Courses & Requirements

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2019-2020 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Politics

Overview

Politics involves the study of power, influence and ideas in public and private life, at the personal, local, state, national, and international levels. The mission of the Department of Politics is to provide our students with an understanding of politics, government, and public policy to prepare them to become well informed, curious, and engaged leaders in their communities, in their societies, and in our increasingly complex, interdependent, and pluralistic world. Graduates of the Politics Department have found this major provides an excellent basis for careers in politics, law, education, business, public service, international affairs, and media.

The Politics Department emphasizes a strong grounding in all sub-fields of political science (American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory and public law), as well as putting theory into practice (praxis). The department highly encourages each of its majors to engage in off-campus and experiential learning, community-based research, and internships.   Politics majors regularly hold internships in government agencies, public interest organizations, media firms, businesses, and law offices across the country and abroad.  The department has helped lead efforts at Occidental College, along with the Center for Community Based Learning and the Office of Community Engagement, to link the College’s academic program with community involvement, including expanding community internships and community-oriented research projects for students.

The Politics Department supports programs in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and overseas, and offers its signature Campaign Semester program, in which students receive a full semester credit while working full-time on a political campaign.  The department also offers students interested in law the opportunity to receive half semester credit while working as law clerks in legal offices across Los Angeles. 

The Politics Department provides financial support for majors conducting research or holding internships during the academic year and over the summer. The Anderson, Reath, McKelvey and Caldwell Fellowships support majors working on a wide variety of projects in the United States and abroad. The department also encourages majors to pursue Undergraduate Research Fellowships for summer research in partnership with a faculty member and Research Abroad fellowships through the International Programs Office.

Major Requirements

In total, majors must complete at least 11 courses (44 units). ECON 101 is strongly recommended. No course will count toward the Politics major that the student takes CR/NC.

In addition to the Fundamental Courses listed below, a Politics major must take one course in each sub-field (American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Law); one Junior Writing Seminar which can "double-dip" with a sub-field requirement (Politics 272 or any 300-level Politics, approved DWA, or UEP course except Politics 300); and three elective courses from any sub-field. A maximum of three courses outside the Politics Department can count towards the major, including approved DWA, UEP, and Study Abroad courses. Finally, a Politics major will complete a Senior Comprehensive seminar in the spring of the senior year.

Fundamental Courses

Every Politics major must take these courses.

POLS 101American Politics and Public Policy

4 units

POLS 300Research Methods in Politics and Public Policy

4 units

POLS 495Comprehensive Seminar

4 units

Subfields

Students must select one course in each of the following subfields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Law.

For the subfield courses, DWA courses may count towards International Relations with department approval, and select UEP courses may count for American Politics with department approval, but Comparative Politics, Political Theory, and Public Law must be taken within the Politics Department.

International Relations

POLS 130Introduction to International Relations

4 units

POLS 218Russian Relations with the World

4 units

POLS 232International Political Economy

4 units

POLS 233/DWA 250International Security

4 units

POLS 235United States Foreign Relations

4 units

POLS 250American Intelligence and National Security

4 units

POLS 286Seminar in Washington Politics: International and Foreign Policy Studies

4 units

DWA 101International Relations: The Changing Rules of the Game

4 units

DWA 102International Organizations

4 units

DWA 103Introduction to Global Political Economy

4 units

DWA 231Gender and International Relations

4 units

DWA 241International Relations of the Middle East

4 units

DWA 337Junior Seminar: International Relations Theory

4 units

DWA 342Junior Seminar: Transnational Identity and International Relations

4 units

DWA 343Junior Seminar: Transnationalism and Global Governance

4 units

Comparative Politics

POLS 120Introduction to Comparative Politics

4 units

POLS 218Russian Relations with the World

4 units

POLS 221/DWA 224Latin American Politics

4 units

POLS 223/DWA 226Dilemmas of Democracy

4 units

POLS 226Contemporary Chinese Politics

4 units

POLS 227East Asian Politics: China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan

4 units

POLS 320Advanced Theories of Comparative Politics

4 units

POLS 321Gender and Politics in the Global South

4 units

POLS 325Politics and Security in New Europe

4 units

POLS 283Seminar in Washington Politics: Global Public Health Policy

4 units

POLS 284Seminar in Washington Politics: Global Women’s Leadership Development

4 units

American Politics

POLS 200/AMST 200Democratic Socialism, American Style

4 units

POLS 201Media and Politics

4 units

POLS 202Leadership in the Public and Private Sphere

4 units

POLS 204Campaigns and Elections

4 units

POLS 205/LLAS 205Latino/a Politics

4 units

POLS 206Race and American Politics

4 units

POLS 207Los Angeles Politics

4 units

POLS 208Movements for Social Justice

4 units

POLS 209/UEP 209Health Policy

4 units

POLS 250American Intelligence and National Security

4 units

POLS 262California Politics

4 units

POLS 264Disaster Politics: New Orleans in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

4 units

POLS 265/UEP 265Community Planning and Politics Practicum

4 units

POLS 280Washington, D.C. Internship

8

POLS 281Seminar in Political Leadership

4 units

POLS 282Seminar in Washington Politics: Environmental Law and Policy Studies

4 units

POLS 285Seminar in Washington Politics: Inside Washington Politics and Policies

4 units

POLS 301Urban Policy and Politics

4 units

POLS 302The American Presidency

4 units

POLS 303Gender and American Politics

4 units

POLS 336National Security in Practice: How Washington Works

4 units

UEP 204Environmentalism: Past, Present, and Future

4 units

UEP 301/POLS 301Urban Policy and Politics

4 units

Political Theory

POLS 150Introduction to Political Theory

4 units

POLS 251European Political Thought: From Plato to Machiavelli

4 units

POLS 252European Political Thought: From Hobbes to Marx

4 units

POLS 253European Political Thought: From Nietzsche to the Present

4 units

POLS 254American Political Thought

4 units

POLS 256Ethics and Politics

4 units

POLS 257Conservative and Libertarian Political Philosophy

4 units

POLS 258/BLST 258Theoretical Accounts of Racism

4 units

POLS 350Hobbes, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes

2 units

POLS 351Tocqueville, Marx, and Nietzsche

4 units

POLS 352/BLST 352Black Political Thought

4 units

POLS 353Seminar: Advanced Study in Political Theory

2 units

POLS 354Seminar on How Tyrannies Work

4 units

POLS 355/BLST 355Critical Fanonism

4 units

Public Law

POLS 140Law and Society

4 units

POLS 243Restorative Justice

4 units

POLS 244Constitutional Law

4 units

POLS 247Supreme Court Politics

2 units

POLS 340Rebellious Lawyering

4 units

POLS 341Justice Lab: Contemporary Issues in Law and Public Policy

4 units

POLS 342Human Rights in the United States

4 units

POLS 345The Fourth Amendment

4 units

POLS 347Race and Law

4 units

Additional Electives

Three required electives in any subfield must be taken within the Politics Department. Study Abroad courses may be accepted with departmental approval.

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Passage of POLS 272 or any 300-level Politics, accepted DWA, or UEP course (except Politics 300) fulfills the Second-Stage Writing Requirement. If student does not pass one of these courses they must submit a writing portfolio to the department chair. This requirement must be completed by the end of the fall semester of the senior year.

Comprehensive Requirement

All politics majors must complete a Comprehensive Seminar in the spring of their senior year (preliminary preparation will occur in the fall semester of the senior year). In the seminar, 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. Each student will 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. Each thesis is subjected to a rigorous drafting process that includes peer review and feedback from a faculty advisor. All seniors are required to submit a proposal for their thesis in the fall of 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. Once the comprehensive project is submitted, the Politics faculty asses the papers, awarding them one of the following marks: Pass with Distinction (PD) is awarded to exceptionally sophisticated work that surpasses the departmental standards, Pass (P) is awarded to work that meets departmental standards, and Fail (F) for work that fails to satisfy departmental standards.

College Honors

We encourage highly motivated students to pursue 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 of the senior year. They will be required to meet all of the obligations of the Comprehensive Seminar in the spring semester and complete a major research paper that follows the above requirements, but is a project of greater depth that extends to 40-50 pages. Students wishing to be considered for Honors should contact the chair during the spring semester of their sophomore year for more detailed information

Minor Requirements

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, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Law). At least three of the five courses must be courses or course equivalents offered in the Politics department.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Politics Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. The department accepts at most three courses in transfer to count toward the major and at most two courses in transfer to count toward the minor. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Courses

All Politics Courses