Political Science Course Description

Below, you'll find a list of political science courses offered at the University of Kentucky. You can find the requirements for a Political Science Bachelors of Arts here and requirement for a Political Science Bachelors of Arts here

For questions regarding scheduling, please reach out to an Arts & Science advisor:

  • Phone number: 859.257.8712
  • Email: ASAdvisingCenter@uky.edu 
  • Walk-In Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30pm-4:30pm; 202 Patterson Office Tower

PS 101 AMERICAN GOVERNMENT. (3) A survey of national government and the political process in the United States, with emphasis on the Constitution, the President, Congress, and the judicial system.

*Major requirement



*PS 210 INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS. (3) A general introduction to the domestic politics of countries in the various regions of the world, with an emphasis on the concepts used to understand why political issues and processes differ across developed and developing nations. Students also learn how domestic politics are shaped by super-national institutions and by national integration into a global economy.

*PS 230 INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS. (3) An introduction to world politics, with an emphasis on conflict and compromise at the international level but also considering domestic political interactions with global consequences. Students learn how social scientists analyze international relations in a variety of policy areas, including both military/defense and economic.

**PS 240 INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THEORY. (3) An introduction to modern political thought as it relations to debates over the meaning of democracy, citizenship, justice, authority, and identity. Readings and discussions center on the themes and ideologies dominant in Western political theory, but also will explore contemporary challenges to that tradition, such as feminist political theory and the work of theorists concerned with what is popularly called globalization.

*Major requirement

**Can be fulfilled by PS 240 or PS 372


PS 360 POLITICS OF LAW AND COURTS. (3) A survey of the actors in American government and society who shape the meaning of the law, focusing especially on the judiciary. The course will outline the structure of the judicial system including both state and federal courts as well as the judicial process followed within that system. Prepares students for advanced study in public law and judicial politics. Prereq: UN2 status.

PS 363 CRIMINAL COURTS AND PROCESS IN THE U.S. (3) The course is an introduction to the criminal-court process in the United States. The course covers how the criminal process is organized, outlines the steps and actors in the criminal process, and explores the impact of criminal justice on society. Prereq: UN2 status.

*PS 372 INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL ANALYSIS. (3) Introduction to the basic knowledge of research methodology in political science; a review of methods of data collection; historical, quantitative and comparative techniques of analysis. Prereq: UN2 status; PS majors only.

PS 391 SPECIAL TOPICS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE (Subtitle required). (3) Course will focus on selected topics drawn from various areas of political science taught by faculty members with special interests and competence. May be repeated in courses of differing topics to a maximum of 12 credits. Prereq: UN2 status.

PS 395 INDEPENDENT WORK. (1-6) Consent of instructor. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 credits. Prereq: A standing of 3.0 in political science courses.

PS 399 INTERNSHIP IN GOVERNMENT. (1-12) This course is designed for students who are participating in a state, local or federal internship program with which the political science department is associated. The student must have the approval of the Department Chairman upon the recommendation of the Committee on Internship and Experiential Education to take the course, negotiate a learning contract with a departmental academic supervisor, and provide the Department with a report or a paper in his internship. PASS/FAIL ONLY. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 credits.


PS 410 TOPICS IN REGIONAL POLITICS (Subtitle required). (3) A survey of politics and government in one region of the world. The course will consider the region’s unique political character, but also explain how and why nations within the region differ from each other politically. Some sections will compare and contrast a region’s political systems in general, whereas others may be more specialized topically. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 credits under differing subtitles. Prereq: PS 210 or PS 212

PS 415G COMPARATIVE JUDICIAL POLITICS. (3) A comparison of the judicial institutions operating across a wide variety of political systems. Emphasis will be on topics such as why different nations or regions evolve different types of courts, how those courts gain legitimacy with the public, and what forces shape the behavior of judges serving in these various court systems. Prereq: PS 210, PS 212, or PS 360.

PS 417G SURVEY OF SUB-SAHARAN POLITICS. (3) A survey of sub-Saharan government and politics intended to give the student broad knowledge about the setting of African politics, precolonial African political systems, the political legacies of major European colonial powers, and problems of political development. Prereq: PS 210 or 212. (Same as AAS 417G.)

PS 419G THE GOVERNMENTS AND POLITICS OF EASTERN ASIA. (3) A comparative analysis of the modern political experiences of China and Japan, exploring their responses to the West, the development of differing political elites in each country, and contemporary problems of the Chinese Communist and Japanese politics. Prereq : PS 210 or 212.

