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 103); and at least one course (4 units) from each of the following sub-fields: American Politics and Public Policy; Political Theory; Public Law; Comparative Politics and Area Studies. In addition, Majors must take two other courses (8 units) in the department for a minimum of ten (40 units). Economics 101, at a minimum, is strongly recommended for all Politics majors and so is Psychology 223 and/or 110 (Intergroup Dialogue). No course will count toward the Politics major that the student takes CR/NC. Majors must also take a Junior Writing Seminar that will focus both on a research paper and the skills of oral presentation and making a persuasive political argument.
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 taken from different sub-fields.
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. 300-level Politics, DWA, or UEP courses except 397 have been approved for meeting this requirement. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program for additional information.
THE SENIOR YEAR: All politics majors must complete a Comprehensive Seminar in the spring of their senior year. Students 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 subdisciplines 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.
Students interested in pursuing Honors should consult with appropriate Faculty in the Spring semester of their junior year. See the Honors Program for more information.