Political Science Major, B.A.

Department of Political Science

Visit Program Website

361 Hamilton Hall, CB# 3265

(919) 962-3041

Mark Crescenzi, Chair

Matthew Weidenfeld, Undergraduate Advisor

mweiden@email.unc.edu

Stephen Gent, Director of Undergraduate Studies

gent@unc.edu

Genevieve Cecil, Undergraduate Studies Coordinator

gcecil@email.unc.edu

Political science is concerned with the description and explanation of political ideas, institutions, processes, policies, and behavior, both in the United States and in other countries. The undergraduate program provides students with a basic knowledge of the political and economic relationships that exist among nations, international agencies, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations. It also introduces students to the role that traditions of thought and political ideologies have played in shaping our understanding of politics in the past and today.

The undergraduate major is designed to provide

  1. a broad understanding of political ideas, institutions, and issues as a central element of a general education;
  2. a basic knowledge of the governmental process as preparation for those considering a career in public service as well as for active and informed citizenship;
  3. preprofessional training for students planning to enter law school; and
  4. a foundation in political science for those contemplating specialization at the graduate level.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the political science program, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a command of at least one of the following areas of substantive knowledge:
    • Themes and concepts that have shaped the Western political tradition, as well as core contemporary political theoretical issues
    • Principles and processes of American political institutions, political behavior, and civic culture
    • Principles and processes of political institutions, political behavior, and civic culture in societies other than the United States
    • Fundamental structures and forces that shape relations between states
  • Demonstrate competence in the identification, use, and development of theoretical explanations appropriate for the study of their respective areas of substantive focus. These skills may include:
    • Evaluating competing theories of political explanation
    • Reconstructing the logic of political theories
    • Constructing theoretical models intended to address specific questions in political analysis
  • Demonstrate a working understanding of the methods appropriate for developing rigorous description and explanation of political phenomena. These may include one or more of the following, depending on the student’s area of substantive interest:
    • Principles of textual interpretation and critical evaluation
    • Identification, collection, and organization of empirical data
    • Use of qualitative, quantitative, and other analytical techniques for analyzing data
    •  

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
Nine courses, including the following courses and including at least one 400-level political science (POLI) course:
POLI 100American Democracy in Changing Times H3
POLI 150International Relations and Global Politics H3
One course in comparative politics chosen from:3
Introduction to Comparative Politics H
Politics of the United Kingdom H
Comparative Politics of the Middle East
Comparative Politics of the Global South
The Politics of Russia and Eurasia H
Politics of East-Central Europe H
The Politics of China
Politics of the Global South: Latin America H
Introduction to European Government H
Comparative Political Behavior H
One course in political theory chosen from:3
Feminism and Political Theory
Classical Political Thought H
Modern Political Thought H
The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense
Major Issues in Political Theory H
American Political Thought H
Social and Political Philosophy H
Contemporary Political Thought H
Problems of Modern Democratic Theory H
One course in research methods chosen from: 13
Analyzing Public Opinion H
Data in Politics I: An Introduction
Applied Experimental Research: Politics in the US and Europe
Strategy and International Relations
Strategy and Politics
Data in Politics II: Frontiers and Applications
Advanced Political Psychology H
Game Theory
Honors Seminar in Research Design
Introduction to Statistics and Econometrics H
Quantitative Methods in Geography
Research Methods in Geography
Knowledge and Society H
Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Theory of Knowledge
Induction, Probability, and Confirmation
Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy H
Research Methods in Psychology
Research Methods
Data Analysis
Four political science (POLI) electives at the 100 level or above 2, 312
Additional Requirements
ECON 101Introduction to Economics H4
Total Hours31
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Data in Politics

The Data in Politics track provides political science majors an opportunity to develop valuable data analysis skills and engage in cutting-edge political science research. As part of this track, students can take a two-course core sequence and additional applied data analysis courses. The Data in Politics core sequence teaches students how to work with and analyze social science data. Applied data analysis courses build on this foundation by providing students opportunities to actively use data skills as part of a research paper or other class project.

Data in Politics Core Sequence
POLI 281Data in Politics I: An Introduction3
POLI 381Data in Politics II: Frontiers and Applications3
Applied Data Analysis Courses
POLI 209Analyzing Public Opinion H3
POLI 252International Organizations and Global Issues H3
POLI 253Problems in World Order3
POLI 254International Environmental Politics3
POLI 350Peace Science Research3
POLI 395Mentored Research in Political Science1-3
POLI 416Constitutional Policies and the Judicial Process3
POLI 417Advanced Political Psychology H3
POLI 429Diversity and Politics3
POLI 443American Foreign Policy: Formulation and Conduct3
POLI 447Immigrant Integration in Contemporary Western Europe H3
POLI 453When Countries Go Broke: Political Responses to Financial Crises3
POLI 692HHonors Thesis Research3
POLI 693HHonors Thesis Research3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

American Politics

American politics courses examine political behavior and institutions in the United States at the federal, state, and local levels. These courses explore topics such as campaigns and elections, public opinion, Congress, the presidency, the judicial system, and state politics.

