POLSC333: Campaigns and Elections

Course Syllabus for "POLSC333: Campaigns and Elections"

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Americans are known for their competitive nature.  Whether between two sports teams on a field or between candidates in the political arena running for office, competition is a fundamental part of the American culture.  For this reason, campaigns and elections are among the most exciting events in American politics.  In this course, you will explore campaigns and elections, learning their purpose and significance and observing the impact that they have on the American political system. Unit 1 will provide you with a basic understanding of the American electoral process by focusing on the history and evolution of elections and voting laws in the United States.  Unit 2 will look closely at what compels individuals to run for office and the many factors that must be considered when launching a campaign: strategy, organization, fundraising, themes, and messages.  In Unit 3, you will learn how political parties and interest groups play into the political drama of elections.  Units 4 and 5 will introduce you to the two remaining key players in the electoral process: voters and the media.  In Unit 6, we will take a closer look at electoral outcomes and the impact that elections have on public policy after votes are counted.  Unit 7 will examine what types of proposals or alternatives could be implemented to improve or reform the electoral system.  By the end of this course, you should have a deeper understanding of the role and impact of campaigns and elections in the United States.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Explain the importance of elections, voting, democracy, and citizenship in the United States.
  • Describe the various types of elections that exist within the American political system.
  • Identify the legal and constitutional bases of campaigns and elections in the United States.
  • Explain the types of individuals that run for political office and why.
  • Analyze the influence of incumbency in elections.
  • Explain how candidates develop campaigns and financing.
  • Discuss the role of money in political campaigns.
  • Discuss the influence of political parties on campaigns and elections.
  • Describe the characteristics of the U.S. party system.
  • Explain the role of interest groups in influence campaigns and election outcomes.
  • Explain the various influences and motivations of the American voter.
  • Describe the factors associated with both nonvoter and voter disenfranchisement in contemporary elections.
  • Analyze and explain the critical role of the media in campaigns and elections.
  • Explain how election outcomes impact government actions and public policy.
  • Analyze both historical and contemporary election reforms.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (i.e., Adobe Reader or Flash Player).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed all courses listed in the Core Program of the political science discipline

Course Information

Welcome to POLSC333.  Below, please find some general information on this course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Professor Angela Bowie

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Unit 1, as it lays the foundation for understanding the more advanced, in-depth material presented in latter units. You will also need to complete:

            - Sub-subunit 1.3.1 Assignment
            - Sub-subunit 4.1.3 Assignment
            - Sub-subunit 4.2.3 Assignment
            - Sub-subunit 5.2.2 Assignment
            - The Final Exam
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the assignments listed above.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 113 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 11 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday night.

Tips/Suggestions: Take notes on each resource in this course.  Your notes will serve as a useful study guide as you prepare for your Final Exam.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.