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Program Requirements and Opportunities

The information listed below is a direct excerpt from the 2014-15 Course Catalog.

Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare her major before the end of her sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

2013-14 Catalog
2012-13 Catalog
2011-12 Catalog
2010-11 Catalog



Students may complete a major or minor in Political Science.

Major Requirements

What is Political Science, and what will the major prepare me for?

Political Science is the study of justice and authority, peace and conflict, public policies and elections, government and law, democracy and autocracy, freedom and oppression. More than any other social science, Political Science pursues a wide variety of approaches in explaining how and why political events and institutions come about as they do, and in evaluating ways in which polities, policies, and leaders are laudable and criticizable. Some of these approaches are like those found in Sociology (survey research) or in Anthropology (ethnography) or in Economics (cost-benefit analysis) or in the interpretive branches of History and Philosophy. The variety of complementary approaches housed within the same department is the great strength of Political Science as an undergraduate major.

The Political Science major develops reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for a critical understanding of the political world. The major is excellent preparation for those planning to go on to law or public policy schools as well as to graduate work in Political Science. Majors in the department have pursued careers worldwide in public service, journalism, advocacy, law, and education, to name a few.

Majoring in Political Science at Bryn Mawr: getting started

There are a variety of ways to begin studying Political Science, and so we offer a wide variety of introductory courses. While it is not necessary to begin right away, by the end of the sophomore year prospective majors should have completed at least two of the following Political Science courses: 101, 121, 123 (at HC), 131, 141, 143 (at HC), 151 (at HC), 228, and 231. These courses may be taken in any order.

Students who wish to declare Political Science as a major should choose an advisor, who can be any member of the Political Science faculty. It is generally best to choose an advisor whose courses are in at least one substantive area in which the student intends to focus. Students should write a brief essay (around 2 pages) on the kinds of questions or problems that they would like to pursue in the study of politics. The essay should be submitted and discussed with the advisor. Based on this discussion, the student and advisor will formulate a course plan for the major.

All Haverford Political Science courses count toward the Bryn Mawr major (the same is generally true for courses at Swarthmore and UPenn). Majors in the Bryn Mawr department must take at least three of their major courses here, in addition to the 398-399 sequence. We therefore strongly advise that at least one of your initial courses in Political Science be taken at Bryn Mawr.

Course requirements

The study of politics covers a wide ground, and the Political Science major is designed to give students an opportunity to focus their study while also attending to questions, issues, and problems that run through the study of politics more generally, and that connect the study of politics to other fields. We have organized the major along the lines of four general themes/categories. They are:

  • Identity and Difference;
  • Policy Formation and Political Action;
  • Interdependence and Conflict; and
  • Political Theory.

The Political Science major consists of a minimum of 10 courses:

  • Two introductory-level courses (see list above)
  • Two concentrations, at least one of which should be from among the four themes/categories. The second concentration is generally chosen as well from those themes/categories, but it can be based on a more substantive focus, to be determined in consultation with the student's advisor. Each concentration requires a total of three courses, at least one of which must be at the 300 level and all of which must be either at the 200 or 300 level.
  • Senior Conference and Senior Essay
  • At least three courses, in addition to 398 and 399, must be taken in the Bryn Mawr Political Science Department.

Major Credit for Courses Outside the Political Science Department

Up to three courses from departments other than Political Science may be accepted for major credit, if in the judgment of the department these courses are an integral part of a student's major plan. This may occur when courses taken in related departments or programs are closely linked with courses the student takes in Political Science. For example, a student with a focus in "Interdependence and Conflict" may count a relevant course in History, Psychology, etc. Decisions as to which outside courses count for Political Science major credit are made by the faculty on a case by case basis. When in doubt, consult your major advisor or the department chair. Ordinarily, 100-level courses (non-Political Science) taken in other departments may not be used for major credit in Political Science.

We encourage students to spend a semester abroad during their junior year. We generally count one course taken abroad for credit toward the major. Courses taken abroad count at the 200 level only.

Writing Intensive Courses

Students are required to take at least one writing intensive course or two writing attentive courses in their major. Political Science currently offers Pols 228 as a writing intensive course. In addition, a number of 300-level courses that count as writing attentive will be offered annually.

Departmental Honors

Students who have done distinguished work in their courses in the major and who write outstanding senior essays will be considered for departmental honors.

Minor Requirements

A minor in political science consists of six courses distributed across at least two fields, at least four of which must be at the 200 or 300 level and at least two of which must be at the 300 level. At least three of the courses must be taken from the Bryn Mawr Department of Political Science course offerings.

The four fields are:

  • Identity and Difference;
  • Policy Formation and Political Action;
  • Interdependence and Conflict; and
  • Political Theory.

Course Designations

Almost every course offered in the Political Science Department at Bryn Mawr and Haverford will count for at least one of the four fields, and some may count for more than one (no single course, however, may be counted as part of more than one field of concentration.) Many courses offered at Swarthmore and Penn will also count toward these. Students should consult their advisor or the Political Science Department chair for information on classifying any courses that do not appear on this list.

