Undergraduate Courses

**See bottom of this page for a list of courses by sub field.  

Tentative Summer 2017 Course Offerings (subject to change without notice):

Session A:

  • PS 1 - Intro to Political Philosophy
  • PS 6 - Intro to Comparative Politics
  • PS 7 – Intro to International Relations
  • PS 151 - Voting & Elections (AP)
  • PS 154 - Public Opinion (AP/PT)
  • PS W157 - American Presidency - Dr. Woolley ON LINE COURSE
  • PS 158 - Power in Washington (AP)
  • PS 173 - Media and Politics in a Comparative Perspective (CP)

Session B:

  • PS 12 - Intro to American Government
  • PS 15 – Intro to Research Methods - Dr. Stoll
  • PS 105 - Comparative Politics Theories (CP/IR)
  • PS 106RP - Special Topics: Religion and Politics (AP)
  • PS W121 - International Politics (IR) - Dr. Coggins ON LINE COURSE
  • PS 143 - Russian Domestic Policy (CP)
  • PS 189 - Contemporary Political Theory (PT)


Tentative Fall 2017 Course Offerings (subject to change without notice):

  • PS 1 - Intro to Political Philosophy - Dr. Digeser
  • PS 6 – Intro to Comparative Politics - Dr. Bruhn
  • PS 7 – Intro to International Relations - Dr. Narang
  • PS 15 – Intro to Research Methods - Dr. Stokes
  • PS 116 - Politics of Electoral Laws(CP) - STAFF
  • PS 121 - International Politics (IR) - Dr. Strathman
  • PS 124 - International Organizations (IR) - Ms. Natasha Bennett
  • PS 126 - International Security (IR) - Dr. Strathman
  • PS 137 – Politics of Economic Development (CP) - Dr. Ahuja
  • PS 153 – Political Interest Groups (AP) - Dr. Han
  • PS 157 – American Presidency – (AP) - Dr. Woolley
  • PS 160 – Asian American Politics (AP) - Dr. Lien
  • PS 162 - Urban Politics (AP) - STAFF
  • PS 177 - Comparative Environmental Politics (CP) - Dr. Mildenberger
  • PS 188 - Modern Political Theory (PT) - Dr. Norris
  • PS 189 - Contemporary Political Theory (PT) - STAFF
  • PS 196 - Senior Seminar (PT) "Readings in American Political Philosophy" - Dr. Norris
  • PS 196 - Senior Seminar (CP) "Comparative Immigration Policy" - Dr. Bruhn
  • PS 197A– Senior Honors Thesis Seminar (Approval by Instructor Only) - McDonnell


Spring Quarter 2017 Course Offerings:

  • PS 6 – Intro to Comparative Politics - Dr. Freeman
  • PS 7 – Intro to International Relations - Dr. Coggins
  • PS 15 – Intro to Research Methods - Dr. Lasala Blanco
  • PS 110J - Justice (PT) - Dr. Digeser
  • PS 127 - American Foreign Policy (IR) - Dr. Strathman
  • PS 134 – US/Mexico Relations (CP) - Dr. Bruhn
  • PS 143 – Russian Domestic Policy (CP) - Dr. Kaplan
  • PS 146 - Globalization and Politics (IR) - Mr. Kuehl
  • PS 147 – 3rd World Politics – (CP) - Dr. Bruhn
  • PS 161 – US Minority Politics (AP) - Dr. Lien
  • PS 171 - Political Communication (AP) - Dr. Bimber
  • PS 187 - Classical Political Theory (PT) - Mr. Miller


Special Topics and Senior Seminars:

  • PS 106HR - Special Topics: Human Rights (IR/CP) - Ms. Bennett


  • PS 106IL - Special Topics: Latinos/as and the American Legal System (AP)- Taught by retired California Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa. The course is a survey of historical and recent state and federal laws and court decisions affecting the Chicano/Latino and other “protected classification” communities. Special consideration is given to landmark cases and decisions. Students should expect analysis of various views of each case in an historical context. The course will focus on the study of the impact of the American legal system on Latina/o populations within our culture. It will encompass leading legal decisions, law review articles, and other writings affecting Latina/os and other minority groups in the areas of education, employment, criminal law, language rights, immigration, Latina feminism and hate speech.


