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Department of Political Science


  • William Howell


  • John J. Brehm
  • Cathy Cohen
  • Michael Dawson
  • John Mark Hansen
  • Gary Herrigel
  • William Howell, Public Policy
  • Charles Lipson
  • John McCormick
  • John J. Mearsheimer
  • J. Eric Oliver
  • John F. Padgett
  • Robert Pape
  • John Patty
  • Elizabeth Maggie Penn
  • Nathan Tarcov, Social Thought
  • Lisa Wedeen
  • Dali Yang
  • Linda Zerilli

Associate Professors

  • Justin Grimmer
  • Patchen Markell
  • Sankar Muthu
  • Monika Nalepa
  • Jennifer Pitts
  • Gerald N. Rosenberg
  • Dan Slater
  • Paul Staniland

Assistant Professors

  • Michael Albertus
  • Ruth Bloch Rubin
  • Austin Carson
  • Chiara Cordelli
  • Adom Getachew
  • Robert Gulotty
  • Demetra Kasimis
  • Matthew Landauer
  • Benjamin Lessing
  • Paul Poast
  • James Wilson

Emeritus Faculty

  • Leonard Binder
  • Morton A. Kaplan
  • William Sewell
  • Bernard S. Silberman
  • Duncan Snidal
  • Ronald Suny

Associate Members

  • Elisabeth Clemens
  • Thomas Ginsburg
  • Roger Myerson
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • Moishe Postone
  • James Robinson

The Department of Political Science offers a course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree. A departmental faculty committee makes admission decisions based on an assessment of all the material required in the University application: biographical data, statement of interests and goals in graduate school, transcripts of grades, letters of recommendation, Graduate Record Examination aptitude scores, and a brief writing sample. Committee members want to know what applicants find intellectually exciting and why applicants want to study at the University of Chicago.

The department is committed to training doctoral students in political science broadly conceived. We believe that the best work in political science often crosses subfields and disciplines. Our aim is to help students develop and pursue their intellectual interests while grounding them in the various approaches and methodologies that characterize the discipline. The program requirements mix research papers, coursework, and exams so that students can achieve these goals as they proceed expeditiously towards the Ph.D. degree.

The Graduate Program

For purposes of course distribution and comprehensive exams, the department offers courses and exams in five fields. At present, they are theory, American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and methodology. To meet the course distribution requirement, students must complete three courses in each of three fields. Overall, twelve courses taken for quality grades are required by the end of the sixth quarter.

In the first year students are required to take PLSC 30501 Introduction to Research Design and write a research paper as part of the normal writing requirement of a class. The most important project in the first two years is the master’s paper, a piece of original research that is modeled on a journal article and addresses an important research question or debate.

Students are required to pass comprehensive exams in two fields. The exams are offered twice a year (with the exception of the comparative politics exam, which is scheduled on an individual basis) and they may be taken at any point but the final deadline by which the exams must be taken is the beginning of the seventh quarter (normally autumn quarter of the third year).

Practical pedagogical experience is a program requirement. To satisfy the requirement, students can serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate lecture courses and in the department's methodology sequence. A few advanced graduate students, selected as Grodzins Prize Lecturers, offer their own undergraduate courses. There are also opportunities to serve as teaching interns and instructors in the College's undergraduate core curriculum and as preceptors who assist the undergraduate majors with the writing of B.A. papers.

After completing courses and exams, students turn to the Ph.D. dissertation. The first step is a dissertation proposal that briefly outlines the research question, significance, argument, and method of the dissertation. PLSC 50000 The Dissertation Proposal Seminar, required in the winter quarter of the third year, is a weekly seminar devoted solely to the presentation and collective discussion of several drafts of each student’s dissertation proposal. The proposal must be approved by a committee of three faculty who agree to supervise the dissertation research and present the proposal for departmental approval.

Although advanced graduate research and writing is often a solitary enterprise, students in the department also typically continue to participate in one or more workshops, which are mainly devoted to students' presentation of research in progress for discussion and constructive criticism. Political science students participate in workshops devoted to American Politics, Comparative Politics, East Asia, Political Economy, Political Psychology, Political Theory, International Relations, and International Security Policy to name just a few. There are many other interdisciplinary workshops throughout the University ranging from Law and Economics, to Gender and Sexuality, to Russian Studies, all of which are open to political science students.

Upon receiving final approval of the dissertation by the members of the dissertation committee, the candidate gives a formal presentation based on the dissertation. Following the presentation, which is open to the public, the candidate is questioned by an examining committee of three faculty members.

