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Political Science


Following is a comprehensive list of courses offered by the Department of Political Science. Please check the SCHEDULE OF CLASSES for a listing of the courses offered this semester.



Core Political Science Courses

The following courses are required for Political Science majors. Although the department does not have prerequisites for its upper-level courses, we recommend that majors enroll in the core courses in each subfield before taking the high-level ones (for example, taking PSC 12400 Political Ideas and Issues before taking PSC 27400 Modern Political Thought.)
PSC 10100: United States Politics and Government
An analysis of processes, values and problems of American government and democracy. Special emphasis is given to national political institutions and issues. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 10101: American Government and Politics
For students enrolled in the Freshman Honors Program. This course covers more intensively and more comprehensively the subject matter of PSC 10100. The student is expected to read several additional books, prepare papers, and participate actively in class discussions. 3 hr./wk.; 4 cr.
PSC 10400: Introduction to World Politics
Major patterns of contemporary world politics and the basic analytic tools for examining them that have been developed by scholars of comparative politics and international relations. The course will examine competing ideologies and systems of governance, patterns of international conflict and cooperation, and causes of the rise, fall and transformation of systems of world politics. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 12400: Political Ideas and Issues
The relevance of political theory in the examination and solution of current political controversies. The course will cover such themes as justice, legitimacy, civil liberties, civil disobedience, the nature of man, society and the state. Focus will be on great writings in political thought from all periods. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.

Core Courses for Public Policy and Legal Studies Minors

The following courses are required for the minor degrees in Public Policy and Legal Studies. 
PSC 12500: Introduction to Public Policy
Contemporary public policy. How policy issues are formulated, resolved and evaluated. The major techniques of policy analysis and public affairs research, with emphasis on the social and political contexts of policy problems. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr. (NOTE: Required only for Public Policy minor. Not required for political science major.)
PSC 12600: Introduction to the Legal Process
The basic institutions, procedures and theory of the administration of justice. Students examine typical proceedings, civil and criminal, and the operation of administrative as well as judicial tribunals. The legal process in relation to the American political system. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr. (NOTE: Required only for Legal Studies minor. Not required for political science major.)


