The department offers courses under the headings of American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Law and Politics, Political Theory and Methods. 

First year students generally start with gateway courses.  First year students are also welcome in 300 level courses, so long as there are no required prerequisites.

Rising Seniors: If you think you’re prepared to take a graduate-level Political Science course, you can ask the instructor for permission to enroll.

Before registration, the department publishes a list of courses offered the following quarter.  In addition, each spring the department publishes a list of courses to be offered the following academic year.

Below, find all undergraduate course descriptions.  High achieving rising seniors are also invited to request special permission to take graduate level courses.

Gateway courses

Upper division courses

Courses taught in the Paris European Union Program

Special Topics and Capstone Seminars

Graduate Courses for seniors

Gateway courses

POLI SCI 101-6 Freshman Seminars
Each year we offer a selection of First Year seminars, taught by Political Science faculty.  These courses, open to all Weinberg College first year students, have a general theme, but the main focus is on developing writing skills.

POLI SCI 201-0 Introduction to Political Theory
Examination of texts in political theory. Topics vary but often include justice, the Greek polis, the modern state, individualism, representative democracy.

POLI SCI 220-0 American Government and Politics
The structure and process of American politics from competing perspectives. Analysis of representation, voting, interest groups, parties, leadership, and policy-making institutions. The gateway course for the American politics subfield.

POLI SCI 221-0 Urban Politics
Structure of local and regional political power and its relation to the social and economic structure of community.

POLI SCI 230-0 Introduction to Law in the Political Arena
Roles of law in society and politics. What is law and why people obey it, police and prisons, law and social change, how lawyers make a living, the litigation explosion, courts and politics, legal reasoning, Supreme Court decision making, controlling judicial discretion, legal strategies for making change.

POLI SCI 240-0 Introduction to International Relations
Introduction to the major theories, concepts, and problems of contemporary international relations. Security, political economy, and cooperation.

POLI SCI 250-0 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Emphasis may be on industrialized and/or developing states. Major issues include regime-society relations, political change and conflict, and policy making.

POLI SCI 301-0 Classical Political Theory
Political thought of Greece and Rome in historical context and with attention to contemporary theoretical interest.

Upper Division Courses

Political Theory Courses

POL SCI 302-0 Subjects, Citizens, Revolutionaries: Early Modern Political Thought
Political philosophers from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Topics include sources of power and their impact on justice, equality, and law. No prerequisites, but some knowledge of political theory is desirable.

POLI SCI 303-0 Modernity and Its Discontents
Examination of late 19th- and early 20th-century social and political thought in the works of writers such as Marx, Weber, Mill, Kafka, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, and de Beauvoir. No prerequisites, but some knowledge of political theory is desirable.

POLI SCI 306-0 American Political Thought
Advanced introduction to the development of political thought in the United States from the revolutionaries to the 20th-century pragmatists.

POLI SCI 307-0 Deportation Law and Politics
Analysis of deportation law and politics from colonial America through today. Requires two visits to Chicago immigration courts.

POLI SCI 308-SA Critical Theory and the Study of Politics
Critical theory examines and contests hegemonic thinking about politics and envisages alternate worlds of political possibility. This study abroad course is restricted to students in Northwestern’s Paris program in critical theory, literature, and media.

POLI SCI 309-0 Advanced Topics in Political Theory
Sustained reelection on one problem (e.g., freedom, republicanism, sexuality) or author (e.g., Plato, Machiavelli, Tocqueville, Arendt). Topics vary. May be repeated for credit with different topics. Prerequisite: 201 or equivalent.


Methods Courses for Political Science

POLI SCI 210-0 Introduction to Empirical Methods in Political Science
Introduction to the tools political scientists use to answer questions about politics.  How qualitative, quantitative, and experimental research designs help us answer difficult descriptive and causal questions.

POLI SCI 310-0 Methods of Political Inference
Methods for inferences based on data in political research. Research design and quantitative and qualitative methods of inference. Focuses on descriptive, statistical, and causal inference and the application of different methods to substantive problems.

POLI SCI 311-0 Logics of Political Inquiry
Political science as “science.” Identity sources, construction, functions, and validation of social science theory and explanation from varied perspectives.

