MAJOR: The major consists of one core course (Politics 101); two International Relations courses from Politics or DWA; the Department's course in social science Research Methods (Politics 300); and at least one course (4 units) from each of the following sub-fields: American Politics; Political Theory; Public Law; and Comparative Politics. Majors are also required to take a Junior Writing Seminar (any 300-level Politics, DWA, or UEP course) that focuses on research and oral presentation skills. Majors must also take two other courses (8 units) in the department. In total, majors must complete at least 11 courses (44 units), which includes the senior comprehensive seminar. Economics 101 and Psychology 110/223 (Intergroup Dialogue) are strongly recommended. No course will count toward the Politics major that the student takes CR/NC.
MINOR: At least five courses (20 units) within the department, or courses accepted by the department in lieu of its own. Of these five courses, three (12 units) must be advanced courses (200-level and higher) taken from different sub-fields within Politics (American Politics, Political Theory, Public Law, Comparative Politics, and International Relations).
WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in Politics will satisfy the final component of Occidental College's writing requirement by successfully completing a writing seminar in their junior year. Politics 272 (Campaign Semester) and any 300-level Politics, DWA, or UEP course (except Politics 300) have been approved for meeting this requirement.
THE SENIOR YEAR: All politics majors must complete a Comprehensive Seminar in the spring of their senior year. Students will read and discuss political science journal articles that raise interesting questions for the field, combine theory with empirical data, and serve as models for their own senior thesis. Simultaneously, each student is asked to develop a senior thesis on a topic in one of the sub-fields of the major, demonstrating theoretical sophistication, an ability to find and evaluate sources of data, to develop and test hypotheses, and to argue a thesis. Papers are subjected to peer review and to a rigorous drafting process. All seniors are required to submit a proposal for their thesis by the end of September in their senior year. These proposals should state the research problem, demonstrate a significant command of the relevant bibliography, and include a tentative outline of major components in the study.
HONORS: We encourage highly motivated students to pursue Department Honors. They qualify for this program by achieving a 3.25 grade point average overall and a 3.5 grade point average in courses counting toward the Politics major. Only under extraordinary circumstances will the Politics faculty members approve a petition to have this 3.5 grade point average waived. Students interested in pursuing Honors should complete the courses required for the Politics major by the end of Fall Semester. They will be required to meet all of the obligations of the Comprehensive Seminar in the spring semester and complete a major research paper as a part of that experience.