Course Offerings for POLS/IR

(All classes are in person unless otherwise specified.)

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

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 of 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.


POLS 1820- Political Science Learning Community II



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.


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 social scientists.


POLS 3050 Critical Race Theory

This course takes up the question of race and politics through the lens of critical theory, legal theory, and political philosophies of race and difference. To that end, it is an extended study of what the philosopher Charles Mills describes as "white supremacy as a political system" as it is exercised through the law, social norms, and ways of thinking and knowing. It will primarily focus on the specific academic and political movement of Critical Race Theory (CRT), an offshoot of the Critical Legal Studies tradition that developed in the last quarter of the 20th century and which has taken on renewed importance in the 21st century and its repeated yet unsubstantiated claims of being a "post-racial" social and political order. The course will pay special attention to intersections of race with, sexuality, gender, and disability.

Prerequisites/Recommended Background: This is an upper division course in political theory, and as such, students should have completed either POLS 2000 or CLST 1116 or AFAM 1211.

Cross-listed as: CLST 3998 and AFAM 3998.


POLS 3430 Politics of Latin America

Analyzes political institutions and processes in Latin America. Emphasizes current political and economic challenges to democratic consolidation in the region. Prerequisite: POLS 2100.


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 the Middle East and North Africa. During the term, we will compare political development trends in the Middle East and North Africa to other developing countries.


POLS 3445-Politics of Modern 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 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.

Student Learning Outcomes:
The goal of the course is to assist students in obtaining skills, experiences, and contacts that enhance employment prospects and options after graduation. By the end of the semester, students will (1) gain experience working in a field related to political science or international relations, (2) develop professional connections and strategies for maintaining those connections, (3) identify and cultivate additional skills that will need to be developed to ensure career readiness, and (4) reflect on and evaluate what it means to not only "do" an internship, but to excel and make themselves competitive.


POLS 3920 Special Studies US 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 4210- U.S. Constitutional Law: Case Method II

This course coveres the topics of Freedom of Speech and Equal Protection of the Law. Students are expected to do all of the reading prior to the day for which it is assigned, prepare written outlines of each case, and come to each class prepared to discuss the material. This class will be very challenging. We will look not only at the law itself but also at the law's theoretical underpinnings. It is essential that students keep up with the readings and come to all classes prepared.

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.

Prerequisites / Recommended Background: At least one course in Political Science.


POLS 4330- Gender and Politics

POLS 4330 will focus on Gender and Politics and examine a variety of issues related to how gender and politics intersect. Even though gender today is increasingly viewed as being however one identifies as he/she/they/ze/etc. and gender fluidity is gaining cultural acceptance, in the world of politics gender is still almost exclusively considered as binary. Therefore, for course purposes, Gender will be explored from the vantage point as binary reflecting one's identity as either a woman or a man. Politics for the context of this course pertains to government and the political system. However, the course perspective of Politics is best described by a quote from German author, social critic, and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann –"There is nothing that is not political. Everything is politics."

The learning objective of POLS 4330 is a mastery of issues relating to the intersection of gender and the political system. Toward that goal, we will explore gender-related topics including feminist theory, the history and current status of the Women's Movement, women as voters and the gender gap, women's political ambition, women as political candidates, women in Congress, electing a woman President of the United States, reproductive policy, work and the labor force, gender equality and can women have it all. The underlying goal of POLS 4330 is to explore politics and policy through the prism of gender.


POLS 4390 Politics of California

The aim of this course is for students to understand the workings of California politics. Students will learn about the structure of the State government and the role that it plays in the quality of life for its residents. In addition, the course aims to help students understand the role of California government as it pertains to both local governments in the state, and the federal government. Students will also participate in the Sacramento Legislative Seminar, a three-day trip to the state capitol (February 27 – March 1, 2021) where they will have the opportunity to engage with elected officials, staffers, lobbyists, consultants, and journalists through moderated panel discussions.


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.


POLS 4710 International Law

At a time in which matters implicating international law are in the headlines on a daily basis, and often at the forefront of international relations issues, this course will provide an overall introduction to the subject and explore the rules applicable to current issues of major international concern such as the making of and withdrawal from treaties, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and the legal regimes governing state use of force. It begins with a conceptual examination of international law –what are its sources, how and by whom is it made, and how is it enforced? After developing this foundation, we will look at the traditional focus of international law –the state –before considering its modern extension to individuals. Specific topics to be addressed include state use of force, dispute resolution, the law of the sea, international economic/trade law, international human rights law, and entitlement to refugee status. We will also examine the role of international law in the U.S. legal system and the respective roles of each of the three branches.


POLS 4760- 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 as 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 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. Some prior background in political science would be helpful but not necessary. This course will teach students about leadership as it prepares them for leadership positions.


POLS 4998- Intro to Comparative Political Theory

In the last 20 years or so, political theory has been challenged by a movement from within called "comparative political theory, " or CPT for short. CPT began as some political theorists ventured to criticize the Eurocentric nature of the discipline. For centuries, what counted as "political theory" was restricted to a small canon of dead, white men. Comparative Political Theorists recognize that there are rich traditions of political thinking all over the world and that Europeans and Americans have much to learn from the thinkers they have systematically excluded since the 18th century. CPT is also a critique of the seemingly stagnant nature of the discipline. Political theory has relied on the same thinkers to talk about the same questions for generations, and many feel that it is failing to keep up with a rapidly globalizing world. Studying CPT is therefore important for breaking the latent white supremacism in academic disciplines like philosophy and political science and making political theory a more vibrant, diverse, and relevant field in the 21st century. In this class, we'll learn more about what CPT is, explore some key political concepts in new ways by comparing Western and non-Western thinkers' views and get experience doing CPT for ourselves.


