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Courses

Students choose the University of Richmond for its small class sizes and active intellectual community, so do the professors who choose to work there. Professors in the Department of Political Science are no exception.  They are dedicated to engaging their students in the critical, systematic, theoretical and empirical study of government and power in their comparative and historical contexts. Consistent with the goals of the liberal arts education, students are urged to develop their written and oral communication skills, leadership in addressing social and political issues, the ability to apply their knowledge and skills to a wide variety of areas and a commitment to the values and beliefs at the foundation of a democratic society.

To that end, the department offers challenging courses designed to foster interaction among students and between students and faculty. Completing internships, independent study and research projects encourages intellectual discovery. And by cooperating with several multi- and interdisciplinary programs throughout the School of Arts & Sciences, the department facilitates integrative learning.

Registration Guide

The 2017-2018 registration guide contains information on next semester's courses as well as general advising tips.

The major must include a minimum of six units of political science courses taken at the University of Richmond. 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. Students who enrolled in the University in 2014 or before can apply one course from the department's list of approved outside courses towards their political science major. Please contact the department for the list of approved courses.

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, academic advisor, or a faculty member in their area of interest about undergraduate courses that they should consider taking.

Courses
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
Critically analyzes the political philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke. Emphasis will be placed on those aspects of their philosophy that are still relevant to contemporary political thought and action. There will be a test on each theorist, and students will be required to write two papers, each summarizing and criticizing one or more aspects of a person's theory, and a final paper on a basic issue addressed by most of the theorists.

PLSC 312 Modern Political Theory
Units: 1
Description
Critically analyzes the political philosophy of Rousseau, Burke, Tocqueville, Mill, Hobhouse, and one recent thinker. Emphasis will be placed on those aspects of their philosophy that are still relevant to contemporary political issues. There will be a short test on each theorist. Students will also be required to write two papers, one will analyze and criticize a particular person's theory. The other, written at the end of the semester, will state and defend a position on a major issue addressed throughout the course.

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 316 Reason, Rhetoric and Leadership
Units: 1
Description
(See Leadership Studies 379.)

PLSC 321 Interest Groups and Social Movements
Units: 1
Description
A broad look at the role of social movements and interest groups in American politics and political science. Examines the place of interest groups in democratic theory, how groups and social movements are started and maintained, and their roles in politics including their impact on elections and the public policy-making process. Looks at a number of organized interests including the civil rights movement, organized labor, business, and Christian conservatives.
Prerequisites
Political Science 220.

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 330 Creation of the American Republic
Units: 1
Description
(See Leadership Studies 308.)

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 336 American Constitutional History
Units: 1
Description
Background, adoption, and development of the Constitution, with emphasis on role of Supreme Court and judicial review in American history and on changing interpretations of key provisions in the Constitution.
Prerequisites
Political Science 220.

PLSC 337 The American Legal System
Units: 1
Description
Analysis of structure, processes, and personnel of American legal system. Emphasis on decision making of private parties, judges, juries, and attorneys in context of civil litigation and criminal prosecution.
Prerequisites
Political Science 220 or Political Science 260 or permission of instructor.

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 IS 290.

PLSC 342 Transitions from Communism in Europe and Eurasia
Units: 1
Description
An overview of developments in the postcommunist region while focusing on the politics of simultaneous triple transition from communist rule: political, economic, and social. Pays particular attention to the determinants of diverse trajectories followed by countries in the postcommunist world as it examines new EU member states, Russia, and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Prerequisites
Political Science 240 or permission of instructor.

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 International 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 International Studies 210.

PLSC 352 International Law and Organization
Units: 1
Description
Development, processes and functions of contemporary international law and organization. Emphasis on conflict management, promotion of economic and social welfare, and development of community.
Prerequisites
Political Science 250 or permission of instructor.

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 363 Global Health, Infectious Disease, and Human Rights
Units: 1
Description
Examines what makes us sick, what keeps us healthy, and what it would take to give good health the upper hand in developing countries. Over the past 150 years, major breakthroughs in public health have enabled humans to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. The benefits of public health have yet to be extended to many of the poorest nations. In the past two decades, infectious diseases that had nearly been conquered have come surging back, while devastating new diseases have emerged.

PLSC 364 Child Health and Policy
Units: 1
Description
Integrates the study of child health in the United States, focusing on three different policy "worlds" that affect children's well-being┬┐education, physical health, and mental health. Examination of public policies intended to safeguard children's health, educational opportunities, general welfare in the U.S., and judgement of their effectiveness. Emphasis will be placed on dilemmas inherent in policy issues, the political and organizational processes used to influence policy, the process of policy formulation, and the use of frameworks for analyzing public policies aimed at children.
Prerequisites
(PSYC 100 and PSYC 200) or PLSC 260

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.
Students planning to enroll in an internship through the Department of Political Science are required to complete the internship contract and return it to the department office.
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.