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Political Science 491

POSC 491
Scope and Methods in Political Science

Catalog Entry

POSC 491. Scope and Methods in Political Science. (AG; CG; IR; PT)
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: POSC 110 and junior or senior standing.

Introduction to professional study; focus on conceptual approaches to study of Political Science, various contemporary schools of thought and methodology. Primary work in research methods as appropriate to the various subfields of the discipline.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Major topic areas that may be included in this course are:

I. The Scope of Political Science

A. Traditional Political Philosophy
B. Contemporary Political Science
C. Facts and Values

II. Politics and Science

A. Politics vs. Government
B. Power, Authority, Conflict
C. Why Define Politics?
D. The Assumptions of Science

III. Orientations in Political Science

A. Traditional Political Science
B. Behavioralism
C. Post-Behavioralism

IV. Explanation and Prediction

A. Dispositional Pattern
B. Intentional Pattern
C. Macro Pattern
D. System-Maintaining Pattern
E. Genetic Pattern

V. Theories and Models

A. Nature of Political Theories
B. Function of Theories
C. Models and Discovery
D. Other Heuristic Devices

VI. Approaches to the Study of Political Science

A. Individual-Psychological
B. Rational Approach and Game Theory
C. Role Theory
D. Small Group Theory
E. Systems Theory
F. Communications Theory

VII. Introduction to Methodology

A. Applying Concepts
B. Induction or Deduction
C. Political Variables
D. Relations Between Variables

VIII. Logic of Research

A. Theory and Prediction
B. Hypothesis Testing
C. Operational Definitions
D. Dependent and Independent Variables

IX. The Null Hypothesis

A. Theory and the Null Hypothesis
B. Framing the Null Hypothesis
C. Direction
D. Two-Tailed Test

X. Techniques

A. Percentage Tables
B. Measures of Association
C. Statistical Significance
D. Standards of Confidence
E. Chi Square
F. Nominal Data Analysis
G. Ordinal Date Analysis
H. Interval Date Analysis


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will be a lecture class, but small group exercises and discussions, in-class exercises, and discussions involving the entire class may also be used.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. To learn the place of science in the context of philosophical inquiry.
2. To learn about the scientific method as epistemology.
3. To examine the nature of what is "political" form an empirical perspective.
4. To demonstrate the use of the scientific method in political research.
5. To begin to teach the use of statistical methods and how they relate to research methodology.


Assessment Measures

Class performance may be evaluated with essay exams, quizzes, in-class writings class participation, homework assignments, and the construction of a research design.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval

April 1998 Reviewed M.J. Franck, Dept. Chair