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Introduction to Political Science

Course Code: POLI 1101
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Political Science
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: Fall, Winter, Summer
course overview

This course provides an introductory overview of the nature of politics and government, how to create good governments, and how best to structure political institutions (and limit their powers). The course examines basic political concepts, theories and ideologies, institutions of government, and the structures and processes of politics and policy-making. The course also prepares students for further study in political science by providing conceptual and analytical tools appropriate to the field.

Course Content

1. Introduction: basic concepts such as politics, government, power, influence, coercion, state, authority, civil society, and democracy, and the rudimentary methods of political science will be discussed.

2. Ideas and politics: great political thinkers will be explored in the context of the development of mass political ideas and ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, environmentalism, and feminism.

3. State and government: the role and functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches will be explained, and various political regimes such as democratic and authoritarian governments will be explored.

4. Political processes: the role and evolution of electoral systems, interest groups, and political parties will be reviewed and assessed.

5. Governing and policy-making: the function of the civil service and the role of other decisional actors in terms of policy formulation and implementation will be explored.

Methods of Instruction

Instructor presentation of the course will involve the use of formal lectures, structured group work, and in-class discussion of assigned materials. Additional readings may be assigned for each course unit and placed on library reserve or via selected websites. Audio-visual and interactive materials may be used.

Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be based on course objectives and in accordance with the policies of Douglas College and the Department of Political Science. A minimum of 40% of the student’s course grade will be assigned to examinations, a minimum of 30% will be assigned to the various components of a formal research essay, and a maximum of 30% will be based upon components such as quizzes, short essays, participation, and class presentations. Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor in course outlines.

One example of an evaluation system:

Quizzes                                           10%

Participation                                     10%

Mid-term exam                                 25%

Term essay                                      30%

Final exam                                       25%

                                Total:              100%

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, successful students will be able to:

1. Identify various areas of specialization in political science and the general scope and methods of the discipline at an introductory level;

2. Define selected concepts such as government, law, power, democracy, state, society, freedom, and equality;

3. Explain the basic features of political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism;

4. Identify and describe the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government;

5. Explain basic political processes such as elections and interest articulation, aggregation, and communication;

6. Pursue further studies in subfields such as political theory, Canadian government, international relations and world politics, comparative politics, and American government, among others.

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.