Political Science

The curriculum for Political Science and International Relations provides students with a comprehensive understanding of political processes in a historical and contemporary context. It prepares students for being able to successfully evaluate the links between local, international, and transnational politics through courses in political psychology, comparative politics, and political philosophy. The aim is to impart an education in analysing agents of change, both individual and on the level of the state, in order to be able to be part of that change eventually.

Core Courses

POL 301 Research Methods in Political Science

Research is an important component of social/political sciences. It allows for a better understanding of the world. The course aims at making students think systematically, understand research, and the interface between data and theory. The focus of the course would be to develop an understanding of qualitative and quantitative techniques and when and why scholars and researchers use them. Thus inculcating an appreciation of how ideas produce research questions, how research questions lead to methodological choices, and how methodological choices help answer complex questions.

POL 302 History of Political Thought

The history of political thought is interdisciplinary in nature. It covers a broad range of topics that helps students understand political processes and their contexts. The course will cover central themes in the history of political thought, political theory, and related areas of inquiry from classical Greek antiquity to contemporary debates.

POL 303 Introduction to Comparative Politics

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts political scientists use to study the processes and outcomes of politics in a variety of state settings, including the study of global economic and political change. The comparative component allows students to study politics and society in comparative perspective both within the state and across the world. The course provides a general introduction to the concepts, methods and the substance of comparative politics.

POL 401 International Politics

This course introduces students to the analytic and normative study of international relations. We will survey various theoretical perspectives in the discipline to help understand the chief problems, actors, and structures of international politics. Through the organizing concepts of security, identity, and political economy, students will explore a range of contemporary phenomena, including the state, nation, and ethnic group; international organizations and society; political change, resistance, and violence (including terrorism); normative concerns; and international political economy and its accompanying inequality.

Electives Courses

POL 351 Political Psychology

This course will seek to critically analyze the way the national political elite perceives the world. The course will focus on an examination of the psychological factors influencing or driving these views and behavior. Particular attention will be paid to how these elites conceptualize different policy issues, internal and external, and then formulate/implement differing approaches to attain "national objectives." Consequently, social-psychological factors (culture, language, socioeconomic background, education, institutional and individual psyche) will be treated as intervening variables that play a pivotal role in shaping a "national consciousness." Understanding this "national consciousness" is the ultimate objective of this course.

POL 352 Foreign Policy of China

This course will critically analyze the foreign policy of the People's Republic of China. The course will focus primarily on contemporary issues of salience in Chinese foreign policy – strategic imperatives, regional security dynamics, geo-economic factors, and bilateral and multilateral relations. Two different and yet interconnected levels of analysis will be employed. First, China's conceptualization of the world (elite perceptions) and the prescriptive policy initiatives being implemented; second, the course will also consider China's overall policymaking system and the way that system shapes foreign policy output. The ultimate objective of the course is to further a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the variables shaping and influencing China's behavior within the international system.

POL 353 State and Society

This course will undertake a philosophical examination of the concept of the state and its relation to those who reside therein. In this course, we will seek to examine the evolution of the modern state through a careful critical consideration of the "Social Contract" that serves as a mediating mechanism between the citizens and the state they inhabit. We will read classic texts such as Thomas Aquinas, Cicero, Thomas Hobbes, Machiavelli, John Locke, Rousseau, and John Stuart Mill to examine the philosophical rationale behind the "Social Contract".

POL 354 War: Conceptual Underpinnings

This course will conduct a critical examination of the concept of war with particular attention being paid to conflict between states. Is war a natural consequence of human nature? Can states only resolve their differences through the imposition of physical coercion? The philosophical rationale behind war will be examined, as will the political and economic imperatives that ultimately drive and shape human interactions. The history of violence between states and within states will also be touched upon. The main emphasis of the course will be on contemporary global conflicts, and will attempt to undertake a case study based approach to the concept of war.

POL 355 Human Rights

Human Rights enjoy a significant place in international politics today. All states are expected to adhere to a basic, minimum standard of 'universal' human rights. Human Rights have often been violated by states claiming to be champions of the concept. It is important for all sections of civil society to understand the concept, its validity and its application, as well as the historical evolution of the practice. Case studies of the application of the concept during conflict situations e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir, Rwanda, Chechnya etc. will be focused on. International institutions and their approach, NGOs dealing with Human Rights issues and the approach of international public opinion on the issue will also be considered

POL 356 Environment and Politics

The course will be designed to create a better understanding of issues related to the environment. The atmosphere, land and oceans are all exposed to threats that can play havoc with human health. It will not be an exaggeration to say that this is the greatest challenge threatening all civilizations. Factors leading to pollution will be discussed. Strategies to control the problem will be given particular significance. Various dimensions of politics of environment will be discussed. The contribution of international organizations, non-governmental organizations and specialized agencies to the cause of regulating the environment will also be discussed.

