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Bryan · Social Sciences · Government - GOVT

Intro to Political Science

  • Fall 2016
  • Section SECTION_335 CRN-10222
  • 3 Credits
  • 08/29/2016 to 12/15/2016
  • Modified 10/16/2016

Meeting Times

MW: 2:50 - 4:05 pm

Academic Room 124

Contact Information

Email: [email protected]

Office: Academic 208

Office Hours:

  • Thursday 9:00 – 11:00 am
  • Wednesday 10:00 – 11:00 am
  • Or by appointment (please contact me)


Government 2304 is an introductory survey of the discipline of political science focusing on the scope and methods of the field, the substantive topics of the discipline including the theoretical foundations of politics, political interaction, political institutions, and how political systems function. 48 contact hours. Credit: Three semester hours.


Students must be college ready according to Texas Success Initiatives Standards (TSI). Please see the Catalog section under Texas Success Initiative.

Core Curriculum Statement

This course is not a core curriculum course.


  1. Demonstrate a working knowledge of political terms and concepts.
  2. Define political science and identify the subfields.
  3. Compare and contrast different political systems and institutions. 
  4. Identify the methods used to study politics.
  5. Critically interpret and analyze contemporary political issues.


Shively, W. Phillips. Power & Choice: An Introduction to Political Science. Fourteenth Edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2013.

Course Requirements


Students are expected to complete the assigned readings prior to class sessions. Lectures will supplement the readings, but will not cover everything you are expected to read.


Participation is 10% of your final grade. Regular and punctual attendance is an integral part of the learning process, for you and your classmates.  Attendance is expected and required per the Blinn attendance policy. Excused absences will not count against your participation grade, but please see the Blinn Attendance Policy in this syllabus.

You will receive two forms from me throughout semester, which evaluate your participation. You will receive the first evaluation in the middle of the semester and the second evaluation toward the end of the semester. Please see the participation rubric provided on our course eCampus page to see how you will be evaluated.


There will be 2 major exams and 1 comprehensive final exam.  The major exams will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions.  The major exams are not cumulative, though new material will build on previous instruction.  Each major exam is 15% of your final grade and the comprehensive final exam is 20% of your final grade.

Group Exercises

You will be asked to apply your knowledge of the concepts to four group exercises and each exercise is worth 2% of your final grade. These group exercises will take place in class.

If you have an excused absence on the day of a group exercise, you can schedule a make-up assignment with me. You MUST contact me about make-ups; I will not contact you if you miss a group exercise.

Syllabus Quiz

Your first assignment is a syllabus quiz, which ensures that you have read and understand the components of this document. It is worth 2% of your final grade and must be completed using eCampus.

Writing Assignments

You will have two writing assignments in this course, each accounting for 15% of your final grade. The first writing assignment will ask you to evaluate a newspaper article’s use of political science research studies and findings to support their argument(s). The paper should be approximately 2 pages long, double-spaced, with 12-point font and 1-inch margins. The second writing assignment will ask you to summarize and analyze a scholarly article in political science. You will choose one article from a list of five articles that I will provide to you. The paper should be approximately 3 pages long, double-spaced, with 12-point font and 1-inch margins. More detailed information on these writing assignments will be provided to you as the semester goes on.

I will accept a hard copy or an electronic copy submitted through ecampus using the dropbox for that particular writing assignment.  EMAILED COPIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Assignments are considered late if they are turned in after the first 5 minutes of class.  

**Please see course policies below for my policy on late assignments and plagiarism/academic dishonesty.




Grade Breakdown:

Exam 1


Exam total: 50%

Exam 2


Final Exam


Group exercise 1


Group exercise and syllabus quiz total: 10%

Group exercise 2


Group exercise 3


Group exercise 4


Syllabus Quiz


Writing Assignment 1


Writing assignment total: 30%

Writing Assignment 2


Participation assessment 1


Participation total: 10%

Participation assessment 2



Grading Scale

A = 90%-100%
B = 80%-89%
C = 70%-79%
D = 60%-69%
F = 59% and below

Blinn College Policies

All policies, guidelines, and procedures in the Blinn College Catalog, Blinn College Board Policies, and the Blinn College Administrative Procedures Manual are applicable to this course.

Notice of any action taken under these protocol and procedures, by Blinn College or its employees, may be delivered by hand, through the U.S. Postal Service, or electronically to the student’s BlinnBuc e-mail account. Notice shall be deemed received upon actual receipt, on deposit in the U.S. Mail, or upon entering the information processing system used by Blinn College for BlinnBuc e-mail accounts, whichever first occurs.