For more information about current faculty, students, requirements, and courses, consult the department webpage at

Information on How to Apply

The application process for admission and financial aid for all Social Sciences graduate programs is administered through the divisional Office of the Dean of Students. The Application for Admission and Financial Aid, with instructions, deadlines, and department specific information is available online at:  

Questions pertaining to admissions and aid should be directed to or (773) 702-8415. All correspondence and materials that cannot be uploaded should be mailed to:

The University of Chicago
Division of the Social Sciences
Admissions Office, Foster 105
1130 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637


For teaching purposes the subject matter of political science has been divided into the following fields of advanced study: political theory, American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and methodology. These fields are thought of not as separate compartments but as broad and flexible areas of specialization. Ph.D. candidates with interest in the governments of particular geographical areas may specialize in those areas by combining work in political science with relevant courses from other departments.

Field I. Political Theory

The field of political theory concerns itself with the interpretation and critical analysis of political phenomena: it addresses questions of how we do, and how we ought to, order collective life. It does so by a variety of means, including conceptual clarification and debate (of concepts such as power, legitimacy, authority, obligation, the nation-state, justice, domination, action); interpretation of and critical engagement with historical texts of political thought; and normative argument about politics and policy. It recognizes the importance of political questions that cannot be resolved through the methods of scientific research alone and draws on historical, philosophical, and interpretive approaches to frame and address its questions.

Field II. American Politics

The field of American politics deals with the organization, distribution, and orientation of political power in American society. The major items of emphasis are the development of American political thought, the political behavior of individuals, groups, and governmental institutions, elections, and the formation and execution of public policy. Attention is paid both to the present state of the American political system and to its historical roots.

Field III. Comparative Politics

The field of comparative politics examines phenomena such as state formation, democracy, nationalism, economic organization, revolution, and social movements across time and space. One approach to these phenomena is to develop expertise in a particular era or area, and then to interpret the distinctive political processes and outcomes coming from that context. Another approach is to examine a set of cases in the search for valid generalizations about political phenomena that span across regions or historical eras. A third approach is to rely on formal theory to specify universal mechanisms or processes, and then to use data from a variety of sources to give credence to the models. All approaches share an assumption that the systematic study of political experience beyond that of the United States is a key ingredient for a discipline that seeks high levels of generality and abstraction.

Field IV. International Relations

The field of international relations is concerned with theoretical and empirical examination of international politics, especially international security and international political economy. Methodological approaches represented by the faculty include historical, case study, quantitative, and mathematical analysis. Workshops provide a common forum within the department for interchange between different questions about and approaches to international politics. In addition, there are important connections to other areas of political science including comparative and American politics, methodology, and political theory. International relations further engages other social science disciplines including international economics, political geography, public policy, and diplomatic history. Students are encouraged to take courses in these and other disciplines, although the department assumes responsibility only for those approaches to the study of international relations which develop the assumptions and utilize the methods employed in the fields of political science. For this field of political science, students are expected to acquire fundamental knowledge of international politics, with special emphasis on international relations theory and research approaches.

Field V. Methodology

The field of methodology provides the means by which scholars can systematically study politics. The department offers formal theory, qualitative, and quantitative approaches in a wide range of dedicated courses in the department. Formal theory employs mathematical models to derive specific theorems about politics including problems such as: the means by which polities may arrive at equitable distributions of goods; strategic choices by candidates, parties, and officials; or counterintuitive effects of investment in education on political and social standing. Qualitative approaches seek to describe, interpret, and/or explain political action and institutions through direct and systematic analysis of specific empirical contexts. Quantitative methods use statistical tools to both understand politics, and to make predictions about future outcomes in problems including the duration of political coalitions and regimes, appraising the composition of political attitudes, assessment of the consequences of communications between elected officials and citizens, or comprehending the reasons behind choices to engage in or influence politics. The department regularly employs all these methods in its other fields, and a strong comprehension is essential for modern political science. The department offers comprehensive exams in methodology for advanced students.

The department website offers descriptions of graduate courses scheduled for the current academic year:

Political Science Courses

PLSC 30102. Introduction to Causal Inference. 100 Units.

This course is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduate students from the social sciences, education, public health science, public policy, social service administration, and statistics who are involved in quantitative research and are interested in studying causality. The goal of this course is to equip students with basic knowledge of and analytic skills in causal inference. Topics for the course will include the potential outcomes framework for causal inference; experimental and observational studies; identification assumptions for causal parameters; potential pitfalls of using ANCOVA to estimate a causal effect; propensity score based methods including matching, stratification, inverse-probability-of-treatment-weighting (IPTW), marginal mean weighting through stratification (MMWS), and doubly robust estimation; the instrumental variable (IV) method; regression discontinuity design (RDD) including sharp RDD and fuzzy RDD; difference in difference (DID) and generalized DID methods for cross-section and panel data, and fixed effects model. Intermediate Statistics or equivalent is a prerequisite. This course is a pre-requisite for “Advanced Topics in Causal Inference” and “Mediation, moderation, and spillover effects.”

Instructor(s): K. Yamaguchi     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Intermediate Statistics or equivalent such as STAT 224/PBHS 324, PP 31301, BUS 41100, or SOC 30005 is a prerequisite.
Note(s): Graduate course, open to advanced undergraduates. CHDV Distribution: M, M*
Equivalent Course(s): STAT 31900,SOCI 30315,PBHS 43201,CHDV 30102

PLSC 30401. American Politics Field Seminar II. 100 Units.

