Graduate Courses

PhD student Bhattarai with defense committee.

Left to right: Prof. Claude Welch, Govinda Bhattarai, Prof. Jacob Kathman and Prof. Michelle Benson celebrate Govinda's successful doctoral defense

Course Registration

With questions about graduate courses and registration, please contact Mary E. O'Brien, graduate coordinator. 

Course Syllabi

For a copy of the syllabus for a specific course, please see UB Learns or contact your instructor

Student Testimonials

"We have great discussions in class with diverse perspectives and experiences from all corners of the world." – Sara Norrevik, PhD in Political Science

Course Descriptions

List of all graduate courses, by field. (*) Denotes core course in each field. All courses are three (3) credit hours unless otherwise stated. Course prefix PSC.

Methods of Inquiry

*500 Introduction to Political Inquiry
A basic introduction to political inquiry and the discipline of political science that considers such topics as: (1) critical issues in contemporary philosophy of science with some applications to political science (logical positivism, realism, antirealist empiricism, and constructivism); (2) issues in the nature and logic of political inquiry (ontology and epistemology; scientific method; scientific revolutions; concept formation; law, cause, explanation, prediction, and reductionism; theories and models; values in political inquiry; etc.) and various interpretations of these issues (logical positivism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, ethnomethodology, critical theory, etc.); and (3) the substantive and methodological development of the discipline of political science.

*502 Graduate Research Methods
An introduction to research methods in the social sciences. Emphasis is placed both on acquiring skills as a researcher and on learning to evaluate empirical work in social science. The main topics include an overview of the science of politics; the formulation of models, hypotheses, and concepts; correlation and causality, levels of analysis, measurement, sampling, and various means of collecting both quantitative and qualitative data.

*508 Basic Statistics for Social Science
An introduction to methods for constructing and testing simple empirical representations of theories about politics. The main topics include descriptive statistics, probability distributions, sampling theory, sample estimation, hypothesis testing, bivariate and multivariate data analysis. If time permits, we will also discuss alternative research strategies, problems in measuring political concepts, and the graphical presentation of data. In addition, students will gain experience in using computers and social science software to analyze data pertinent to different political issues. There are no prerequisites for the course. This course provides the statistical background necessary for more advanced methodological training.

531 Intermediate Statistics for Social Science
An in-depth examination of regression analysis. The course begins with the basic linear regression model, including the assumptions that support it, then examines issues of estimation when various assumptions cannot be supported by the data or the theoretical model being tested. Attention will be given to estimation, interpretation, and application of the techniques discussed. Some computer homework will be required. Prerequisite: PSC 508.

532 Philosophy of Social Science
Surveys traditional philosophies of social science, including logical empiricism, Popperians, pragmatists and hermeneutics. Surveys recent studies, mainly sociological and psychological of how scientific research is actually practiced, and how social and personal factors affect research. Examines how far traditional philosophies are compatible with actual practice, and what changes in them are necessary. Prerequisite: PSC 500.

533 Formal Political Theory
This course provides an introduction to formal models in political science. Special attention is given to rational choice models and the public choice literature. Topics include voting models, spatial models of party competition, the theory of political coalitions, political power, and non-cooperative game theory.

631 Advanced Statistics for Social Science
Special estimation and data analysis techniques such as dimensional analysis, covariance structures, time-series analysis, limited dependent variables, bayesian principles, and aggregate data analysis. Prerequisites: PSC 502, 508, and 531, or equivalents with permission of instructor.

632 Field Research Methods in Social Science
Problems of survey design sampling, field methods, data processing and analytical techniques. Prerequisites: PSC 502 and 531.

633 Advanced Topics in Political Inquiry
Game theory, bargaining theory, information theory, and other rationalistic theories of decision making. The use of mathematical and other symbolic models will be examined and these theories and models will be related to the study of such political process as voting and committee decision procedures.

639 Model Building Simulation
Construction and analysis of empirical and/or mathematical models in political science, including formal specification of these models, their manipulation for the purpose of understanding and/or predicting political processes, and their validation through the use of computer simulation, laboratory experiments or data analysis.