Introductory Course
POLI 100American Democracy in Changing Times H3
Specialized Courses
POLI 200The President, Congress, and Public Policy3
POLI 201Politics of Bureaucracy3
POLI 202The United States Supreme Court3
POLI 203Race, Innocence, and the Decline of the Death Penalty4
POLI 204Introduction to Southern Politics3
POLI 205Politics in the U.S. States H3
POLI 206Race and the Right to Vote in the United States3
POLI 207The Politics of Organized Interests3
POLI 208Political Parties and Elections H3
POLI 209Analyzing Public Opinion H3
POLI 215Political Psychology: An Introduction3
POLI 217Women and Politics3
POLI 220Race, Ethnicity, and Electoral Representation in the United States3
POLI 240African American Politics3
POLI 248Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Justice3
POLI 333Race and Public Policy in the United States3
POLI 345Buying Influence: Interest Groups and Public Policy3
Advanced Courses
POLI 400Executive Politics3
POLI 401Political Economy I: The Domestic System3
POLI 404Race, Immigration, and Urban Politics3
POLI 406State Governments: Laboratories of Democracy3
POLI 409Mock Constitutional Convention3
POLI 410The Constitution of the United States3
POLI 411Civil Liberties under the Constitution H3
POLI 412United States National Elections H3
POLI 416Constitutional Policies and the Judicial Process3
POLI 417Advanced Political Psychology H3
POLI 418Mass Media and American Politics3
POLI 419Race and Politics in the Contemporary United States H3
POLI 420Legislative Politics H3
POLI 421Framing Public Policies3
POLI 422Minority Representation in the American States3
POLI 424Legislative Procedure in Congress3
POLI 428Sexuality, Race, and Gender: Identity and Political Representation3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Global Politics

Global politics courses explore politics beyond the United States through the study of comparative politics and international relations. Comparative politics courses examine domestic political institutions and processes in countries around the world, while international relations courses explore political and economic relations in the international system.

Introductory Courses
POLI 130Introduction to Comparative Politics H3
POLI 150International Relations and Global Politics H3
Specialized Courses
POLI 210Global Issues and Globalization3
POLI 231Latin America and the United States in World Politics3
POLI 232Politics of the United Kingdom H3
POLI 233Comparative Politics of the Middle East3
POLI 234Comparative Politics of the Global South3
POLI 235The Politics of Russia and Eurasia H3
POLI 236Politics of East-Central Europe H3
POLI 237The Politics of China3
POLI 238Politics of the Global South: Latin America H3
POLI 239Introduction to European Government H3
POLI 252International Organizations and Global Issues H3
POLI 253Problems in World Order3
POLI 254International Environmental Politics3
POLI 255International Migration and Citizenship Today H3
POLI 256The Politics of the First Era (1880-1914) of Globalization3
POLI 257Politics, Society, and Culture in Postwar Germany3
POLI 260Crisis and Change in Russia and Eastern Europe3
POLI 350Peace Science Research3
Advanced Courses
POLI 428Sexuality, Race, and Gender: Identity and Political Representation3
POLI 429Diversity and Politics3
POLI 430Analysis of National Security Policy3
POLI 431African Politics and Societies3
POLI 432Tolerance in Liberal States3
POLI 433Politics of the European Union H3
POLI 434Politics of Mexico3
POLI 435Democracy and Development in Latin America H3
POLI 438Democracy and International Institutions in an Undivided Europe3
POLI 440How to Stay in Power When the People Want You Dead: The Politics of Authoritarian Survival3
POLI 441Israeli Politics and Society3
POLI 442International Political Economy3
POLI 443American Foreign Policy: Formulation and Conduct3
POLI 444Terrorism and International Peace3
POLI 447Immigrant Integration in Contemporary Western Europe H3
POLI 448The Politics of Multilevel Governance3
POLI 449Beg, Borrow, or Steal: How Governments Get Money and Its Effects on Accountability3
POLI 450Contemporary Inter-American Relations H3
POLI 451Race, Ethnicity, and Political Change in Comparative Perspective3
POLI 452Africa and International Conflict3
POLI 453When Countries Go Broke: Political Responses to Financial Crises3
POLI 457International Conflict Processes3
POLI 458International Conflict Management and Resolution H3
POLI 459Trans-Atlantic Security3
POLI 469Conflict and Intervention in the Former Yugoslavia H3
POLI 630Political Contestation in Europe3
POLI 631European Security: The Enlarging European Union and the Trans-Atlantic Relationship3
POLI 632The European Union as a Global Actor3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Political Theory

Political theory courses examine political ideas and values like justice, power, and democracy that we use to describe, understand, and assess political practices and institutions. These courses analyze the writings and ideas of political thinkers in the classical and modern worlds.

