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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Political Science"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Gabriele Simoncini
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM


The course introduces students to basic concepts, methods, and theories of the scientific study of politics. In so doing, the class provides a systematic understanding of the foundations of government, political systems, and political behavior. The course familiarizes students with the functioning of political institutions and political power, constitutional frameworks and procedures to obtain public legitimacy, and approaches to different fields, problems and issues of—domestic, comparative, and global—politics in the 21st century.


This course attempts to provide the student with a general understanding of the evolution of political science through time and an understanding of contemporary political thought and scenarios.  Priority is given to conceptualization of different theories and their historical development.  Critical thinking and comparative analysis will be applied to achieve a clear understanding of the foundations of modern political science.  The class format includes lectures, discussion, teamwork, presentations, and audiovisual materials. Guest speakers and field trips are planned.

Students will develop the ability to critically analyze the evolution and the diversity of political speculation.  They will be able to relate theories and thinkers with political structures, players, and phenomena within the western and global political context.  Students will develop the ability to conduct basic research, and organize and present their findings in a logical and independent way.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Politics.Heywood A.,Palgrave Macmillan (4th edition), 2013.0230396356   
Political Thought. (Oxford Readers).Rosen M., Wolffs J. (eds.), Oxford, 20100192892789  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Political Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide for Students and Politicians. Swift A.Oxford, 2006.0745635326  
Power & Choice: An Introduction to Political Science. Shively W. P.Rowman & Littlefield1538114127  

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Rule Breaking and Political Imagination. Swift A.University of Chicago Press, 2017.022647321X  
Class Attendance and Participation Regular attendance and active participation in class is required. Attendance requirements: A maximum of four absences are allowed throughout the semester. Any additional absence will result in a penalization of one grade level (e.g.: from B+ to B for five absences, B+ to B- for six absences, B+ to C+ for seven absences, etc.). Two latenesses count for one absence. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class by calling students’ names. Students not answering will be marked absent. Students arrived late will ask the instructor to be marked late at the end of the class, after which attendance records will not be modified. Use of Computers in class: The use of personal computers and technological devices in class is not permitted except for taking notes, or contributing to class activity during designated times. Students not respecting the rule will be penalized by getting no points in the Class Participation requirement (worth 10% of the final grade). Recording and filming in class is not allowed. 10%
Three in-class TestsThe in-class tests have the same format. The test consists of ten terms/concepts to be concisely defined. 30%
Critical Discussion ReportEach student will write an original Critical Discussion Report. The topic must be based on concept/selections taken from the class READER: “Rosen M., Wolffs J. (eds.), Political Thought. Oxford Readers” (see textbook section). This Critical Discussion Report will be 2,000 words. The topic of each student’s report must be approved by week nine. An electronic version of the completed report must be given to the instructor in class, in person, during any of the last four classes. Files sent by email are not accepted. The deadline is the last class. No materials will be accepted past the deadline. To produce the Critical Discussion Report, students will receive written instructions in class. During the semester, students will shaw the professor their work in progress and receive approval checks.30%
Final ExamThe Final Exam consists of ten terms/concepts to be critically analysed and discussed. 30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


A maximum of four absences are allowed throughout the semester.  Any additional absence will result in a penalization of one grade level (e.g.: from B+ to B for five absences, B+ to B- for six absences, B+ to C+ for seven absences, etc.).  Two latenesses count for one absence.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class by calling students’ names. Students not answering will be marked absent. Students arrived late will ask the instructor to be marked late at the end of the class, after which attendance records will not be modified.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Unit    1          Introduction.  Methodology. Definitions.  The Context of Political Science.

(Sep. 3, 5)                                                                                                                                                                                            (assigned readings)

Unit    2          Politics in a Global Age.  Political Ideas and Ideologies.  Classical Ideological Traditions.

(Sep. 10, 12)                                                                                                                                (Heywood, p. 1-55; Rosen, p. 1-33; assigned readings)

Unit    3          Politics and the State.  The Role of the State.  Democracy and Legitimacy.  Models of Democracy.  

(Sep. 17, 19)                                                                                                                           (Heywood, p. 56-107; Rosen, p. 34-72; assigned reading)

Unit    4          Nations and Nationalism.  Varieties of Nationalism.  Varieties of Capitalism.  Political Economy and Globalization.

(Sep. 24, 26*)                                                                                                                    (Heywood, p. 108-150; Rosen, p. 73-102; assigned readings)

                   * FIRST TEST

Unit    5          Politics, Society and Identity.  Political Culture and the Media.  Civic Culture.  Political Communication.

(Oct. 1, 3)                                                                                                                        (Heywood, p. 151-195; Rosen, p. 102-132; assigned readings)

Unit    6                    Representation, Elections and Voting.  Electoral Systems.  Voting Behavior.  Parties and Party Systems.  

(Oct. 8, 10)                                                                                                                      (Heywood, p. 196-243; Rosen, p. 133-171; assigned readings)

Unit    7          Groups, Interests and Movements.  Models of Group Politics.  Governments, Systems and Regimes.  

(Oct. 15, 17*)                                                                                                                  (Heywood, p. 244-283; Rosen, p. 172-213; assigned readings)

                  * SECOND TEST

Unit    8         Political Executive and Leadership.  Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinets.  Assemblies.  Committee System.  

(Oct. 22, 24)                                                                                                                    (Heywood, p. 284-330; Rosen, p. 214-247; assigned readings)

Unit    9          Constitutions.  Classifying Constitutions.  Law, Morality and Politics.  The Judiciary. 

(Oct. 29, 31*)                                                                                                                  (Heywood, p. 331-350; Rosen, p. 248-284; assigned readings)

              Critical Discussion Report topic approved

Unit  10
          Public Policy and the Bureaucracy.  The Policy Process.  Role of the Bureaucracy.  Sources of Bureaucratic Power.

(Nov. 5, 7)                                                                                                                      (Heywood, p. 351-377; Rosen, p. 285-318; assigned readings)          

Unit  11
          Multilevel Politics.  Multilevel Governance.  Subnational Politics.  Transnational and European Regionalism. 

(Nov. 12, 14*)                                                                                                                 (Heywood, p. 378-398; Rosen, p. 319-358; assigned readings)

                 * THIRD TEST

Unit  12          Security: Domestic and International.  The Police, the Military and Domestic Politics. Human Security.

(Nov. 19, 21)                                                                                                                   (Heywood, p. 399-420; Rosen, p. 359-385; assigned readings)

Unit  13          World Order and Global Governance.  The “New World Order”.  The “War on Terror”.  The United Nations.

(Nov. 26, 28)                                                                                                                   (Heywood, p. 421-442; Rosen, p. 386-402; assigned readings)

Unit  14          A Crisis in Politics?  The Politics of  “anti-politics”.  Assessing Political Performance.  Conclusion.

(Dec. 3, 5)                                                                                                                                                       (Heywood, p. 443-459; assigned readings)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 (Dec. 10 - 14, t.b.s.*)                 

                   * FINAL EXAM

Films/Audiovisual Materials Sessions:

(1.  (date t.b.s.) at 19:30)            “on power”

(2.  (date t.b.s.) at 19:30)             “on diversity”

(3.  (date t.b.s.) at 19:30)             “on ideology”


The syllabus schedule may undergo reasonable changes in relation to guest speakers, field trips, make-ups, discussions, events, and other contingencies.