731 Empirical Political Frontiers
A series of seminars or tutorials enabling students to explore in depth some of the problems of theory building. (Topic will vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

American Politics

*505 American Politics
An overview of the theoretical and empirical literature on American politics. There are three sections to the course: models of democracy, mass political behavior, and elite political behavior. The first section addresses questions about the distribution of power, the representation of interests, and the political roles of leaders and followers. The second and third sections consider how some of the normative assumptions of theories about democracy have shaped the empirical research on mass and elite behavior. The discussions of masses and elites also focus on the adequacy with which different research strategies have addressed questions about the behavior of these political actors in their roles both as individuals and as members of larger groups and institutions.

506 Policy Making Process
Creation of public policies and translation into specific programs. The first part of the course is devoted to policy formulation and considers how alternatives for dealing with problems are developed, who is involved in the creation of public policies, and with what processes. The second part emphasizes implementation and the variables that affect the transition from desired policy objectives into actual outcomes. Specific policy areas at both the local and national level are employed to illustrate these processes.

517 American Political Economy
An examination of the relationship between the government and economy. The course deals with a range of discrete relations between the federal government and business, considers diverse interpretations of intersections between the government and the private sector interactions, and reviews some of the central policy problems of American political economy.

561 Constitutional Law
(see Public Law)

563 Political Parties
The internal dynamics, functions, and roles of parties in the American political system. Emphasis on the recruitment and socialization of leaders, organization, and the performance of integrative functions.

565 Administrative Process
The administrative process as a component of the political system. The creation, shaping, and reorganization of administrative structures. Administrative decision making: relationships to legislatures, political executives, and judicial process. Problems of responsibility.

567 Urban Politics
The structure of urban governments; urban issues and citizen involvement; political organizations in urban areas; relations with state, national, and other urban governments.

568 State Politics
A comparative approach to state politics, which includes an examination of such topics as political participation, interest groups, and the politics of important state programs.

569 American Federalism
Vertical and horizontal relationships among governments in the U.S. Federal state local relations in selected areas; political influences on these relations; changing federal patterns; the impact of national policies upon inter and intrastate relations.

634 Psychological Theories of Politics
Selected leading psychological theories and their relevance to politics, including cognitive dissonance, psychoanalytic theories, learning theory and personality theories. Concepts such as authoritarianism, alienation and anomie will be considered.

636 Organization Theory
A discussion of the most important theories of social and political organization as they relate to policy making and decisions by governmental agencies.

660 The Separation of Powers
Examination of political, institutional and legal relationships among legislative, executive and judicial branches of government in the U.S. government, both historical and contemporary. Modes of analysis used come from the scholarship of law and Political Science, or other related disciplines. Particular attention to “boundaries of power” relationships in the constitutionally based arrangements of separated and shared powers.

662 Judicial Process
(see Public Law)

663 Legislative Politics
Theory and functioning of legislative system in the United States. The selection of legislators, legislative decision making and relations with other government institutions and with the electorate.

664 Executive Process
Theory and functioning of the executive in the American political system. Executive selection, decision making, and relations with other governmental institutions and the electorate.

665 Voting and Public Opinion
The study of public opinion and voting, with emphasis upon theory and methods.

666 Environmental Politics
Readings and discussion oriented toward arriving at a common understanding and definition of the environmental problems; redefining the problem so it has relevance for political scientists. The environmental problem and environmental politics are looked upon as a laboratory for studying how a society rouses itself to adjust its behavior and institutions in order to cope with severely altered conditions for existence.

668 Public Policy Problems
Examines selected public problems, their nature and efforts to deal with them. (Topics vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

672 Policy Evaluation
This course focuses on how governmental programs can be evaluated. It addresses such issues as who should be doing the evaluation, what evaluative criteria should be employed, the selection of appropriate research designs, and means for encouraging the use of evaluation findings.

673 Budgeting and the Political Process
Theories of the budgetary process in public institutions; examination of the inter relationships of budgets and politics.

674 Policy Analysis
Premises and modes of empirical policy analysis; systematic and analytical theory in policy research; relationships between policy theory and policy analysis; introduction to methods and techniques of empirical policy analysis.

675 Implementing Civil Rights
Implementation of civil rights policy by federal administrative agencies and federal courts, with particular emphasis on implementation discretion and noncompliance, an overview of civil employment, and voting.

