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Political Science Course Descriptions

For a printable course list, click here.

All courses are one course unit unless otherwise specified. 

American Politics

POL 110/American Government
Examines the strengths and weaknesses, problems and promise of representative democracy in the United States. Surveys the relationships of citizens to Congress, the president and the courts through political parties, elections, interest groups, and the media. Considers the constitutional framework of government and the rights of the individual against governmental intrusion.

POL 207/Citizen Democracy
Practical experience in, and study of, local political processes from the viewpoint of citizen activism. A project-driven course where students work with community organizations to research important issues of public policy, study the practical workings of real political processes, and evaluate the relationship of public officials to their constituents.

POL 215/Gender and Politics
The role of gender in politics is examined in a lecture/discussion format. Topics include research on gender, differences and similarities in political socialization and electoral behavior, gender-related issues in public policy, the role of gender in the decision making of public officials, and the relationship between theories of gender and the actual practice of politics.

POL 218/Race and American Democracy
Race and American Democracy examines African Americans’ enduring struggle for racial equality. From the movement to end slavery through today’s Black Lives Matter movement, the thought and activism of African Americans has challenged the dominant norms and institutions of political life. By engaging primary texts and documentary films, this course considers the resources Black politics offers for reimagining American democracy.

POL 220/Judicial Politics & Process
This class is intended for students who are interested in law and politics and serves as a foundational course to prepare students for upper-division political science law classes. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to types and foundations of U.S. law and the organization and jurisdiction of US courts in the federal system, with an in-depth focus on understanding the Supreme Court of the United States. The course is intended to give students a broad understanding of the U.S. judiciary, as well as specific training in reading and briefing cases. The class will also explore how politics and non-judicial actors impact judicial processes.

POL 300/Politics and Public Management
An examination of the field of public administration focusing on the external and internal factors that shape the performance of public agencies, the interaction of public agencies and their leaders with the presidency, Congress and the courts, and the administrative skills public administrators need to manage a public organization.

POL 305/American Public Policy
An examination of the policy-making process, the important domestic policies that have resulted, and the evaluation of these policies. The primary focus of the course will be on the substantive issues of contemporary public policy in such areas as the environment, health care, welfare, the economy, crime, and education.

POL 307/Environmental Policy
With a focus on environmental issues, the course offers analytical tools and case studies to understand the making of public policy. The course consists of four sections: tools of environmental analysis, the dynamics of environmental policymaking in the United States; some comparisons to other countries; and global environmental policies.

POL 311/The Presidency and Congress
Problems of the modern American presidency and of the U.S. Congress, with an emphasis upon interrelationships and consequences for the national policy-making process.

POL 315/Political Parties, Interest Groups, and the Media
An examination of the role of political parties, interest groups, and the media as intermediaries between citizens and formal governmental institutions. The course will focus on the role of parties, interest groups, and the media in leadership recruitment, issue formulation, and public policy making.

POL 316/Public Opinion, Voting, and Elections
A study of the origins, content, and impact of citizen attitudes on the U.S. political system. Particular attention will be given to the impact of public opinion, along with other factors, on voting and elections.

POL 318/Politics of Community Change
Covers the impetus and implications — geographically, socially, demographically, economically, and politically — of dynamics of change at the neighborhood through metropolitan scales. Draws on literature and discussion, fieldwork, public data tools, mapping, and project analysis to examine forces of change, including urbanization, suburbanization, residential segregation, gentrification, immigration, climate change, and redevelopment. Pertinent for students interested in urban society, public policy, local governance, and urban and regional planning.

POL 320/Law and Society
An examination of what law is, the sources of law, and the impact of law on society and the individual. Examines internal aspects of the legal system, such as legal reasoning and the structure of the legal profession, as well as external factors such as the economic system and social structure, in order to illustrate the dynamic relationship between law and the society in which it exists.

POL 321/Constitutional Law I: Institutions and Powers
An analysis of how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, focusing on the issues of how much power the U.S. Congress, president and courts should have and how the U.S. government should interrelate with the state governments.

POL 322/Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights and Liberties
An analysis of how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, focusing on the rights of the individual, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right of privacy, due process of law, and equal protection of the laws.

POL 324/Moot Court
The purpose of this course is to prepare for and engage in simulated oral argument before a simulated Supreme Court of the United States.  The class will use the competition case prepared annually by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA). Ultimately, teams will compete in a regional moot court tournament sponsored by the ACMA, and ideally, in the national tournament sponsored by the same organization.  The course may be repeated for credit but may be counted only twice toward the Political Science major. The goal is for each student to present a cogent argument of approximately 10 minutes for each side in the hypothetical legal dispute that is the basis for the course.  In order to do this, each student must analyze the precedent cases for his/her issue and develop arguments based on them.  Learning outcomes for the course included improvements in critical thinking, communication skills, active learning to promote public service and professional preparation.

