Introductory Courses

Of the nine or 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.

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 V 1201 or V 1501, 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 nine courses for the major or the five for the minor.*

The 1000-level Lecture Courses 

These may be taken at Barnard or at Columbia:
UN 1013 Political Theory (Ethics & Values, formerly REA)
UN 1201 American Politics (SOC)
UN1501 Comparative Politics (SOC; CUL)
UN 1601 International Politics (SOC)

The 3000-level Lecture Courses


A student may substitute these selected Barnard College 3000-level political science lecture courses for the 1000-level course in the same subfield. Applicable Columbia lecture courses are listed below. (Please note that it must be a lecture course; no other format--colloquium, seminar, workshop, etc.--is appropriate.) 

If you are interested in a 3000-level political science lecture course not listed under this heading, please ask your advisor to make a case to our Department Chair. Courses that were evaluated but deemed not appropriate as an intro-level courses are listed at the end of this page.

The General Education Requirements (GER) satisfied by the courses are indicated within brackets. See also the College's comprehensive GER list.

A note on how Barnard and Columbia list courses. A prefix of "BC" indicates that the course is offered primarily for Barnard students; a "C" course, primarily for Columbia College students. "G" courses are graduate courses and a "UN" indicates a joint course, usually Barnard with Columbia College. Undergraduate-level courses are 1000-3999 whereas 4000-4999 courses are designed for advanced undergraduate & first-year graduate students. Courses at the 5000-8999 level are graduate courses not normally open to undergraduate students.

Political Theory
UN3103 Great Political Thinkers in the Black Intellectual Tradition

American Government & Politics
BC 3200 American Political Development 1789-1980 (SOC; HIS)
BC 3210 Power, Politics and Policymaking (SOC)
UN 3212 Environmental Politics (SOC)
UN 3240 Race, Law and American Politics
UN 3313 American Urban Politics (SOC)

Comparative Politics
UN 3401 Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe (SOC; HIS)
UN 3604 Civil Wars and International Interventions in Africa (counts as an intro in either CP or IR)
UN 3620 Introduction to Contemporary Chinese Politics (SOC; HIS)

International Relations
UN 3604 Civil Wars and International Interventions in Africa (counts as an intro in either CP or IR)
UN 3615 Globalization and International Politics (SOC)


The following selected Columbia College lecture courses fulfill the intro-level requirement. Where known, we have added the General Education Requirement (GER) within brackets.

Political Theory
UN 3020 Democracy & Its Critics (REA; SOC)
UN 3100 Justice
UN 3120 Democratic Theory
UN 3150 Greek Political Thought
UN 3160 Politics & Religion: The Crisis of Sovereignty
UN3190 Republicanism: Plato to Petit

American Government & Politics
UN 3202 Labor & American Politics (SOC)
UN 3208 State Politics (SOC)
UN 3210 Judicial Politics
UN 3245 Race & Ethnicity in American Politics (SOC)
UN 3260 The Latino Political Experience (SOC)
UN 3280 20th-Century American Politics (HIS)
UN 3290 Voting & American Politics (SOC)
UN 3322 The American Congress (SOC)
UN 3399 The Supreme Court & American Politics

Comparative Politics
UN 3506 Comparative Party Politics
UN 3522 The Life Cycle of Communist Regimes (SOC)
UN 3548 Politics of Western Europe
UN 3553 Russian Politics
UN 3580 Political Economy & Sociology of Global Capitalism
UN 3585 Political Economy of Development (SOC)

International Relations
UN 3619 Nationalism & Contemporary World Politics
UN 3625 Rising Great Powers in International Relations
UN 3631 American Foreign Policy

Elective, but NOT intro-level, courses:

The 3000-level courses listed in the section below were evaluated and found *not* appropriate as introductory-level courses. Possible reasons are that these courses have a prerequisite or that they focus on a specific topic or that they do not have a lecture format. These courses however do count as an elective toward the Barnard political science major and minor. It is the student's responsibility to check the prerequisites if they are not listed here! Additional cross-listed courses that can be used as an elective are indicated at the end of the page in the on-line Course Catalogue.

UN 3001 Introduction to Human Rights
UN 3135 Theories of the Political Self
UN 3140 Animal Rights: Theory & Practice
UN 3218 Mass Media & American Democracy (prereq: W1201 or equivalent)
UN 3220 Logic of Collective Choice
BC 3254 First Amendment Values (prereq: W1201 or equivalent)
UN 3285 Freedom of Speech & Press
BC 3521 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (prereq: W1201 or equivalent)
UN 3595 Social Protection Around the World (prereq: W1501 or equivalent)
UN 3613 International Politics of the Environment (prereq: W1601 or equivalent)
UN 3635 U.S. Foreign Economic Policy (prereq: W1601 or equivalent)
UN 3680 Current Issues in International Security (prereq: W1601 or equivalent)
UN 3690 International Law
UN 3704 Data Analysis & Statistics for Political Science Research (QUA)
UN 3720 Scope & Methods
UN 3911-3912 Seminars in Political Theory
UN 3921-3922 Seminars in American Politics
UN 3951-3952 Seminars in Comparative Politics
UN 3955 Seminar: Politics of China
UN 3961-3962 Seminars in International Politics