Stephen F. Austin State University

Course Descriptions

Courses in Political Science (PSC)

Unless otherwise indicated, courses are 3 semester hours credit, 3 hours lecture per week.

Students must successfully complete six semester hours of introductory political science courses (PCS 141, 142, or equivalent) before enrolling in advanced political science courses.

141. Introduction to American Government: Theory and Politics (GOV 2301)
Origins and development of American and Texas government systems; federalism; civil liberties and civil rights; and interest groups, political parties and elections. This course meets the legislative requirements for a course on the constitutions of the United States and Texas.

142. Introduction to American Government: Structure and Functions (GOV 2302)
Legislative, executive and judicial functions in American and Texas governments; public policy areas such as finance, social services and foreign policy; Texas local and county governments.

200. Introduction to Politics
Overview of the study of politics, including the basic theories and approaches of political science and topics of political thought. This course introduces students to a variety of methods and perspectives for understanding and evaluating contemporary politics in historical and intellectual contexts. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

211. Introduction to Pre-Law
Familiarizes students with Pre-Law topics such as legal career paths, law school admissions statistics, employment opportunities, tuition costs, areas of specialty, and what skills to acquire to be successful in law school. Students will learn to distinguish different types of laws: the U.S. Constitution, federal & stat law, case law, statues, regulations, and treaties. Focuses on legal skill building: basic legal research, writing, how to brief a case (IRAC method). Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

240. World Politics: Power & Money
This course introduces students to basic concepts of international and comparative politics including the state, markets, institutions, power, democracy, and collective action. The course incorporates current global issues in the context of these basic concepts. Additionally, the course will examine these concepts with regard to select country profiles based on current global issues.

301. Judicial Process
Analysis of law and the legal system; legal training, the bar and legal occupations; the jury system; criminal and civil procedures. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

303. Political Science Methods
Introduction to research methods in political science emphasizing research design and quantitative/qualitative methods of analysis. Required for all political science majors and second majors. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

304. Major Foreign Governments
Latin America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa - Government and politics of the principal countries of each area. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

305. Appellate Advocacy
Introduction to appellate courts and the appellate process with a focus on practical knowledge and skills such as persuasive writing and client advocacy. This course emphasizes appellate level research, writing, oral advocacy, and the finer points of courtroom procedure and decorum. Students are required to participate in moot court activities. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142. May be repeated once for a total of six semester hour credits.

308. Contemporary Political Thought
Contemporary political thought since 1900. The course may include critiques and analyses of ideological movements and totalitarian politics; postmodern political thought and the "politics of difference"; and contemporary liberalism, communitarianism, libertarianism and multiculturalism. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

313. Politics in Texas
Systematic and intensive study of the politics and government of Texas. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

314. Law and Politics
Judicial behavior, judicial activism and restraint roles, judicial selection, the politics of law, and the nature and functions of Federal court structures with emphasis upon the U.S. Supreme Court. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

316. Legal Research
This course is designed to introduce student to the types of legal reasoning used by lawyers and judges. It focuses on the necessary skills to use legal resources and legal reasoning in your academic work, including reading and understanding cases and statutes, doing legal research and writing legal memoranda, and applying existing law to the issue at hand. Students will be familiarized with primary and secondary legal sources. Course instruction is designed to enhance reasoning and advocacy skills. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

332. International Politics
Forces and forms of international politics. Restraints on the struggle for power, balance of power, morality, law. Problems of world stability, peaceful change, international interdependence, global governance, structure and dilemmas of the international political economy, nature and influence of non-state and transnational actors. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

333. International Political Economy
A survey of the analyses of the relationship between economics and politics in the formation of states' economic policies and in international economic relations. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

334. International Human Rights
Studies the sources of human rights and the evolution of an international human rights norm. Investigates the struggle between international human rights and state sovereignty, the question of universalism versus cultural relativism, and the motivations for state-sponsored torture and its effectiveness. Analyzes first-hand accounts of torture. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

335. Classical Political Thought
Development and analysis of classical political thought from the pre-Socratic period through the Middle Ages. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

336. Modern Political Thought
Development and analysis of political thought from Machiavelli through the present. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

337. Theories of Democracy
An examination and comparison and contrast of the varieties of democratic theory, including those based in liberalism and civic republicanism. Traces the development of those theories over time with emphasis on recent variations such as libertarianism and deliberative democracy. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

338. American Foreign Policy
Analysis of the formulation and control of United States foreign policy and the origin and content of contemporary policies; formulation and application of theories of U.S. foreign policy. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

339. The European Union
An overview of the forces that shape the creation of the European Union and the ongoing process of European integration. The course includes a survey of the institutional arrangements, decision-making processes, and polices of the European Union.

