Political Science

  • Department Information

    Political Science

    Jennifer Erkulwater, Chair
    Professors Dagger, Erkulwater, Joireman, Kandeh, Legro, Mayes, Palazzolo
    Associate Professors Bowie, Cherry, Datta, Long, Lopez-Guerra, McGowen, Pribble, Roof, Simon, Simpson, Sznajder Lee
    Assistant Professor Chen

  • Major

    The Political Science Major

    Note: The grade point average of the coursework in political science comprising the major, must be 2.00 or above with no course grade below C- (1.7).

    10 units, including:

    PLSC 220 Introduction to American Government

    Two courses, chosen from:

    PLSC 240 Introduction to Comparative Politics

    PLSC 250 Introduction to International Relations

    PLSC 260 Introduction to Public Policy

    PLSC 270 Social Science Inquiry

    One unit, chosen from:

    PLSC 311 Classical Political Thought

    PLSC 312 Modern Political Theory

    PLSC 315 American Political Theory

    PLSC 400 Senior Seminar

    Four elective units at the 300 level.

    Note:

    The major must include a minimum of six units of University of Richmond political science courses. No more than two units of credit toward the major can be given for courses, including cross-listed courses, offered by other departments or schools at the University.

    With Department approval (by the Chair), students may transfer credit for up to three courses that count toward the Political Science major.

    Study abroad and internships also are encouraged. Students who have an interest in attending law school should consult with the pre-law advisor; students interested in attending graduate school should consult with the department chair about undergraduate courses that they should consider taking.

  • Honors

    Honors Program

    The political science honors program recognizes the most distinguished majors, who complete an advanced course of study, culminating in an honor's thesis. In order to be eligible, students must have completed 22 units of course work overall and at least six units in political science (including Social Science Inquiry) by end of junior year, with an overall and political science grade point average of 3.7 or above, and must be recommended by at least one full-time member of the Department of Political Science. Accepted honors students complete four units of designated honors coursework, including 11 units of political science courses. Honors course work may include honors seminars, standard elective courses with special work above and beyond the norm, or honors independent study courses, though at least two units must be from honors independent study (PLSC 491 and PLSC 492) devoted to proposing, researching, and writing an honors thesis in the senior year. A prospectus for the honors thesis topic must be approved before the end of the second semester junior year, at which time the candidate must identify a thesis advisor and a second reader. The thesis will fulfill the senior capstone requirement for the major; honors students are exempt from taking PLSC 400. Honors students must successfully defend their thesis before a committee of at least two readers, including the thesis advisor, and present their research at the School of Arts & Sciences Student Symposium in April of the senior year.

Courses

Expand All
  • PLSC 220 Introduction to American Government

    Units: 1

    Description

    Basic roles, structures, and functions of American political institutions and introduction to American political process.

  • PLSC 240 Introduction to Comparative Politics

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)

    Description

    Concepts, approaches, classifications, and models useful in comparing political structures and processes. Political systems characteristic of countries with different cultures and levels of economic development.

  • PLSC 250 Introduction to International Relations

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)

    Description

    Framework for analyzing contemporary international system: goals of nation-states and other actors; how such actors attempt to achieve their goals; and some forces that help or hinder attainment of goals.

  • PLSC 260 Introduction to Public Policy

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)

    Description

    Contemporary social and economic problems in America, public policies adopted or proposed to deal with them, and ways of analyzing those problems and policies.

  • PLSC 270 Social Science Inquiry

    Units: 1

    Description

    Introduction to the process of social science research and inquiry. Includes instruction on forming a research question, preparing a literature review, developing a research design, and undertaking analysis using selected quantitative or qualitative empirical analytical tools.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220, 240, 250, or 260

  • PLSC 279 Special Topics

    Units: 1

    Description

    May be repeated for credit when topic varies.

    Prerequisites

    Varies depending on topic.

  • PLSC 290 Mock Trial

    Units: .5

    Description

    Designed for those students who choose to participate in intercollegiate mock trial activities. Graded pass/fail. One half unit per semester may be earned, but no more than 1 unit will be awarded. Units do not count toward completion of the major.

    Prerequisites

    Spring sections will require departmental approval.

  • PLSC 310 Statesmanship

    Units: 1

    Description

    (See Leadership Studies 378.)

  • PLSC 311 Classical Political Thought

    Units: 1

    Description

    Enduring basic issues in political theory studied through writings of Plato, Aristotle, and other thinkers from ancient Greece through the Renaissance.