POL 328/State and Local Government in New Jersey
This course provides an analysis of the institutions, the political processes, and the resultant policies of state and local government in New Jersey. Particular attention is given to the structure of state, county, and local government, related political organizations, the nature of politics in New Jersey, and the impact of the state’s cultural, economic, political, and social characteristics on political decision-making and public policy at the state and local level.


International Politics

POL 130/International Relations (formerly POL 230)
An examination of contemporary patterns of international interaction and their historic roots with attention to competing theoretical perspectives. Topics studied include foreign policy, international law and organization, and international political economy.

POL 330/US Foreign Policy
Examines the formulation and execution of American foreign policy in the context of American politics and of the United States’ historic role in the world; some themes considered include the domestic sources of foreign policy and the conditions under which the United States uses force abroad.

POL 333/Vietnam and America
Examines the origins and nature of the American role in the Vietnam conflict, 1946-1975, and the effects of that conflict on American politics, society, and foreign policy. Includes discussion of the relevance of the Vietnam War to more recent U.S. conflicts.

POL 335/International Organization
Nature, structure, and functioning of international organizations, with a focus on the United Nations system, as a means to maintain international peace and security, and promote international and social cooperation.

POL 337/International Law
International legal principles concerning international legal personality, jurisdiction over persons and places, diplomatic and consular relations, treaties, war, and relations at sea and in space.

POL 345/Human Rights in International Relations (same as INT 300)
Examines the evolution of human rights movements since World War II and their influence on the behavior of nation-states and other transnational actors. Includes discussion of human rights in American foreign policy, and the role of non-state actors such as intergovernmental institutions, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organizations, selected regional and current topics such as: women’s rights, terrorism, self-determination, globalization, and humanitarian intervention.

POL 355/Political Economy of Natural Resources (same as INT 355)
This course is designed to give advanced undergraduates an introduction to scholarship on the politics of natural resources use. It combines theoretical material with study of a wide range of detailed cases—cases that vary by the type of natural resource (minerals, water, forests), by the geographical (and to some degree, historical) setting, and by the level of analysis (local, national, and international). Though the course is focused on political questions, it draws on scholarship from economics, history, and geography.

POL 380/International Political Economy (same as ECO 380)
A study of the politics of international economic relations. Economic theories of international trade and finance are presented in the context of their political origins and implications. Includes a review of primary analytical perspectives, historical developments, and major contemporary institutions and processes bearing on the politics of international economics.


Comparative Politics

POL 150/Introduction to Comparative Politics
Introduces students to some of the most important concepts, themes and approaches in the comparative study of politics. Comparative Politics is the study of the domestic or internal politics of particular countries. By comparing the processes, institutions and other political phenomena of one country in relation to others, those engaged in the study of comparative politics isolate the primary causes and consequences of these political phenomena and are thus able to create and test theories of politics around the world.

POL 250/Politics and Society in Developing Countries
Examines political trends, patterns, and variations in the developing world, drawing examples from countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Primary questions include colonialism’s impact the future political, economic and social development, strong versus weak states and regimes, and role of identity politics in these countries. The latter part of the course examines politics in four specific countries: Brazil, India, Nigeria and South Korea.

POL 350/Politics in Europe
Examines government, politics, and society in the major European nations including but not necessarily limited to the United Kingdom, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany.

POL 351/ Politics of the European Union
This course explores the historical foundations, consequences, and scope of European political and economic integration since 1948. We will examine the historical trajectory that the European Union has followed over the past 70 years, how national political considerations have shaped the direction and pace of European integration, the variety of policies that the EU implements, and some of the ways that the EU has impacted the policies and economies of its member states. We will also consider the challenges faced by the European Union: the dilemmas generated by the single currency, the ongoing refugee crisis, and the potential fragmentation of the Union.

POL 352/Comparative Political Economy of Development
An examination, within the framework of the comparative political economy of development literature, of a sample of developing countries and their efforts to develop economically and politically.

POL 353/East Asian Politics
This course investigates topics such as political history, regime change, economic growth strategies, and security concerns among Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, South Korea, and North Korea.

POL 357/Middle East Politics
An examination of the politics of Middle Eastern and North African states from a comparative historical perspective. The principal focus is on the challenges and constraints that Middle Eastern societies have faced in their efforts to create modern nation-states. Topics include imperialist intervention in the region, post-Colonial state-building experiences, and the role of Islam in domestic politics.

POL 358/Latin American Politics
An examination of the contemporary political, economic, and social structures of Latin American countries through a comparative-historical lens. Emphasis is on transformative shifts from state-led economies to free-market (and perhaps back again), from military authoritarian governments to democracies, and from a focus on class identities to a greater role for racial and ethnic identities in politics.

POL 361/The Middle East Through Literature and Film
In this seminar, students are exposed to Middle Eastern society and politics through cultural production — literature (in translation) and film — from the region, supplemented by social scientific writings. Organized around several topical themes, the course addresses Middle Eastern perspectives on critical issues that impact their lives – such as authoritarian governance, gender relations, conflict and war – and as they are treated in literary, mediatic and academic works. The aim is to enrich students’ knowledge and sensitivity while developing a critical lens regarding how we understand other cultures and societies.