Elective Political Science Courses

I. United States Politics

PSC 20700: The Politics of Criminal and Civil Justice
The uses and limitations of law as a vehicle for achieving and securing a just political and social order. Special attention to the persistence of discrimination and inequality in the establishment and operation of legal systems. 
PSC 20800: American Political Thought 
The origins and development of American political thought from the Puritan times to the end of the Civil War. The course will include study of basic themes in American thought: the scope and bounds of legitimate government power, majority rule and minority rights, federalism and centralization, participatory democracy, checks and balances, religious freedom and separation of church and state. Also counts as a political theory and philosophy course.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 21000: Urban Politics
The politics and policy problems of urban areas throughout the United States. Emphasis on both the central cities and their suburbs, as well as their relationships to state governments and national institutions.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 21200: Constitutional Law
Survey of the historical and political role of the Supreme Court, focusing on leading decisions. These deal with central problems of judicial review and democracy, the federal system, and the scope and limits of congressional and presidential power.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 21300: Civil Liberties
The conflicts between majority rule and minority rights in leading Supreme Court decisions. Major attention to the more recent decisions concerning freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other civil liberties, as well as social legislation and regulation of business..  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 21600: Political Parties and Interest Groups
Interest groups and pressure politics. The rise of new groups in the political process. The nature and functions of parties under the American system of government; major and minor parties; party finance and political machines; national campaign issues and techniques.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 21700: Mass Media and Politics
The political questions raised by the growth, methods and technology of the mass media. Includes exploration of alternative theories of communication; the development of special media-oriented social roles and events; and the relationship between mass communication, symbolic politics, and political behavior at both the individual and societal level.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22000: The Judiciary
How courts function in the political system. Examination of the motivations of judges, the social and cultural contexts of courtroom behavior, and role of the judiciary in policy-making.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22100: The Congress
An examination of the role of legislative bodies in our political system. Organization, procedures and operations are the focus of the course. Case studies dealing with contemporary policy-making are integrated throughout the semester.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22200: The Presidency
Assessment of the present and possible future role of the American presidency. The development of the office, its relationship to other institutions and politics, and contemporary problems. Topics include the duties of the President as Chief Executive, legislator, shaper of foreign policy, Commander-in-Chief, party leader, and head of state. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22600: Ethnic and Racial Politics in the United States
Detailed examination of cooperation and conflict among various ethnic groups. Particular attention will be paid to such topics as busing, affirmative action, neo-conservative thought, and comparative ethnic issues. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22800: Policy Analysis
Designed to provide practical insights into the use of technical information and technical skills in the legislative and administrative processes of government. Designed especially for students in the School of Engineering and Architecture, this course is open by permission of the instructor to other interested students. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22900: Women and Politics
This course explores the theoretical underpinnings of contemporary feminism and analyzes the changing dimensions of women’s participation in American politics. Electoral, interest group, and elite level political involvement will be discussed and comparisons made with women’s political role in other nations. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 26000: American Constitutional Development
This seminar examines the nature and scope of the powers of the federal judiciary, Congress, the presidency, and the relationship between the federal government and the states. One goal of this seminar is to emphasize that answers to questions about the proper ways in which to organize a political system around even the most fundamental principles -- such as separation of powers, federalism, representative democracy, liberty, equality, and the rule of law -- have changed throughout this country’s history. The modern constitutional regime is, in complex ways, vastly different from what the Framers of the Constitution imagined. These changes raise fascinating questions about methods of constitutional interpretation, as well as judicial and political fidelity to our constitutional regime – all of which will be covered through a review of these historical developments and the leading cases in the constitutional law canon. Open only to students participating in the Skadden, Arps program. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 26100: The Legal Profession
This seminar will explore the legal profession in the United States as it existed in the past and as it exists in the present.  Students will learn about the structure of the profession, different practice areas, and issues regarding women and minorities.  Guest speakers will directly address life as a lawyer in their specific fields.  Students will be assigned 5 papers throughout the semester.  Students are to meet with the seminar’s writing instructor, to develop and write these papers. Open only to students participating in the Skadden, Arps program. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 30800: Jurisprudence
In this seminar, we will address debates about judicial philosophy and legal reasoning, with a special focus on the law/politics distinction.  We will examine scholarship that asks how judges might be constrained in their decision-making – i.e., through precedent, deference to the elected branches, originalism, etc.  As we read work by Dworkin, Scalia, Breyer, critical legal scholars, and others, we will evaluate how the legal interpretation of the common law, statutes, and the Constitution differs from any other type of political decision, and explore what our conclusions imply for the ideology of the rule of law. Open only to students participating in the Skadden, Arps program. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr. 
PSC 30900: Advanced Legal Analysis
This innovative pre-law honors seminar has been designed by the Flom Professor, an experienced law school professor, to introduce Skadden Scholars to the topics and skills that are essential prerequisites for success as a law student:  legal research and writing, case review and outlining, variations on the Socratic method, doctrinal analysis, and the traditional law school exam hypothetical.  To prepare Skadden Scholars for the rigors of the law school curriculum, the seminar reading assignments include the leading law school casebooks for constitutional law (Sullivan & Gunther) and torts (Prosser), as well as supplementary readings on legal analysis and test-taking skills. Open only to students participating in the Skadden, Arps program. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 31450 and 31451: Powell Fellowship Seminar (1 & 2)
During the first semester, students participate in a seminar sequence introducing them to the public policy process. The introductory module on public policy teaches students about the nuts and bolts of the policy making process. In their second semester, students complete a similar module, introducing them to service based modules of social change. The public service module is made up of weekly seminar meetings supplemented by a 25 hours service project, designed to provide students with the opportunity to reflect on and deepen the information they receive in the seminar. In both the first and second semester, seminars are supplemented by regular workshops that build student's soft-skills in networking, public speaking, and resume writing. Prereq.: students must be participants in the Colin Powell Leadership Program. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 31505: The Media's Influence on Public Policy in the U.S.
This course looks at some of the ways the press influences how the American Political system functions, with a special focus on its role and impact in the development of public policy. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 31507: The Politics of Immigration
Provide a comparative overview of immigration as a political, economic, and social issue. It develops cumulative themes which define immigration from several perspectives, and builds to an analysis of policy options in the United States and elsewhere. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 32300: Legislative Internships
Offers students the opportunity to participate in the New York Assembly or Senate Internship Programs, or other legislative internships that combine practical experience and academic training. Credit varies, though typically 12 credits will be awarded for those students who successfully complete the programs offered by the New York State Legislature. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 32400: The Politics of Protest
The emergence, development and ultimate impact of protest movements on politics and policy in American politics. Through an examination of several movements in the United States after World War II, such as the civil rights, women’s and anti-tax movements, the course will focus on three basic sets of questions: under what circumstances do dissident movements emerge? How do dissidents choose political tactics and strategies? And how do movements influence more conventional politics and policy? 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.