Introductory Courses
POLI 270Classical Political Thought H3
POLI 271Modern Political Thought H3
Specialized Courses
POLI 265Feminism and Political Theory3
POLI 272The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense3
POLI 276Major Issues in Political Theory H3
POLI 280American Political Thought H3
Advanced Courses
POLI 470Social and Political Philosophy H3
POLI 471Contemporary Political Thought H3
POLI 472Problems of Modern Democratic Theory H3
POLI 477Advanced Feminist Political Theory3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Research Methods

Courses in political methodology examine the methods that political scientists use to conduct research. Empirical methods courses teach students how to collect and analyze data and evidence to understand political phenomena, while formal theory courses introduce students to the use of mathematical models to analyze political decision making.

Empirical Methods Courses
POLI 209Analyzing Public Opinion H3
POLI 281Data in Politics I: An Introduction3
POLI 285Applied Experimental Research: Politics in the US and Europe3
POLI 381Data in Politics II: Frontiers and Applications3
POLI 417Advanced Political Psychology H3
POLI 691HHonors Seminar in Research Design3
Formal Theory Courses
POLI 287Strategy and International Relations3
POLI 288Strategy and Politics3
POLI 488Game Theory3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
POLI 100 American Democracy in Changing Times H 3
POLI 150 International Relations and Global Politics H 3
ENGL 105 English Composition and Rhetoric 3
Foreign language levels 2 and 3 (FL) 6
Quantitative reasoning (QR) 3
Additional General Education and elective courses 12
Hours 30
Sophomore Year
POLI ---Comparative politics course 3
POLI ---Political theory course 3
ECON 101 Introduction to Economics 1, H 4
Research methods course 3
Additional General Education and elective courses 17
Hours 30
Junior Year
Two POLI elective courses 2 6
Additional General Education and elective courses 24
Hours 30
Senior Year
Two POLI elective courses 2 6
Additional General Education and elective courses 24
Hours 30
Total Hours 120
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in Political Science

Political Science Major, NUS Joint Degree

Political science majors may wish to consider applying for the Joint Degree Program, an innovative joint undergraduate degree program joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National University of Singapore. UNC–Chapel Hill undergraduates spend anywhere from two to four semesters at the National University of Singapore and receive a joint bachelor of arts degree from both institutions. For further information, contact the Study Abroad Office.

Honors in Political Science

The honors program provides political science majors the opportunity to pursue an independent research project over a two-semester period. Students begin the program by taking POLI 691H in the spring semester of their junior year. During this course they complete a thesis proposal.

If the proposal is acceptable, students continue their thesis research in the senior year under the supervision of the honors director and a faculty advisor in POLI 692H and POLI 693H. A maximum of two honors thesis courses can count as elective credit in the major. Upon successful completion of the program, which includes an oral defense of the thesis, students are awarded a degree with honors or with highest honors in political science.

To be admitted to the honors program, students must have at least a 3.3 overall grade point average and a 3.5 in political science courses. They should have completed at least four courses in the major. Students interested in participating in the honors program should apply by October 15 of their junior year. For further information on the honors program, please consult the department's Web site.

Experiential Education

Internship courses provide students with the opportunity to earn academic credit while obtaining practical work experience in agencies and organizations clearly related to the study of political science. Political science majors who would like to obtain credit for internship work in government or public service must enroll in POLI 193. While this course satisfies the experiential education General Education requirement, POLI 193 is offered on a Pass/Fail basis only and does not count towards the nine courses required for the major. For specific information about the procedures and requirements for POLI 193, please consult the department’s Web site.

Study Abroad

Because we live in an increasingly globalized society, students are encouraged to study abroad as they are able. Students interested in the fields of comparative politics and international relations are strongly urged to participate in a study abroad program; indeed, all students may find the experience to be transformational and helpful in choosing a career path. Students are advised to work with the Study Abroad Office and to contact the undergraduate advisor when planning their study abroad experience. For information about applying study abroad credit toward the political science major, please consult the department’s Web site.

Undergraduate Research

Courses in political science often include a research component, and students may engage in directed research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The honors program provides political science majors the opportunity to pursue an independent research project over a two-semester period, culminating in a senior thesis. See the section above for more information on the honors program.

POLI 395 Mentored Research in Political Science provides an opportunity for students to pursue a special research interest under the direction of a faculty member of the Department of Political Science. The research and writing entailed in a mentored research course must be equivalent to the workload of a regular course. For specific information about the procedures and requirements for POLI 395, please consult the department’s Web site.

Undergraduate Awards

Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honorary society. Membership is restricted to those political science majors who have completed 15 hours of political science with an overall grade average of 3.3 or better and a political science grade average of 3.5 or better.

The Thad L. Beyle Research Award is given to undergraduate political science majors, with priority given to students writing a senior honors thesis.

The William Scott Bryant Award funds research and travel for undergraduate majors in the Department of Political Science, with priority given to seniors.

The D’Amico Endowment Fund for Honors Students funds academic research and activities for honors students in the Department of Political Science.

The Shepard Jones Undergraduate Award in International Relations is given to an undergraduate student for the best essay in international relations (any field and broadly defined).

The L. Richardson Preyer Award for Excellence in Political Science is given to a senior judged by a committee of the faculty to have the most distinguished record of scholarship in political science and service to the community.

The Terry Sanford Award for Excellence is given to the undergraduate student judged to have written the best political science honors thesis.