American Politics

Subject POLS30030 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Thirty contact hours per semester. 2 x one hour lectures and 1 x one hour tutorial per week for 10 weeks. The lecture and tutorial programs are staggered and cover the 12 weeks of semester.
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Politics and International Studies at Levels 1 & 2

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Daniel Mccarthy


Dr. Daniel McCarthy

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the key actors, ideas, interests and institutions in USA politics, including the Constitution, the President, Congress, the bureaucracy, political parties and ideologies, the courts, elections, the federal system, interest groups, the policy making process and political culture. It includes an examination of theoretical debates about the nature of US democracy, key controversies in US political history, such as the civil rights movement, as well as contemporary political debates and developments, such as the role of religion in US politics and the issue of political polarisation.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • Be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the key institutional arrangements and actors of the American political system, in particular the three branches of US federal government: the Congress, the President and the Supreme Court;
  • Be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the key issues that shape American politics;
  • Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the Constitution of the United States and how far it bounds American political discourse;
  • Be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of how the American political system as a whole responds and adapts to social, cultural, and security challenges, including the differing roles of the various major political institutions.


A research essay of 2000 words (50%) due mid-semester, and a 2000 word take-home exam (50%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: This subject has a minimum Hurdle Requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reading pack will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is available as Breadth to non-Bachelor of Arts students.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Political Science Major
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Politics and International Studies
Related Breadth Track(s): Politics and International Studies

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