PS 420G GOVERNMENTS AND POLITICS OF SOUTH ASIA. (3) A comparative analysis of contemporary political development in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, with emphasis on political cultures, participation, institutions and the capabilities of these political systems. Prereq: PS 210 or 212.

PS 427G EAST EUROPEAN POLITICS. (3) This course is meant to provide an opportunity for advanced undergraduates and graduate students to (1) understand the historic al, socioeconomic and philosophical context of the communist party states in Eastern Europe, (2) to learn who governs in Eastern Europe and the structures through which they rule, (3) to assess the “dynamics” of communist politics, i.e., factors contributing to political change vis-a-vis political continuity. Prereq: Junior or senior standing and instructor’s written permission.

PS 428G LATIN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS. (3) A study of contemporary Latin American political institutions and of the dynamics of the Latin American political process. Prereq: PS 210 or 212.

PS 429G GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS IN RUSSIA AND THE POST-SOVIET STATES. (3) Analysis of political development in the Soviet Union with emphasis on party-government relations, Communist ideology, and major approaches to the study of Soviet politics. Prereq: PS 210 or 212.

PS 430G THE CONDUCT OF AMERICAN FOREIGN RELATIONS. (3) The formulation of American foreign policy from several analytic perspectives, with somewhat more emphasis on inputs and process than on substantive outputs. Prereq: PS 101 or consent of instructor.

PS 431G NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY. (3) The organization and formulation of military policy; the theory and practice of deterrence; and the problems of disarmament and arms control. Prereq: PS 235 or consent of instructor.

PS 433G POLITICS OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC RELATIONS. (3) The course examines contending theoretical approaches to global political economy. These approaches are used to analyze various issues of global political economy, such as the international monetary system, multinational corporations, foreign aid, and trade. Prereq: PS 235.

PS 436G INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION. (3) A study of the evolution of international organizations in the 20th Century. Examination of the increasing size, complexity, and diversity of contemporary global and regional international organizations. The role of international organizations in future world order.

PS 437G DYNAMICS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW. (3) An examination of the politics of the development of international law and its operation in a multicultural world. Legal principles and international political processes are discussed through illustrative issue areas: management of conflict; distribution of territorial resources; environmental problems; and human rights. Prereq: PS 235 or PS 360.  

PS 439G SPECIAL TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (Subtitle required). (3) Course will focus on selected advanced topics in international relations drawn from various areas of that field of political science, taught by faculty members with special interests and competence. May be repeated in courses of differing topics for a maximum of 9 credits. Prereq: PS 235.

PS 441G EARLY POLITICAL THEORY. (3) A survey of political theorists in the Western political tradition from classical Greece to the Renaissance. The formative influences upon our conceptions of politics, citizenship, justice, and natural rights will be highlighted and key issues in controversies over rhetoric and philosophy, time and political order, education and the body politic, and political action and human artifice will be illuminated.

PS 442G MODERN POLITICAL THEORY. (3) Western political theory from Machiavelli to Marx and Weber with emphasis on the impact of early modern culture and liberalism upon contemporary views of power, individualism, community, and political consciousness. Key contributions of modern political theorists to perennial debates on power and the intellectual, institutional bases of modern constitutionalism, human nature and aggression, the sourbces of alienation, and the relation of modern science and technology to contemporary forms of domination will be explored.

PS 456G APPALACHIAN POLITICS. (3) A study of the interrelationships of the Southern Appalachian region and its people with the larger American political system, culture, and economy. Selective examination of public policies and major issues and their development in the politics of the region.

PS 458 AMERICAN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT. (3) A comparative examination of subnational governments, especially state governments but also smaller units such as cities, counties, and school districts. Readings and discussions will explore the variety of institutions and policies found across the United States, seeking an understanding of why places differ from each other politically. The course also will examine the relationship between the national government and the states. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.

PS 461G CIVIL LIBERTIES. (3) A study of the philosophy and development of civil liberties in the U.S. Major concentration on the interpretation of constitutional guarantees by the Supreme Court. Prereq: PS 360.

PS 463G JUDICIAL POLITICS. (3) A survey of how politics influences, and in turn is influenced by, the behavior of judicial institutions and the judges who staff them. Draws heavily on the social science literature studying judicial behavior, the structure of the court system, and the implementation of legal rulings. Prereq: PS 101 and UN2 status.

