Course Offerings

Political Science and International Relations Course Offerings




POLS 1200-U.S Politics

U.S. Politics is an introductory course into the many facets of American Politics. During the semester we  will  broadly  study  government  institutions,  political  behavior,  political  participation,  voting behavior, and political representation. This course is heavily focused on the role of race in politics, therefore, each of the aforementioned topics will be analyzed through a racial lens. US Politics will focus on the different analytical frameworks scholars use to understand American politics. Therefore, our job will be to pay close attention to the arguments and evidence these scholars use in their work to help us understand the study of political science.

POLS 1400- Comparative Politics

Comparative politics is the study and practice of comparing political units and systems, in whole and in part. This course introduces you to many of the central puzzles, themes, and approaches of comparative politics with the goal of helping you understand and analyze domestic and international political events. The material is organized by topic not by country though we will illustrate each topic or theme using country examples.

The course begins with a broad overview of comparative methodology and the major theories and concepts of comparative politics. We then explore broad political phenomena including statehood and state failure; political economy and economic development; variation in types of governance; democratic transition, consolidation, and breakdown; participation and activism. For each country's case, we will look at key historical events, current political institutions, the country’s unique political culture, and “hot button” issues of today.

POLS 1600- International Relations

This is a theoretical course. And this is so because,to explain anything in this world (and relations among international actors are no exception),you need theories. Master some theories about international relations, and you’ll get considerably closer to explaining and thinking critically about much of what we observe goes on in world affairs today.Indeed, this course serves as an introduction to the main theories available to explain international politics. These are guided by paradigms—particular ways of looking at international relations—and most debates over substantive and empirical issues—whether scholarly or in media outlets—are seen and constructed through these lenses. The course is organized around—and moves beyond—such paradigms and understanding such theories will give you the necessary foundation for explaining some of the most important issues in contemporary international politics.After successful completion of this course, you should have a strong sense about how to approach any issue in international relations from multiple angles as well as a good notion of how to develop carefully crafted arguments on any such topics. You will develop analytical, writing and oral communication skills that you will find useful no matter what profession you choose to enter. The course systematically connects and uses different analytical approaches to current global events; thus, showing you how to make sense, and come up with your own arguments, on what is currently going on in the world. Students are required to read newspapers and follow the news on a daily basis.


1.To introduce you to the main theories, debates, core issues, actors and processes shaping contemporary international relations.

2. To learn how to use analytical tools to critically engage with any substantive claim and issue in international affairs.

3. To improve your ability to communicate your ideas effectively in writing and through speaking.

4.To acquire healthy work habits—e.g. eagerness to learn and keep learning, teamwork, punctuality, problem-solving and critical thinking—that you will find useful no matter what profession you eventually enter.

POLS 2000- Foundations of Political Theory

FLAGS: Writing

“Foundations” is a reading, writing, and discussion intensive course that will introduce students to the history of political thought and develop students’ critical reading and writing skills. Through an engagement with “classic”texts spanning the ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods in the “west,” we will ask hard questions about justice, truth, value, happiness and the good life, individual and common good, the foundations of political societies,the origins and work of inequality, the value of freedom, subjection, subjectivity and citizenship, violence and morality, and many others. Above all, we will ask what it means to make something “foundational” at all, and what we have “built” upon that foundation.


1. Students will develop a solid grounding in the major concepts, arguments, and key thinkers in political theory.

2. Students will develop an appreciation for how theory informs the discipline of political science. 

3. Students will improve their skills of deliberation and logical argumentation.

4. Students will improve their critical, argumentative, and interpretive writing skills. Most importantly, students will develop their critical thinking skills and apply them to their political and social lives, allowing them to grow as persons and as critical citizens.

POLS 2100- Empirical Approaches

This course is an introduction to research methods and is designed to: (1) expose students to various approaches for conducting political science research, and (2) provide students with a framework for developing focused research questions and designing plans to best answer those questions. We will cover a range of topics, starting from the formulation of research topics and questions, the development of theory and empirically testable hypotheses, the design of data collection activities, and basic qualitative  and quantitative data analysis techniques. We will address a variety of empirical approaches including experimental designs, large-N and survey research, small-N case studies, and content analysis. In short, this course will train students to think and work like a social scientist.