A survey of some of the main themes, topics and approaches in the study of American politics and government.

Instructor(s): C. Cohen, W. Howell     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 30501. Introduction to Research Design. 100 Units.

This course is an introduction to research design as practiced by political scientists from all subfields. The first part of the course pays particular attention to formulating precise research questions; the structure and content of theories; the formulation of testable hypotheses, and the logic of empirical tests. The second part of the course considers different epistemic approaches to research design in political science starting with the highly influential approach advanced in Designing Social Inquiry. Critics of the work from both within and outside of DSI’s epistemic approach are considered. We end the course with consideration of the challenges and potential of research designs constructed to investigate causal inference. (E)

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Open to Political Science PhD students only.

PLSC 30600. Causal Inference. 100 Units.

This is the second course in quantitative methods in Chicago's political science Ph.D. program. The course serves as both an introduction for the mechanisms by which political scientists draw causal inferences using quantitative data as well as an introduction for the basic statistical tools necessary for quantitative research in the social sciences. (E)

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 30700. Introduction to Linear Models. 100 Units.

This course will provide an introduction to the linear model, the dominant form of statistical inference in the social sciences. The goals of the course are to teach students the statistical methods needed to pursue independent large-n research projects and to develop the skills necessary to pursue further methods training in the social sciences. Part I of the course reviews the simple linear model (as seen in STAT 22000 or its equivalent) with attention to the theory of statistical inference and the derivation of estimators. Basic calculus and linear algebra will be introduced. Part II extends the linear model to the multivariate case. Emphasis will be placed on model selection and specification. Part III examines the consequences of data that is "poorly behaved" and how to cope with the problem. Depending on time, Part IV will introduce special topics like systems of simultaneous equations, logit and probit models, time-series methods, etc. Little prior knowledge of math or statistics is expected, but students are expected to work hard to develop the tools introduced in class. (E)

Instructor(s): J. Brehm     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 30901. Game Theory I. 100 Units.

This is a course for graduate students in Political Science. It introduces students to games of complete information through solving problem sets. We will cover the concepts of equilibrium in dominant strategies, weak dominance, iterated elimination of weakly dominated strategies, Nash equilibrium, subgame perfection, backward induction, and imperfect information. The course will be centered around several applications of game theory to politics: electoral competition, agenda control, lobbying, voting in legislatures, and coalition games. This course serves as a prerequisite for Game Theory II offered in the Winter Quarter. (E)

Instructor(s): J. Patty     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 29102

PLSC 31000. Game Theory II. 100 Units.

This is a course for graduate students in Political Science. It introduces students to games of incomplete information through solving problem sets. We will cover the concepts of Bayes Nash equilibrium, perfect Bayesian equilibrium, and quantal response equilibrium. In terms of applications, the course will extend the topics examined in the prerequisite, PLSC 30901. Game Theory I to allow for incomplete information, with a focus on the competing challenges of moral hazard and adverse selection in those settings. (E)

Instructor(s): J. Patty     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PLSC 30901 or equivalent.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 29103

PLSC 31802. Global Justice and the Politics of Empire. 100 Units.

Over the last four decades, political theorists and philosophers have transcended the nation-state form and taken their concerns about redistribution, democracy, and rights global. Though often not explicitly acknowledged, this global turn emerged just at the tail end of decolonization when political and economic crises from large-scale famines to authoritarianism and ethnic violence rocked the newly emerging post-colonial world. This course will examine how contemporary debates around global justice broadly construed interact and intersect with the legacies of imperialism and decolonization. In exploring questions of redistributive justice, global democracy, human rights, and humanitarian intervention, we will consider the following questions: (1) in what ways are debates about global justice responding to the legacies of imperial rule, (2) how are the historical and contemporary manifestations of international hierarchy challenged and retrenched, and (3) is contemporary cosmopolitanism an alibi for new forms of imperialism?

Instructor(s): A. Getachew, J. Wilson     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 21802

PLSC 33300. Interpretive Methods in the Social Sciences. 100 Units.

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to interpretive methods in the social sciences. Students will learn to "read" texts and images while also becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about interpretation, narrative, ethnography, and social construction. Among the methods we shall explore are: semiotics, hermeneutics, ordinary language theory, and discourse analysis. (E)

Instructor(s): L. Wedeen     Terms Offered: Spring

PLSC 34806. Strategies of Power, Resistance, and Change. 100 Units.

As the forces of populism, isolationism, ethnocentrism, and polarization increasingly shape U.S. politics, how can citizens actually affect politics and policy? What are the tools and strategies for pursuing (or resisting) change? How is power actually exerted in the modern state? In this course, we will consider how people exert, resist, and manipulate political power in modern states.  We will compare and contrast democratic and authoritarian regimes; formal and informal processes; and economic, moral, and social policies.