  • PS 106IV - The Politics of Isla Vista (AP) - Dr. Marquze.   Students understand Isla Vista from a perspective of community, democracy and public space in this class.


  • PS 106LPSpecial Topics: Latino Politics (AP): Dr. Lasala Blanco  This course is a comprehensive, high-level introduction to the political causes and consequences of Latino migration to (and presence in) the United States. Specifically, the course will focus on these immigrants, present day political attitudes and behavior through available survey data, and the historical, institutional and political conditions that factor in to these attitudes. The course will also help students develop basic qualitative and quantitative tools to study of the political attitudes and behavior of Latinos and other immigrant communities in the US.


  • PS 110J Political Concepts: Justice (PT)  - Dr. Digeser


  • PS 196Senior Seminar: Russian Foreign Policy (CP/IR): Dr. Kaplan  The course will address patterns of Russian Foreign Policy behavior and what appears to explain them.  We will begin with a brief review of Soviet foreign policy behavior and the Cold War.  We will then examine the degree to which recent behavior by the Putin regime reflects domestic needs to maintain authority and power reflected in the instrumental use of nationalism and the effects of an economic downturn versus reaction to the role of the United States and NATO.  Special attention will be devoted to Russia’s complex relations with what is referred to as the “Near Abroad,” Independent states which were formerly part of the Soviet Union.  In particular, the issue of Russian-Estonian relations and the role of NATO, the Georgian-Russian conflict of 2008, the occupation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine will be considered.  In this context, the concept of hybrid wars will be explored.  Russian relations with Central Asia will be analyzed in the context of security and the role of China, the potential threat of terrorism, and resource dependence (oil).  Other issues will include the use of cyber warfare, Russia’s active role in the Syrian conflict, and US-Russian relations.  Finally, we will reflect upon whether Russia simply wants to be respected as a nuclear power and a major international actor, or whether it is pursuing new policies with the goal of challenging the international system.  {Open ONLY to Seniors}


  • PS 196Senior Seminar: Media and Politics in a Comparative & Historical Perspective (CP) - Professor Freeman

           The aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of important issues and theories related to the media-politics nexus in a diverse range of democratic and  non-democratic societies. In addition to examining the role that political communication plays in democratic elections, we also address important theoretical and empirical issues related to media ownership, industry structure, and the governance of the media by different types of states. The course concludes with an examination of the growing role and impact of social media in domestic politics, political resistance and social mobilization.  {Open ONLY to Seniors}


  • PS 196 - Senior Seminar: American Foreign Policy (IR/AP) - Professor Strathman

This seminar surveys leading research on American foreign policy.  The course explores alternative models of policy-making, and examines the roles and dynamics of key institutions in the policy process including the Presidency, Congress, bureaucracies, the media, public opinion, and interest groups.  We will examine a number of case study examples to illuminate these alternative explanations of behavior, and focus our attention on how to make sense of the sometime hidden logics of American foreign policy over time.  {Open ONLY to Seniors}



  • PS 197C Honors Thesis Seminar (Enrollment by Instructor Approval ONLY)



Fall 2016 (Last Fall) Course Offerings:

PS1 DIGESER - Intro to Political Philosophy
PS7 NARANG - Intro to International Relations
PS12 WOOLLEY - Intro to American Government
PS 15 - Intro to Research in Political Science
PS 124 - International Organizations (IR)
PS126 STRATHMAN - International Security (IR)
PS130 AHUJA - Politics of South Asia (CP)
PS137 AHUJA - Politics of Economic Development (CP)
PS 148A BRUHN - Latin American Politics (CP)
PS157 WOOLLEY - American Presidency (AP)
PS160 LIEN - Asian American Politics (AP)
PS170 MCDONNELL - Public Policy Analysis (AP)
PS175 SMITH - Politics of the Environment (AP)
PS186 COHEN - International Political Economy (IR)

