Of the ten courses required for the Political Science major, three must be introductory lecture courses at the 1000-level, or selected 3000-level courses, in three of the four subfields. These courses are designed to provide an introduction to the main subject matter and major theories of each subfield. They also serve to familiarize students with the analytic approaches that political scientists use. After taking lecture courses in the relevant subfields, students are eligible to take the three required colloquium courses. Any student taking a four introductory course may use that towards their elective requirement.
The subfields are:
- Political Theory (PT): the study of the conceptual foundations of political systems and behavior.
- American Government and Politics (AP): the study of all aspects of the American political system, including its development, institutions, procedures, and actors.
- Comparative Politics (CP): the study of the political systems of other countries and regions, including the use of comparisons across cases in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of events, institutions, and processes.
- International Relations (IR): the study of relations between countries and the dynamics and development of the international system.
Advanced Placement Credit:
A student granted Advanced Placement (AP) credit by the College in either American Politics or Comparative Politics with an exam score of 5 will have fulfilled the prerequisite for courses that require the prior completion of POLS UN1201 or UN1501, respectively. If the student wants to take the introductory American Politics or Comparative Politics course, she may do so, but she then will forfeit her corresponding AP credit.
*AP credit does not count toward the number of courses required for the major or minor, in other words, the student still needs to complete the ten courses for the major or the five for the minor. Majors who wish to use their AP credit in American Politics or Comparative Politics may use any 3000-level lecture course (not a colloquium or seminar course) offered at either Barnard or Columbia in the corresponding subfield, as a substitute for the intro course requirement in that subfield.*
Approved Introductory Course Substitutes
Majors may substitute any of these selected 3000-level political science lecture courses for the required 1000-level course in the same subfield, in the subfields of Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. No substitutes are allowed for the American Politics subfield introductory course (UN 1201). No petitions for alternative courses to those listed below will be considered.
NOTE: These requirements were updated in the Spring of 2020. Students who declared a Political Science major prior to Fall 2020 may still take courses that were approved under the old policy. Please email PolSci@Barnard.edu with any questions.
1) BC V3401: Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe
2) BC V3620: Introduction to Contemporary Chinese Politics
3) BC V3560: The Politics of Urban Development in Latin America
1) UN 3625: Rising Great Powers in International Relations
2) UN 3604: Civil Wars and International Interventions in Africa
1) UN 3100: Justice
2) UN 3190 Republicanism
In addition to the three introductory courses and the three colloquia, political science majors choose four electives, normally at the 3000- or 4000-level. These courses are designed to deepen and expand students’ knowledge base and encourage them to apply social scientific reasoning and theories to the analysis of a broad range of political issues and problems.
Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and to track your courses.
What fulfills the Four-Course Electives requirement:
- All courses offered at Barnard or Columbia in political science with a POLS prefix satisfy elective course requirements, including introductory lecture courses, colloquia and cross-listed courses.
- The Independent Study Option POLS BC3799. Students who wish to do an independent study project (ISP) should first speak to a political science faculty member willing to sponsor it and consult with this instructor as to workload and points of credit. Credit is given for an academic research paper written in conjunction with an internship, but no academic credit is given for an internship or job experience per sé. The student must then apply to the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS), which must approve all Independent Study requests. Once the request is granted, the Registrar creates a section and assigns a call number, and the student is notified of the call number so she can enter the course on her program. (Each instructor has a separate section and call number. Each instructor is limited to sponsoring one independent study per semester.) Independent study counts as a course for the purpose of the political science requirements, provided the project is approved for 3 or 4 points of credit. A project taken for 1 or 2 points does not count as a course toward the major, the minor, or the concentration requirement. A student may use no more than one instance of POLS BC3799 towards her major requirements.
- With pre-approval, first from the individual Major Advisor and then from the Department Chair, student may substitute a course in another department for one of the four elective courses. This course cannot be an introductory course and it must have significant political science content (use the Course Approval Request Form). Approval after the fact will not be granted.
- Seven of the ten courses for the major must be taken from courses listed in the political science section of the Barnard Course Catalog (see #1 for specifics). Within the three-course limit of courses taken elsewhere, the following caps traditionally apply: three transfer courses; two Reid Hall courses; two study-abroad courses from one semester away or three study-abroad courses from a full year away; one summer session course. On rare occasions the Department Chair may grant an exception (use the Course Approval Request Form). With the exception of transfer courses, these courses need pre-approval from the Department Representative. All of these courses, including transfer courses, require approval after completion from the Department Representative to count toward the major, minor or concentration. Please use the Course Approval Form.
What does not fulfill the Four-Course Electives requirement:
- The Independent Study Option POLS BC3799 does not satisfy the course requirement if the project is for 1 or 2 points.
- College-granted AP credit for American Politics or Comparative Politics does not count as major course credit. (See Advanced Placement Credit.)
