Current Course Offerings

Fall 2021


Core Competency 1: American Politics

PSCI 130 Introduction to American Politics 

Michele Margolis (TR 10:15 am - 11:15 am)

This course is intended to introduce students to the national institutions and political processes of American government. What are the historical and philosophical foundations of the American Republic? How does American public policy get made, who makes it, and who benefits? Is a constitutional fabric woven in 1787 good enough for today? How, if at all, should American government be changed, and why? What is politics and why bother to study it? If these sorts of questions interest you, then this course will be a congenial home. It is designed to explore such questions while teaching students the basics of American politics and government.

Core Competency 2: Statistics

PSCI 107 Introduction to Data Science

Dan Hopkins (TR 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm)

Understanding and interpreting large, quantitative data sets is increasingly central in political and social science. Whether one seeks to understand political communication, international trade, inter-group conflict, or other issues, the availability of large quantities of digital data has revolutionized the study of politics. Nonetheless, most data-related courses focus on statistical estimation, rather than on the related but distinctive problems of data acquisition, management and visualization--in a term, data science. This course addresses that imbalance by focusing squarely on data science. Leaving this course, students will be able to acquire, format, analyze, and visualize various types of political data using the statistical programming language R. This course is not a statistics class, but it will increase the capacity of students to thrive in future statistics classes. While no background in statistics or political science is required, students are expected to be generally familiar with contemporary computing environments (e.g. know how to use a computer) and have a willingness to learn a variety of data science tools. You are encouraged (but certainly not required) to register for both this course and PSCI 338 at the same time, as the courses cover distinct, but complimentary material.

PSCI 338 Statistical Methods PSCI

Marc Meredith (MW 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm)

The goal of this class is to expose students to the process by which quantitative political science research is conducted. The class will take us down three separate, but related tracks. Track one will teach some basic tools necessary to conduct quantitative political science research. Topics covered will include descriptive statistics, sampling, probability and statistical theory, and regression analysis. However, conducting empirical research requires that we actually be able to apply these tools. Thus, track two will teach us how to implement some of these basic tools using the computer program R. However, if we want to implement these tools, we also need to be able to develop hypotheses that we want to test. Thus, track three will teach some basics in research design. Topics will include independent and dependent variables, generating testable hypotheses, and issues in causality You are encouraged to register for both this course an PSCI 107 at the same time, as the courses cover distinct but complementary, material. But there are no prerequi nor is registering for PSCI 107 necessary, in order to take this course. The class satisfies the College of A Science Quantitative Data Analysis (QDA) requirement.

Core Competency 3: Survey Research and Design

No courses satisfying the Core Competency 3 requirement are being offered in Fall 2021.


PSCI 320 Who Gets Elected and Why

Ed Rendell (M 5:15 pm - 8:15 pm)

What does it take to get elected to office? What are the key elements of a successful political campaign? What are the crucial issues guiding campaigns and elections in the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century? This class will address the process and results of electoral politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Course participants will study the stages and strategies of running for public office and will discuss the various influences on getting elected, including: Campaign finance and fundraising, demographics, polling, the media, staffing, economics, and party organization. Each week we will be joined by guest speakers who are nationally recognized professionals, with expertise in different areas of the campaign and election process. Students will also analyze campaign case studies and the career of the instructor himself. Edward G. Rendell is the former Mayor of Philadelphia, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and former Governor of Pennsylvania. A note if you are not able to gain a seat in this course: Please write to to be added to a waitlist. Waitlisted students are encouraged not to miss the first class. The professors will be able to register many waitlisted students in the first week of the semester, but only after the first class session on Monday, Sept. 14th, 6-9pm.

PSCI 232 Introduction to Political Communication

Kathleen Hall Jamieson (W 1:45 pm - 4:45 pm)

This course is an introduction to the field of political communication and conceptual approaches to analyzing communication in various forms, including advertising, speech making, campaign debates, and candidates' and office-holders' uses of social media and efforts to frame news. The focus of this course is on the interplay in the U.S. between media and politics. The course includes a history of campaign practices from the 1952 presidential contest through the election of 2020.

PSCI 436 Political Psychology

Michele Margolis (R 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm)

How do campaign advertisements influence voters' perceptions and behavior? What roles do emotions play in politics? Do we all harbor some measure of racism, sexism, or homophobia, and what role do these stereotypes play in political behavior? How and why do ideologies form, and how does partisanship influence the way that voters understand the political world? How do people perceive threat, and what are the psychological consequences of terrorism? These questions, and many others, are the province of political psychology, an interdisciplinary field that uses experimental methods and theoretical ideas from psychology as tools to examine the world of politics. In this course, we will explore the role of human thought, emotion, and behavior in politics and examine the psychological origins of citizens' political beliefs and actions from a variety of perspectives. Most of the readings emphasize politics in the United States, though the field itself speaks to every aspect of political science.