  • PLSC 312 Modern Political Theory

    Units: 1

    Description

    Ideas of major political philosophers from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Hegel, Marx, Tocqueville, and J. S. Mill.

  • PLSC 315 American Political Theory

    Units: 1

    Description

    Political thought in America from colonial times to present with an emphasis on issues relating to liberty, equality, federalism, community, and national purpose.

  • PLSC 323 Money, Politics and Prisons

    Units: 1

    Description

    The connections between the economy, politics, and the prison system in the United States are important for understanding concepts of justice in a democracy. Explores links between privatization of prisons, political incentives, and theories of justice.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220.

  • PLSC 325 Racial Politics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Comparative examination of the history, problems and political role of minority groups in the U.S., with a concentration on the African-American political experience.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220.

  • PLSC 326 United States Congress

    Units: 1

    Description

    Organization and functions of American Congress.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 327 The American Presidency

    Units: 1

    Description

    Political leadership in American political system from perspective of chief executive. Particular attention to expansion and use of presidential power.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 328 American Political Parties

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examines American political parties as organizations and their role in elections, government, and public policy. Also explores how parties have changed over time and the causes and effects of growing party polarization.

    Prerequisites

    PLSC 220 or PLSC 260

  • PLSC 329 Campaigns and Elections

    Units: 1

    Description

    Analysis of institutions and process of American electoral system and behavior of American electorate.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 331 Constitutional Law

    Units: 1

    Description

    Role of United States Supreme Court in American politics studied through examination of landmark constitutional decisions pertaining to distribution of governmental powers.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or Political Science 260 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 333 Civil Rights/Liberties

    Units: 1

    Description

    Analysis of contemporary legal status and interpretation of constitutional rights and liberties. Emphasis on landmark Supreme Court decisions involving various provisions of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or Political Science 260 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 337 The American Legal System
  • PLSC 339 Jurisprudence in Contemporary American Politics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Explores basic questions about the nature and function of law as an instrument of state power that are deeply interconnected with a wide range of political and legal problems.

  • PLSC 341 Humanitarian Interventions

    Units: 1

    Description

    Addresses the changing international legal framework regarding humanitarian interventions. Surveys the literature addressing the effectiveness of external Interventions. Discussion of the justifications and consequences of intervention. Application to contemporary conflicts. Reviews changing ideas of sovereignty and the ramifications of state decisions to intervene in the internal affairs of other states.

    Prerequisites

    PLSC 240 or 250 or GS 290.

  • PLSC 343 Politics of Asia

    Units: 1

    Description

    Study of historical, cultural, and social forces shaping contemporary politics of Asia. Comparative survey of major political systems and critical examination of key issues. Attempts to link Asian studies with mainstream political science.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 240 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 344 Europe Today

    Units: 1

    Description

    An examination of political, social, and economic developments in Europe (both western and east-central) since World War II. Topics include European integration and the development of the European Union institutions, postcommunist transitions and their consequences, and the domestic politics of selected European states.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 240 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 345 Politics of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

    Units: 1

    Description

    Study of contemporary political history of China; analysis of political systems of the People's Republic of China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the Republic of China on Taiwan; and discussion of key political, economic, and military issues.

  • PLSC 346 Politics of Cultural Pluralism

    Units: 1

    Description

    Comparative examination of politicization of race, ethnicity, religion, and caste in contemporary world.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220, 240, or 250 or Global Studies 290 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 347 Politics of Developing Nations

    Units: 1

    Description

    Comparative analysis of political, social, and economic development or modernization of nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Topics include influence of ideology, revolution and reform, national integration, neo-imperialism and dependency, and economic growth and equality.

    Prerequisites

    PLSC 240 or 250.

  • PLSC 348 Politics of Africa

    Units: 1

    Description

    Comparative study of state formation, nation-building, political economy, social structure/movements, selected regions and countries in Africa.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 240 or 250 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 349 Politics of Latin America and the Caribbean

    Units: 1

    Description

    Influence of historical, social, and cultural forces on contemporary politics of Latin America and the Caribbean. Effects of social structure and underdevelopment on processes of democratization, institution building, national integration, and economic development. Case studies of selected countries illustrate major themes and issues explored.

  • PLSC 350 American Foreign Policy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Analyzes the traditions, processes, substance, and goals of American foreign policy, in addition to exploring national security and defense policy, foreign economic policy, international diplomacy, and foreign policy ethics.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or 250 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 351 Globalization

    Units: 1

    Description

    Analysis of the political, economic, and socio-cultural dimensions of globalization. Considers how globalization has affected the nation state, interstate relations, and the democratization and development of countries around the world. Students will evaluate different definitions of globalization; analyze to what extent globalization limits the autonomy of national governments; and consider whether the effects of globalization vary across different regions of the world.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 240 or 250 or Global Studies 210.

