Political Science Course Descriptions

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The Political Science program provide students with a variety of introductory and advanced courses that explore the breadth of the discipline. Below you will find the academic catalog descriptions of the courses we offer, the semester the course is generally taught, and information about credits and prerequisites.

POSC 101 Introduction to Political Science
3 Credits

A survey of political science, including an examination of various political systems, institutions and ideologies found in the contemporary world.

Term Offered: Fall, Spring

POSC 104 American Federal Government
3 Credits

A study of the underlying principles, organizational structure, processes and problems of the American federal system of government. Emphasis will be placed on the national government. 

Term Offered: Fall, Spring

POSC 201 Political Science Research and Writing
3 Credits

Provides students an opportunity to practice and improve their writing and research skills. Particular attention will be given to evaluation of scholarly sources and competing claims.

POSC 202 State and Local Government
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 or POSC 104

A study of the underlying principles, organizational structure, processes, and problems of state and local governments in the U.S.

POSC 204 Public Administration
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

Introduction to modern theories of administration; the relation of administration to the political system and process; and analysis of administrative organizations and functions.

POSC 205 Community Based Research
3 Credits

This service learning course teaches the theory and practical application of research methodology to meet contemporary community needs.

POSC 206 Contemporary Political Issues
3 Credits

An analytical introduction to current political issues and conflicts and how they are studied by the political scientist.

POSC 225 Special Topics in Political Science
1-3 Credits

A specialized study of various topics and problems in the field of political science. Each offering of the course will be planned around a separate and different topic, chosen and designed by the individual instructor.

POSC 230 Politics and Ecology
3 Credits

Examines a variety of perspectives from which environmental problems can be addressed. These various perspectives or analytical frameworks offer explanations of the underlying causes of environmental problems and also generate political and economic responses to them. Broadens understanding of the environmental dilemmas that face modern political systems, and provides the skills to critically evaluate different perspectives on these issues.

POSC 303 International Relations
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101

An analysis of the current international system and its origins. Special emphasis is placed on current international problems and the role of the United States in world affairs.

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POSC 304 Comparative Government
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A comparative analysis of the political processes of state systems outside the United States.

POSC 305 The Politics of Organized Interests
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A study of the roles, motivations, and operations of organized interests in the U.S. and the political context in which they operate, with an emphasis on the study of power in American society through the pluralist and elite paradigms.

POSC 306 Political Parties and the Election Process
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A study of the nature, functions, organizations, and activities of political parties and the process of nomination, campaigns, and elections in the American political system.

POSC 307 West Virginia History, Geography, and Government
3 Credits

A study of the geography, history, and government of West Virginia from the days of early settlement to the present. Special attention is given to current problems.

Term Offered: Fall, Spring
Also listed as: HIST 307

POSC 320 Geopolitics
3 Credits

Prerequisites: GEOG 101 / POSC 101 or consent of instructor

This class will study the basic theories of geopolitics and build the necessary vocabulary and methodology to explore ethnic and territorial conflict across the globe, with emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, South and Central Asia, Europe and Caucus.

POSC 325 A, B, C Miller Center Seminar
1 Credit

Students view forums from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia featuring leaders in government, academia, media, etc. The course includes a field trip to attend a forum in Charlottesville, VA.

POSC 330 The Politics of the Middle East
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101

A survey of the recent histories and current political conditions of states in the Middle East and North Africa.

POSC 340 Modern Political Ideologies
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101

A problems course examining the major ideological systems that have shaped contemporary politics. The course will examine the history as well as current relevance of these ideologies. Each particular offering of the course will vary in specific content.

POSC 341 The Military and Society
3 Credits

A problems course examining the relation between the military and society, and the impact of military institutions on the development of western civilization. Each particular offering of the course will focus on a specific time period that will vary with each offering. Can be used for credit in History.

POSC 351 American Political Philosophy
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 104 and PHIL 102

The study of American political thought that examines the writings of major figures in American intellectual history.

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POSC 370 Legislative Process
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A study of the structure and behavior of the U.S. Congress and state legislatures with emphasis placed on representation, institutional arrangements, the lawmaking process, and problems and trends in legislative governance.

POSC 380 The Executive Process
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A study of the structure and behavior of the U.S. Presidency and state governorships with emphasis placed on the powers and limitations, institutional arrangements, involvement in the policymaking process, and problems and trends in executive governance.

POSC 390 Judicial Politics
3 Credits

A study of the structure and behavior of the American judicial system with emphasis placed on the structure of the American judicial system, the roles played by various individuals and groups in the system, and the prospects for future changes in the system.

POSC 401 Constitutional Law
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A study of leading constitutional decisions of the United States Supreme Court and their effects upon the American system of government, as well as an examination of the origin and development of civil rights and liberties in the United States as contained in the Constitution and as interpreted through Supreme Court and lower Federal Court cases.

POSC 405 Political Theory I
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A selective history of political theory from the ancient Greeks to the Middle Ages.

POSC 406 Political Theory II
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Recommended: POSC 101 and POSC 104

A selective history of political theory from Machiavelli to the 20th Century.

POSC 450 Seminar in Political Science
3 Credits

A capstone course with variable emphasis, intended for POSC majors and minors in their junior or senior year. Political Science majors must take and pass a comprehensive examination as part of the course requirements.

POSC 456 International Studies Capstone
3 Credits

Students will propose, complete and present a research project integrating material from multiple disciplines in their course of study. This course is intended for students in the Interdisciplinary degree International Studies program.

POSC 470 Independent Study
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Minimum of 15 hours of course work completed in the discipline and consent of instructor and division chairperson

Application must be made and approved by a committee before the student can register for the independent study. Applications may be picked up from the division chairperson. 

Term Offered: Fall, Spring
Note: PSY 101 is the prerequisite for all courses in Psychology except 200
Also listed as: SOSC 470

POSC 471 Independent Study 
3 Credits

Prerequisites: Minimum of 15 hours of course work completed in the discipline and consent of instructor and division chairperson

Application must be made and approved by a committee before the student can register for the independent study. Applications may be picked up from the division chairperson.

Term Offered: Fall, Spring
Also listed as: SOSC 470

POSC 472 Political Science Internship 
3, 6 Credits

This internship will afford students academic and professional experience in a suitable private or non-profit setting.

POSC 480 Honors Courses
3 Credits

Juniors and seniors who qualify for Honors Courses are offered the opportunity to study apart from conventional classroom work. Interested students should contact the Division Chairperson for further information.

POSC 481 Honors Courses
3 Credits

Juniors and seniors who qualify for Honors Courses are offered the opportunity to study apart from conventional classroom work. Interested students should contact the Division Chairperson for further information.

POSC 502 American Government
3 Credits

This course explores the roles, functions, structures, and activities of American governing and linkage institutions at the federal, state, and local levels. This course builds on a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of American government. Through detailed examination of many historically influential political theorists, this course will seek to facilitate independent and critical analysis of informed participation in the American political system.

POSC 504 Public Administration
3 Credits

This course explores the young and changing discipline of public administration and provides a solid foundation for further study of and/or employment as public administrators. This course will examine the theory and practice of public administration, with particular focus on the distinct approaches recommended by managerial, political, and legal perspectives. Historical readings and contemporary cases will be used to explore enduring debates regarding the appropriate roles, responsibilities, and goals of public administrators.