II. Comparative Politics and Government

PSC 23000: Contemporary Comparative Politics
The basic problems of comparing different types of political systems and their institutions. Specific examples are taken from American, western European and the Communist experience, as well as from cases drawn from the developing world. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 23100: Political Systems of Europe 
Political processes in European countries viewed in terms of historical influences and contemporary social structure, and in comparison with American experience. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 23500: Introduction to the Politics of Developing Nations
Analysis of theories of development and their application in particular to the nations of the global south, the political, social and economic problems of developing countries, with particular emphasis on public policy choices. International economic influences (problems of foreign aid, trade and investment) as well as domestic influences on policy are discussed. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 23600: Political Systems of Latin American 
Contemporary political systems in selected countries. Emphasis upon the cultural environments, constitutional foundations, and practices, political and administrative patterns, political instability and revolution, the role of the family, church, army, intellectual and caudillo, and the relations of these governments with each other and the world. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 23700: Political Systems in Asia
The political institutions in the Far East and developments in Southeast Asia in the framework of world politics. Analyzes selected problems affecting six major powers: Japan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Communist China and Russia-in-Asia. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 24000: Politics of Southern Africa
A survey of the politics, history, and international relations of the countries at the southern end of the African continent: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Special attention will be paid to South Africa, its relations to its neighbors and the wider world, and problems of revolutionary change.  3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 35500: Environmental Politics: Comparative and Global Perspectives
Examines the rise of environmental consciousness and the key actors and institutions in environmental politics and policymaking at the domestic level. In particular such issues as global warming, ozone depletion, biodiversity, deforestation, and the links between environment and economic development are addressed. Latin America contains much of the planet’s rainforests and biodiversity, hence has a great concern for "green" environmental issues. It is also urbanizing at a rapid rate and must address the "brown" environmental issues associated with rapid city growth and industrialization. Many of the cases read and examples cited during the course are drawn from Latin American context. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.