POLS 3340- Urban Politics 

This course will provide an introduction to the study of urban politics and public administration in urban areas of the United States. Use will be made of the social system framework of analysis to explore urban political culture and social structure, political participation patterns, urban power structures, the structure of formal governmental organizations, governmental decision making processes, the implementation of urban public programs, and the impacts of urban public policies. Attention will also be given to the role of the private sector in the creation of urban problems and efforts to find solutions, the nature of urban public service delivery systems, urban public fiscal problems, and intergovernmental relations relevant to urban politics.


1. Use the Political System Model as a framework to systematically examine urban politics.

2. Analyze and assess alternative public policies designed to solve urban problems.

3. Carefully observe local governmental decision making events using the Systematic Interaction Analysis Technique.

4. Draft a concise,professional community profile paper and a concise, professional issue paper.

POLS 3350- Elderly and the Law

The population of the US is becoming older with the expectation that upwards of 21% will be 65+ by 2020. Consequently, there are more and more issues surrounding the senior population that intersect with the legal system. This course will explore a number of these issues including wills and trusts, right to die, mental capacity and incapacity, guardianships and conservatorships, advance directives, nursing home abuse, assisted living facilities, family responsibility, elder abuse, health care programs.


For each topic, the goal is for students to analyze the balance of rights of the various parties, the underlying assumptions, the politics of the issue and the financial implications. Students will contemplate the ethical consideration of each issue and be able to answer the overarching questions of “Who Decides?” and “Why?”

POLS 3440- Politics of the Middle East

This course is a survey of comparative politics in the Middle East and North Africa and provides a general overview of the chief issues of contemporary Middle Eastern politics. These include the impact of colonialism, nation-state formation, political institutions,democratization, the  politics of oil & political economy, and identity politics and conflict. The course is designed to give students a more nuanced and complete understanding of the Middle East and North Africa, its states, and  people.The  course focuses on theoretical accounts and empirical evidence to permit students to make analytical arguments about theMiddle East and North Africa. During the term, we will compare political development trends in the Middle East and North Africa to other developing countries.


To facilitate an understanding of the history and politics of the Middle East and NorthAfrica,  fostering a critical examination of prevailing theories about the region; To sample scholarship of varying social science methodologies and to enable an understanding of these methods; To grapple with the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict through experiential learning; To inspire further interest in the Middle East and North Africa.

POLS 3445- Politics of Modern Israel

This course is an in-depth study of the politics and history of contemporary Israel.

POLS 3620-International Security

This survey course is designed to provide a broad introduction to the international relations subfield of international security. As such, it explores the key concepts and theories of international relations and applies these to the new and enduring security challenges facing individual nation-states and the global political system. We will seek answers to several big questions in the subfield, including: Should the object of security be states or individuals? Have security threats and their solutions transformed, and in what ways? In what ways do governments attempt to acquire and preserve their security? How secure can states and citizens expect to be,and at what price? 

POLS 3630- Peace and Reconciliation

In this class, students explore multiple factors contributing to conflict, de-escalation, resolution and creation/maintenance of a sustainable peace in societies with a noted recent history of conflict. Particular attention will be paid to understanding the challenges to peace from psychological and political perspectives. We first interrogate why conflict exists from multiple levels of analysis (interpersonal, intergroup, and international) and theoretical approaches. We then explore ways to resolve, manage, and control conflict by analyzing case studies of negotiation and reconciliation.


Student Learning Outcomes

Students will…

  1. Be familiar with psychological and political theories of conflict (eg intergroup conflict, causes of war, social identity theory)
  2. Know the theories and approaches to peacemaking and peacebuilding
  3. Be able to compare and contrast experimental and empirical methods of inquiry in political science and psychology
  4. Be able to apply political and psychological approaches to current situations of conflict, resolution, and reconciliation
  5. Be able to analyze the role of power dynamics in the challenges to conflict resolution
  6. Demonstrate an appreciation for the benefits of examining the dimensions of post-conflict issues from the psychological and political perspectives
  7. Be able to carry out an independent research project that involves an application of political science and psychological perspectives to a real conflict/peacebuilding situation
  8. Demonstrate an appreciation for and value of active global citizenship


POLS 3640- European Politics


The course provides an overview of post-WWII European politics and of the politics of the European Union.