- Courses taken at other colleges, in summer sessions, or abroad, which are not equivalent in rigor and workload to Barnard courses, as determined by the Department Representative, in consultation with other faculty of the department, will not count toward the major, minor or concentration requirements.
Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and to track your courses.
Every Barnard Political Science major must take three colloquia. The third colloquium integrates the senior capstone requirement.
The colloquium format involves weekly discussion of readings, and development of research skills through completion of a 25- to 30-page research paper, constituting the major piece of written work for the course. See the course catalogue for a detailed description of the colloquium requirement. A colloquium, as with any course used for the major or minor requirement, cannot be taken Pass/D/Fail.
Prerequisite: Please make certain that, before enrolling, you will have successfully completed one lecture course in the relevant subfield or have received special permission from the instructor for that requirement to be waived. Colloquia are not suitable for first-year students. Sophomores will be admitted as room permits. When making your third colloquium selection, please keep in mind that it is to your benefit to choose one in the field of your anticipated senior essay topic.
Columbia seminars do not fulfill the colloquium requirement for political science (they do provide elective credit).
Each political science colloquium is limited to students who are assigned by the department, not by individual instructors. Preference is given in the following order: senior Barnard majors; junior Barnard majors; sophomore Barnard students who have declared the major and will be studying abroad during junior year; senior and junior majors from other undergraduate divisions of the University; non-majors from all undergraduate divisions of the university.
Please apply here. If you run into any problems filling out the form, please email PolSci@barnard.edu.
For the fall colloquia, Barnard Political Science majors must submit their applications by 5:00 p.m. on April 1. [NOTE: THE DEADLINE FOR FALL 2020 COLLOQUIA HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO APRIL 10th]
For the spring colloquia, Barnard Political Science majors must submit their applications by 5:00 p.m. on November 2nd. Students will receive an email notifying them of their placement.
Please note that students are assigned to a colloquium by the Department and not by individual instructors. Be sure to attend the first class session in order to secure your place in the course.
Spring Colloquium Schedule (applications due November 2nd, 2020)
NOTE: All times are listed in EST.
|Professor||Term||Class name||Day and Time|
|Berman, Sheri||Spring||POLS BC3540 Colloquium on Constructing States, Nations, and Democracy||Wednesday 2-4PM|
|Gundogdu, Ayten||Spring||POLS BC3435 Colloquium on Law and Violence||Thursday 12:10-2PM|
|Lacombe, Matt||Spring||POLS BC3451 Colloquium on Inequality and Power||Tuesday 10:10-12PM|
|Lu, Xiaobo||Spring||POLS BC3512 Pandemics and Politics||Tuesday 10:10-12PM|
|Lu, Xiaobo||Spring||POLS BC3801 Politics of Economic Development in the World||Thursday 10:10-12PM|
|Cooley, Alexander||Spring A||POLS BC3816 COVID-19 and International Relations||Monday/Wednesday 2-4pm|
|Moncada, Eduardo||Spring A||POLS BC3543 Colloquium on Non-State Governance in Contexts of Crime and War||Tuesday/Thursday 10:10-11:25AM|
|Krimmel, Katherine||Spring B||POLS BC3019 Colloquium on American Political Development||Tuesday/Thursday 6:10-8PM|
NOTE: Unless otherwise mentioned, the only prerequisite for each colloquium is the intro course or approved substitution for that subfield.
POLS BC3540 Colloquium on Constructing States, Nations, and Democracy
The course will examine the development of, and relationship among, the three constituent features of the modern political world: states, nations and democracy. The course will analyze both historical and contemporary cases, tracing how causal processes unfold over time and space and what past conditions and experiences lie behind today's political dynamics and problems.
POLS BC3435 Colloquium on Law and Violence
This colloquium examines how the law can participate in the justification of various forms of violence, exclusion, and inequality. It focuses on the power of law to determine which subjects get recognized as persons entitled to rights. Possible topics include slavery, migration, gender, sexual orientation, disability, homelessness, and nonhuman animals.
POLS BC3451 Colloquium on Inequality and Power
In recent decades, economic inequality in the United States has soared to levels not seen for nearly a century: Wages for workers have stagnated, while the proportion of wealth concentrated among the most well-off Americans has steadily increased. These trends may have dire consequences for the state of representative democracy in the United States, as they endow a relatively small number of citizens with a disproportionate amount of resources to deploy politically. The result is a political system that often responds to the preferences of the wealthiest Americans, while frequently ignoring the views of most ordinary citizens.
This course, in diverse ways, explores the political causes and consequences of rising inequality, especially with regards to who has political power. We will begin by examining the contours of inequality in the U.S. while also exploring the various ways that power manifests itself in politics. We’ll then explore the relationship between wealth and public policy outcomes in the United States, along with the ways that the very wealthiest Americans – both individually and collectively – work to advance their policy views. Beyond just examining national-level politics, we will also discuss inequality and power on the state- and local-levels. We’ll then explore how political and economic inequality are interrelated with race and social class, and how all of this connects to the rise of Donald Trump. Finally, we will assess potential remedies to political and economic inequality.