III. International Relations

PSC 20200: International Political Economy
An examination of the relationship between political and economic systems in selected industrialized and developing countries. Introduction to theories of political economy as they apply at the domestic and international levels. The course is designed to strengthen the students’ theoretical foundation for advanced study of world affairs and to prepare them for courses focusing on particular world problems or areas such as industrialized countries or development in poor countries of the Third World. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 22300: United States Foreign Policy
This course will examine the nature and instruments of American foreign policy with the aim of equipping the student with the tools to make his/her own evaluation. Emphasis will be on the interplay between "ideas" and "reality" in this nation’s approach to the outside world. Current foreign policy issues will be thoroughly examined. Also counts as an International Relations course. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 25200: Theories of International Relations
Analysis of basic theoretical approaches at the individual, state, sub-systemic (regional) and systemic (international) levels. Includes discussion of personality and psychological approaches, decision-making, comparative foreign policy, regional integration, alliances, and the international system. Basic introduction to social science methodology as applied to international relations. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 25300: International Law
Development of the basic principles of international law, including those relating to war and peace. Special attention will be placed on the role of international law in international relations and recent legal problems in international politics: trade, the sea, terrorism, the redefinition of sovereignty, minority and human rights, and international criminal tribunals. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 25400: International Organization
General and regional intergovernmental organizations, with emphasis on purposes, organs, functions and processes of the United Nations; problems of conflict resolution, decolonization, disarmament, social and economic development and the application of international law are discussed. The National Model United Nations Simulation (PSC 25500) may be taken as an adjunct to this course. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 25500: Model United Nations Internship
Simulation of the United Nations in class and at local level, leading to a national exercise, held partly at the U.N., which brings together college students from around the country, from Canada, Puerto Rico and Japan. Should be taken simultaneously with, or after, PSC 25400. Open to other students only by permission of instructor. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 25600: Contemporary World Conflict
The psychological, sociological, cultural, economic and military sources of international conflict. Includes analysis of contemporary regional and global conflicts, and methods of conflict resolution, including negotiation, coercion, diplomacy and war. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 31122: Human Rights
This class examines the development and implementation of human rights norms in the international system. It will explore the debates surrounding the concept of human rights in world politics and investigate legal, political and military efforts to implement these at the national, regional and international levels. Throughout the course we will consider the tension between international human rights and the principle of state sovereignty and whether there is a right and/or obligation for states and international institutions to intervene when human rights are violated. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 31607: Humanitarian Intervention
This course examines the history of mass atrocities, and the ways in which states, international institutions (principally the United Nations), and non-state organizations have responded to them, and the debate over armed humanitarian intervention. It starts with the early 20th century but focuses principally on the mass killings that have occurred since the end of the Cold War. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr. 
PSC 32500: International Security
This course offers an overview of the field of international security. Topics will include traditional threats to international security, such as interstate war, as well as today’s more diverse “garbage bag of threats,” including nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and failed states. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 32600: Nationalism, Identity and Ethnic Conflict
This course offers an overview of the field of international security. Topics will include traditional threats to international security, such as interstate war, as well as today’s more diverse “garbage bag of threats,” including nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and failed states. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.

IV. Political Theory and Philosophy

PSC 21125: Social Contract Theories
The concept of the social contract is one of the most vital ideas of the Enlightenment period that gave rise to the two revolutions that have done the most to shape the modern world:  the American Revolution and the French Revolution.  What does Social Contract theory state?  How does the social contract theory justify political obedience?  On a more contemporary note, is it possible to see the relevance of social contract theory today in a world of political extremism? 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 21304: Reinventing Freedom
Analyzes the major writings of the Enlightenment, the century that has done more than any other to shape the current sense of modernity and freedom, particularly in the American people. In dealing with questions regarding belief and the place of religion in a politically just society; regarding the justification for political obedience and the legitimation of political order; regarding economic justice and how it can be achieved; and regarding the place and possibilities for women in the modern world, students realize that this era marks the reinvention of freedom that has catapulted us into the modern age. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 27300: Classical Political Thought
Ancient writers and the experiences of the ancient city-state will be studied with a view to their influence, validity and contemporary relevance. Readings will include Plato and Aristotle, among others. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 27400: Modern Political Thought: Up to 1848
Will explore some of the political, social and ethical ideas which arose out of the process of modernization as it first occurred in the West. Readings vary from term to term, but include some of the following: Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Diderot, Rousseau, Burke, Paine, Bentham, Hegel, Marx (early writings), Shakespeare, and novelists of the nineteenth century. There will be special emphasis on the Enlightenment and French Revolution. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 27500: Contemporary Political Thought: 1848 to the Present
Issues and ideas discussed will include: alienation, anomie, mass society, eclipse of community, bureaucratization, uses and abuses of technology, totalitarianism, and ambiguities of modernization. Readings may include Marx, Weber, Freud, Kafka, Arendt, Orwell, and other nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 34000: Feminist Political Thought
This course reviews and analyzes key texts of feminist political thought, as well as some of the more traditional text that also consider women's "place" in the political sphere. This study is done against the background of women's attempts throughout history to carve a place for themselves in liberal policies that disregarded women's voices even as they justified their own existences by embracing ideas like "equality" and "human rights" for all human beings. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 37600: Marxism
A study of Karl Marx’s social thought and political activity, and of other radical responses to modern capitalism. We will explore some of the "different roads to socialism" that have emerged in the twentieth century. There will be special emphasis on the contrast between democratic socialism and Leninism. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.

