What is political science?
Political science is an academic discipline that seeks to understand the exercise of power in different contexts.
The discipline is divided into four main study areas or sub-areas.
- The American Politics subsection focuses on party politics, elections, branches of government, state and local governments, public order, social movements, and other political and state issues in the United States.
- The branch of comparative political science deals with similar issues in countries outside the United States and seeks to find out how differences in culture, level of development, social structures and forms of government influence the way in which politics are conducted worldwide.
- The International Relations section examines the relationships between states in the international system, but also deals with international institutions, transnational organizations and the role of norms and law in international affairs.
- The sub-area of Political Theory focuses on normative issues such as justice and legitimacy in politics, both through studying the history of political thought and through trying to make original contributions to thinking about classical problems.
Why do people study political science?
First, the discipline lies at the core of a liberal education, as it deals with classic issues of Western and even global thought such as justice, rights, and the relationship between the state and the individual. Second, political science offers opportunities to learn about both the United States and the world outside the United States. Third, it helps students understand some of the key political issues that affect everyone. Fourth, political science, like other social science disciplines, teaches analytical methods that are useful in personal and professional life.
How is the major structured?
The students choose a sub-area as their main subject. You will complete at least three courses and a four-point seminar in this sub-area. Students also choose a secondary sub-area and complete at least two courses in this sub-area.
Outside the sub-area, students complete an additional four-point seminar, a course on research methods and a political science elective.
How much quantitative work does the major require?
Political scientists use a variety of different methods in their studies. Quantitative methods such as game theory and statistics are widely used. However, much research in this area and many of the institute's courses rely on qualitative methods such as case studies, historical analyzes, qualitative field research and (in political theory) normative analyzes. The department requires at least one course in quantitative methods from all courses and specializations. Students can take more if they wish.
What are likely career paths for political scientists?
A political science major offers a good basis for employment or postgraduate studies in many areas. As part of a liberal arts education that improves analytical reading, research, analyzing, and writing skills, political science makes students good candidates for positions in almost any field including business, finance, consulting, government, foreign service, etc. teaching. Political science is also a good reference for those looking to apply to study law, economics, social work, education, international affairs, and of course political science itself or other social sciences.
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