U.S. Government and Politics

Humanities & Social Sciences
Political Science
Course Code
POLI 2209
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered


Course Description
This course examines American political institutions and processes, including the presidency, congress, the federal court system, political parties, the media, and the electoral system. The course explores how these institutions and processes function within changing American Constitutional principles of the rule of law, federalism, shared/divided powers of government, individual and civil rights, as well as domestic and foreign policy. Different perspectives on how to understand political action, effectiveness, and engagement are considered. The course will also assist students in developing an understanding of role and actions of the United States in various global contexts.
Course Content

Unit One: The Context of American Government and Politics


1.1. Introduction: the internal environment, the changing international role of the U.S., American political culture (individualism, anti-statism, egalitarianism, and populism), American exceptionalism, and religion in American politics and culture.


1.2. The U.S. Constitution: the nature of the original constitutional compromise, the separation of powers, historic constitutional amendments, and constitutional change.


1.3. The federal system: evolutionary development and contemporary state-federal relations.


Unit Two: The Major Institutions of the National Government


2.1. The Presidency: the office and the person, presidential power and constraints, and the evolving character of the presidency.


2.2. The Congress: the structures, roles, and operations of, and relations between, the House of Representatives and Senate; the role of parties in the Congress; the relationship with the Presidency; and the Congressional Budgetary Office.


2.3. The judiciary: the structure of and appointments to the federal judiciary; judicial review; the functioning of the Supreme Court; judicial activism and restraint and civil rights and civil liberties.


2.4. The bureaucracy and policy making: the budgetary process, the role of the presidency, Congress and the bureaucracy, and domestic and foreign policy.


Unit Three: The Process of American Politics


3.1. Interest groups: characteristics of American interest groups; the art of political lobbying; and interest groups and democracy.


3.2. Political parties and elections: the evolution and decline of American political parties; the structure of the electoral system, the role of states in the national electoral system, the national convention, the Electoral College, and campaign financing.


Unit Four: The Enduring Issues of American Politics


4.1. The nature of American democracy: the founding dream; the criticisms of American democracy; evaluating American democracy (e.g., cultural divisions and policy debates).


4.2. Civil rights, race, and gender: the continuing issue of race in American politics; American feminism; and concepts of equality, affirmative action and language issues.


4.3. Civil liberties: freedom of expression; freedom of religion; and political, legal, and property rights.


4.4. The U.S. political economy: the nature of the American economy; government regulation; government subsidization of industry; and poverty in America.


4.5. The U.S. role in international politics: the evolution of U.S. involvement in the international system, and the linkage between domestic and foreign policy determination.

Learning Activities

In this course, students will engage in a variety of learning activities such as attending lectures, participation in class discussions, debates, individual and group presentations, reflections, in class reading assignments, group assignments and take-home assignments.

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy.

There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of exams, research projects, quizzes, in-class and online written assignments, seminar presentations, group and other creative projects, and class participation.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

Students may conduct research as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans, which can require obtaining Informed Consent from participants and getting the approval of the Douglas College Research Ethics Board prior to conducting the research

Example evaluation scheme:

Quizzes                                           10%

Participation                                     10%

Mid-term exam                                 25%

Term essay                                      30%

Final exam                                       25%

                                Total:              100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, the successful student will be able to:

1. identify various approaches to the study of American politics;

2. describe American political culture, institutions and processes of the American government: the U.S. constitution, Presidency, judiciary and bureaucracy; federalism; the U.S. electoral and party system; and interest groups;

3. evaluate the strengths and problems associated with American political processes including the electoral system;

4. apply critical thinking to explore current issues in American politics such as cultural divisions and enduring issues such as race;

5. identify the differences between American and Canadian politics and institutions;

6. judge the normative content of American public policy;

7. reflect in writing on an issue in American public policy.

Textbook Materials

A list of required textbooks and materials will be provided to students at the beginning of the semester.  Textbooks and materials will be selected based on instructor expertise and preference, and in consultation with other members of the department.  There are a range of textbooks and materials that can fulfill course objectives.  Some examples include:

Ginsberg, B., et al. We The People. McGraw-Hill Ryerson. New York. Current edition.

Lowi, et al., American Government – Power and Purpose. W.W. Norton & Company. New York. Current edition.

McClain, P., and Tauber, S. American Government in Black and White - Diversity and Democracy. Oxford University Press. Current edition.





POLI 1101 or permission of the instructor.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for POLI 2209
Athabasca University (AU) AU POLI 345 (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU POL 2XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR POLI 2XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU POLI 3100 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG POLI 2XXX (3)
Okanagan College (OC) OC POLI 2XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU POL 232 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU POLI 3200 (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU POLS 2XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO POLI 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV POLI 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC POLS 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV POSC 322 (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC POLI 2XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU POLI 220 (3)

Course Offerings

Fall 2023