Instructor(s): J. Patty     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 24806

PLSC 35002. Race and the American State. 100 Units.

This course explores how the politics of race have shaped the American state, and how that state’s governing institutions have, in turn, altered the meaning and place of race in our polity. Drawing on work by sociologists, historians, and political scientists broadly situated at the intersection of race and institutions, we will attempt to put the U.S. in comparative perspective. Key questions we will tackle include the following: how has race affected the construction of the American state, and the composition and development of its key institutions? How has race affected national policymaking on both social and economic issues? How have state actors deployed race as a tool of governance, and how have those efforts changed over time? (B)

Instructor(s): R. Bloch Rubin     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 35311. Models of Ancient Politics I: Athens, Sparta, Rome. 100 Units.

This course begins a two-quarter sequence on Athens, Sparta, and Rome as models of politics and their subsequent reception and appropriation in the history of Western political thought. This quarter, we will focus on understanding the institutions, political culture, and political theory of ancient Greece and Rome through an engagement with ancient texts and modern scholarship. Readings will include Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Plutarch, Polybius, Livy, and Sallust.

Instructor(s): M. Landauer     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 25311

PLSC 35312. Models of Ancient Politics II: Modern Receptions. 100 Units.

This is the second course in a two-quarter sequence on the importance of Athens, Sparta, and Rome for Western political theory. This quarter we will focus on the reception and appropriation of ancient political models in modern European political thought. Authors to be read include Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Adams, Hume, Rousseau, Mill, and Grote, as well as modern scholars.

Instructor(s): M. Landauer     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 25312

PLSC 35500. Public Opinion. 100 Units.

A close examination of techniques employed, categories utilized and assumptions made by contemporary American students of public opinion. Criticism of these approaches from historical, philosophical and comparative perspectives will be encouraged. (B)

Instructor(s): E. Oliver     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 37000. Law and Politics: U.S. Courts as Political Institutions. 100 Units.

An examination of the ways in which United States courts affect public policy. Questions include: How do the procedures, structures, and organization of the courts affect judicial outcomes? Are there interests that courts are particularly prone to support? What effect does congressional or executive impact, including judicial selection, have on court decisions? What are the difficulties with implementation of judicial decisions? (B)

Instructor(s): G. Rosenberg     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Mandatory preliminary meeting and consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 51302

PLSC 37600. War and the Nation State. 100 Units.

The aim of this course is to examine the phenomenon of war in its broader socio-economic context during the years between the emergence of the modern nation-state in the late eighteenth century and the end of World War II. 

Instructor(s): J. Mearsheimer     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 27600

PLSC 37815. Politics and Public Policy in China. 100 Units.

As the world’s most populous country and second largest economy, China wields considerable weight globally but also stands out for its non-democratic political system. This course examines how China is governed and looks at China’s domestic governance and international policies. First, it examines political institutions and political behavior in China in historical perspective, especially since the Communist takeover of power in 1949. It emphasizes how institutions have been shaped and reshaped and the importance of leadership. Second, it considers various issues of public policy and governance, including the role of the Communist Party, state-society relations, the relationship between Beijing and the provinces, corruption, population and environment, and the role of the armed forces. Third, it examines the interaction between domestic and international factors in China’s development and considers the global implications of China’s struggle to develop.  The course looks at many of these issues from a comparative perspective and introduces a variety of analytical concepts and approaches.

Instructor(s): D. Yang     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 27815

PLSC 38510. Jews and Arabs: Three Moralities, Historiographies & Roadmaps. 100 Units.

A distinction will be made between mainly three approaches to Zionism: essentialist-proprietary, constructivist-egalitarian, and critical-dismissive. This will be followed by an explication of these approaches’ implications for four issues: pre-Zionist Jewish history; institutional and territorial arrangements in Israel/Palestine concerning the relationships between Jews and the Palestinians; the relationships between Israeli Jews and world Jewry; and the implications of these approaches for the future of Israel/Palestine and the future of Judaism.

Instructor(s): C. Gans     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course may be used to fulfill the general education requirement in civilization studies.
Equivalent Course(s): JWSC 20233,NEHC 24800,NEHC 34800,PLSC 28510

PLSC 39601. The Political Economy of International Trade. 100 Units.

This graduate seminar focuses on the political economy of international trade. We will draw on insights from international law, economics, and political science to answer research questions in international political economy and provide the foundations for the evaluation and production of empirical research. Topics include the determinants of trade policy preferences, the rationale for international trade agreements and the workings of the global trade regime. A central goal of the course is to generate ideas for student research, including papers and dissertation topics.

Instructor(s): R. Gulotty     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Students are expected to have taken PLSC 43401: Mathematical Foundations of Political Methodology.

PLSC 39900. Strategy. 100 Units.