The course is divided into three sections:

  1. European Political Systems and Institutions 
  2. The European Union: History, Institutions and Decision-Making
  3. Politics and Society in the European Union 

The first section analyzes the political institutions of European countries in a comparative way, with a focus on political parties, electoral systems, and systems of government. This section also explores aspects of political behavior, such as political participation, party choice, and election campaigns. Examples from several European countries contribute to the discussion. The second section analyzes the history and the institutions of the European Union (EU), exploring how political decisions are made in the EU. It also discusses recent challenges faced by the EU such as the Eurocrisis and Brexit. The third segment of the course focuses on major political and social issues that affect the European Union, including the role of radical right parties, populism, immigration and refugee crisis, and minority rights.


POLS 3800- Political Internship

This course is designed to combine your experiences working in a political internship with coursework relating to the broader study of politics in an academic setting. Designed to give students direct experience in the world of politics, internships will most commonly be held with elected officials, political consultants, non-governmental organizations, state and local government agencies, environmental organizations,political parties,and interest groups, among others. Internship opportunities also help students obtain practical experience and build relationships with potential future employers while earning college credit.

POLS 3920- Special Studies U.S. Politics

Using readings from across disciplines, students will be introduced to the concepts and methods used to study and analyze Latino Politics in the United States. In light of the fact that Latinos are quickly becoming the majority in many parts of the United States and have begun to inhabit new geographic spaces (i.e New Orleans, Atlanta, Durham), this course will focus on Latino political behavior, policy preferences, public opinion, and race relations with other racial groups. We will also focus on how they identify within the American political system when confronted with various forms of racial oppression, pressures to assimilate and, at times, a lack of attachment to and/or knowledge about their ethnic origin. Thus, by using an interdisciplinary approach we will analyze the political and social nuances that define the lived experiences of Latinos in the US.

POLS 3940- Special Studies Comparative Politics

What are authoritarian regimes? How do leaders develop and cultivate legitimacy in autocratic states?  How do they build, consolidate, and sustain power? While it is common to explain democratic deficits in some regions by pointing to specific national or religious cultures, political leaders across countries draw on many of the same strategies and tools to stay in power. This course surveys three themes:  the types of autocratic regimes, the persistence of nondemocratic rule, and political change.  It examines how authoritarian leaders develop legitimacy (e.g., symbolic politics) and strengthen their political tenure (e.g.,distributing patronage, institutionalizing control and repression, and exploiting social cleavages). It also examines the circumstances that make some regimes more vulnerable to autocratic breakdown while others appear to be more firmly entrenched.


POLS 3998.18- International Organizations

This course is structured to further familiarize students with the history, politics, philosophy and functions of international relations from the perspective of International Organizations (IOs). Over the last two centuries, processes of Westernization, globalization and economic interdependence have led to the rise of global and regional institutions to shape common norms, build consensus, resolve conflicts and manage common goods. International governmental and non-governmental organizations have greatly influenced the shaping and resolution of issues and conflicts at the global level. They have also set the conceptual, legal, institutional and procedural foundations for creating common perceptions and solutions. The record of both governmental and non-governmental organizations is a mixed one but their existence is central to the promotion of peace and resolution of conflicts. This course will focus on the theoretical foundations of IOs as well as their history, philosophy, structure, role, and functions. International organizations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, World Health Organization and World Labor Organization will be thoroughly analyzed. Regional organizations such as the European Union, African Union, Organization of American States, ASEAN and Shanghai Cooperation Organization will also be scrutinized. Furthermore, the relevance and the functions of specialized organizations such the World Intellectual Property Organization and human rights organizations will be evaluated. The course will also analyze an array of international non-governmental organizations such as those focused on disease prevention, climate change and democracy promotion and their regional and global influence in encouraging debates, shaping decisions, and resolving conflicts. Through studying regional and international organizations, the course will demonstrate the interconnectedness and interdependence of states, societies and economies.


