Introduction to Political Science

Dr. Jim L. Riley - Prof.

Fall, 2000

Regis University

movworld.gif (72875 bytes)

TuTh 10:50 - 12:05 - ALC #2
Office Hours: MF Variable but Frequent
TuTh 3:00 - 4:00
W 9:30-2:30
Office: CH 241
Office Phone: 458-4974
Web Page:

TEXT: Political Science:  An Introduction (7th ed.)

[Note:  Go here for sample test questions and other valuable information]

Roskin, Cord, Medeiros, Jones

1. USE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF SYLLABUS: This syllabus is a most important guide for your understanding what this course is designed to accomplish and how it is organized to achieve its stated goals. Moreover, specific ground rules, obligations and responsibilities are described below. By careful reading, you should obtain a clear idea of what we will be doing in this class throughout the semester.

    The dates and deadlines contained below will be adhered to, barring unforeseen exigencies requiring modification. A complete semester's assignments is included at the end of this syllabus. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with each day's assignment in accordance with those specifications.

2. COURSE PURPOSE: As the title of the course indicates, the focus of this class shall be upon the subject of politics. Students shall be exposed to a variety of matters pertaining to this discipline, including, but not necessarily limited to, concepts of power, authority, decision-making, methodology, the nation/state system, political ideology along with varieties of governmental and political systems. In its essence, this course is a survey of the discipline called political science.

    At semester's end, it is to be expected that those students who completed the course successfully will have developed not only an enhanced understanding of the phenomenon of politics, but will also be imbued with a desire to know more about this universal human institution.

3. COURSE OBJECTIVES: The specific objective of the course is to achieve knowledge levels within students such that they will be able to perform satisfactorily; or better in the following areas: (1) examinations -- students will be expected to respond accurately and completely to questions covering course material; (2) out-of-class project -- students will be expected to complete an Internet based project exploring aspects of a selected nation-state; and (3) in-class-discussions -- students will be expected to participate frequently and positively in class.

    The quality of work will be judged in accordance with the degree to which the following criteria are present in written work: accuracy of information, critical thought, clarity of message, organizational coherency, use of the intellectual tools presented in the course, technical precision and correctness (especially in the out-of-class project), sharpness of focus, presence of indicators of thoughtful consideration of issues examined, depth of analysis, and creativity.

4. CLASS FORMAT: The size of this class is ideal for making use of the lecture/discussion. All members of the class will be expected to provide frequent in-class verbal contributions. The procedure will normally be one in which the Professor initiates the discussion and/or presentations by directing attention to matters under scrutiny. This may involve something of a brief lecture; or visual presentation, but invariably with the expectation of student questions, observations, comments and criticisms.

    On other occasions, students may be asked to comment on topics covered in their reading and to explain phenomenon studied at some earlier point in the course. As will be seen below, the degree to which students provide positive in-class contributions may play a significant role in grade determination.

    Members of the class are also expected to present a brief presentation describing the fruits of their research into aspects of a selected nation-state.  Details on this presentation will be given below and in class. 

5. NOTE TAKING: In order to achieve a desirable grade in this class (presumably reflecting one's level of achievement), it is necessary to take accurate and complete class notes, text notes, and research notes. Class notes should summarize material presented in class so that you may later recall what was put before you there. Ideally and desirably, these should be in the form of full and complete sentences, organized in outline form (major and minor headings being present).

    Text notes should condense and summarize the material given to you by the author. Research notes serve the purpose of recording that which you have gathered through your out-of-class digging. Generally, the purpose of notes is to store, organize, and make information more readily available so that it can eventually become knowledge. It is utilitarian in nature, that is to say, it is designed to serve some larger purpose. It you find after a few meetings that your notes are not very accurate or helpful in organizing and understanding the material, meet with me at your first opportunity.

    One final point, you should review notes taken at the previous meeting before going to class on any given day. This five or ten minute review will prove valuable in various ways.

6. STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES: Each member of the class is expected to read the assigned material prior to class time. A reading of the material must be accompanied by the taking of written notes on what has been read. These text notes will be supplemented with notes taken in class. Thus, it is necessary that students attend class regularly (see the attached policy regarding class absences).