Special Topics and Senior Seminars (Fall 2016):

PS 106BP MILDENBERGER- Business and Politics in a Comparative Perspective (CP)  - Corporations and business actors are major political actors in countries across the world. But how much power does business actually yield in shaping national policies? This course will explore the pathways through which business shapes politics in both US and comparative perspectives. We will contrast business influence in the United States with other advanced economies. We will then explore similarities and differences in the roles that business actors play in emerging economies and authoritarian states.  No pre-req

PS106DM STRATHMAN- Politics of Decision-Making (IR) - How do governments and leaders make decisions when information, especially about the goals and motives of other governments is opaque or hard to come by?  This course examines the various models of decision making, using simulations to demonstrate decision making processes.

PS110PC NORRIS - Political Concepts: Philosophy of Capitalism (PT) - In this course we review some of the alternatives and objections proponents raise to the practices and dispositions of what we today know as capitalism.  We consider early modern attempts to respond to those criticisms, before turning to the consideration of some of the central modern and contemporary arguments for and against the capitalist ideal.  Our focus will be on moral and political questions as opposed to economic ones, such as efficiency or profitability.  Pre-req: PS 1

PS116 - Politics of Electoral Laws (CP) - Survey of the electoral systems in use throughout the world; their relationships with other political institutions, such as the system of government; and their effects upon political competition, democratic representation and policy outcomes.  Pre-req: PS 15 or instructor’s approval.

PS189 NORRIS - Contemporary Political Theory (PT) - A reconstruction of the contending theories of political order with which western intellectuals, from the nineteenth to the present century, have confronted an era of world historical changes.  Pre-req: PS 1

PS196* LIEN- Gender and Multicultural Leadership in America (AP)  - This course explores the intersection of race and gender in American political leadership, with a particular focus on the experiences of U.S. political women of African/Black, American Indian, Asian/Pacific, Latina/Hispanic, and Anglo/White descent. Whereas the focus is on American contemporary electoral politics, we shall also examine the challenges and opportunities related to the development of women’s leadership throughout the multicultural history of the United States. *Senior Standing Required
 **3.0 Major and UC GPA Required

PS 197A MCDONNELL – Senior Honors Thesis Seminar (Approval by Instructor Only)


Winter 2017 Courses

  • PS 1 – Intro to Political Philosophy - Dr. Norris
  • PS 6 – Intro to Comparative Politics - Dr. Freeman
  • PS 12 – Intro to American Politics - Dr. Han
  • PS 15 – Intro to Research Methods - Dr. Mildenberger
  • PS 114 - Democracy and Diversity (PT) - Mr. Bensley
  • PS 118 – Comparative Ethnic Politics (CP) - Dr. Kaplan
  • PS 121 - International Politics (IR) - Dr. Strathman
  • PS 127 - American Foreign Policy (IR) - Dr. Strathman
  • PS 132 – Politics of the Poor (CP) - Dr. Ahuja
  • PS 135 - Government and Politics of Japan (CP) - Dr. Freeman
  • PS 153 – Political Interest Groups (AP) - Dr. Han
  • PS 155 – US Congress (AP) - Dr. Smith
  • PS 156 -  Politics of the University of California (AP) - Dr. Marquez
  • PS 177 – Comparative Environmental Politics (CP) - Dr. Mildenberger
  • PS 188 – Modern Political Theory (PT) Dr. Digeser

Special Topics and Senior Seminars (Winter 2017):