POLS 3998.19- Environmental Politics

This course focuses on the field of global environmental politics.  The course will be a inter-disciplinary review of global environmental issues, combining perspectives of political science, public policy, law, and environmental science within the context of the international arena.  Course topics include, but are not limited to, such subjects as the history of international environmentalism, common concepts in global environmental policy-making and debates, international politics and law related to global environmental issues, and major environmental challenges facing the world today.  Course content will cover both theory and practice with respect to international efforts to address global environmental issues, with materials presenting the state of current research.

POLS 4220- U.S. Constitutional Law: Case Method II

Freedom of Speech and Equal Protection of the Law.

Student Learning Outcomes:

--to better understand the law and political theory at the heart of our constitutional system;

--to develop the skills necessary to understand and apply complex constitutional law;

--to help students who are considering law school to decide if they want to go and to prepare them to succeed once they get there.

POLS 4330- Gender and Politics

The topics explored in this course include feminist theory, the history and current status of the Women’s Movement, women in elective and appointed office, women as voters, the gender gap, as well as gender related policy areas of sexual harassment, reproduction, education and employment. Intended as an overview of the multi-faceted field of Women and Politics, the course will explore the general theories and issues through the readings, lectures, presentations and class discussions. In addition, the student will comprehensively pursue a selected topic through a final project.

POLS 4380- Politics of California

The aim of the course is to enhance the students’ understanding of practical politics. This is accomplished by classroom discussions, readings and a three-day trip to the California State Capitol in Sacramento. While in Sacramento, there will be panel discussions with staff,lobbyists, press and legislative leaders. There will also be seminars on politics, elections and public policy.

POLS 4510 - Slavery/Abolitn/Modern Slavery

Despite its legalabolition, slavery is practiced across the globe.  Kevin Bales,founder of the nonprofit Free the Slaves, estimates that 35million people are enslaved today.  This figure signifies that more people are enslaved today, in the 21stcentury, than in any other time in history.  Slavery’s continued existence is both an affront to human dignity and acall to action.  The course is divided into three sections.  In the first part of the course, we examine historical slavery in ways that you most likely have notexamined slavery in the past.  This will be done by contrasting it with contemporary human trafficking, by examining how otherness and race have varied overtime, by exploring the East and Trans-Saharan Africa slave trades as well as the well known Atlantic trade, and by discussing slavery’s legal abolition in the 19thand 20thcenturies with regard to what lessons can we draw for slavery’s eradication in the modern period. Second,we turn our attention to modern slaveryand trafficking, within countries and across borders, and examine the recent trendsand attemptsto understand the issues and debates related to slavery in the 21stcentury. In the last section of the course, we will confront the issue of slavery eradication.  We will examine potential solutions for combating slavery, including internal government policies, in-country grassroots activism, foreign policy pressures, the roles ofinternational agenciesandnon-governmental organizations, personal consumption patterns, and tackling global poverty.  


Students will be knowledgeable aboutthe main causes of, and the critical issues related to, modern slavery today.  Students will possess an understanding of the successes and failures of the current strategies to eradicateslavery and slavery-like practices around the globe.  Students will develop their own well-reasoned argument for achieving effective emancipation.  Students willhone their analytical,research and writing skills.  Finally, students willfinish the semester vested in the anti-slavery movement.

POLS 4650 - Politics of the Global Economy

This  course  examines  the interaction  between  international  economics,  international  politics,  and  domestic  politics.  After  an introduction to the disciplines of international and comparative political economy, the course is organized around thematic sections. The first one focuses on international trade, i.e. the movement of goods across countries. It analyzes the global trading system, the domestic political dimension of international trade, and public opinion on trade. The second section explores international finance, i.e. the movement of capital across countries. It examines the role of multinational corporations, monetary and exchange rate policies,and public  opinion  on  international  transfers.  The  third  section  examines  immigration,  i.e.  the  movement  of  people  across  countries, exploring the political economy of immigration, immigration attitudes, and the link between immigration and redistribution. The fourth section  investigates  the  domestic  political  effects  of  economic  globalization,  examining  the  effects  of  globalization on  elections, populism, the welfare state, and epidemics. The fifth section analyzes economic inequality, with a focus on the causes of inequality, its link with redistribution, and its effect on fairness and happiness. In the last part of the course, students will present their research.