    Finally, in addition to READING, TAKING NOTES, AND ATTENDING CLASS, students are expected to study and think about the material to which they are exposed. It is also necessary to be prepared to write on and discuss the subject examined. Also, students should keep abreast of events in the United States and the rest of the world that pertain to politics. This means reading a newspaper daily, watching the news on TV (especially the McNeill News Report on PBS TV), listening to NPR (FM radio, 90.1 on the FM radio dial) "All Things Considered"; (3:00 - 6:00 p.m.), 'Morning Edition ' (5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and reading a weekly news magazine such as Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.

    Moreover, each member of the class will be expected to utilize the Internet as a tool for research and information. This will be an integral part of the course.

7. CLASS DECORUM AND ATTENDANCE POLICY: Three unexcused absences are permitted without penalty. "Cuts" beyond this will result in the course grade being lowered by 0.2 points for each day missed beyond the allowable three "cuts". All absences are considered "cuts" unless explicitly excused.

    Once roll is taken students entering the class late will be counted as absent for that day. This policy is instituted to discourage chronic tardiness which has become increasingly prevalent in recent semesters. Moreover, students are expected to remain in the class for the entire duration of the class. If there is a need to leave prior to the end of the class period please have the courtesy to inform me prior to the beginning of the class.

    During class I would like to request that all students, as a matter of courtesy, remove their hats and refrain from eating. Bringing a soft drink or coffee to class is acceptable (although spills are always a potential problem).   Also all pagers and cell phones must be shut off during class.  Lastly, disagreements on the subjects under discussion will not be allowed to devolve into arguments or personal criticisms.

8. EXAMINATIONS: There will be two (2) examinations during the semester and a final examination at the end. Students may bring to the exam five 3" x 5" note cards with anything written on them. Copied material may not be used. The sharing of cards during the exam is prohibited. These cards may be used during the exam.

    Each examination will count for 25% of a student's course grade as will the out-of-class project. It is the policy of this class to permit no make up examinations, with two exceptions: (1) instances where a particular student has a verified medical excuse, and (2) instances of personal emergency requiring a written request for make-up examination. Only in the most pressing of circumstances will a non-medical excuse be accepted, and the likelihood of acceptance is much greater when the request is made prior to the scheduled exam date. Students missing a regularly scheduled examination and not meeting either of the two exceptions will receive a Fail for the course.

If, after the first 3 grades (2 examinations and the out-of-class project) have been obtained, a student has a B average or better, he/she may choose to opt out of the final examination and complete a 3-5 page ungraded written evaluation of the course.  If this option is chosen the average of the 3 grades will constitute the grade for the course (with the possibility of being boosted to the next highest level through positive in-class contributions).

Students should mark their schedules immediately with examination dates (including the final examination) that are set forth in the semester schedule at the end of this syllabus.

9. GRADING POLICY: I shall make every effort to adhere faithfully to the grading standards set forth in the Regis University Bulletin while relying upon my professional judgment to make the necessary applications of these standards. Grades will be determined by student performance, both in and out of class as set forth in the section on examinations. Borderline grades will be decided using class participation as the deciding factor. It should be noted that the examinations (and out-of-class papers) will be graded blindly. Each student will be affix only his/her student identification number to all papers. This will eliminate any personal factors from the grading process.

10. STUDENT-PROFESSOR CONFERENCES: You are invited and encouraged to meet with me at any time that is mutually convenient. My office hours are given above. If these times are not convenient to you, we can easily arrange some other time. Please do not adopt the view that conferences are only for addressing problems. I will be most pleased to chat with you about matters of common interest. Certainly, we should discuss any perceived difficulties you may be having in the course.

    While I will normally be available and in my office during scheduled hours, there may be occasions when exigencies arise requiring me to be elsewhere. Therefore, letting me know in advance that you wish to meet will make certain my being in my office.

11. OUT OF CLASS ASSIGNMENT: Each student is required to complete a research project of approximately 7-10 pages in length (computer printed, double spaced).   This is exclusive of the title page and table of contents.  The project will involve an examination of the constitution of a selected nation-state.  In this paper the following subjects should be covered separately:  (1)  origin of the constitution; (2) nature of the government structure created (i.e., federal or unitary, presidential or parliamentary, nature of election system, etc.); (3)  nature of guaranteed rights/duties of citizens; (4) other significant features found by the student.   It is expected that this research will involve extensive use of the Internet. 

