Politics Major & Minor

The study of politics, broadly understood, is the study of power in human societies: how it is established, how it changes, and how it may be evaluated. On the one hand, political science attempts to understand – to explain and to interpret – phenomena such as political upheaval and stability, democracy and dictatorship, economic prosperity and deprivation. On the other hand, the study of politics also seeks to find possible justifications for political authority, and to evaluate the ends for which political power is used and the means through which it is exercised. In short, the study of politics is concerned not only with the way the social world is, but also how it might be improved.

The politics major and minor at Southern Virginia University are designed to be extensions of the core liberal arts curriculum. For this reason, the politics program is intended not only for those who want to pursue a political or legal vocation; the program aims to provide not job-specific training but rather the knowledge and intellectual skills necessary for the responsible exercise of civic freedom. As part of a liberal arts education, however, the politics program trains students in the skills of thinking and expression which are valuable in a wide range of occupations. In the politics program, students will have the opportunity to think about political concepts such as justice, authority and freedom with thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes and Kant; to understand classic and contemporary views of the American democratic project; and to grapple with contemporary issues in world politics such as the prospects for global democratization, the challenges of economic development, and the causes and consequence of war and political violence.

Learning Objectives

Students completing Southern Virginia University’s politics major are expected acquire the following:

  1. Knowledge of basic institutional structures of American government (the constitutional framework, development, and current operation of national and sub-national governments) as well as the history and current characteristics of American political society, and knowledge of important concepts and theories in the study of American politics.
  2. Knowledge of central concepts and theories in comparative politics; knowledge of the basic structure and function of five political systems outside the United States.
  3. Knowledge of central questions and concepts in political theory; knowledge of the basic ideas of six major Western political thinkers.
  4. Ability to write a research paper in a major subfield of political science.

Program Coordinator: Dr. Jeremiah John

Major Requirements (29 credit hours)

Major Core (11 credit hours)

Major Electives I: 3 credit hours from among the following:

Major Electives II: an additional 15 credit hours from among the following:

Download the Politics Major Checklist

Minor Requirements (15 credit hours)

Minor Core (6 credit hours):

Minor Electives: 9 credit hours from among the following:

Download the Politics Minor Checklist