PS 465G CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. (3) A non-chronological study of major Supreme Court decisions and recent issues relating to separation of powers, federalism, the  commerce clause, taxes, criminal justice and other non-civil liberties areas. Prereq: PS 360.

PS 470G AMERICAN POLITICAL PARTIES. (3) An analysis of American national and state party systems, organization, and functions; nominations and elections; and voting patterns. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.

PS 471 RACE, ETHNICITY AND POLITICS. (3) An examination of the role that race and ethnicity play in the political arena. Students will explore the nature of race, racism, and ethnocentrism, as well as their impact on political institutions and public policy. Particular attention will be given to elect ions, public opinion, mass media and social movements in the United States. (Same as AAS 471.)

PS 472G POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS. (3) An analysis of individual voting behavior and candidate strategies during presidential and congressional elections. The effect of the mass media, political action committees, and political advertising on the vote decision is examined. Attention is also devoted to candidates’ campaign organizations and communication strategies. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.  

PS 473G PUBLIC OPINION. (3) An introduction to the nature and content of public opinion, how polls are conducted, the political effects of polling, and the role of public opinion in the policymaking process. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.

PS 474G POLITICAL PSYCHOLOGY. (3) An exploration of different models of political behavior, based on concepts of psychoanalysis, behaviorism, humanism, and social psychology. Prereq: PS 101 and PSY 100 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.

PS 475G POLITICS AND THE MASS MEDIA. (3) The ways the modern mass media affect the dynamics of politics in the United States are examined in this course. Specific topic s include the impact of television on political discourse; the structure and ownership of mass media; how news is made and how it influences our political attitudes and behaviors; the role of the media in campaigns, elections and policy making. Prereq: PS 101.

PS 476G LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. (3) A study of Congress and the state legislatures, covering the legislative power structure, legislative committees, the selection of legislators and the roles they play, decision making, and the relations of the legislative and executive branches. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.

PS 479 WOMEN AND POLITICS. (3) A study of the role of women as political actors in the United States including the status of women in American society and the contribution of government policy to maintaining or changing that status. The political behavior of women at the mass and elite level will be examined.

PS 480G GOVERNMENT AND THE ECONOMY. (3) This course analyzes the relationship between political and economic systems in the modern, democratic, capitalist state. While the focus is primarily upon the United States, other political/economic systems as well as more general theoretical statements will be considered. Prereq: PS 101 and ECO 101 or equivalent.

PS 484G THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY. (3) A course in the American presidency, emphasizing institutional developments and the impact of recent presidents on the office,  on other governmental institutions, on domestic and foreign policies, and including an examination of the broader context of the executive branch of government. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.

PS 489G THE ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC POLICY. (3) A study of the development, implementation and impacts of government policies; and the sources of variation in policies adopted by differing governmental units. Prereq: PS 101; UN2 status.

PS 490 HONORS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. (3) This course will provide, in a seminar setting, the opportunity for students to concentrate on developing and implementing rese arch projects on topics of their own choice. The course will allow discussion of various perspectives in political science as well as on problems encountered in the research process. Prereq: Senior standing with 3.25 overall GPA and 3.50 GPA in major.

PS 492 SEMINAR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE (Subtitle required). (1-3) A topical seminar primarily for majors in political science and in related fields. May be repeated to a maximum of 12 credits i n seminars of differing topics. Prereq: UN2, previous PS course.


PS 538 CONFLICT AND COOPERATION IN LATIN AMERICAN RELATIONS. (3) An examination of (1) national development strategies as determinants of Latin American foreign policies, (2) the origins and political consequences of economic nationalism, (3) historical patterns of U.S. response to reformist and/or revolutionary change, (4) the role of extra-continental contenders for influence in the Americas, and (5) at least one contemporary foreign policy issue in inter- American relations. Prereq: PS 428G or permission of instructor.

PS 545 AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT. (3) This course explores the American tradition of political thought, its formation, and the ways it is involved in major problems of culture, political economy, ideology, and identity. Alternative ideas of work, power, political obligation, science and technology, and related issues are examined. Relationships of theory and practice, public and private, and government and society are analyzed. Prereq: UN3 status.  

PS 557 KENTUCKY GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS. (3) A study of current political issues and institutions in Kentucky.

PS 566 CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION. (3) A study of the political and the philosophical origins of the U.S. Constitution and of the competing and overlapping philosophies about how it should be interpreted in modern times. Prereq: One of the following: PS 461G, PS 465G, or HIS 573.