Identity and Difference

123 American Politics: Difference and Discrimination (H)
131 Introduction to Comparative Politics
206 Conflict & Conflict Management
220 Constitutional Law
226 Social Movement Theory (H)
228 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ancient and Early Modern
229 Latino Politics in the U.S. (H)
231 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Modern
235 African Politics (H)
242 Women in War and Peace (H)
245 Philosophy of Law
248 Modern Middle East Cities
253 Feminist Theory
282 The Exotic Other
285 Religion and the Limits of Liberalism (H)
286 Religion and American Public Life (H)
287 Media and Politics: The Middle East Transformed
316 Ethnic Group Politics--Identity and conflict
320 Democracy in America (H)
336 Democracy and Democratization (H)
340 Postcolonialism and the Politics of Nation-building (H)
345 Islam, Democracy and Development (H)
348 Culture and Ethnic Conflict identity and conflict
354 Comparative Social Movements
358 Political Psychology and Ethnic Conflict
370 Becoming a People: Power, Justice, and the Political (H)
375 Perspectives on Work, and Family in the U.S.
379 Feminist Political Theory (H)
383 Islamic Reform and Radicalism

Policy Formation and Political Action

121 American Politics
H121 American Politics and Its Dynamics (H)
131 Introduction to Comparative Politics
H123 American Politics: Difference and Discrimination (H)
H131 Comparative Government and Politics (H)
131 Introduction to Comparative Politics
205 European Politics
222 Introduction to Environmental Issues: Policy Making in Comparative Perspective
H223 American Political Process: The Congress (H)
H224 The American Presidency (H)
H225 Mobilization Politics (H)
H226 Social Movement Theory (H)
H227 Urban Politics (H)
H228 Urban Policy (H)
H230 Topics in Comparative Politics (H)
H235 African Politics (H)
H237 Latin American Politics (H)
242 Women in War and Peace (H)
248 Modern Middle East Cities
H249 The Soviet System and Its Demise (H)
254 Bureaucracy and Democracy
H257 The State System (H)
259 Comparative Social Movements in Latin American
265 Politics, Markets and Theories of Capitalism (H)
274 Education Politics and Policy
278 Oil, Politics, Society, and Economy
279 State Transformation/Conflict
288 The Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa
287 Media and Politics: The Middle East Transformed
308 Political Transformation in Eastern and Western Europe: Germany and Its Neighbors
310 Comparative Public Policy
314 Strategic Advocacy: Lobbying & Interest Group Politics in Washington, D.C. (H)
315 Public Policy Analysis (H)
320 Democracy in America (H)
321 Technology and Politics
325 Grassroots Politics in Philadelphia (H)
333 Transformations in American Politics: late 20th-early 21st century
334 Politics of Violence (H)
339 The Policymaking Process
345 Islam, Democracy and Development (H)
354 Comparative Social Movements: Power, Protest, and Mobilization
375 Perspectives on Work and Family in the U.S.
378 Origins of American Constitutionalism
385 Democracy and Development
393 US Welfare Politics: Theory and Practice

Interdependence and Conflict

151 International Politics (H)
205 European Politics
206 Conflict & Conflict Management
211 Politics of Humanitarianism
233 Perspectives on Civil War and Revolution: Southern Europe and Central America (H)
235 Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies
239 The United States and Latin America (H)
240 Inter-American Dialogue (H)
242 Women in War and Peace (H)
247 Political Economy of Developing Countries (H)
248 Modern Middle East Cities
250 International Politics
252 International Politics of the Middle East (H)
253 Introduction to Terrorism Studies (H)
256 The Evolution of the Jihadi Movement (H)
258 The Politics of International Institutions (H)
259 American Foreign Policy (H)
261 Global Civil Society (H)
262 Human Rights and Global Politics (H)
264 Politics of Commodities
265 Politics, Markets and Theories of Capitalism (H)
278 Oil, Politics, Society, and Economy
279 State Transformation/Conflict
283 Modern Middle East/North Africa
288 The Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa
287 Media and Politics: The Middle East Transformed
308 Political Transformation in Eastern and Western Europe: Germany and Its Neighbors
316 Ethnic Group Politics--Identity and conflict
339 Transitional Justice (H)
347 Advanced Issues in Peace and Conflict
340 Postcolonialism and the Politics of Nation-building (H)
348 Culture and Ethnic Conflict identity and conflict
350 Topics in International Politics (H)
357 International Relations Theory: Conflict and the Middle East (H)
358 The War on Terrorism (H)
358 Political Psychology and Ethnic Conflict
361 Democracy and Global Governance (H)
362 Global Justice (H)
365 Solidarity Economy Movements (H)
378 Origins of American Constitutionalism
379 The United Nations and World Order
383 Islamic Reform and Radicalism
385 Democracy and Development
392 State in Theory and History

Political Theory

171 Introduction to Political Theory: Democratic Authority (H)
228 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ancient and Early Modern
231 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Modern
234 Legal Rights in the Administrative State
245 Philosophy of Law
253 Feminist Theory
266 Sovereignty (H)
272 Democratic Theory: Membership, Citizenship and Community (H)
276 American Political Thought from Founding to Civil War (H)
277 American Political Thought: Post Civil War (H)
284 Modernity and its Discontents
300 Nietzsche, Kant, Plato: Modes of Practical Philosophy
320 Greek Political Philosophy
327 Political Philosophy: 1950-Present
336 Democracy and Democratization (H)
365 Erotica: Love and Art in Plato and Shakespeare
370 Becoming a People: Power, Justice, and the Political (H)
371 Topics in Legal and Political Philosophy
378 Origins of American Constitutionalism
379 Feminist Political Theory (H)
380 Persons, Morality and Modernity
381 Nietzsche, Self, and Morality
392 State in Theory and History

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