This course covers American national security policy in the post–cold war world, especially the principal issues of military strategy that are likely to face the United States in the next decade. This course is structured in five parts: (1) examining the key changes in strategic environment since 1990, (2) looking at the effects of multipolarity on American grand strategy and basic national goals, (3) focusing on nuclear strategy, (4) examining conventional strategy, and (5) discussing the future of war and peace in the Pacific Rim.

Instructor(s): R. Pape     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 28900

PLSC 40600. Seminar on IR Theory. 100 Units.

This course is a PhD-level introductory survey of the major scholarly traditions in the field of International Relations. It provides an introduction to the central theoretical approaches including realism, liberalism, and constructivism and their variants. The course also exposes students to more recent non-paradigmatic research programs, reflections on the field’s development over time, and the recurring “meta-debates” which underlie many of the differences in applied areas. Seminar discussion will identify and criticize the central arguments advanced by different scholars in order to assess the relative merits of different theoretical perspectives. The course is designed to help students prepare for the Department’s IR general exam: assigned and suggested readings are a starting point for building a reading list; the course offers practice with answering exam questions; students will exercise modes of critical analysis during seminar critical to passing the exam. (D)

Instructor(s): A. Carson     Terms Offered: Autumn

PLSC 40604. Militant Power Politics. 100 Units.

In what way does ISIS calculate its options differently than great powers or states in general? Over the past twenty years, the study of militant power politics has exploded both empirically, but especially theoretically. Today, there are a variety of theories of the causes, conduct and consequences of violence by militant non-state actors that rest on fundamentally different assumptions about the coherence of militant groups, the degree of rationality in their decision-making, and and the nature of their dynamics in competition with rival states. The most important are ideological, religious, ethnic, and strategic theories which also drive the principle policy choices about how to respond to militant power politics. This seminar will cover the main theories of militant power politics, encouraging students to carry out policy relevant research in this area. (D)

Instructor(s): R. Pape     Terms Offered: Spring

PLSC 40801. Social Choice Theory. 100 Units.

This course will provide you with an introduction to the field of social choice theory, the study of aggregating the preferences of individuals into a "collective preference." It will focus primarily on classic theorems and proof techniques, with the aim of examining the properties of different collective choice procedures and characterizing procedures that yield desirable outcomes. The classic social choice results speak not only to the difficulties in aggregating the preferences of individuals, but also to the difficulties in aggregating any set of diverse criteria that we deem important to making a choice or generating a ranking. Specific topics we will cover include preference aggregation, rationalizable choice, tournaments, sophisticated voting, domain restrictions, and the implicit trade-offs made by game theoretic versus social choice theoretic approaches to modeling. (E)

Instructor(s): E. Penn     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 41101. The Politics of Wealth Redistribution. 100 Units.

How do political institutions affect the structure and scope of wealth redistribution initiatives? This graduate seminar will introduce students to the scholarly literature on redistribution, focusing primarily on recent work. We will study the causes and consequences of redistribution, focusing both on the institutions that shape incentives for governments to implement redistribution, as well as the mechanisms, actors, and international conditions that can erode government incentives or capabilities to redistribute. The emphasis of the course will be twofold: rigorously examining the inferences we can draw from existing work, and designing research that can contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental questions regarding redistributive policies. (C)

Instructor(s): M. Albertus     Terms Offered: Spring

PLSC 41500. Nationalism in the Age of Globalization. 100 Units.

Nationalism has been the most powerful political ideology in the world for the past two centuries. This course examines its future in the age of globalization, focusing in particular on the widespread belief that it is an outmoded ideology. Specific topics covered in the course include: the causes of nationalism, its effects on international stability, nationalism and empires, globalization and the future of the state, globalization and national identities, the clash of civilizations, American nationalism, and the clash between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. (D)

Instructor(s): J. Mearsheimer     Terms Offered: Spring

PLSC 41510. Nationalism and Multiculturalism. 100 Units.

The main goal of the course is to conduct a critical discussion of the different types of multicultural and national rights, their possible justifications, and the way they should apply in Israel, compared to some other cases. In order to facilitate this, two general topics will be discussed: the concepts of the nation and of cultural groups; a normative typology of nationalist ideologies and types of multicultural programs. These then will be applied to more particular issues such as national self-determination, cultural preservation rights, nationalism and immigration, with special attention to the Israeli case (e.g. Israel’s Law of Return, refusal to allow the return of Palestinian refugees, etc.).

Instructor(s): C. Gans     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): NEHC 34801

PLSC 42515. The Political Nature of the American Judicial System. 100 Units.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the political nature of the American judicial system. In examining foundational parts of the political science literature on courts understood as political institutions, the course will focus on the relationship between courts, other political institutions, and the broader society. The sorts of questions to be asked include: Are there interests that courts are particularly prone to support? What factors influence judicial decision-making? Are judicial decisions influenced by public opinion? What effects do congressional or executive actions have on court decisions? What impact do court decisions have? While the answers will not always be clear, students should complete the course with an awareness of and sensitivity to the political nature of the American judicial system. The course is not case-based. No prior knowledge of the judicial system is necessary.

