Course Syllabus

Welcome to POLSC101: Introduction to Political Science

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.

 

Course Description

This course is an introductory survey on the basic principles, terminology, and methods of political science. Combines historical study of the discipline's greatest thinkers with analysis of contemporary issues.

 

Course Introduction

This is a survey course, and as such it can either be used by students who are looking to take just one general overview course, or for students who want to go on to more advanced study in any of the subfields that comprise the political science discipline, such as American politics, comparative politics, international politics, or political theory. This course will survey the different ways in which political scientists study the phenomena of politics and will deepen your understanding of political life as both a thinker and a citizen. The goal of this course is to introduce you to the discipline's concepts, terminology, and methods and to explore instances of applied political science through real world examples.

As an introductory course, POLSC101 will focus on the basic principles of political science by combining historical study of the discipline's greatest thinkers with analysis of contemporary issues. We will also identify and discuss the questions that perennially drive the field of political science, including (among many others): "How do we define the changing nature of power"?, "How do we differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate governance"?, "What are the differences between political institutions and political behavior"?, and "How do leaders define who gets to be heard and counted in a political community"?. By the end of this course, you will be familiar with these issues and capable of discussing them within the context of contemporary politics.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Foundational Concepts of Politics
  • Unit 2: Participation and Public Opinion
  • Unit 3: Ideologies
  • Unit 4: The State
  • Unit 5: Political Institutions
  • Unit 6: International Politics

 

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • explain the concepts of power, legitimacy, and authority;
  • discuss the origins and developments of the nation-state;
  • discuss general approaches to the study of politics, such as political ideologies and political economy;
  • discuss the political socialization process;
  • examine the nature of political participation from a comparative perspective;
  • discuss the influence of public opinion on the political decision-making process;
  • identify the different types of electoral systems and assess the implications of those systems;
  • identify the role and functions of political parties;
  • identify the different types of party systems from a comparative perspective;
  • describe and evaluate the general principles of presidential and parliamentary political systems;
  • identify and evaluate the principles of authoritarian and totalitarian governments;
  • discuss and explain the origins and principles of democratic capitalism, democratic socialism, Marxist socialism, and fascism;
  • describe the origins and principles of international law;
  • identify and assess the influence of major international organizations; and
  • describe and analyze the causes of international conflict.

Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.

 

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, video tutorials, and other resources.

All course materials are free to access, and can be found through the links provided in each unit and subunit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will instruct you as to what specifically to read or watch at a given point in the course, and help you to understand how these individual materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also access a list all of the materials used in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's "Activities" menu.

 

Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may take it again as many times as needed, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

There are also 6 unit assessments and other types of quizzes in this course. These are intended to help you to gauge how well you are learning and do not factor into your final course grade. You may retake all of these as many times as needed to feel that you have an understanding of the concepts and material covered. You can locate a full list of these sorts of assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's "Activities" menu.

 

Tips for Success

POLSC101: Introduction to Political Science is a self-paced course in which you the learner determines when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or predetermined schedule to follow. While learning styles can vary considerably and any particular student will take more or less time to learn or read, we estimate that the "average" student will take 111 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular (daily, or at least weekly) progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few suggested study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories as you read. This can help you differentiate and contextualize concepts and later provide you with a refresher as you study.
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you have retained and how well you understand the concepts. The process of reflection is important for creating a memory of the materials you learn; it will increase the probability that you ultimately retain the information.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor Academy students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.

 

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered fully online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one, free of charge, here. Although you can access some course resources without being logged into your account, it's advised that you log in to maximize your course experience. For example, some of the accessibility and progress tracking features are only available when you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.

 

Fees

There is no cost to access and enroll in this course. All required course resources linked throughout the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, activities, etc are accessible for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2020, 1:38 PM