  • PS 106PO – Special Topics: Challenges of Public Opinion Polling (AP) - Dr. Lasala Blanco - The theoretical and practical implications of public opinion polling data and its connection to American politics and public policy.
  • PS 106EP – Special Topics: Energy Politics and Policy (AP/CP) - Dr. Stokes - This course introduces students to the politics and policy of the contemporary global energy system. We will discuss major public policy and politics related to both the electricity and transportation systems, with a greater emphasis on the former. Although the focus will primarily be on American politics and policy, we will include comparative energy policy cases from other countries, including advanced economies like Germany and Japan, and developing countries like India and China. Students wishing to take this course for credit in an American or Comparative Politics specialization will be required to write papers on American or Comparative cases, respectively.
  • PS 106AT – Special Topics: American Presidency: Launching a New Administration (AP) - Dr. Woolley - This course is focused on specific presidents and understanding how their personal skills, strengths, and weaknesses contributed to the achievements and failures of their presidencies.  We bgin with readings about studying presidential leadership (e.g., Greenstein, Neustadt, and others) and everyone will read a biography of Ronald Reagan.  Then, students will be assigned to work-groups to learn about other individual presdients starting with FDR.  Students wil prepare materials for possible publication in the American Presidency Project website (www.presidency.ucsb.edu).  Students who choose to register for this class will be advantaged by having prior coursework in American Politics and/or American History.
  • PS 106CW – Special Topics: Civil Wars (IR) - Dr. Coggins - Axl Rose, poet laureate of the 1990s, asked in a song, “What’s so civil about war, anyway?” He was trying to be ironic. It’s not civil at all, but brutal and barbarous. “It feeds the rich while it buries the poor.” Thanks for the probative insight Guns ‘n’ Roses. Nevertheless, Mr. Rose poses an intriguing question. What is it exactly that makes a war a civil war? Is the term simply geographic, signaling that a war takes place within the boundaries of a single state? Or is it more? Are the purposes, combat and dynamics of civil war unique? Or are civil and international wars essentially similar? Have either or both of these phenomena changed over time? Or has war’s meaning remained relatively fixed? What is the relationship between civil and international war? Might civil wars affect international wars and vice versa? And, will the strategies to limit and resolve wars be equally effective for civil and international wars, or will remedies be more effective if they are tailored to each type?
  • PS 106UN - Model UN course (IR) - Tristin Beckman - This course provides a historical and theoretical overview of the UN. Students will apply the tools learned throughout the course during a simulation of UN negotiations.
  • PS 196SR– Phenomenology of the Spirit (PT) [Only open to Seniors] - Dr. Norris - Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) is one of the most influential philosophers of the modern era.  His influence is clear and decisive in many of the major movements of 20th century thought, including Marxism, existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, pragmatism, post-structuralism, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.  The 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit was his first major work, and was intended by Hegel to be read before the other texts he published in his lifetime (the Differenzschrift, the Science of Logic, the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, and the Philosophy of Right).  It remains one of the best introductions to Hegel’s work, and is his most widely taught and studied book.  Its difficulty, however, is commensurate with its influence.  A work of breathtaking scope and complexity, the Phenomenology belongs to no recognizable genre of philosophical writing.  It makes detailed and influential contributions to ethical and political thought, epistemology, intellectual history, philosophical aesthetics, theology, ontology, and more, and does so in the context of developing a holistic, systematic account of truth and reality by way of the internal critique of alternative positions to those of Hegel.  The demands it makes upon its readers are thus extraordinary.  After reading “The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate,” “Love,” “Fragment of a System” and selections from “The Positivity of the Christian Religion”--early pieces by the young Hegel in which many of Hegel’s central moral and political claims are first laid out--we shall devote the rest of the quarter to the close reading of the bulk of the Phenomenology.  Each student is also expected to read a significant amount of the relevant scholarly literature on Hegel on her own.  While the course is a graduate class, select undergraduates may take it with the instructor’s permission.  All students should have some basic familiarity with Kant’s ethical writings (particularly the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals) and with the history of Western political and philosophical thought.  Each student will write one short (5-7 page) essay and one longer (15-20 page) essay.  The first paper will be an explication of a passage from Hegel to be chosen by the student in consultation with the professor.  The second will be a proper essay, modeled on a journal article, on a topic likewise to be chosen by the student in consultation with the professor.
  • PS 196 - COMPARATIVE ETHNIC POLITICS (CP) [Only open to Seniors] – Prof. Kaplan -This course exams ethnicity and nationalism and their implications for politics from multiple perspectives.  It will engage literatures drawn from comparative politics, international relations, sociology, and history.  Among the theories and issues focused on are social identity, national - imagined identities, constructivist approaches to ethnic identity, historical collective memory, ethnic political mobilization (social movements), ethnic conflict (war), nationalism, citizenship, the role of state structure, applications of rational choice theory, and immigration and borderlands.  No specific territory is focused on.  Readings will include selections from macro historical works, macro empirical works, micro level empirical works, organizational mid-level studies, and ethnographic and case studies drawn from around the world.
  •   PS 196: AMERICAN PRESIDENCY (AP) [Only open to Seniors] – Prof. Woolley - This course is about the American Presidency as a political institution.   The course is not primarily about individual presidents, but inevitably we will spend time using the Trump Administration as a point of comparison.  