Instructor(s): G. Rosenberg     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 24011,PLSC 22515

PLSC 42701. Seminar in Chinese Politics. 100 Units.

This is a research-oriented seminar for graduate students interested in exploring current research on China and in conducting their own research. Our emphasis will be on the changing nature of the Chinese Party-state, central-local relations, media and censorship, corruption and anticorruption, subnational governance, the politics of law and order, regulatory politics, and political reforms. Throughout the course we’ll pay attention to the course, dynamics, and challenges of making reform. Though the readings are on China, we are to consider China’s development comparatively and in view of recent developments in political science. (C)

Instructor(s): D. Yang     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 43001. The Refugee. 100 Units.

This is a graduate class that critically explores the meaning of the refugee and some related questions of migration, asylum, borders, membership, diaspora, gender, and Europeanness in a wide range of texts (political, legal, literary, visual) in both contemporary and historical perspectives. How is a refugee different from a migrant? Can we talk about the refugee outside of a modern human rights framework? What relation is there between the ancient Greek notion of asylum and today’s practice? Particular attention may be paid to the case of modern Greece as a nation that not only sits at the intersections of Europe, Middle East, and North Africa and at the crossroads of immigration and emigration but also possesses a particular self-understanding as diasporic and hospitable. (A)

Instructor(s): D. Kasimis     Terms Offered: Autumn

PLSC 43100. Maximum Likelihood. 100 Units.

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the estimation and interpretation of maximum likelihood, a statistical method which permits a close linkage of deductive theory and empirical estimation. Among the problems considered in this course include: models of dichotomous choice, such as turnout and vote choice; models of limited categorical data, such as those for multi-party elections and survey responses; models for counts of uncorrelated events, such as executive orders and bookburnings; models for duration, such as the length of parliamentary coalitions or the tenure of bureaucracies; models for compositional data, such as allocation of time by bureaucrats to task and district vote shares; and models for latent variables, such as for predispositions. The emphasis in this course will be on the extraction of information about political and social phenomena, not upon properties of estimators. (E)

Instructor(s): J. Brehm     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PLSC 30700 Intro to Linear Models or consent of instructor.

PLSC 43401. Mathematical Foundations of Political Methodology. 100 Units.

This is a first course on the theory and practice of mathematical methods in social science research. These mathematical and computer skills are needed for the quantitative and formal modeling courses offered in the political science department and are increasingly necessary for courses in American, Comparative, and International Relations. We will cover mathematical techniques (linear algebra, calculus, probability) and methods of logical and statistical inference (proofs and statistics). A weekly computing lab will apply these methods, as well as introduce the R statistical computing environment. (E)

Instructor(s): R. Gulotty, E. Penn     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Students are expected to have completed SOCS 30100: Mathematics for Social Sciences.

PLSC 43600. The Political Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois. 100 Units.

The course will survey the political thought of leading American and international intellectual W.E.B Du Bois. Because Du Bois’s intellectual and activist contributions range across the fields of history, sociology, education, fiction, philosophy, political theory, literary theory, biography, and autobiography, the course samples works by him in each of these fields. Central themes include: (1) Du Bois’s shifting understanding of race as a concept, (2) his internationalist and Pan-African orientation, (3) his turn to Marxist analysis and political commitments. The seminar will be particularly concerned with situating Du Bois thought in historical context and understanding the transformations in his thinking. (A)

Instructor(s): A. Getachew     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 44501. Marx's Capital and its Readers I. 100 Units.

This is a two-semester seminar on the critique of political economy in Karl Marx's Capital (mainly volume 1), and on how a series of mainly 20th-century and contemporary readers from a variety of intellectual traditions have interpreted, criticized, mobilized, and elaborated Marx's work. For graduate students. Enrollment in both quarters is not required, but students who wish to enroll in Part II without having taken Part I must attend the first day of the Spring quarter class and thereafter request the consent of the instructor.

Instructor(s): P. Markell     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 44502. Marx's Capital and its Readers II. 100 Units.

This is a two-semester seminar on the critique of political economy in Karl Marx's Capital (mainly volume 1), and on how a series of mainly 20th-century and contemporary readers from a variety of intellectual traditions have interpreted, criticized, mobilized, and elaborated Marx's work. For graduate students. Enrollment in both quarters is not required, but students who wish to enroll in Part II without having taken Part I must attend the first day of the Spring quarter class and thereafter request the consent of the instructor. 

Instructor(s): P. Markell     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): PLSC 44501

PLSC 44701. Comparative Approaches to Civil War. 100 Units.

