Introduction to Political Science
Spring 2009: MWF 9-9:50
Dr. Jeremy Walling
Office: Carnahan 311R
Office phone: 651-2691
Office Hours: MWF 10-11
This course covers the scope and methods of political science. The scope consists of the various topics and fields that form the questions that political scientists ask. The methods comprise the various tools and techniques that political scientists utilize to answer those questions. Practical politics will take up very little of our time in this course. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the various methods of political inquiry and to provide students with the capacity to apply methodology to political questions.
Required Texts—Johnson and Reynolds. Political Science Research Methods; Shively. Power and Choice (available at textbook rental).
Expectations—Students are expected to attend class having completed all reading assignments. Students are expected to submit all homework assignments by the stated deadline. Students are expected to participate in class discussions. Cell phones and other distracting electronic devices should not be used during class and students using such devices will be asked to leave. The official statement about attendance, derived from the Undergraduate Bulletin, may be accessed at: http://www.semo.edu/bulletin/pdf/2006Bulletin.pdf
Grades—Your grade in this course will be determined by your performance on three examinations, a research design project, periodic homework assignments and class participation. The grades will follow the traditional percentage scale (90%=A; 80%=B; 70%=C; 60%=D; Below 60%=F).
Exams (3@ 100 pts. each) = 300 pts.
Research Design Paper = 100 pts.
Homework = 50 pts.
Participation = 50 pts.
Total = 500 pts.
Examinations—Each exam will contain only the material covered in each stated unit of the course. In that sense, the exams will not be comprehensive. However, the course is cumulative in nature and each exam will build on material from the previous course units. Make-up exams must be scheduled in advance and supporting documentation must be provided. Students missing exams due to university sponsored activities should inform the instructor during the first two weeks of the semester.
Research Design Paper—Students will use tools and techniques presented in the course to design a research project. Students are not expected to actually complete the research project. However, each paper should contain the following sections: a statement of the research question; a review of the relevant scholarly literature on the research question; a statement on the data you would expect to collect to answer the question and a strategy for collecting the data; a statement of the research design, outlining how the data would be analyzed to generate and answer to your question; and a statement of expected results and conclusions.
Homework—Up to four sets of homework problems will be assigned. The answers will be provided on the class website. Completed homework will be collected, but will not be graded. The purpose of the homework is to provide students with an opportunity to practice applying tools and skills and is considered a self-directed project. Late homework will not be accepted.
Statistics Software—I have registered this class with the company that
produces the Stata statistical analysis software package. As a result, you have
the option of purchasing a copy of Stata at a significantly discounted rate.
Although we do not have time to incorporate a statistics package into the
day-to-day activities of this course, it is recommended for those of you
considering graduate study in political science or a related social science
field. I am willing to work with any students who wish to learn this software
Participation—Participation is essential to overall success in the course. Students who are paralyzed by fear at the thought of talking in class would be advised to overcome it. Students who do not participate in class will not receive participation points.
Academic Dishonesty—Plagiarism on papers and cheating on exams will not be tolerated. Evidence of cheating will result in a zero grade on that assignment. The official statement about academic honesty, including plagiarism, may be accessed at: http://www.semo.edu/bulletin/pdf/2006Bulletin.pdf
Special Needs—Please see me if you have a disability that requires alternative arrangements or circumstances. I’ll assist you in any manner possible.
Course Schedule (Note that assignment details and due-dates may be subject to change and that students should check for periodic updates)
Week of January 19:
Readings: JR Ch 1; S Ch 1
Week of January 26:
Readings: JR Ch 2 and Ch 3; S Appendix
Week of February 2:
Hypotheses, Concepts and Variables/Ideology
Readings: JR Ch4; S Ch 2
Week of February 9:
The Literature Review/The State and Public Policy
Readings: JR Ch 5; S Ch 3 and Ch 4
Week of February 16:
Political Economy and Political Choices
Readings: S Ch 5 and Ch 6
February 23: Review for First Exam
February 25: First Exam, In-class portion
February 27: First Exam, Take-home portion due
Week of March 2:
Measurement/Authority and Legitimacy
Readings: JR Ch 6; S 8
Week of March 9:
Readings: JR Ch 7 and Ch 8; S Ch 7
Week of March 16: No class
Week of March 23:
Gathering Data Cont./Autocracy
Readings: JR Ch 10; S Ch 7
Week of March 30
Readings: JR Ch 9; S Ch 9
April 6: Second Exam, In-class portion
April 8: Second Exam, Take-home portion due
April 10: No class
Week of April 13:
Univariate Data Analysis/Linking Institutions
Readings: JR Ch 11; S Ch 10-12
Week of April 20:
Bivariate Data Analysis/National Instititutions
Readings: JR Ch 12; S Ch 14-18
Week of April 27:
Multivariate Data Analysis/Law and Courts
Readings: JR Ch 13; S Ch 17
May 4: Review for Third Exam
May 6: Third Exam, In-class portion
May 8: Third Exam, Take-home portion due
May 13: Papers Due and Paper Presentations