            The course will survey approaches to studying the evolution of the presidency and the large literature on presidential leadership.  We will also look in detail at literature on the        interaction of presidents and Congress.  We will put special emphasis on the post WW-II growth and development of presidential institutions (EOP) and the growing range of "executive actions" developed by recent Presidents.  This topic reaches into the President's role as Commander-in-chief.  "Executive actions" have been increasingly controversial and poorly measured.   This topic will also require considering Supreme Court decisions.

Students will contribute short essays addressing assigned readings before most classes.  There will be some longer writing assignment.  The assignment could be to prepare an essay outlining a feasible research project to address some topic of interest.  Or we might work up coordinated essays on approaches to understanding and measuring "executive action."  There will not be a final exam.  There will be grade for participation. 

  • PS 197B – Honors Thesis Seminar (Approval by Instructor Only)  Dr. McDonnell     




[These are the default subfield classifications of courses appearing in the general course catalog.  Not all courses automatically apply towards major requirements and may need to be petitioned.  You may petition for a different subfield classification if you feel that it is justified based on the course content. Please see the bottom of the "Major Requirements" page of this website for a downloadable "Course Petition" form.]

  • 106AT
  • 106IP ((Replaced by 166 eff. S17)
  • 106IV
  • 106LP
  • 106MM (Replaced by 156)
  • 106PO
  • 115
  • 151
  • 152
  • 153
  • 154
  • 155 & 155L
  • 156
  • 157 & W157
  • 158
  • 160 [Cross-listed with Asian American Studies as AS AM 160]
  • 161
  • 162
  • 165
  • 166 (Replaces 106IP eff. S17)
  • 170
  • 171 (AP/CP)
  • 172 (Replaces 171 eff. M17)
  • 175 [Cross-listed with Environmental Studies as ENV S 178]
  • 180
  • 182
  • 185


  • 101
  • 105
  • 106BP
  • 106EA
  • 106ED
  • 106HR (also IR)
  • 106SM (Replaced by 117 eff. W18)
  • 108 (also PT)
  • 109
  • 116
  • 117 (Replaces 106SM eff. W18)
  • 118
  • 128
  • 130
  • 132
  • 134
  • 135
  • 136
  • 137
  • 138
  • 143
  • 144 (also IR)
  • 145 (also IR)
  • 146 (also IR)
  • 147
  • 148A & B
  • 149
  • 150A & B
  • 173 (Replaces 171 eff. M17)
  • 177


  • 106DM (Replaced by 142 eff. S17)
  • 106CW (Replaced by 141 eff. S17)
  • 106HR (also CP)
  • 106UN
  • 119 (all – also PT)
  • 121 & W121
  • 124
  • 126
  • 127
  • 141 (Replaces 106CW eff. S17)
  • 142 (Replaces 106DM eff. S17)
  • 144 (also CP)
  • 145 (also CP) [Cross-listed with Italian as ITAL 161AX]
  • 146 (also CP)
  • 186 [Cross-listed with Global Studies as GLOBL 123]


  • 108 (also CP)
  • 110 (all)
  • 114 [Cross-listed with Chicano Studies as CH ST 179]
  • 119 (all – also IR)
  • 187
  • 188
  • 189