PS 572 INTRODUCTION TO QUANTITATIVE POLITICAL METHODOLOGY. (3) Introduction to quantitative research methods used by political scientists. The course introduces students to data sets and statistical software commonly used in political science, and basic analysis techniques used to analyze political data. Prereq: For undergraduates, completion of PS 372.

PS 580 THE BUDGETARY PROCESS. (3) A study of the development of budgetary techniques in the United States, the uses to which budgets are put, the roles of the budgetary process in budgetary politics and in the functioning of government, and the distribution of government resources through the budget.


PS 620 COMPARATIVE POLITICS: THEORY AND METHOD. (3) A study of the evolution and development of comparative government and politics within the discipline with particular emphasis  upon the formulation, application, and limitations of the theories, taxonomies and conceptual frameworks employed in comparative research.

PS 671 STRATEGIES OF INQUIRY IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. (3) Analysis of research paradigms for political science, and investigation into the foundations of scientific inquiry. Emphasis on topics such as explanation, concept formation, the construction and function of theory, data, and verification.

PS 672 INTRODUCTION TO TECHNIQUES OF POLITICAL RESEARCH. (3) Basic techniques of data collection, coding, and processing applicable to political research are introduced. Various statistical techniques of data analysis are discussed and applied to political data. Prereq: PS 671, familiarity with appropriate statistical methods and consent of instructor.

PS 674 PROSEMINAR IN THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS. (3) A survey of the major theoretical approaches to the study of international systems and processes.

PS 680 PROSEMINAR IN POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS AND PROCESS. (3) A thorough survey of recent literature on political institutions and the political process, including political parties and the legislative and executive processes, at the national and sub-national levels.

PS 681 AMERICAN POLITICAL BEHAVIOR. (3) A proseminar providing a survey of major theoretical approaches and empirical research in the field of American political behavior. Intended to explore various individual-level models of behavior and then apply them to specific forms of political behavior.

PS 684 PROSEMINAR IN POLICY STUDIES. (3) A survey of the various approaches to the study and analysis of public policy impacts. Special emphasis will be given to the normative and ethical implications of alternative conceptualizations of the policy process and the role of the policy analyst.

PS 690 PROSEMINAR IN CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL THEORY. (3) An examination of contemporary political theories, especially their relationships to theoretical issues in policy analysis. Maj or problems such as inquiry and change, ideology and power, and knowledge and authority will be studied, particularly in the context of public policy.


PS 711 TOPICAL SEMINAR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE (Subtitle required). (3) Topic and instructor will vary from semester to semester. Faculty member presents seminar on topic in which he has particular research competence or special expertise. May be repeated under different subtitle to a maximum of nine hours. Prereq: Two semesters of graduate work and consent of instructor.

PS 731 INTERNATIONAL SECURITY/CONFLICT ANALYSIS. (3) The seminar examines international security affairs, with an emphasis on the sources and nature of conflict, and methods of conflict, the patterns of conflict, and methods of conflict resolution and regulation, both within states and among them. Prereq: Consent of instructor.  

PS 732 COMPARATIVE FOREIGN POLICY (Subtitle required). (3) This seminar will emphasize comparative analysis of foreign policy. It will compare the foreign policies of a number of countries in order to develop propositions and arrive at generalizations regarding foreign policy process and behavior. The comparative focus will vary. May be repeated to a maximum of six credits under different subtitles.

PS 733 INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY. (3) The course examines the contending theoretical perspectives and substantive functional issues underlying the politics of international economic relations. Special attention is paid to international trade and money, the politics of North-South relations, and comparative foreign economic policies. Prereq: Consent of instructor.

PS 734 GREAT BOOKS OF WORLD POLITICS. (3) Overview of classic texts on war and statecraft. Prereq: Consent of instructor. (Same as DIS 710.)

PS 735 DEMOCRACY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS. (3) Discussion of the impact of the global spread of democracy on foreign policy and war. Prereq: Graduate status and consent of instructor. (Same as DIP 715.)

PS 736 COMPARATIVE POLITICAL BEHAVIOR. (3) An examination of major theoretical approaches to the study of public opinion and mass behavior around the world. The course focuses on the study of the origins and consequences of citizens’ political attitudes and behaviors. Students are exposed to experiment al and non- experimental methodologies as well as statistical techniques for the analysis of survey data. Prereq: PS graduate student or consent of instructor.

PS 737 TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND PROCESSES. (3) An analysis of approaches to the study of international, transnational and regional political and economic organizations and processes within the context of world politics. An examination of the impact of these activities and processes on contemporary problems of world order. Prereq: Graduate student status.