Civility Statement

Blinn College holds all members of the college community, which includes students, faculty, and staff accountable for their actions and words. Therefore, all members should commit themselves to behave in a manner that respects and demonstrates concern for the dignity, rights, and freedoms of others, including respect for the physical and intellectual property of all members of the college community.

Civility Notification Statement. If a student is asked to leave the classroom because of uncivil behavior, the student may not return to that class until he or she arranges a conference with the instructor; it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for this conference within two school days of being notified of the suspension from class. This statement reflects step one of three possible steps in the incivility process.  The Incivility Protocol is detailed in the Blinn College Catalog and in Blinn College Board Policy FLB (LOCAL).

Attendance Policy

Class attendance is essential for student success; therefore, students are required to promptly and regularly attend all classes. A record of attendance is maintained from the first day of classes and/or the first day the student’s name appears on the roster through final examinations. Students who accrue one week’s worth of absences during the semester will be sent an e-mail through their Buc account requiring them to contact their instructor and immediately schedule a conference to discuss their attendance issues. Students who accumulate two weeks’ worth of unexcused absences, may be administratively withdrawn from class. There are four forms of excused absences recognized by the institution:

  1. Observance of religious holy days - Students should notify their instructor(s) no later than the 15th day of the semester concerning the specific date(s) for absences for any religious holy day(s);
  2. Representing the College District at an official institutional function;
  3. Dual credit students representing the high school or independent school district at an official institutional function; and
  4. Military service.

Other circumstances may be considered an excused absence at the discretion of the faculty member with appropriate documentation. College District-mandated attendance policy applies to all coursework; including coursework in developmental/ non-credit courses. Failure to attend developmental classes will also result in removal from the course as defined by the College District.

     It is the student’s responsibility to officially drop a class he or she is no longer attending. Students interested in dropping a course or withdrawing from school may do so by logging into myBlinn and clicking on the “My Records” tab, clicking on “add or drop classes” under registration tools, and  then selecting the current registration term and “webdrop” from the action drop down menu. The final step is scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking submit. Students should contact Enrollment Services at 979-830-4800 for assistance with webdrop or to drop due to: severe illness, care for a sick, injured, or needy person, death of a close relative/relation, military duty, military duty of a close relative/relation, or change in work schedule. The last day to drop a class with a Q is set according to the Academic Calendar.

Scholastic Integrity

The Scholastic Integrity Policy is located in the Blinn College Catalog, in Blinn College Board Policy FLDB (LOCAL), and the Blinn College Administrative Procedures Manual. A student accused of scholastic dishonesty is entitled to due process as outlined in these documents.

It is the responsibility of students and faculty members to maintain scholastic integrity at the College District by refusing to tolerate any form of scholastic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, or any other act of dishonesty.  If there is compelling evidence that a student is involved in cheating or plagiarism, the instructor will address the infraction.

Final Grade Appeal

If a student wishes to appeal a final course grade, the guidelines and timeline for a three-step appeal process are detailed in the Blinn College Catalog, in Blinn College Board Policy FLDB (LOCAL), and the Blinn College Administrative Procedures Manual.

Students with Disabilities

Non-Discrimination Statement

Blinn College does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in the recruitment and admission of students, the recruitment and employment of faculty and staff, or the operation of any of its programs and activities, as specified by applicable federal laws and regulations. The designated coordinator for Blinn College’s compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) is Patricia E. Moran, M.Ed., 902 College Avenue, Brenham, TX 77833, (979) 830-4157. Students should make arrangements for disability service directly with each campus on which they attend classes. Students enrolled on the Brenham, Schulenburg, and Sealy campuses should contact (979) 830-4157 for more information. Students on the Bryan Campus should contact (979) 209-7264.

Services for Students with Documented Disabilities

Students with documented disabilities must self-identify and provide current, appropriate documentation of the disability to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) prior to receiving services. Students are encouraged to contact this office as early as possible to initiate services. Direct services to students with disabilities are provided in the following areas:

  • Assessment of needs and appropriate services
  • Provision of classroom and testing accommodations
  • Assistance in orientation and registration procedures
  • Counseling on disability related issues

Information, education, referrals, and consultation about specific disabilities are available to interested parties on request. For answers to specific questions or to request an information packet, contact the Office of Disability Services on the specific campus you will be attending.

Bryan Campus: (979) 209-7251; Brenham, Sealy, Schulenburg Campuses: (979) 830-4157

Course Policies

Drop Date:  November 18th is the last day to drop with a "Q"

Late Assignment Policy: Assignments should be typed using 12 point font. Assignments must be turned in to me no later than 5 minutes after the start of class. Late assignments will be accepted with point deductions. Assignments turned in late on the day the assignment is due will have 5 points deducted from the final score.  Each day after the due date another 5-point deduction will be taken from the final score.