  • PLSC 353 International Security

    Units: 1

    Description

    Investigates international issues that threaten the security and prosperity of societies and individuals in the modern world. Issues include global terrorism, human slavery and trafficking, genocide, civil wars and insurgencies, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 250 or Military Science 205

  • PLSC 355 International Relations of the Middle East

    Units: 1

    Description

    The international relations of southwest Asia and northeast Africa with an emphasis on issues related to war, peace, and power, including the role of European empires and the United States in the formation of the regional nation-state system; contemporary conflicts in the Persian Gulf and Israeli-Arab arenas; the political economy of oil; terrorist attacks and counter-terror strategies; and American foreign policy toward the region.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 250.

  • PLSC 356 International Political Economy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Politics, processes, and institutions underlying contemporary global economic interdependence, with special focus on international trade, finance, and assistance; alternative theoretical models for understanding these events, processes, and institutions.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 250 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 357 International Relations of East Asia

    Units: 1

    Description

    Study of interactions among the major powers in the Asia-Pacific region during and after the Cold War. Examines crucial country cases and thematic issues (with focus on identity, security, and economic interdependence) by drawing perspectives from dominant international relations theories (e.g., realism, neorealism, liberal-idealism, liberal institutionalism, Marxism, and constructivism).

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 240 or 250.

  • PLSC 359 Global Governance

    Units: 1

    Description

    Analyzes themes and selected topics in global governance. It explores how state and nonstate actors work together to confront and solve contemporary transnational challenges.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 250

  • PLSC 360 International Development Policy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Assistance policies of wealthy nations and multilateral organizations, development policies and problems of poor or underdeveloped nations, and dynamics of economic, political, environmental, and cultural transactions.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 250 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 361 The Politics of Social Welfare

    Units: 1

    Description

    Study of the development and effectiveness of programs in the United States that seek to promote economic equality and alleviate need. A focus on programs for both the poor and the middle class.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220, 260, or Sociology 101 or permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 362 Environmental Law and Policy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examines legal aspects, both regulations and case law, of environmental policy. Central issues are whether legal responses (1) effectively address the needs of the parties most affected; (2) properly weigh such facts as economic efficiency, protection of nonhuman species, and the possibility of unintended consequences; and (3) are diluted by the political process. (Same as Environmental Studies 362.)

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 260 or Environmental Studies 201.

  • PLSC 365 U.S. Healthcare Policy and Politics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examination of political and economic evolution of the American healthcare system: doctors, hospitals, managed care, Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, public health, epidemiology, mental health, pediatric health, tort reform, and psychopharmacology, among other topics. Includes comparative analysis of other countries' healthcare systems.

  • PLSC 366 Poverty and Political Voice

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examines how well our nation┬┐s antipoverty policies alleviate the hardships faced by residents of these communities and assesses the ability of the poor to mobilize for effective social change in their communities. Includes a required community-based learning component.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 or 260 or Sociology 101

  • PLSC 379 Selected Topics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examples include comparative public-policy, constitutional politics, political terrorism, and public policy decision making. May be repeated for credit when topic varies.

  • PLSC 388 Individual Internship

    Units: .5-1

    Description

    No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of department chair.

  • PLSC 390 Independent Study

    Units: .5-1

    Prerequisites

    Permission of department chair.

  • PLSC 395 Legislative Internship

    Units: 2

    Description

    Combines weekly seminar on the state legislative process with work as assistant to a state legislator, government agency, interest group, or press during session of the Virginia General Assembly.

    Prerequisites

    Political Science 220 and permission of instructor.

  • PLSC 400 Senior Seminar

    Units: 1

    Description

    Reading and research focusing on important topics in political science. Both topics and instructors change from semester to semester.

    Prerequisites

    Senior status and completion of seven units in political science, including 270

  • PLSC 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

    Units: 0

    Description

    Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.

    Prerequisites

    Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor

  • PLSC 491 Honors Independent Research and Writing

    Units: 1

    Description

    Reading and research toward an honors thesis.

    Prerequisites

    PLSC 270 and acceptance in departmental Honors program.

  • PLSC 492 Honors Independent Research and Writing

    Units: 1

    Description

    Reading and research toward an honors thesis.

    Prerequisites

    PLSC 270 and acceptance in departmental Honors program.