-Gain knowledge.  Students will gain a greater comprehension of the major theoretical approaches to understanding political economy and how these approaches can help analyze substantive areas such as international trade,international monetary policy, globalization and other areas.

-Enhance critical thinking. Students will learn to critically examine the course material presented, including academic readings, news articles, and lectures.

-Enhance information literacy and improve research skills. Students will learn how to conduct their own largely self-directed research projects.  There is a long research paper that students must work on for most of the semester.  The paper requires students to find and use scholarly information specific to each disciplinary perspective.  Students will be able to differentiate between source types and understand how to use them effectively as evidence in an argument, which requires them to be able to assess material for reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, and bias.

POLS 4800 - Political Leadership

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of political leadership.  We approach the topic from a multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural, cross-gender, cross-national perspective.  

Learning Objectives: 

This course will teach students about leadership as it prepares them for leadership positions.

POLS 4998 - Special Studies: Transformative Justice

Application to Enroll in POLS 4998: Transformative Justice

According to the group GenerationFive (a group whose mission is to end the sexual abuse of children within five generations): “Transformative Justice seeks to provide people who experience violence with immediate safety and long-term healing and reparations while holding people who commit violence accountable within and by their communities.” Put this way, Transformative Justice is about building practices of genuine accountability and justice between people, acknowledging at two fundamental and uncomfortable realities about harm in the world: first, most often, and most likely, comes from people that we know, trust, and with whom we are in community with. Second, it argues that the state is at its core always a source of violence.

Transformative Justice (POLS 4998) is an in-depth seminar that is part of the 2020-2021 Bellarmine Forum and takes up this idea and practice to better understand it (and ourselves) at this particular moment in history. The course is organized around a series of public events (4-6 over the semester) featuring notable guest speakers and experts on the theory and practice of transformative justice. Guests will come to LMU (virtually) and give public talks to the LMU community (and the world at large). Students enrolled in POLS 4998: Transformative Justice will take leadership in facilitating these events, acting both as moderators and respondents to our esteemed guests. These guests will be notable academics and organizers whose work focuses on our topic. Students will work in small groups, preparing extensively each guest speaker by reading a large amount of their research, discussing it in detail with each other, and preparing to host the speaker publicly.

Enrollment in the course is by application only and priority will be given to students who have taken part in a previous Bellarmine Forum course or who have a background in transformative justice work.

POLS 5710 - Intl Affairs & Social Justice

This course is designed to expose students to careers in social justice, with particular attention to the role of international politics.  Students are required to intern at an organization that fits within the course parameters, which complements their classroom experience.  The goal is for students to gain experience in the active promotion of a particular issue by being exposed both to the functioning of an organization (eg administration) and the way in which it advocates for particular issues. In conjunction with an internship (6-10 hours per week), students will learn about ideas of justice, including distributive justice and just war, as well as their practical applications through international norms and law. Major topics to be explored include human rights, climate change, and drone warfare, among others.  

**Note: Students MUST have an internationally-focused internship by the end of the first week of class.


In addition to exposing students to a variety of career options, one of the primary learning outcomes is for students to understand the interconnectedness of the issue areas they are working on, both at the local and international levels.  Students will also recognize the implications of their professional actions and decisions from a variety of angles, especially within the context of social justice. Another learning outcome is for students to build an informed foundation for their future career path by integrating their academic knowledge and internship experience.

POLS 5810 - Honors Thesis

This course is for Honors Thesis Students only, completing their thesis projects during the Spring semester. As with the previous course (POLS 5800), this is a supportive structure for honors thesis students in Political Science to research, plan, and produce their senior thesis projects. Students will execute and report upon a major research project of their own design. This course will be organized as an on-going workshop, led primarily by student participants. Registration is by invitation only. 


Students will deepen and expand their analytic skills;Students will develop a much greater appreciation for the use of empirical evidence and analysis;Students will develop interpretive and argumentative skills;Students  will  develop  an  appreciation  for  the  relationship  between  empirical  evidence  and theoretical frameworks;Students will complete their Honors Senior Thesis projects.

