate what it is for a society to be just. Among the questions we will consider in this portion are the following: In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? Authors to be discussed here include John Rawls, Robert Nozick, and G. A. Cohen. In the second portion of the course we will consider one pressing injustice in society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A)
Instructor(s): B. Laurence Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 21601,LLSO 22612,PHIL 21600
PLSC 22825. Philosophy and Public Education. 100 Units.
This course will critically survey the various ways in which philosophy curricula are developed and used in different educational contexts and for different age groups. Considerable attention will be devoted to the growing movement in the U.S. for public educational programs in precollegiate philosophy.
Instructor(s): R. Schultz Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 22820
PLSC 23313. Democracy and Equality. 100 Units.
Democracy has often been celebrated (and often criticized) for expressing some kind of equality among citizens. This course will investigate a series of questions prompted by this supposed relationship between democracy and equality. Is democracy an important part of a just society? What institutions and practices does democracy require? Is equality a meaningful or important political ideal? If so, what kind of equality? Does democracy require some kind of equality, or vice-versa? The course will begin by studying classical arguments for democracy by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Stuart Mill, and then focus on contemporary approaches to these questions. The course will conclude with some treatment of current democratic controversies, potentially including issues of race and representation; the fair design of elections; the role of wealth in political processes; and the role of judicial review. The course aims to deepen participants' understanding of these and related issues, and to develop our abilities to engage in argument about moral and political life. (A)
Instructor(s): J. Wilson Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 23413. Political Economy of Food. 100 Units.
How food is produced, what foods we consume and the complicated ways it travels from farm to fork is emerging as an exciting new area of research. For much of the 20th century, governments around the world sought to turn farms into factories. The human and environmental cost of this type of food production that maximizes yields and efficiency became the focal point of a diverse social movement that brought together consumers and producers in search of alternatives. Various critiques of the dominant political paradigm in agriculture and food have been taken up and examined in various social science disciplines. This class examines the emerging literature on the political economy of food production, consumption and regulation. Readings will address a range of issues – from the politics of farm subsidies to the social and political categories we use to think about food. Texts address local, national and international aspects of the contemporary food system. The class provides students with information and theoretical tools to engage with questions about the economic, political and social conditions and consequences of how food is produced, sold and marketed. Empirically, the class will familiarize students with domestic and global systems of food production and marketing. Theoretically, the class treats food as a lens to probe more fundamental questions about how we think about polities and economies and politics and markets. (D)
Instructor(s): S. Wengle Terms Offered: Autumn
PLSC 23513. Global Governance of Crisis: Insecurity and Inequality. 100 Units.
This course addresses the causes of various global crises, how the international community responds to them, and their impact on international politics and human life. The types of crises include those broadly related to international insecurity and inequality, specifically case study topics of poverty, famine, threats from weak and failed states, human security and "culture clashes." Beyond an introduction to global governance issues and concepts, analysis of each crisis will entail a review of the primary scholarly analysis on the causes and policy debates of crises and critical assessment of various organizations and actors that are involved. (D)
Instructor(s): A. Tiemessen Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PLSC 29000 or equivalent
PLSC 23713. State Failure: Comparative Development and International Security. 100 Units.
This course will introduce students to the theories and empirical realities of state weakness and failure from both comparative politics and international relations perspectives. The defining characteristics of statehood and state-society dynamics that contribute to collapse will be the first topic addressed, and will provide the essential theoretical framework from which we can predict and understand the subsequent security and development implications. The second topic will cover the relationship between weak and failed states and repression and violence. While these are considered threats from within, such human rights violations and conflicts often prompt a global response to intervene on behalf of international security and development interventions. The third topic will address the imminent and perceived transnational threats that stem from state collapse – specifically terrorism and to a lesser extent drug trafficking and piracy. The final topic will cover the various engagement and containment options available to the international community to respond to weak and failed states, to both prevent threats and strengthen state-society relations. This course will draw on a number of contemporary case studies, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. (D)
Instructor(s): A. Tiemessen Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PLSC 29000 or equivalent
PLSC 23810. The Affect System. 100 Units.