POLI SCI 312-0 Statistical Research Methods
Intermediate coverage of statistical methods appropriate for data in political science research, such as multiple regression, logit and probit, estimation and inference with nonindependent or nonidentically distributed sampling, basic time series and panel data methods, and causal inference in statistical models.

POLI SCI 315-0 Introduction to Positive Political Theory
Introduction to the rational choice approach to politics focusing on individuals making goal-oriented, purposeful decisions that are aggregated by the institutions through which the individuals interact. Prerequisite: high school algebra.


American Politics Courses

POLI SCI 320-0 The American Presidency
Structural foundations and historical development of the American presidency; predominant scholarly theories of presidential power and leadership; contemporary issues and debates. Prerequisite: 220 or equivalent.

POLI SCI 321-0 Community Political Processes
Selected problems of mobilizing and exercising political power in local and regional jurisdictional units. Relationship between political structure and community needs and demands.

POLI SCI 323-0 Public Opinion and Voting Behavior
Who votes and for whom. Social, psychological, economic, and political factors influencing election choices. Sources of opinions. Focus on American presidential elections with some comparative and nonpresidential material. Prerequisite: 220 or equivalent.

POLI SCI 324-0 Political Parties and Elections
Role of political parties in a democratic society. Topics include nomination, national conventions, political funding, campaigns, party organization, and national, state, and local parties.

POLI SCI 325-0 Congress and the Legislative Process
Organization of legislatures to make public policy; impact of constituents and political parties on legislative decision making; polarization; legislative-executive relations. Emphasis on the US Congress and contemporary politics. Prerequisite: 220 or equivalent.

POLI SCI 326-0 Race and Public Policy
Analysis of how diversity shapes policy in the United States and how policies contribute to racial and ethnic diversity. Immigration reform, school choice, residential segregation, and criminal justice.

POLI SCI 327-0 African American Politics
Survey of black politics in the United States, including blacks’ relations with government, whites, political parties, public policy, and electoral politics.

POLI SCI 328-0 Public Policy
The role of government in regulating economic and social behavior; theories of public policy making; sources and effects of public policy.

POLI SCI 329-0 U.S. Environmental Politics
Political problems associated with human impact on natural environment; pollution, natural resources, public lands, land use, energy, and population.

POLI SCI 330-0 Politics of Local Justice
Local justice systems, with emphasis on crime and police, trial courts, criminal litigation, sentencing and corrections, and political involvement in these issues.


Law and Politics Courses

POLI SCI 331-0 Politics of the Supreme Court
Operation of appellate courts, with emphasis on the United States Supreme Court. Decision making by appellate courts and the development of public policy. Prerequisite: 220 or 230.

POLI SCI 332-0 Constitutional Law I
Introduction to interpretation of the US Constitution by the Supreme Court. Judicial review, federalism, congressional and executive authority, separation of powers. Taught with LEGAL ST 332; students may not receive credit for both courses. Prerequisite: POLI SCI 220 or 230.

POLI SCI 333-0 Constitutional Law II: Civil and Political Rights
Consideration of US Supreme Court decisions dealing with civil and political rights, including equality, freedom of speech and religion, and criminal procedures. Taught with LEGAL ST 333; students may not receive credit for both courses. Prerequisite: POLI SCI 220 or 230.

POLI SCI 343-0 Politics of International Law
A non-utopian political science analysis of how law is used to promote collective goals and regulate international relations


International Relations Courses

POLI SCI 340-0 International Relations Theory
Conceptual approaches to international relations, including “national interest,” sovereignty, international norms and law, and rationality. Prerequisite: 240 or consent of instructor.

POLI SCI 341-0 International Political Economy
Introduction to the politics of international economic relations. Roots and evolution of the international political economy. Fundamental controversies about international trade, finance, and development. Prerequisite: 240 or consent of instructor.

POLI SCI 342-0 International Organizations
Examination of institutions that arise from and govern the interactions of states, including formal organizations such as the WTO, UN, ICJ, and ICC, and informal norms such as international intervention, international criminal law, and sovereignty. Prerequisite: 240 or consent of instructor.