POL 357 Diplomacy in a Globalized World

Diplomacy is an old institution traditionally relied on to resolve conflicts. Diplomacy was also used to build alliances, to isolate adversaries and promote dynastic interests. The evolution of diplomacy over the centuries will be briefly discussed. Two factors have had tremendous impact on diplomacy i.e. culture and technology. Culture provides the key to understanding the content and processes of diplomacy. The introduction of technology and increasing number of states today has increased the occurrence of crisis, reduced time available to diplomats for decision-making and enhanced psychological pressures on decision-makers. Impact of media on diplomacy and the role of diplomats will also be discussed. Use of diplomatic channels for non-diplomatic activities (espionage) and economic diplomacy will also be included.

POL 358 Islam and International Relations

International Relations are weaved around modern state system and are nurtured by power equations. Over the ages, various civilizations have had differing perceptions about states, their functions, the nature and role of power and the need for cooperation between civilizations. This course will consider Muslim states, Islamic empires and other Islamicate political entities, and their relations with other states, from the classical age of Islam to modern times. Islamic history saw the creation of a state at Medina. How did this state interact with other political entities? Further, various Islamic empires e.g. Ummayads, Abbasids, Fatimids, Seljuks, Ottomons and the Mughals to name just a few played an important role in the international politics of their own times. Toward the end, the challenges before the Muslim states in post-WWII period particularly since 9/11 will also be discussed.

POL 362 Pakistan's Foreign Policy

The course will begin by examining the main determinants that fashion foreign policy including preservation of sovereignty, national security and achieving economic goals. The course would then examine the instruments of executing foreign policy. Once these international principles have been studied, the course will evaluate Pakistan's relations with its neighbors – India, China, Afghanistan, Iran and the Arab Gulf States – moving on to Pakistan's adherence to regional blocs – SAARC and ECO – and multilateral associations like the UN, NAM and the Commonwealth. The significance of relations with the Great Powers would be discussed in reviewing Pakistan's relations on a bi-lateral and multi-lateral basis.

POL 361 Democracy and Difference

In recent years, the project of liberal democracy has come under increasing criticism for being insufficiently sensitive to differences amongst human subjects. In this course, we will consider the merits and shortcomings of various arguments that have been advanced along these lines. We will also examine a number of texts that endeavor to "strike a balance" between democratic universalism and a politics attuned to the unique desires, beliefs, and ways of life of particular individuals and groups.

POL 359 The Modern Middle East

The Arab Spring has generated newfound interest in a region that has always held great geo-strategic importance. Though the Middle East is very much in the limelight at the moment, few people have a grasp on the region's history and development, political, social or economic. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the region and to trace the history and development of its countries to the present day.

POL 360 Theories of Democratic Transition

The fast growth of democracy in a wider mix of societies has put into questions many of the old theories of democratization, and has generated fresh ideas, debates and controversies about the modes, processes and the role of elites and civil society groups in bringing about democratic transition. This course will cover contemporary literature on democratic transition with a close focus on the Third Wave. We will start with an overview of the debate on social requisites of democracy, background factors, and modernization theory. They will be critiqued in the light of new theories based on empirical evidence from Latin America and East European countries that reject cultural explanations. The question of compatibility between Islam and democracy has generated more heat than light and the literature is largely polemical with very few exceptions. We will raise the question why Muslim societies have not made transition to democracy and under what conditions they are likely to do so? And what role external factors can or should play in developing democracy around the world, including Islamic states?

POL 363 Purchasing Power: A Political History of Money

This course has been designed to stimulate a critical examination of the link between money and political power. The history of monetary thought and monetary systems is considered in light of the struggle for the control of resources within and among societies. Besides learning how monetary developments contributed to major historical shifts in the balance of power, students will gain an appreciation of how our understanding of money has been shaped by historical developments. Students will also be introduced to the unique monetary history of South Asia, and its role in shaping the international financial system.