This course blends theoretical, empirical, and conceptual work on civil conflict with detailed studies of cases. It will assess research on civil war "onset," mobilization, violence, civilian agency, and resolution, while linking these broader literatures to conflicts in the Middle East and South Asia. The course will emphasize theoretical innovations grounded in detailed empirical knowledge, including primary texts, ethnographies, films, and other forms of cultural production. (C)

Instructor(s): P. Staniland, L. Wedeen     Terms Offered: Spring

PLSC 45010. Social Theory and the Economy. 100 Units.

This course will survey a variety of works in economic sociology, political economy and organization theory. The focus will be substantively on the changing character of market process, the location of production and the governance of flows of labor and capital. Theoretically, we will survey recent work in Actor-Network Theory, Experimentalist Governance, field theory and institutionalism. Among others, we will read work by Polanyi, Sahlins, Beckert, Latour, Callon, Mackenzie, Fligstein, Boltanski, Sabel, Thelen. (C)

Instructor(s): G. Herrigel     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 40227

PLSC 45706. The Sociology of Work in Industry, Agriculture and Services. 100 Units.

This course will survey sociological and political economic writings on work and the organization of production in the main domains of contemporary political economic life: industry, services and agriculture. The first part of the course will survey the main theoretical traditions in sociology, anthropology, economics and political science that have concerned themselves with work, while the second part of the course will focus on cases and ethnographies of contemporary workplaces and production processes in both the developed and developing world. (C)

Instructor(s): G. Herrigel     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 40228

PLSC 45804. Feminists Read the Greeks. 100 Units.

As one scholar puts it, feminist thought has “gone a long way… toward inscribing classical Greek philosophy at the origins of some of the most tenacious assumptions about sexual difference in the Western tradition.” Since the 1970s, writing on gender, sex, and sexuality has staged a series of generative, critical, and sometimes controversial encounters with ancient Greek thought and culture. We examine the ways in which the texts and practices of ancient Greece, if not the idea of “the Greeks,” have offered theoretical and symbolic resources for feminists and others to think critically about gender as a conceptual and political category.  What sorts of interpretive and historical assumptions govern these engagements? To what extent are the trajectories of gender studies and classics intertwined? Was there a concept of “gender” in ancient Greece? Of sexuality? Is it fair to say, as many have, that classical ideas about gender and the sexed body are wholly opposed to those of the “moderns”? Readings range from feminist theory to Greek mythology, philosophy, and drama to scholarship on gender and sexuality in antiquity (including Foucault, Halperin, and Winkler).

Instructor(s): D. Kasimis     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 25804

PLSC 45901. Contemporary Egalitarianism. 100 Units.

This seminar will examine different understandings of the idea of equality (moral, social and political) in contemporary analytical political thought. It will explore a series of questions that have been at the center of recent debates between egalitarians, including: what the foundation of equal moral status between persons is; whether the main reasons for objecting to social inequalities are intrinsically egalitarian or rather derive from non-egalitarian values; what (if anything) should be equalized; how justice and equality relate to each other; whether the ideal of social equality should ultimately be understood as a relationship between persons or as a distributive ideal; whether the ideal of social equality makes sense only within bounded political societies, or is instead broader in scope. We will read the work of, among others, Elizabeth Anderson, Richard Arneson, Charles Beitz, Simon Caney, G.A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, Derek Parfit, John Rawls, Thomas Scanlon, Samuel Scheffler, Amartya Sen and Larry Temkin. (A)

Instructor(s): J. Wilson     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 46013. Two Faces of Security. 100 Units.

This seminar lays out a new theory of international politics and explores some of the historical cases it should explain. Standard IR theories assume that states are the only actors and that the only security threats they face are posed by other states and sometimes terrorists. My approach is that, although states are the actors, each is controlled by a domestic regime, which faces both internal and external threats. That is, the regime can be threatened externally by war or coercive diplomacy. And it can be threatened internally by riots, coups d'état, civil wars, and revolutions. Since the overriding goal of all domestic regimes is to remain in power, they must cope with the full panoply of these threats. Because internal and external threats are often intertwined, they need to be considered in an integrated way. Approaching them in isolation is incomplete and often fundamentally misleading. To explore this theory, we will examine theoretical materials, plus three kinds of cases: (1) post-revolutionary regimes; (2) rebuilding after major wars; and (3) grand strategies of major powers. (D)

Instructor(s): C. Lipson     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): This course is limited to graduate students who already have strong familiarity with IR theory.
Note(s): The course assumes students have read Waltz, Mearsheimer, Wendt, Keohane, and others, and know the field’s main theoretical perspectives. We will assume that knowledge and build on it, rather than covering that ground again. One prior graduate course in IR theory should be sufficient. Students who are unsure if they have the appropriate background should consult Prof. Lipson before enrolling.

PLSC 47701. Political Economy of International Security. 100 Units.