POL 362/Islam and Politics
This course introduces students to the Islamic faith, and to Islam’s impact on politics and society historically, but especially in the contemporary period. We study its teachings related to such topics as political authority, distributive justice, the position of women, and defense of the Muslim community. With a focus on the period since the creation of modern states, we explore issues regarding Islam in governance and forms of Islamic activism.


Political Theory

POL 275/Western Political Philosophy
Selected political questions that have intrigued Western society from time immemorial and theoretical solutions presented by some of the great political philosophers from classical Greece to the modern era.

POL 365/Origins of the U.S. Constitution (same as HIS 366)
An examination of the political theories, people, social and economic forces, events, and political context that influenced the framing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

POL 372/History of American Political Ideas
Follows the evolution of ideas of major American political theorists and politicians, concerning the individual, community, and world, to develop a framework for evaluating contemporary political thought and practice.


Special Courses

POL 170/Topics in Political Science
Current or specialized topic proposed by faculty or students and approved by the department. Open to and appropriate for first-year students. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

POL 200/Political Analysis
The course familiarizes students with the basic statistical, conceptual, and technical skills needed for research in political science. Topics include research design, hypothesis testing, statistical methodology common in the social sciences, and practical experience examining and analyzing quantitative data. This course provides students hands-on training with Stata, a commonly used statistical software package. Should normally be completed by the end of sophomore year prior to taking POL 390.

POL 270/Topics in Political Science
Current or specialized topic proposed by faculty or students and approved by the department. Designed for Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. May be taken for credit several times if content differs each time.

POL 370/Topics in Political Science
Current or specialized topics proposed by faculty or students and approved by the department. May be taken for credit several times if content differs each time.

POL 390/Tutorial in Political Science
Prerequisite: Junior status; POL 200 or ECO 231 or SOC 302; completion of WRI 102 if required.
An intensive study under close faculty supervision of a particular topic or problem in political science through extensive reading by the student and the submission of both oral and written reports to the tutor. Emphasis on the development of the student’s depth of knowledge and understanding of scholarly issues through a close professional relationship between tutor and student.

POL 391/Independent Study in Political Science (variable course units)
Prerequisite: Student proposals must be approved by the Political Science Department prior to registration
Independent reading or research pursued under supervision of a department advisor; project proposals may be presented by upper-level students who have completed two units of 300 and 400 level political science courses.

POL 395/Group Research in Political Science
Prerequisites: POL 200 and permission of the Instructor.
Students conduct research under faculty supervision as part of a faculty research project. The professor determines topic, problem, research design and relevant sources. Students unearth and analyze primary and secondary sources and report on findings orally and in writing.

POL 399/Internship in Public Affairs (variable course units)
Prerequisite: Permission of internship supervisor.
This course provides an opportunity for students to integrate theory with practical work experience in public affairs under the supervision of a field supervisor and a faculty coordinator. Work settings include but are not limited to the Governor’s Office, legislative offices, state departments, lobbying firms, trade or union organizations, political campaigns and parties, and non-profit organizations. The College has cooperative arrangements with programs in Washington, D.C.

POL 401/TCNJ Washington Internship (1-2 course units) 
(2 units in fall and spring; one unit in summer)
Prerequisites: Sophomore, junior, or senior status, 3 units in Political Science, and a 3.0 GPA.
A 32-35 hour a week internship with a congressional office, government agency, foundation, interest group, or other organization in Washington D.C. that is available as part of the TCNJ Washington Semester Program. Placement is arranged through The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Taken with POL 402 and POL 403 and earns TCNJ resident credit.

POL 402/TCNJ Washington Coursework
(fall, spring, or summer)
Prerequisites: Sophomore, junior, or senior status, 3 units in Political Science, and 3.0 GPA.
A traditional academic course selected from a range of offerings provided as part of the TCNJ Washington Semester Program and though The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Topics relate to the internship placement. Taken with POL 401 and POL 403 and earns TCNJ resident credit.

POL 403/TCNJ Washington Leadership Seminar (fall, spring, and summer)
Taken as an ungraded course
Prerequisites: Sophomore, junior, or senior status, 3 units in Political Science, and 3.0 GPA.
Provides professional and career development activities organized as part of the TCNJ Washington Semester Program by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. Includes the production of a portfolio that documents this work and participation in additional enrichment activities (speaker series, community service, etc.) Taken with POL 401 and POL 402 and earns TCNJ resident credit.

POL 496/Honors Thesis in Political Science 
Prerequisite: Political Science major, senior status, completion of POL 390, with 3.5 overall GPA and 3.5 GPA in major
Research and writing of a senior thesis for students accepted into the departmental honors program. Application is made during the junior year. Oral presentation is made to an appropriate audience.

POL 498/Seminar in Political Science 
Prerequisite: Senior status, POL 390.
Advanced study through individual research and formal seminar reports on topics of special interest to seminar participants. May be repeated for credit.