761 American Political Frontiers
Research seminars in special areas of American politics. (Topics will vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

771 Public Policy Frontiers
A research seminar on selected topics for advanced graduate students. (Topics may vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

Comparative Politics

*503 Comparative Politics
Introduction to major theoretical and methodological issues in comparative politics. Topics include the development of comparative politics, issues in designing comparative political inquiry, the challenges of conceptualization and measurement, major theoretical approaches (including comparative historical/developmental research, political culture, rational choice, systems theory and structural functionalism, theories of the state, and elite, class and group theories. Each student will prepare a research design outlining an original research project in the field.

520 Major Political Systems
Political institutions, processes and issues, and problems of political stability and change in a specific foreign country or area. Offered in sections. More than one section may be offered in any semester. Regular offerings include: Western Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Other countries or areas will be offered at the discretion of the Department. (Topics will vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

522 Comparative Parties and Groups
Comparative analysis of political movements and organizations in selected countries.

526 The Soviet Political System
An introductory seminar on the political system of the USSR from 1917 1991. Examines the development of the Bolshevik Party and Revolution, the nature of the political system as it developed and changed under Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev. Emphasis on the nature of one party power, state administration in a centrally planned economy, and efforts at political, administrative, and economic reform. This seminar is a formal prerequisite to PSC 626.

529 Building Democracies
Analysis of the process of building democracies, with emphasis on factors that impact democratic stability; various theories of democracy and democratization; comparative analysis of several case studies, with emphasis on post-communist countries.

620 Political Culture
Methodological analysis of concepts and theories of political culture in political inquiry; comparative analysis of political culture in selected countries.

621 Political Geography
Explores the interrelationship between geography and politics; geopolitics, political boundaries, spatial analysis, geographic information systems and political analysis.

622 Comparative Political Behavior
Linkages of individual political behavior to political system characteristics; political participation; public opinion and electoral behavior.

623 Political Socialization
The learning of political beliefs, attitudes and patterns of political action; fundamental modes of thought in selected countries.

624 Political Sociology
Examines the evolution of, and current patterns in, relationships between state and society and between the individual and the state. In addition to reading the classics of the political sociology of advanced societies (Marx, Durkheim, Weber), topics include theories of legitimation, citizenship, political elites, cleavage structures and voter alignments, and individualism.

625 Political Change
Leading theories of political modernization and other modes of political change. Research on problems of political change in selected countries.

626 Post Soviet Politics in Russia
An advanced seminar on Soviet politics in the age of perestroika and selected topics on politics in the USSR’s successor states. Topics: successes and failures of perestroika, disintegration of the USSR, methodological issues in Sovietology, and linkages between Soviet/post Soviet studies and comparative politics. Prerequisite: PSC 526.

627 Elites and Political Leadership
Classical theories of elites (Mosca, Pareto, Michels); political leadership and elites in both capitalist and socialist countries including the relationship of leadership types to economic, social, and political milieus; leadership and bureaucracy; circulation of elites; and relationship of elites to non elites, including questions of accessibility and control.

628 Comparative Bureaucracies
Examines classical theories of bureaucracy beginning with Max Weber and the theory and practice of bureaucracy in various socio-cultural settings (U.S., Great Britain, France, USSR, China). Consideration of such factors as career, hierarchy, specialization, co-optation, role conflict and ambiguity, legitimacy, and the relationship of bureaucracy to culture, society, economics, technology, and politics. (Counts also in Public Policy field.)

646 Civil Military Relations
The role of the military in developing nations, western industrialized nations, and Communist nations; the concept of the “military industrial complex”; theories of civil military relations.

650 International Protection of Human Rights
In this course the status of some important civil liberties, and the means used to protect them, will be compared among the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other common law regimes and certain countries of Western Europe through their membership in the European Convention on Human Rights.

681 Politics of Technology and Culture
The interaction of politics, technology, and culture. Not only the impact of technology on politics, but also the often ignored but necessary and prior question of the impact of culture and politics on technology, especially during its formative stages. The study of technology is not limited to the machines of industrial science, but also includes aspects of technical rationality, i.e., the modes of thought, problem solving, purposive rational action, and social organization related to different levels of machine technology and automation.

