What is Political Science? The Study of Political Theories, Institutions and Actors

Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

The purpose of the remedial course for MA students is to serve as an introduction to key concepts, theories, institutions and actors, as well as research methods of political science. It is a remedial course that aims at providing foundations to regular classes for students coming from fields different than political science.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course focuses on the key aspects of studying political science. It aims at reviewing some important theoretical controversies present in the academic literature, introducing key aspects of the present-day discipline. Topics include political theory and history, ideologies, the state and civil society, different forms of governance, political movements, and domestic and international politics as well as main approaches to the study of political science. While the content of this course is about politics, more importantly it is a means toward helping the following, more important, ends:

  •  Ability to understand both theoretical and empirical texts of political science using basic tenets of the discipline.
  •  Learning how to think about and reflect upon important political ideas and events with a critical eye;
  •  Developing the skills that allow you to effectively express your views and opinions in writing on a series of political subjects, and;
  • Providing you with the opportunity to speak about important political issues in an informed manner, and engage others in public discussion.

The topics will be explored both by lectures and seminars discussing the mandatory readings of the week. We will combine readings, lectures, and class discussions. Students’ active participation in the course is a requirement. The lectures will touch on the readings, but they will not always use the required reading materials. In order to facilitate a dynamic classroom, students should have finished the reading prior to class.



1) You are expected to be actively present at all lectures and seminars. More than two unexcused absences will have consequences on the final grade. During the seminars you are expected to reflect critically on the mandatory readings and the topics covered. The central consideration in evaluating your contributions will be their quality, and not their length or frequency. Questions stimulating interaction during the lectures will be positively evaluated.

2) Each student will have to do one 15 minutes presentation on the assigned mandatory readings. Each presentation needs to be accompanied by a 1-page handout. Structure, content, and function of this handout will be discussed in the beginning of the course.

3) In the lasts weeks of the course, you will have to choose a topic on which you will write a final paper and make a workshop presentation during weeks 9-11. You will have to submit your draft paper before your presentation. We will discuss the papers one by one. All participants in a workshop will have to send their comments and questions about all research papers – except their own – before the day when we discuss the given proposal. More details will be discussed in class.

4) Each of you will have to submit a short research paper at the end of the semester, in which you address a typical study on a topic of your choice using the insights on methods and theories commonly used in political science.

(1) In-class activity: 15%
(2) Presentation: 20%
(3) Hand-out 5%
(4) Workshop comments: 15%
(5) Draft Research paper: 20%
(6) Final Research paper: 25%

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