Political Systems & Theories

The study of political systems and theories represents an essential basis for explaining, understanding, and comparing the units and actors that comprise the world of the early 21st century.

 As a field, Political Systems and Theories encompasses courses whose focus is alternative theoretical approaches for the conduct of research and analysis about political systems, major forces shaping the emerging world, the nature of international change and continuity, and the basis for theoretical development. The Political Systems and Theories field offers students the opportunity to explore, evaluate, and compare theories about such crucially important phenomena as power, legitimacy, institutions, cooperation, conflict, peace, and war.

Conceptually, the field is (or should be) integral to, and an essential prerequisite for, courses that comprise the “practice” parts of the curriculum. Students taking this field are expected to acquire basic knowledge about the major theories that shape international and comparative politics. Specifically, the field includes courses on such topics as international relations theory; non-governmental organizations in international politics; geography as a factor in international politics; theories of statecraft, bureaucracy, democratization, ethno-religious conflict, identity, sovereignty, nationalism, and self-determination.

This field should be of great importance to students preparing MALD theses or PhD dissertations and/or planning academic careers focused on political science. It should also be of interest to students seeking to understand the theories that help explain behavior and assumptions that guide policymakers. All students offering this field of study are required to take P200. Students taking the Political Systems and Theories field for the PhD must take P200 and at least three other course credits. A second required course credit for PhD students should be selected from a list that includes D210, P205, and P224.