721 Comparative Politics Frontiers
Research seminar on selected topics in comparative politics. (Topics will vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

International Politics

*504 International Politics
An introduction to the major concepts and theories of the field. Topics will include the development of international relations theory, decision-making models, international crises, psychological explanations of international behavior, theories of arms races, balance of power and alliances, deterrence, war, and systems theory.

540 International Law
The international legal system and its relation to international politics. Legal, moral, and policy considerations in the creation and appreciation of international law. Focus varies (e.g., law of the sea, human rights, armed conflicts).

541 American Foreign Policy
Selected problems in recent and contemporary U.S. foreign policy.

542 Comparative Foreign Policy
Comparative analysis of foreign policies in selected countries and regions. Students may receive credit for each of the following sections of the seminar: Foreign Policies in Western Europe; The Developing Nations in World Politics.

543 Foreign Policy Formulation
An examination of the major theories about the foreign policy formulation process in the U.S., and of the role of the major groups and institutions in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy: the presidency, Congress, public opinion and interest groups, the State Department, the CIA, and the military.

544 International Theory
Analysis of classical and contemporary theorizing on international politics, morality, and law, with particular emphasis on different conceptions of international society, the ethics of foreign policy, the just war, the limits of state sovereignty, the moral significance of national boundaries, and global distributive justice.

545 Morality and International Politics
Appropriate role for moral standards and restraints in international politics and, in particular, American foreign policy.

546 Russian Foreign Policy
An introductory seminar on the foreign policy of the USSR from 1917 1991. Focuses on the dualism of Soviet foreign policy and examines the relative impact of internal and external factors on Soviet foreign policy.

641 International Economic Relations
Major policy problems, patterns of interaction, and evolving trends associated with contemporary international economic relations including international monetary, trade, and investment policies. Concepts such as interdependence, imperialism, mercantilism and national sovereignty especially as they relate to theoretical foci in world politics, will also be explored.

643 International Security
The role of force in international politics, broadly construed. Study in depth of such topics as strategic theory, crises, alliances, bargaining, and disarmament and arms control.

644 International System Evolution
Historical antecedents of the contemporary international system. Use of diplomatic history as a “laboratory” for the application of contemporary theories systems theory, negotiation, decision making, international communication, etc.

645 Conflict Processes
Study of the literature in world politics that has sought to discover the causes and consequences of war in a scientific manner. Special emphasis is given to questions of research design.

647 International Organization
Analysis of the nature and impact of international organizations in world politics; exploration of major theoretical issues and approaches; examination of international organization activities in a number of policy areas, including peace and security, international economic relations, human rights, and environmental problems.

648 Research in International Politics

Analysis of how scholars carry out their research: how hypotheses were developed, what statistical tests were used, what the units of analysis were, and how theoretical concepts were operationalized and measured.

741 International Political Frontiers
A research seminar on selected topics for advanced graduate students. (Topics will vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)


540 International Law
(see International Politics)

*561 Constitutional Law
Examination of major lines of constitutional development affecting e.g., nation state relationships in the federal system and the scope and limits of legislative, executive and judicial power in the national government; civil liberties and civil rights.

562 Constitutional Law II
Analysis of equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, e.g., racial and gender discrimination, privacy, procedural and substantive due process cases.

560– Constitutionalism and Constitutional Theory
Examination of the concept of constitutionalism from an historical, philosophical and practical point of view. Topics include the proper scope of governmental power in a constitutional state, the rights of minorities in democratic states, the role of civil liberties, courts, law and lawyers in controlling government and protecting the rule of law.

565 Administrative Process
(see American Politics)

650 International Protection of Human Rights
(see Comparative Politics)

*662 Judicial Process
The course focuses on judicial behavior and process in federal and state court systems. Particular emphasis will be placed on judicial recruitment, backgrounds, voting behavior, and interpersonal relations.

xxx – Public Law Frontiers
(Topics will vary; therefore, this course may be taken more than once for credit.)

666 Environmental Politics
(see American Politics)

675 Implementing Civil Rights
(see American Politics)

Other Courses

590 Readings in Selected Topics (1-3)

599 Supervised Teaching (1-3)

600 Supervised Research (1-3)

670 Independent Study (1-3)

700 M.A. Project Guidance (3) / MA Thesis Guidance (6)

710 Dissertation Guidance (1-12)