The term “affect” typically refers to feelings beyond those of the traditional senses, with an emphasis on the experience of emotions and variations in hedonic tone. The structure and processes underlying mental contents are not readily apparent, however, and most cognitive processes occur unconsciously with only selected outcomes reaching awareness. Over millions of years of evolution, efficient and manifold mechanisms have evolved for differentiating hostile from hospitable stimuli and for organizing adaptive responses to these stimuli. These are critically important functions for the evolution of mammals, and the integrated set of mechanisms that serve these functions can be thought of as an “affect system.” It is this affect system—its architecture and operating characteristics, as viewed from neural, psychological, social, and political perspectives—that is the focus of the course.
Instructor(s): J. Cacioppo, S. Cacioppo, E. Oliver Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): BPRO 23800,PSYC 23880
PLSC 24001. Leviathan. 100 Units.
A close reading of the entirety of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. (A)
Instructor(s): J. Cooper Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 22214,PLSC 34001
PLSC 24500. Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition. 100 Units.
This seminar will be devoted to a reading of Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition (1958), one of the most influential works of political theory written in the twentieth century. Through careful study of the meaning and function of Arendt’s often-puzzling distinctions among “public,” “private” and “social” and among “labor,” “work,” and “action,” we’ll try to understand her account of the significance and prospects of human activity, including especially political activity, in modernity. Topics of special concern may include: the relation between philosophy and politics; Arendt's relationship to Marx and to the Marxist critique of capitalism; the meanings of work and leisure in the twentieth century and beyond; the nature and basis of political power and freedom; the relations between art and politics; the significance of city life for politics; and many others. While The Human Condition will be at the center of the course, the book will be supplemented and framed by other material, including essays on related subjects by Arendt; excerpts from some of the other thinkers with whom Arendt was in conversation; and material by later writers that will help us situate Arendt in the larger contexts of twentieth-century intellectual life, and which will also give us different angles on some of the key issues in Arendt’s book. (A)
Instructor(s): P.Markell Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 34500,FNDL 22212
PLSC 25610. Authority, Obligation, and Dissent. 100 Units.
What is the basis of political authority? What, if anything, makes it legitimate? Under what conditions are we obliged to follow the laws and orders of government authorities? Under what conditions can we legitimately disobey such laws or orders, or even engage in violent rebellion? How have some of the most influential political thinkers answered such questions historically and which of their theories are most helpful for illuminating these issues for us today? Readings include classic writings by Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Burke, Paine, Kant, Thoreau, Gandhi, Fanon, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (A)
Instructor(s): S. Muthu Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 25610
PLSC 26109. Core Values of the West. 100 Units.
This course examines the fundamental values of liberal Western democracies, including freedom of speech and religion, equality under law, individual autonomy, religious toleration, and property rights. We consider what these values mean, their historical origins and development, and debates about them in theory and in practice. This course is divided between lectures, which present each topic, and discussions. (A)
Instructor(s): C. Lipson Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): At least two prior college-level courses in U.S. or European history.
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 26109
PLSC 27103. Islam Online. 100 Units.
Research seminar for advanced undergraduates and graduate students on Islam and politics online. The broad themes with which this course will engage include: religion and technological change, interpretive approaches to big data, state power, media and social network activism. (C)
Instructor(s): I. Hussin Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Attendance at the first meeting is required for enrollment.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 37103
PLSC 27216. Machiavelli's Political Thought. 100 Units.
This course is devoted to the political writings of Niccolò Machiavelli. Readings include The Prince, Discourses on Livy's History of Rome, selections from the Florentine Histories, and Machiavelli's proposal for reforming Florence's republic, "Discourses on Florentine Affairs." Topics include the relationship between the person and the polity; the compatibility of moral and political virtue; the utility of class conflict; the advantages of mixed institutions; the principles of self-government, deliberation, and participation; the meaning of liberty; and the question of military conquest. (A)
Instructor(s): J. McCormick Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Prior consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 28200,PLSC 52316,FNDL 28102
PLSC 27403. Carl Schmitt's Political Thought. 100 Units.