POLI SCI 343-0 Politics of International Law
A non-utopian political science analysis of how law is used to promote collective goals and regulate international relations.

POLI SCI 344-0 U.S. Foreign Policy
How US foreign policy is formulated, executed, legitimated, and contested. Topics include 9/11 and its aftermath, covert action, interventionism, trade, US respect for international norms, and US engagement with the Middle East.

POLI SCI 345-0 National Security
Basic issues in national security, focusing primarily on the United States. Topics include the nature of “national interest,” major actors in national security policy making and military strategy, and the influence and role of the defense establishment.

POLI SCI 346-0 The European Union
An introduction to the institutions and policies of the European Union today.

POLI SCI 347-0 Ethics in International Relations
Role of ethical considerations in international relations: where and when ethical questions are raised and by whom; causes and predictability of tensions between the ethics and self interests of nations and political figures.

POLI SCI 348-0 Globalization
Analysis of changes in the world economy and their implications for politics, economics, and society. Politics of multinational production, finance, and trade in the context of governance problems in a globalizing world. Prerequisite: 240 or equivalent.

POLI SCI 349-0 International Environmental Politics
International cooperation and conflict resolution of global and transnational environmental problems such as climate change. Role of political, economic, and normative considerations in the formation of politically feasible solutions to international environmental problems.

POLI SCI 378-0 America and the World
Analysis of key debates and developments in the history and politics of American foreign relations. Domestic politics and foreign policy, political culture, interventionism, legal globalization, international institutions.


Comparative Politics Courses

POLI SCI 259-0 Contemporary African Politics
A survey of Africa’s diverse political systems, focusing on the development of democratic political systems since the 1990s. How the rule of law has become the norm in several important countries. Causes of political instability and violence in other countries; African and international responses to these problems.

POLI SCI 350-0 Social Movements
Theory and case studies examining the processes shaping collective challenges to authority. Topics include causes and mechanics of mobilization, the contexts in which movements emerge, repression and violence, strategies, and determinants of movement outcomes.

POLI SCI 351-0 Politics of the Middle East
Survey of politics of the Middle East and North Africa from World War I until the present. Topics include state building, authoritarianism, political economy, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the causes, trajectories, and aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings.

POLI SCI 353-0 Politics of Latin America
Patterns of socioeconomic development and regime forms in Latin America. Interaction of internal and international economic and political structures and processes.

POLI SCI 354-0 Politics of Southeast Asia
Political economy of selected Southeast Asian countries, 1945 to present. Important themes include colonial influence, oligarchy, democratization, and human rights. Background in comparative politics or political economy is recommended.

POLI SCI 355-0 Politics of China
Chinese politics since 1949, with a focus on social issues and state-society relations since 1989.  Provides the non-specialist a basic foundation and prepares the intended China specialist for advanced study.

POLI SCI 356-0 United States & Latin America
Interactions between US foreign policy and Latin American politics. The evolving importance of Latin America in US geostrategic objectives since the beginning of the 20th century. How the projection of US power and influence shapes the domestic politics of selected countries

POLI SCI 357-0 Politics of Post-Colonial States
Examines East Asia as a site for studying various concepts in comparative politics: war, revolution, imperialism, modernization, dependency, development, authoritarianism, party politics, and democratization

POLI SCI 357-SA Political Economy of Israel
Examines influence of demographics, political factors, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict on development, evolution of economic policy, and implications for government spending, public health, and socio-economy. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Israel program.

POLI SCI 358-SA Contemporary South Africa: A Political Economy/Policy Perspective
Analysis of the political outcomes of South Africa’s transition to democracy, democratic consolidation, the state of South African political economy, and major policy issues, such as gender equality and HIV/AIDS. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s South Africa program.

POLI SCI 359-0 Politics of Africa
Political structures and relation of cultural factors to political stability and change; development of modern political systems.

POLI SCI 361-0 Democratic Transitions
Theories of the emergence and breakdown of democracy with a focus on cases from Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

POLI SCI 362-0 Politics of Western Europe
Impact of historical development on contemporary institutions, political and political-economic institutions, interest groups and parties, policy making, and social and economic policy.