POLS BC3512 Pandemics and Politics
The COVID-19 crisis offers a rare and unique opportunity to social science students to study how governments respond and how people behave during the pandemic.In this class, we focus on the government responses to the COVID pandemic (along with some other major pandemics in history) and investigate the questions of why governments around the globe did what they did in response to the pandemic, and how some social, political, and economic factors affected the kind of responses and the effectiveness of such responses. In analyzing different factors, we will survey and learn from existing relevant theoretical frameworks in social sciences particularly political science. we will cover a wide range of topics that are also major topics in political science such as federalism, authoritarianism, leadership, and trust in government. By examining this important contemporary global crisis from political science perspectives, students can learn about broader theories in social sciences in general and political science in particular.
Another goal of this course is for students to learn how to make social science inquiry and analysis with comparative methods. Through the readings, class discussions, research, and writing of a research paper, students will be exposed to various ways to conduct research and making analysis which will be realized in a research paper.
POLS BC3801 Politics of Economic Development in the World
The semester-long course aims to study political and social factors behind economic development and exam empirical cases of the success and failure in economic growth in order to understand the key features of the development processes. In the last two centuries, some countries successfully achieved economic growth and development, while other failed to do so. Even in the post-WWII period, the world has witnessed the rise and decline of economies around the world. Why do nations succeed or fail in economic development? How do political institutions affect economic outcomes? What are the ways in which state and market interact and influence each other? Can democracy be considered a cause of development, an outgrowth of development, or neither and to which extent? How do external factors such as foreign aid encourage or discourage development? We will try to examine these questions by taking a historical-institutional and comparative approach and take a critical look at the role of political and other institutions by applying theoretical guidelines and empirical cases. We will explore competing explanations for the successes and failures of economic development in the world. Objective:1. Understand some important concepts and theories within the fields of comparative politics and political economy. To explore the interconnections between politics, economy, and society in the context of development policy and practice.2. Develop basic analytic skills to explore various factors that shape political, economic, and social development and underdevelopment in the world;3. Understand some country specific political economy processes and how these processes prove or disprove certain theories and policies.
POLS BC3816 COVID-19 and International Relations
Welcome to “International Relations of COVID-19.” The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic has sent political shockwaves around the world, affecting almost every aspect of international political life. From how countries cooperate with one another to redefining what constitutes national security, to recasting pressures for globalization and de-globalization, the world as we knew it prior to February 2020 appears to be dramatically changing. At the same time, scholars and policymakers are increasingly divided about how to understand and respond to many of these challenges. Is the COVID era truly new or will it actually accelerate recent trends in international politics and global governance? What are the similarities between this pandemic and previous global health crises and what lessons should we draw for managing international order? What are the implications for US leadership, and broad perceptions about the erosion of the US-led liberal world order, and how have strategic competitors like China dealt with the crisis globally? Finally, what are the tools, resources and networks available to researchers and policy makers interested in making more evidence-based assessments about international public policy? What are the challenges?
The intensive nature of this colloquium is reflected in two ways- preparation and focus. First, the course carries a substantial reading load designed to inform and prepare students for each course session. These assignments will mostly be academic readings, but may also include podcasts, news articles, and digital archival materials. New materials and resources dealing with the course topic are added daily and may be added to the syllabus, so please check the Courseworks syllabus before each meeting for the current assignments. Importantly, our class lectures, group activities and individual assignments will build upon, not review, the assigned materials for the session.
Second, the remote nature of the course will require active listening and focus. Each session typically will be split into 2 segments, roughly of 55-60 minutes each. Many of these segments will feature guest lecturers or experts who will give 25-30 mins presentations on their topic and then field questions. During our limited time for Q&A students should ask single, concise questions.
POLS BC3543 Colloquium on Non-State Governance in Contexts of Crime and War
The conventional wisdom is that crime and civil war are linked to disorder. But these are far from disorderly and ungoverned spaces. Unpacking these settings reveals complex forms of non-state governance constructed by a range of actors, including rebel and guerillas, gangs, vigilantes, and protection rackets – sometimes facilitated by the state.
POLS BC3019 Colloquium on American Political Development
In this survey of American political development, we will discuss how and why major institutions and policies emerged, why they took certain forms, when and why they have changed over time, and what kinds of factors limit change. We will also discuss how policies, in turn, shape citizens and institutions.
Colloquium Application Process
Please note that we ask you to submit three colloquium choices. To the degree possible, the Department will try to honor one of your first two choices. If you list fewer than three choices, you will be assigned to a colloquium at random.
The number of semesters you have left at Barnard plays a role in the selection process. Therefore, if you are planning to study abroad or to participate in S.I.P.A.'s Joint Degree Program, be sure to indicate this.
You can now apply for Spring 2021 Colloquia via this form.
As of Spring 2017, we are no longer publicly posting colloquium placements. If you did not receive an email with your colloquium placements, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to follow up.