This course is devoted to the political thought of controversial conservative Weimar lawyer and National Socialist partisan, Carl Schmitt. We will read and discuss his major works on sovereignty, the exception, legal theory, parliamentary government, liberalism versus democracy, and “the political.” Students are expected to come to the first session having read Political Theology in its entirety. (A)
Instructor(s): J. McCormick Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Prior consent of instructor.
Note(s): Seven week course to commence in Week 4.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 47403,FNDL 28305
PLSC 27702. Political Leadership: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. 100 Units.
This course will examine both classical and contemporary analyses of leadership, with a particular focus on the relationship between executive authority and democratic politics. We will read traditional authors such as Cicero, Livy, Plutarch and Machiavelli as well as contemporary analyses of modern political leadership, especially of the American Presidency. (A)
Instructor(s): W. Howell, J. McCormick Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Limited enrollment.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 37702,LLSO 27704
PLSC 27815. Politics and Public Policy in China. 100 Units.
This course offers a historical and thematic survey of Chinese politics and of salient issues in China’s public policy. We review the patterns and dynamics of political development or lack thereof in the Mao and reform eras, including the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the politics of reforms. Later sections of the course look at China’s political institutions, leadership, as well as various issues of governance and public policy, including state-society relations, the relationship between Beijing and the provinces, corruption, population and environment. Emphasis is on how institutions have provided the incentives for change as well as how institutions have been transformed. (C)
Instructor(s): D. Yang Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 28100. Russian Politics. 100 Units.
One of the major world powers, Russia commands a nuclear arsenal and vast energy reserves. This course will help us to understand Russia’s political development which is inextricable from the country’s history and economy. After reviewing some milestones in Soviet history, we shall focus on the developments since the fall of the ‘evil empire.’ Political institutions, economy, foreign policy, and social change will all receive some attention. (C)
Instructor(s): S. Markus Terms Offered: Winter
PLSC 28300. Seminar on Realism. 100 Units.
The aim of this course is to read the key works dealing with the international relations theory called "realism." (D)
Instructor(s): J. Mearsheimer Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Limited enrollment.
PLSC 28400. American Grand Strategy. 100 Units.
This course examines the evolution of American grand strategy since 1900, when the United States first emerged on the world stage as a great power. The focus is on assessing how its leaders have thought over time about which areas of the world are worth fighting and dying for, when it is necessary to fight in those strategically important areas, and what kinds of military forces are needed for deterrence and war-fighting in those regions. (D)
Instructor(s): J. Mearsheimer Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 49500
PLSC 28615. Politics and Human Nature. 100 Units.
This course explores commonalities among psychoanalytic theory, Buddhism, and studies of emotions and brain physiology, particularly as they relate to questions of the self and political life. In addition to exploring each of these theories, we investigate particular questions (e.g., inevitability of conflict, dynamics of obedience and authority, emotional power of ideology, and non-Western understandings of human consciousness). (A)
Instructor(s): E. Oliver Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing.
Note(s): Class limited to fifteen students.
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 28613
PLSC 28710. Democracy and the Politics of Wealth Redistribution. 100 Units.
How do political institutions affect the redistribution of wealth among members of a society? In most democracies, the distribution of wealth among citizens is unequal but the right to vote is universal. Why then have so many newly democratic states transitioned under conditions of high inequality yet failed to redistribute? This course explores this puzzle by analyzing the mechanisms through which individual and group preferences can be translated into pro-poor policies, and the role elites play in influencing a government's capacity or incentives to redistribute wealth. Topics include economic inequality and the demand for redistribution, the difference in redistribution between democracy and dictatorship, the role of globalization in policymaking, and the effects of redistribution on political stability and change. (C)
Instructor(s): M. Albertus Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 28710
PLSC 28900. Strategy. 100 Units.