POLS 5960 - Humanitarian Aid & Intervention

This course is designed to introduce students to theoretical and practical issues concerning humanitarian intervention, including the concept and history of intervention, its political and moral dilemmas, and ways forward. It examines challenges stemming from great power politics, tensions between sovereignty and responsibility, political dimensions of humanitarian aid, the growth of “war economies,” and controversies surrounding the meaning, legality, and implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Throughout the course, students will contemplate alternative tools of intervention, including both large-scale humanitarian assistance and military intervention. Additionally, students will investigate real-world cases including Kosovo, Rwanda, Libya, Syria, and Sudan. The course will conclude with an examination of the future of humanitarian intervention.


By the end of class, students will have developed:

-An understanding of the current academic and political debate about humanitarian intervention in the context of evolving notions of sovereignty and security.

-The ability to read critically in order to assess the explanatory value of competing perspectives.

-The ability to synthesize the material, reason critically, and argue creatively in class debates and discussions.

-In-depth knowledge of an intervention dilemma of their interest.

POLS 5998.01 - Food Politics

Why do millions of people go hungry on a planet that produces enough food to provide each and every person with an adequate diet?  This course is built on three prongs: discussion of salient topics related to food justice, a series of critical thinking and writing workshops, and a semester-long research paper.  For the first, we examine food poverty, domestic food policy, fast food and the Slow Food Movement, eating animals and industrial farming, and biofuels and GMOS.  For the second prong, students will participate in a series of critical thinking, writing, and presentation workshops. For the final prong, students will submit and revise multiple templates and drafts for their research papers..


Upon completion of this course, students will be well-versed in the key intellectual concepts of food poverty, will have developed their own reasoned position on how to address global and local hunger, will be knowledgeable about food production and the environment, will have a well-thought out opinion of controversial issues such as biofuels and GMOs.  Students will also hone their analytical, research, argumentation, writing, and presentation skills. You will be challenged and your will leave this class with top-notch academic skills. Finally, it is my hope that students will leave this class committed to the elimination of hunger on our planet. 


POLS 5998.02 - Security in NE Asia Since WWII

This seminar will explore U.S. policy in East Asia since the end of the Second World War, and how American policies and actions have influenced East Asia amidst revolution, crisis, war, development, democratization, strategic change, and societal transformation. 

How has the United States perceived the diverse forces within China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and how has the U.S. tried to harness these forces?  Why has East Asia mattered to the United States, ultimately involving the lives of tens of thousands of Americans and the expenditure of extraordinary budgetary resources?  What have been the effects of specific decisions and actions on the region and on the United States? Where has America succeeded, and where has it failed?

The course will address how the leaders, peoples, and cultures of the region have sought to exercise power and preserve their national identities in the shadow of American power.   Was the U.S. fully mindful of the sheer magnitude of American economic, political, and military power, and of how this dominance affected regional leaders? What lessons can be learned from these experiences?  Equally important, what do the past 75 years tell us about the road ahead, as America adapts to East Asia’s growing power and the national identities that will shape the region’s political and strategic directions?  


POLS 5998.03 - Intl Law & Maritime Disputes

The rationale for this course is to provide an interdisciplinary approach to understanding a pressing real-world problem: the potentially explosive issue of maritime territorial disputes in East Asia.  The East Asian region is replete with territorial conflicts.  As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has grown more powerful, it has been increasingly assertive in its territorial claims, including its declaration of its now infamous “nine dash line” that makes ambitious territorial claims covering about 80% of the entire South China Sea.  These claims overlap with the territorial claims of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  The issue of territorial disputes straddles multiple fields.  International law covers important international agreements that govern territory, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), and codifies processes for resolving disputes.  The issue of territorial disputes is also a central topic in international relations, as a source of conflict, and in some cases war.  For this course, we would like to provide students a chance to explore these issues from both perspectives. Throughout this course, we will guide students to explore the terrain of this complex set of issues.  


-Develop understanding of territorial conflicts and the issues at stake in East Asia

-Learn the basics of international law and application to territorial and maritime issues

-Strengthen oral rhetorical skills

-Strengthen research skills and analytic writing

  • The LMU Bulletin maintains the most complete list of Political Science and International Relations courses with their descriptions. See all courses.