In addition to the body of the paper, there must be a title page, a table of contents, headings within the body of the paper, footnotes or end notes, and a complete bibliography of all sources used.   No less than 4 sources shall be used. The final paper is due in class on November 14.  The final two days of the semester will be devoted to oral reports given by students on the project completed.

Students wishing to have the opportunity to submit a revised and presumably improved version of their graded paper may do so by submitting their initial paper on October 12. A revised version of their paper will then be due on November 14. The revised paper will then be re-evaluated, critiqued and graded. This latter grade will be substituted for the one assigned for the original paper. This re-submission is an option and not a requirement but is available only to those who meet the October 12. deadline. Late papers will be heavily penalized as will papers with technical errors, superficial and/or careless summaries and analyses.

12. PROCEDURAL QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: Any papers produced out-of-class as part of an assignment will be heavily penalized if certain error characteristics are present. As a general rule, technical errors (i.e. typographical mistakes, misspellings, sloppy erasures, sentence fragments, etc.) totaling in number an amount greater than the number of pages in the paper, will result in grade penalties that become more severe as their frequency increases. Moreover, papers which deviate significantly from acceptable form (i.e., incorrect or missing footnotes, incorrect or missing bibliography, incorrect or missing table of contents, etc.) will likewise be penalized. Proper form may be gleaned from a careful review and use of Kate Turabian's A Manual For Writers of Term Papers, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, or other commonly used form guide. Information on citing Internet sources may be gleaned from my webpage.

13. CONTENT QUALITY REQUIREMENTS: This out-of-class project must contain information that indicates thoughtful consideration of the subject under examination. Well organized structure, focused discussion, clarity of message and reasoned evaluations will all enhance the paper's value.

14. USE OF THE APPENDICES AND CHAPTER ADDENDA: The Key Terms at the end of each chapter is a most valuable aid in assisting learning and understanding of the material. Use it as each chapter is read. The Key Web Sites and recommended readings at the end of each chapter are also very useful, particularly in locating pertinent information.

15. USE OF THE INTERNET: You are expected to use the Internet and especially the World Wide Web (WWW) to locate and access material suitable for the out-of-class assignment. A useful place to start is my web-page. It contains numerous links to useful web sites of a political nature. I also encourage you to locate any new web sites that other students of politics might find helpful and interesting. When appropriate I will add them to my web page with proper acknowledgment to the student who found it/them.

    Each student shall establish an Internet account and have a valid e-mail address. I will collect these addresses on September 5 and periodically send information by e-mail to each member of the class. Thus, students are expected to check their e-mail every day.   I check my mail several times a day and will quickly respond to each note I receive.


Date, Subject & Reading Assignment

8/29  Course Introduction (no reading assignment)

8/31  The Bases of Politics and Their Study (Ch. 1)

9/5  Political Theories (Ch. 2)

9/7  Nations, States and Governments (Ch. 3)

9/12  Individuals and  Constitutions (Ch. 4)

9/14  Democracy, Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism (Ch. 5)

9/19  Political Ideologies (Ch. 6)

9/21  No Class (Mass of Holy Spirit)

9/26 Political Culture (Ch. 7)

9/28  Examination #1

10/3  Public Opinion (Ch. 8)

10/5  Media (Ch. 9)

10/10  Interest Groups (Ch. 10)

10/12  Political Parties (Ch. 11)

10/17  Voting (Ch. 12)

10/19  Government Structures (Ch. 13)

10/31  Examination #2

11/2 & 11/7  Legislatures and Executives (Ch. 14 & 15)

11/7  Bureaucracies (Ch. 16)

Election Issues

11/9  Legal Systems (Ch. 17)

11/14  Political Economy (Ch. 18)

11/16  No Class

11/21  Violence and Revolution (Ch. 19)

11/28 International Relations (Ch. 20)

11/30  Global Politics (Ch. 21)

12/5 & 12/7  Students Reports

12/12  Examination #3 (8:00-9:50 a.m.)