This course covers American national security policy in the post–cold war world, especially the principal issues of military strategy that are likely to face the United States in the next decade. This course is structured in five parts: (1) examining the key changes in strategic environment since 1990, (2) looking at the effects of multipolarity on American grand strategy and basic national goals, (3) focusing on nuclear strategy, (4) examining conventional strategy, and (5) discussing the future of war and peace in the Pacific Rim. (D)
Instructor(s): R. Pape Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 39900
PLSC 29000. Introduction to International Relations. 100 Units.
This course introduces main themes in international relations that include the problems of war and peace, conflict and cooperation. We begin by considering some basic theoretical tools used to study international politics. We then focus on several prominent security issues in modern international relations, such as the cold war and post–cold war world, nuclear weapons, nationalism, and terrorism. We also deal with economic aspects of international relations, such as globalization, world trade, environmental pollution, and European unification. (D)
Instructor(s): C. Lipson Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 39800
PLSC 29201. Ethnic Rights. 100 Units.
The aim of this undergraduate course is to examine the emergence of cultural rights within the broader human rights movement. Indeed, cultural or ethnic rights were part of a third generation of human rights which moves beyond purely civil and political rights, to definitions that include social, economic and cultural rights. Among the many rights embedded in the notion of cultural rights are the rights to political and cultural autonomy, natural resources, and territory, typically for indigenous peoples. In this course, we analyze how these cultural rights emerged in international human rights institutions and discourse, as well as how they have been translated back into, and transformed by, local political struggles around the world. Throughout the course, the students will have the chance to learn from and engage with a number of organizations and activists in Chicago that work on indigenous and cultural rights. (C)
Instructor(s): T. Paschel Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 29201
PLSC 29401. Arab Uprisings. 100 Units.
This course examines the reasons for and variations in contemporary uprisings in the Middle East. At once theoretical and empirical, the class focuses on events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Libya and considers them in relation to prevailing social scientific theories of change and management. We shall cover the following topics: the causes and meanings of “revolution;” the rise of new social movements in a neoliberal era; the various roles of the military; vigilante justice; the importance of digital publics; popular culture and artistic practices in the context of ongoing tumult; generational conflict; the causes of civil war; authoritarianism and its “reinvention(s);” practices of piety and the role of Islam; and the politics of foreign intervention. (C)
Instructor(s): L. Wedeen Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 39401
PLSC 29500. Drugs, Guns, and Money: The Politics of Criminal Conflict. 100 Units.
This course examines armed conflict between states and criminal groups, with a focus on Latin America’s militarized drug wars. Why do states decide to crack down on cartels, and why do cartels decide to fight back? Are drug wars “insurgencies”? If so, can they be won? Why does drug violence vary over time, over space, and between market sector? We will study these issues from historical, economic, criminological, and cultural perspectives. Throughout, we focus on the interplay of domestic and international politics in formulating and enforcing drug policy. (C)
Instructor(s): B. Lessing Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 27307
PLSC 29700. Independent Study. 100 Units.
This is a general reading and research course for independent study not related to the BA thesis or BA research.
Terms Offered: Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of faculty supervisor and program chair.
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.
PLSC 29800. BA Colloquium. 100 Units.
The colloquium is designed to help students carry out their BA thesis research and offer feedback on their progress. The class meets weekly in Autumn Quarter and every other week in Winter Quarter.
Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter
Note(s): Required of fourth-year students who are majoring in political science majors and plan to write a BA thesis. Students participate in both Autumn and Winter Quarters but register only once (in either Autumn or Winter Quarter). PLSC 29800 counts as a single course and a single grade is reported in Winter Quarter.
PLSC 29900. BA Thesis Supervision. 100 Units.
This is a reading and research course for independent study related to BA research and BA thesis preparation.
Terms Offered: Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
Note(s): Required of fourth-year students who are majoring in political science and plan to write a BA thesis. Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.