PS 738 CIVIL CONFLICT. (3) This seminar covers a systematic theoretical and empirical study of civil conflict. The readings are focused on the most recent empirical work in this area, though a handful of the more traditional and case-oriented research will arise throughout the course. A major component of this course is the production of a research paper, which will apply and extend the topics into an original piece of research.

PS 739 COMPARATIVE POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS. (3) This class provides a survey of comparative political institutions across the globe with an emphasis on the concepts used to understand how institutions structure political outcomes. Students also learn about how and why political institutions vary across the globe and the consequences of institutions for a range of political phenomena. Prereq: PS graduate student or consent of instructor.

PS 740 HUMAN RIGHTS. (3) This seminar examines the influence of domestic institutions and the international human rights regime on patterns of government respect for human rights cross-nationally. Prereq: PS graduate student or consent of instructor.

PS 741 INTERNATIONAL SECURITY. (3) This political science seminar is intended expose students to a range of scholarly literature on international security. We will discuss conflict emergence, recurrence, and resolution, with attention to the roles of tools such as arms, alliances, trade, mediation, international law, and peacekeeping. Prereq: PS graduate student or consent of instructor.

PS 748 MASTER’S THESIS RESEARCH. (0) Half-time to full-time work on thesis. May be repeated to a maximum of six semesters. Prereq: All course work toward the degree must be completed.

PS 749 DISSERTATION RESEARCH. (0) Half-time to full-time work on dissertation. May be repeated to a maximum of six semesters. Prereq: Registration for two full-time semesters of 769 residence credit following the successful completion of the qualifying exams.  

PS 750 POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS IN AMERICA. (3) A study of the organization and functions of political parties, nominations and elections, and voting alignments. Prereq: An undergraduate political parties course or consent of instructor.

PS 756 REGIONAL POLITICS (Subtitle required). (3) This seminar focuses on the domestic politics and international relations of countries within a specific geographic region (Latin America, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Western Europe, Africa, East Asia, etc.). Theoretical foci include political economy, policymaking, regional integration and national security, development, and political culture.

PS 760 SEMINAR IN JUDICIAL PROCESS. (3) A thorough survey of literature in judicial process, focusing largely on judicial recruitment and decision-making, litigants’ strategies, the implementation and impact of judicial policies and relations between the courts and other power centers. May be repeated to a maximum of six credits.

PS 767 DISSERTATION RESIDENCY CREDIT. (2) Residency credit for dissertation research after the qualifying examination. Students may register for this course in the semester of the qualifying examination. A minimum of two semesters are required as well as continuous enrollment (Fall and Spring) until the dissertation is completed and defended.

PS 768 RESIDENCE CREDIT FOR  THE MASTER’S  DEGREE. (1-6) May be repeated to a maximum of 12 hours.

PS 769 RESIDENCE CREDIT FOR THE DOCTOR’S DEGREE. (0-12) May be repeated indefinitely.

PS 772 ADVANCED PROBLEMS IN RESEARCH METHODS. (3) A seminar in selected topics; the application of mathematical models and advanced statistical techniques to political science data. May be repeated to a maximum of six credits.

PS 775 SEMINAR IN PUBLIC POLICY. (3) A political analysis of the domestic policy process including the formation, implementation, and impact of policy.

PS 778 RESEARCH PROBLEMS IN TRANSNATIONAL POLITICS. (3) This seminar focuses on research strategies that can be utilized in dealing with problems in transnational politics. May be repeated to a maximum of six hours with consent of the instructor. Prereq: PS 620 or PS 674.

PS 780 LEGISLATIVE BEHAVIOR. (3) A study of recent research in the legislative process emphasizing both the substantive and methodological aspects. Prereq: An upper division course in the legislative process or consent of instructor.

PS 795 SPECIAL PROBLEMS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. (1-3) Specific programs of readings are developed to meet the needs of individual students. May be repeated to a maximum of six credits for master’s students and 12 credits for Ph.D. students. Prereq: Any 600 level course in political science or consent of the Director of Graduate Study.

PS 796 DIRECTED RESEARCH IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. (1-3) Individual research in a particular field of political science under the supervision of selected faculty. Open to advanced graduate students who are prepared for intensive study and research beyond that offered in regular classes in each field. May be repeated to a maximum of six hours. Prereq: Consent of the instructor and the director of graduate studies.

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