397. Topics in International and Comparative Politics
Analysis of selected topics in international politics. May be repeated one time with different topic for a total of six semester credit hours. Prerequisite: PSC 141 and 142.

398H. Honors Reading and Research
Two to six semester hours. Program of reading and research for individual instruction of the honors student. Amount of credit determined by the scope of the program. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

399. Topics in American Politics
Analysis of selected topics in American politics. May be repeated one time with different topic for a total of six-semester hours credit. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

403. American Constitutional Law I
A study of the constitutional sources of power & restraint for the federal government as well as the American federal constitutional provisions concerning the organization of government and the powers, rights, duties and responsibilities of both the government and individual citizen. Major Supreme Court cases will be analyzed and critiqued. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

404. American Constitutional Law II
This course explores the constitutional roots of civil rights and civil liberties, and the major political controversies and legal developments in the United States. This is done through an analysis of the case law on the constitutional guarantees of personal and social freedoms derived from the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment. Topics to be covered include: the role of the judiciary in protecting rights, methods of constitutional interpretation, incorporation, the right to bear arms, economic liberty, abortion and privacy rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, the death penalty, and equal protection before the law. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

411. Political Media Research
An analysis of the development of mass media and its interaction, influence, and impact on politics and the political process. The course will emphasize research methods and statistical analyses utilized by political science majors/minors. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

412. Public Opinion & American Democracy
A study of the origins, measurement and impact of public opinion in the practice of American democracy. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

413. Campaigns and Elections
Examination of the behavior of candidates, campaigns and voters in the electoral process. Topics: the role of the media, the impact of money, the operation of political campaigns and the effect of campaign laws. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

415. Law & Society
This course examines the theory and practice of legal institutions in performing several major functions: allocating authority, defining relationships, resolving conflict, adapting to social change, and fostering social solidarity. In examining these functions, the course will also assess how the values, concept, and principles and theory of law embodied in legal institutions inform, advance or retard social change. Toward these ends the nature and limits of law, alternative perspectives on law, and alternative ways of structuring legal processes will also be considered.

416. Law & Ethics
This course examines the principal theories and controversies in law and ethics. It focuses on the key concepts in law-justice, rights, duties, obligations, responsibilities, punishment, protection and empowerment-at the ethical foundations of the legal system. It evaluates the main philosophical theories of ethics and law, probes central moral and legal issues and controversies, examines the practical application of such theories and issues, and analyses critically the interrelationship between ethics and law. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

433. American Political Thought
Development of American political ideologies. Ideas of leading American political thinkers and movements from colonial times to the present. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

441. International Law
Nature, sources and application of the law of nations. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

442. Readings in Public Law
Readings from the literature that exemplify the social scientific study of the state and federal courts, judicial selection, judicial behavior, criminal and civil procedure, the politics of law, the actors in the court system, the legal profession, and the nature and functions of law.

447. The U.S. Congress
Structure, powers, organization, political control and procedures of Congress. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

448. The American Presidency
Development, power, organization and influence of the presidency. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142.

475. Special Problems
One to three semester hours. Credit determined by the amount and difficulty of the project undertaken. Individual research for advanced political science students. Prerequisites: PSC 141, 142 and six semester hours of upper-level political science; consent of the instructor and department chair; Junior standing.

476. Special Problems
One to three semester hours. Credit determined by the amount and difficulty of the project undertaken. Individual research for advanced political science students. Prerequisites: PSC 141 and 142, six semester hours of upper-level political science, plus PSC 475; consent of the instructor and department chair; Junior standing.

490. Senior Seminar
Three hours of course credit; seminar format. A capstone course to refine research and writing skills of majors in their final year of study by providing an opportunity to draw together concepts from previous coursework. Topics vary by semester. Prerequisites: PSC 303, plus nine additional hours of upper level (300-400) political science coursework. Senior standing.

498. Intern Seminar
Familiarizes students with policy processes through exposure to participants ranging from interest group representatives to bureaucratic leaders to elected decision makers. This course is open only to students who are participating in the department's organized, supervised, semester-long internship program. Prerequisites: PSC 141, 142; advanced standing and permission of instructor.

499. Internship in Political Science
Supervised work with governmental bodies to gain field experience that augments classroom training; one to six semester hours credit. Prerequisites: PSC 141, PSC 142, junior standing, and nine hours of advanced (300 level and above) PSC courses; and approval of the supervising faculty member and department chair.