POLI SCI 368-0 Political Economy of Development
Major analytical perspectives of modern political economy seen through concrete problems of development and underdevelopment in the least developed countries.

POLI SCI 369-0 Politics of Post-Soviet Russia
Analysis of Russia’s political and economic revolutions after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Examines key concepts in comparative politics, such as revolution, regime change, market formation, nationalism, and state building.

POLI SCI 370-0 The Fate of the State in a Globalizing World
Role states play in world politics and implications for world politics. Origins of the state system and contemporary challenges, such as failed states, terrorism, transnational social movements, human rights norms, and humanitarian intervention.

POLI SCI 372-0 The Middle East in International Politics
International history and politics of the Arab states, Israel, Iran, and Turkey. Colonialism and nationalism, political Islam and secularism, the Iranian Revolution, the Gulf War of 1991, the US-led occupation of Iraq, relations between Turkey and the European Union. Recommended but not required: 240.

POLI SCI 374-0 Politics of Capitalism
The effects of politics on the economy and the economy on politics. Focus is on advanced industrial economies. Topics include the welfare state, varieties of capitalism, and neoliberalism.

POLI SCI 375-0 Comparative Politics of Business-Government Relations
Relations between business and government in a variety of economic, social, and political contexts. Patterns of influence in both business and government. Theories of business influence in politics, such as pluralism, corporatism, collective action, and instrumental and structural Marxism.

POLI SCI 376-0 Civil Wars
Focus on post–Cold War increase in civil wars, including causes and consequences of internal wars, and theories of conflict. Examines recent and contemporary civil wars to illustrate applications of theories and to better understand current events.

POLI SCI 377-0 Drugs and Politics
Analysis of the links between illegal drugs and politics, from the politics of local communities to international public policy. Regional focus on North, Central, and South America.

POLI SCI 373-0 Chinese Foreign Policy
This course discusses the basic dynamics of Chinese foreign policy. Policy toward a variety of countries and regions and on a variety of issues will be covered with a focus on the post-revolution era.

POLI SCI 380-0 Refugee Crises and Human Rights
Analysis of the development of international human rights, comparative state and regional approaches, as a response to forced migration due to war, conflict and generalized violence. Humanitarian intervention, international law, and policy issues such as gender based violence, migrants at sea and human trafficking.


Courses taught in the Paris European Union Program

POLI SCI 363-SA Political Economy of the European Union
The political production, structure, and regulation of economic activity in the EU. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Paris program.

POLI SCI 364-SA France and the European Union
Introduction to French politics in the framework of European integration. Covers French efforts to promote integration and France’s role in the international system and adaptation to the EU. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Paris program.

POLI SCI 365-SA Decision Making in the European Union
Analysis, by lecture and simulation, of the EU’s complicated institutional structure for political decision making. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Paris program.

POLI SCI 366-SA Dynamics of Law Making in the European Union
Examination of the dynamics of law making in the EU and conflict/balance between domestic and regional law. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Paris program.


Special topics and capstone seminars

POLI SCI 390-0 Special Topics in Political Science
Designed for investigation of topics of interest to students and faculty that are not covered by other course offerings. May be repeated for credit with consent of department. No prerequisites.

POLI SCI 394-0 Professional Linkage Seminar
Varying in topic, these courses are taught by practioners in areas of their personal expertise.

POLI SCI 395-0 Political Research Seminar (max 15)
Required of all political science majors; ordinarily taken during junior year or in fall quarter of senior year. With consent of the department, students may receive full credit for more than 1 395 seminar provided that 399 and 395 courses together do not exceed a total of 4 course credits.

POLI SCI 398-1,2 Honors Thesis Seminar
Two consecutive quarters (fall and winter) during which students work on their senior theses. Prerequisite: 395 and admission to the honors program.

POLI SCI 399-0 Independent Study
Study and research projects carried out under faculty supervision. A written proposal, signed by the professor with whom the student will study, should be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies. Consent of department required.


Graduate Courses

Rising Seniors: If you think you’re prepared to take a graduate-level Political Science course, you can ask the instructor for permission to enroll.

Please refer to the Yearly Course Planner or the quarterly Class Schedule for a list of current graduate courses.  Course descriptions are available to view on Caesar.