Introduction to American Politics

Griffith University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introduction to American Politics

  • Host University

    Griffith University

  • Location

    Gold Coast, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Government, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Course Description
    This course is an introduction to the government and politics of the United States, and serves as an introduction to American institutions, political culture and recent history. There is also a concentration on the history of recent presidencies and current divisions and political debates within the United States. The course will examine the ideas and values at the heart of American politics, asking whether America is an exceptional nation or not.
    Course Introduction
    The central aim of the course is to provide students with a strong understanding of American politics. It is designed to help students learn how the institutions of American government have evolved; how they operate; and what the consequences ? both intended and unintended ? of these institutions are for the behaviour of citizens, legislators, and other political leaders and activists. It will cover the topics, such as the Constitution, the presidency, Congress, Supreme Court, political parties, elections and interest groups.This aim will be pursued through a lecture and tutorial programme that provides students with a broad overview of American political institutions, political processes, players, and their political behaviour.
    Given the influence of the United States, both in Australia and worldwide, an understanding of American politics is an important area of knowledge for students. The U.S. is a country that Australians tend to feel they already ?know?, but that knowledge is often patchy, unreflective and unexamined. This course will provide students with a systematic framework through which to view American politics, while encouraging them to see both the vices and virtues, the contradictions and complexity within American society.
    Course Aims
    The central aim of the course is to provide students with an understanding of American politics. This aim will be pursued through a seminar programme that provides students with a broad overview of American political institutions, and the consequences -- both intended and unintended -- of these institutions on the political behaviour of citizens, legislators, and other political leaders and activists. We will integrate our knowledge of political processes and outcomes into an analysis of current political events. Politics and government, however, cannot be completely understood at one point of time, Since we must know where we have been to understand where we are going, we will have to review the major changes that have transformed the American political universe from its Constitutional beginning to its present complicated state.
    The primary goal of the course is to help students become more critical, sophisticated observers of American politics. In addition, we will place American politics in a comparative perspective by examining its similarities and differences with the way politics is practiced in other countries, especially the Westminster system, as in Australia.
    Learning Outcomes
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    1.1 Demonstrate and effectively apply a basic knowledge of American politics and political institutions.
    1.2 Understand and appreciate the role of citizens, interst groups, political parties, and politicians in the American political system.
    1.3 Understand the political processes and policy making in the U.S. presidnetial political system.
    1.4 Appreciate the logic and consequences of American political institutions and processes, significance of race, religion, civil rights and civil liberties in American politics and policy making, political culture and political behaviour.
    2.1 Effectively convey and defend ideas in oral discussions, write clearly and eloquently, and construct systematic, coherent and forceful arguments in both oral and written forms.
    2.2 Find relevant arguments and evidence from scholarly sources, evaluate the validity and implications of that information, and effectively use that in oral and written communications, particularly in regard to constructing systematic and well-supported arguments.
    2.3 Evaluate information regarding political affairs, understand its implications, make well-informed and considered decisions based upon that information, and apply that effectively to the resolution of problems.
    2.4 Think conceptually and analytically about political affairs -- not merely in terms of historical facts and specific events -- and discern the overall patterns and persistent influences that may underlie contemporary developments.

    Assessment Task

    Weighting/Marked out of

    Guided discussion with peers
    Seminar participation + quizzes


    Exam - selected response
    Mid-term test


    Assignment - Written Assignment


    Exam - constructed response
    Final Exam


Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.