Introduction to Political Science

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PSC 103

       Course Name: Introduction to Political Science

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines the primary fields within political science. Content includes political philosophy; empirical political theory; American politics; comparative politics; international relations; research techniques; general concepts used in the study of politics, such as socialization, groups, etc. IAI S5 903

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify and describe the scope of the discipline as well as the scope of the primary fields within the discipline.
  2. Describe and explain the concepts and terminology of the discipline.
  3. Analyze the basic research techniques of the discipline.
  4. Evaluate and interpret articles which result from that research.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Overview: Politics as the Management of Public Conflict
    1. Sources of conflict in a society
    2. How conflict becomes a part of the public agenda
    3. Elements of political strength
  2. Political Science: The Study of Politics
    1. The nature of the study
    2. The terminology
    3. The fields of study
    4. The method: research techniques
  3. Origins of Public Conflict: Political Socialization
    1. Development of political attitudes
    2. Agents of socialization
  4. Origins of Public Conflict: Interest Group Politics
    1. "Interest Group" theory
    2. Class and interest group politics
    3. Political tactics
  5. Origins of Public Policy: Defining the Issues
    1. Initiating the process: pressure of a problem
    2. Continuing the process: from problems to issues
    3. Participants in the process: who defines the issues?
  6. Decision Making: Formulating of Public Policy
    1. Who makes the policy decisions
    2. Factors influencing decisions
  7. Policy Implementation
    1. Bureaucrats and bureaucracy
    2. Administrative Organization
    3. Problems of bureaucracy
  8. Models of the Policy Process
    1. Conciliation
    2. Command

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Classes will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in class discussions, group activities, document and film analysis, and the use of new technologies.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:
  1. Read a standard textbook and research materials.
  2. Write outside of class the equivalent of 12 - 14 double spaced typed pages in the form of a term paper, summaries of journal articles, short research papers, and/or other  kinds of writing.
  3. Participate in in-class and out-of-class activities.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

The most current editions of the following texts are being used:

Lawson, The Human Polity: An Introduction to Political Science
Riemer, Political Science: An Introduction to Politics
Shively, Power and Choice: An Introduction to Political Science

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least two exams will be given in addition to other required papers and assignments.

Students will also be evaluated on a combination of written assignments and in- and out-of- class assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

Support Services: Tutoring is available in the Learning Center.

Important Dates: *

XX/XX:    Last day to withdraw and have course dropped from record
XX/XX:    Last day to change to Audit
XX/XX:    Last day for students to submit materials to make up incomplete from the previous semester
XX/XX:    Last day to withdraw from classes with a "W"

*These dates differ for each semester. You'll find the correct dates on the Academic Calendar.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.