Absences and Make-up Policy: When possible, please contact me prior to class if you know you will be absent.  Blinn College excused absences are outlined above under "Attendance Policy." Please read the "Attendance Policy" above in detail! Other absences not outlined in the Blinn Attendance Policy may be excused at my discretion, which means it is your responsibility to contact me and provide documentation. It is also your responsibility to contact me regarding the scheduling of make-up exams and quizzes. 

Any student caught forging documents in an attempt to get an excused absence will lose all attendance points and the incident will be reported to the Scholastic Dishonesty board.

Academic Dishonesty: No form of academic dishonesty will be tolerated. I take this matter very seriously. This includes, but is NOT limited to, copying any portion of another’s assignments, copying portions of books or websites without proper citation in your writing assignments, or in any other way claiming another’s work as your own. Any incidents of any type of academic dishonesty will result in a student receiving an F for the assignment/exam/quiz in question. Further sanctions may be warranted.

In-class computer use: It is up to you as to whether you will bring a laptop to class to take notes, but all computer activity must be class-related.  I will ask you to cease any activity that is not class-related as it is distracting to others and myself.

Office hours: If my office hours conflict with your schedule you can always schedule a different time to meet with me. Please email me when you need to schedule a meeting outside of my office hours. 

Email availability: I will answer emails as quickly as possible Monday - Friday.  Weekend and late evening responses will be more sporadic and I cannot guarantee a response during those times.


Week One

Meeting Details




Monday, August 29






Wednesday, August 31


Defining politics


How do political scientists define power?





Chapter 1; pages 1-18

Week Two






Monday, September 05

What is Political Science?

Basics of Political Methodology and Analysis


Syllabus quiz due by 5 pm


Chapter 1; pages 18-23




Wednesday, September 07


Political Science Subfields


Group exercise 1: Identifying dependent and independent variables


Week Three






Monday, September 12

Ideologies: Liberalism and conservatism




Chapter 2; pages 23-35



Wednesday, September 14

Ideologies: Communism, Socialism, Fascism


Modern ideologies



Chapter 2; pages 35-49

Week Four






Monday, September 19

The Nation State


Nation vs. State



Chapter 3



Wednesday, September 21

Regime Types: Democratic Regimes



Chapter 7; pages 151-164

Week Five






Monday, September 26

Regime Types: Authoritarian Regimes


Chapter 7; pages 164-182


Wednesday, September 28

Scholarly journal articles:

-What are they?

-How should you read them?

-How do you access them?




Week Six






Monday, October 03

Review Exam 1





Wednesday, October 05


Exam 1



Week Seven






Monday, October 10

Formal vs. Informal



Bratton, Michael. (2007). Formal vs. Informal Institutions in Africa. Journal of Democracy, 18(3), 97-110.

(on eCampus)



Wednesday, October 12


Formal vs. Informal



 Group exercise 2: classifying formal and informal institutions


Week Eight






Monday, October 17


Political Institutions I: Parliamentary Systems




Chapter 14



Wednesday, October 19


Political Institutions II: Presidential Systems






Chapter 15

Week Nine






Monday, October 24

 Political Institutions III: Electoral Systems






Chapter 10


Norris, Pippa. “Choosing Electoral Systems.” International Political Science Review 18(3): 297-312. 

(on ecampus) 



Wednesday, October 26

Political Institutions IV: Constitutions


Federal vs. Unitary Systems


Group exercise 3: Classifying electoral systems

Chapter 9

Week Ten






Monday, October 31


Political Institutions V: Political Parties and Party Systems


Veto Players



First writing assignment due

 Chapter 11


Wednesday, November 02


Political Institutions VI: Law and Courts




 Chapter 17

Week Eleven






Monday, November 07


Exam 2







Wednesday, November 09


Political Culture




Chapter 8

Week Twelve






Monday, November 14

 Political Behavior


Rational Choice Theory





eCampus Reading T.B.D.



Wednesday, November 16



Interest Groups and Politics




Chapter 11



Week Thirteen






Monday, November 21


Social Movements & Collective Action



Group exercise 4

Chapter 13


Wednesday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Holiday



Week Fourteen






Monday, November 28


 Political Violence: Civil and International War






Chapter 18; pages 402 – 413, 414 – 417 (section on Rwanda)



Wednesday, November 30

Global Politics

How states interact



 Second writing assignment due 

Second paper due

Chapter 18, pages 393-402; 413-414

Week Fifteen






Monday, December 05

Political Economy

Governmental Policy


Chapter 5

Chapter 4



Wednesday, December 07

Review for final exam



Week Sixteen - Finals Week






Monday, December 12

3:15 pm – 5:30 pm





Total Contact Hours: 48