How do money and markets influence states' security policies? This course uses classic and current work in the field to directly explore the role of economics in creating state military power. Topics include the instruments of war finance, the economic incentives to intervene in conflict, the ability of economic interdependence to prevent conflict, how alliance policies influence the arming and trading policies of states, and labor mobility as a cause of border instability. A central goal of the course is to generate ideas for your own research, including papers and dissertation topics. (D)

Instructor(s): P. Poast     Terms Offered: Autumn

PLSC 48401. Quantitative Security. 100 Units.

Since Quincy Wright's A Study of War, scholars of war and security have collected and analyzed data. This course guides students through an intellectual history of the quantitative study of war. The course begins with Wright, moves to the founding of the Correlates of War project in the late 1960s, and then explores the proliferation of quantitative conflict studies in the 1990s and 2000s. The course ends by considering the recent focus on experimental and quasi-experimental analysis. Throughout the course, students will be introduced to the empirical methods used to study conflict and the data issues facing quantitative conflict scholars. For students with limited training in quantitative methods, this course will serve as a useful introduction to such methods. For students with extensive experience with quantitative methods, this course will deepen their understanding of when and how to apply these methods. (D)

Instructor(s): P. Poast     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 48700. Crime, Conflict and the State. 100 Units.

Scholars of civil war emphasize the importance, and perhaps primacy, of criminal profits for insurgencies, especially in the post-cold war era. But theories of civil war generally rest on an assumption that insurgents aim to replace state power. This seminar approaches the issue from the other end of the spectrum: armed conflict between states and “purely” criminal groups--particularly drug cartels. Cartel-state conflict poses a fundamental puzzle: Why attack the state if you seek neither to topple nor secede from it? After a brief survey of the literature on civil war and organized crime, we will study recent work on criminal conflict, particularly in Latin America. We also consider the related topics of prison-based criminal networks and paramilitaries, and explore how crime and political insurgency interact in places like West Africa and Afghanistan. Throughout, we evaluate the concepts, questions and designs underpinning current research. (C)

Instructor(s): B. Lessing     Terms Offered: Autumn

PLSC 49301. Emotion, Reason, and Law. 100 Units.

Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason.  In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others.  Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused. (A) (I)

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 99301,RETH 32900,GNSE 28210,GNSE 38300,PHIL 35209,PHIL 25209

PLSC 50000. Dissertation Proposal Seminar. 100 Units.

A weekly seminar devoted to the presentation and collective discussion of several drafts of each student's dissertation proposal.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 51512. Law-Philosophy Workshop. 100 Units.

The theme for 2017-18 is “Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics.”  About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change.


This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines.  It admits approximately ten students.  Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance.  The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors.  Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year.  The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by email by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.
Note(s): Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 61512,RETH 51301,GNSE 50101,HMRT 51301,PHIL 51200

PLSC 51516. Henry Sidgwick. 100 Units.

The most philosophically explicit and rigorous of the British Utilitarians, Henry Sidgwick made important contributions to normative ethics, political philosophy, and metaethics.  His work also has important implication for law.  His great work The Methods of Ethics, which will be the primary focus of this seminar, has been greatly admired even by those who deeply disagree with it – for example John Rawls, for whom Sidgwick was important both as a source and as a foil, and Bernard Williams, who wrote about him with particular hostility.  Sidgwick provides the best defense of Utilitarianism we have, allowing us to see what it really looks like as a normative ethical and social theory. Sidgwick was also a practical philosopher and activist, writing on many topics, but especially on women’s higher education, which he did much to pioneer at Cambridge University, founding Newnham College with his wife Eleanor.  A rationalist who helped to found the Society for Psychical Research, an ardent feminist who defended the ostracism of the “fallen woman,” a closeted gay man who attempted to justify the proscriptions of Victorian morality, Sidgwick is a philosopher full of deep tensions and fascinating contradictions, which work their way into his arguments.  So we will also read the work In the context of Sidgwick’s contorted relationship with his era. (I) (IV)

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission.
Note(s): Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.
Equivalent Course(s): RETH 51516,LAWS 53396,PHIL 51516

PLSC 53000. Seminar on Great Power Politics. 100 Units.

The specific aim of this course is to introduce students to some of the key policy issues involving the great powers that dominate the post-Cold War world. Three topics will receive special emphasis: European security, Asian security, and the role of the United States in the larger world after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is expected that all students in the class will be well-versed in international relations theory, and will bring their theoretical insights to bear on the relevant policy issues. The broad goal is to encourage students to appreciate that international relations theory and important policy issues are inextricably linked to each other. (D)

Instructor(s): J. Mearsheimer     Terms Offered: Winter

PLSC 57200. Network Analysis. 100 Units.

This seminar explores the sociological utility of the network as a unit of analysis. How do the patterns of social ties in which individuals are embedded differentially affect their ability to cope with crises, their decisions to move or change jobs, their eagerness to adopt new attitudes and behaviors? The seminar group will consider (a) how the network differs from other units of analysis, (b) structural properties of networks, consequences of flows (or content) in network ties, and (c) dynamics of those ties. (E)

Instructor(s): J. Padgett     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 50096