POLS 5360 Gender and the Law



POLS 5420- Rivalry/Cooperation in East Asia

East Asia is a region that has experienced tremendous change since World War II. First, with the meteoric economic rise of Japan, quickly followed by South Korea, Taiwan, and now China, the East Asian region has become an economic juggernaut. Yet despite growing prosperity and greater economic interchange, the region is marked by ongoing, if not heightened, conflict. Some have said that the Cold War never ended in East Asia. China and Taiwan and North and South Korea remain split after violent civil wars, and virtually every country in the region has a territorial dispute with its neighbors, legacies of imperialism, and World War II. Add to the mix an economically and militarily resurgent China and a hereditary Leninist regime with nuclear capability –North Korea –and it is clear that greater economic interdependence in the region stands in contrast to military competition and rivalry. This course analyzes how these competing dynamics have played out. Specifically, the course will look at the dynamics of security and political economy, focusing on issues such as the security implications of the rise of China, military alliances in East Asia, regionalism, trade agreements, and international monetary affairs.


POLS 5515 Food Politics Seminar

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, a series of academic workshops, and an engaged learning component. For the first, we examine food poverty (global hunger, hunger in the United States, and hunger in our schools and at our universities). We will also examine domestic food policy, biofuels and GMOs, fast food and the Slow Food Movement, agriculture and the environment, and the ethics of eating animals and industrial farming. Second, students will participate in a series of critical thinking and writing workshops related to their research papers. Finally, for the engaged learning component, students may either intern with a local food NGO or may work to establish an on-campus fresh food pantry to address food insecurity at LMU.


POLS 5700 International Relations Senior Assessment

POLS 5700 is a zero-unit course that examines majors' feedback and evaluation of the international relations program. Students should enroll in this course during their final year at LMU, as follows: (1) those with an expected graduation date of Fall 2021 should enroll now (Fall 2021), and (2) those anticipating graduation in Spring or Summer 2021 should enroll during the Spring 2021 registration period.

Does not meet


POLS 5998.06 Human Capital Theory and Dem

What does it mean to think of ourselves, our actions, and our decisions in the terms of "investments" and "returns"? This is precisely what the theory of "human capital"—developed in the mid-20th century by behavioral economists as a way to understand how people make short term sacrifices to improve their conditions in the longer-term—asks us to do. But is it possible to reconcile the idea of "investing" in our democracy with meaningful democratic practices? Does freedom become merely what we choose, and (in)equality merely an effect of our good or bad investments? If we think of our actions and ourselves in this way, is it possible to fight the economic, racial, and gender-based inequality that characterizes the United States today?

This discussion-based senior seminar looks for answers to these questions by tracing a critical genealogy of human capital theory, studying the genesis of this idea, documenting its formalization in the 1950s and 60s, tracing its 18th and 19th century roots in racist, sexist, and ablest assumptions about human difference, and asking how the theory expanded its reach into nearly every domain of social science research, public policy, and common sense by the beginning of the 21st century. As an in-depth study in social, political, and economic theory, participants in this seminar will study how human capital theory helps (or hinders) our ability to understand how we have come to think, act, and govern ourselves. Particular attention will be paid to (1) the historical context in how human capital was developed as a response to massive social and political upheavals that were occurring along lines of race and gender during the 1950s and '60s; (2) if human capital de-politicizes our ideas of freedom and equality or enriches them; and (3) if the troubling 19th century roots of human capital theory continue to haunt its application today.

Students will be expected to read, analyze, and interpret original research articles in political science, economics, and philosophy, producing an original research paper by the end of the term. Foundations of Political (POLS 2000) is a pre-requisite (or some equivalent), and it is highly recommended that students have taken upper division courses in political theory or philosophy and have some coursework in economics.


POLS 5998.07 Global LGBTQ Rights and Representation

The course analyzes LGBTQ rights and representation in the United States and in countries around the world. The first section offers an overview of LGBTQ communities, exploring size, diversity, and representation. The second section focuses on successes and defeats of LGBTQ movements across time and space. We will analyze the homophile movement after WWII, the gay liberation movement after Stonewall, ACT UP following the AIDS crisis, and the marriage equality movement. The third section examines LGBTQ electoral politics, focusing on the political attitudes and behavior of LGBTQ voters and on the barriers and successes of LGBTQ candidates and politicians. The last section examines contemporary challenges, including backlash, counter-movements, and topics outside the mainstream, such as pinkwashing, trans organizing, and queer politics in the global south.

The course is organized as a seminar, with limited frontal lecturing and a focus on discussion among participants. The seminar will meet once a week for three hours. In most classes, there will be three components: a student-led discussion on the readings of the day; a conversation with an expert; and assessment of progress on class research and projects. The course has two main assignments: an LGBTQ oral history project and LGBTQ policy memos. The LGBTQ oral history project will consist of a series of podcasts produced by students. Each student will be responsible for interviewing an LGBTQ trailblazer, who could be an activist or an elected official. For the LGBTQ policy memos, students will work in groups to collect transnational data on LGBTQ policies.


POLS 5998.08- Segregation & Housing

This course examines the intricate relationships between law, courts, and political systems in the United States with historical and modern dilemmas of segregation and housing. The course takes place in four stages: First, we will establish a historical framework to contextualize institutional and legal standards that created the basis for modern problems in segregation and housing. After setting a historical foundation, our second part of the course focuses predominantly on the effects of racial segregation and its effects on poverty. The third part of the course takes a turn towards policy debates on enclaves and gated communities within the U.S. Our final stage of the course will focus on the current California housing crisis as a case study. Along the way, we will explore the interaction between judicial institutions and other institutions, such as legislatures, executives, and state & local governments. While the course will contain traditional academic readings, we will also be utilizing a regular blend of guest speakers, multimedia, and lively classroom activities.