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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Political Science (PL SC)

PL SC 010 (GS) Scientific Study of Politics (3) This course introduces students to both the scientific study of politics and the way that study advances our understanding of political actors, events, processes, and institutions.

PL SC 010 Scientific Study of Politics (3)
(GS)

This course introduces students to both the scientific study of politics, and the way that study advances our understanding of political actors, events, processes, and institutions. It provides information about the elements of scientific reasoning, and introduces systematic approaches to studying politics through the lens of important puzzles and questions about international relations, comparative politics, and American politics. Students learn about relevant data sources, as well as how to interpret data appearing in graphs and tables. The course consists of three parts. The first part of the course offers an overview of the elements of scientific inquiry including causal explanation, empirical verification, theories and hypotheses, and dependent and independent variables. The second part of the course examines dominant approaches to studying politics including experiments, observational methods such as surveys and elite interviewing, formal models, archival research, and computational methods including text analysis. Each approach will be presented using a similar format. Students will be introduced to the approach through a combination of lectures and assigned readings. They will then look at and learn about data sources suited to and consider questions or puzzles that can be addressed by each approach.Careers that make use of the analytic skills associated with each approach also will be discussed. The final part of the course considers the benefits of scientific approaches over less systematic analysis and the challenges inherent in trying to explain complex political behavior, institutions, and events. By the end of the course, students will understand what it means to “do” political science: i.e., to ask questions about political phenomena, form theories related to those questions, collect data, pick an approach to analyze the data, and draw inferences from the analysis.


General Education: GS
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2015

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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