V. General Electives

The following courses count for general Political Science elective credit.
PSC 21002: Politics and Leadership
The dynamics and dilemmas of leadership and power. Various definitions of politics and systems of government will be related to current political controversies. Use of case studies, novels, films, essays, and other materials to illustrate political processes and concepts. Satisfies requirements of discipline-based writing course. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 31113: Argument and Evidence in Political Science
This course focuses on the construction of social science arguments, the joining of theory and literature with hypothesis development, and the joining of hypotheses with methods, data, and interpretation of results. Qualitative and quantitative methods in political science are introduced, and fundamental methodological debates and choices are presented. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
PSC 32701 & 32702: Seminar Internship in Public and International Affairs
This course is part of a City University internship program designed for students interested in the practical aspects of government at city, state and federal levels, as well as in international organizations. 2 hr./wk., plus internship; 4 cr.  
PSC 31000: Independent Readings and Research in Political Science
Designed to meet the special needs of individual students not met by existing courses. Requires approval of Department Chair and availability of an instructor willing to supervise the reading or research program before registering. 1-3 cr./sem.

Honors Program

Political Science majors may pursue an honors degree in the major by applying during the spring semester of their junior year. Admission to the program requires (1) a 3.2 average in courses taken in the Social Sciences and (2) approval by the Department Honors Supervisor. Those accepted into the program must write a senior thesis and enroll in the following courses during their senior year.
30600: Senior Honors Thesis I
First part of the year-long honors thesis course. Students learn to design and conduct their own research in political science in the first half of a two-semester thesis seminar sequence. Honors Thesis I covers key elements of research design such as literature reviews, developing research questions, choosing appropriate methods and data, and writing a proposal. 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
30700: Senior Honors Thesis II 
Upon successful completion of PSC 31548, students continue their original research and present and criticize each other's work in a workshop format. Continual deadlines keep students on track writing a thesis of at least 45 pages. Pre-req: 3.2 or above GPA and successful completion of Honors Thesis I. 3 hr./wk.; 3cr. For further information, consult the supervisor of the Honors Program.


The Political Science Department offers an Internship in Public and International Affairs, as well as information regarding internships in the New York State Assembly and State Senate, unions, environmental groups, and other governmental and non-governmental institutions. For information on available internships consult a Department advisor.
The Department also cooperates with the Rosenberg-Humphrey Program in sponsoring summer internships in Washington, D.C. and the Colin Powell Center Fellows Program.


The following awards are given by the Political Science department. The recipients are nominated by departmental faculty and are chosen by a committee of faculty.
The D’Agostino/Greenberg Scholarship in Law and Public Policy
The Bennett Essay Prize
The Henry Epstein Rule of Law Prize
The Hillman Bishop Award
The Ivo Duchacek Prize
The Kupferman Prize
The Murray A. Gordon Scholarship Award
The Samuel Hendel Award
The Stanley Feingold Prize
The Theodore Leskes Memorial Award
The Ward Medal
The Carl Dunat Prize