International Politics

Political Science 170

See Calendar for Due Dates

The study of international politics has changed substantially over time. If your grandparents or great-grandparents had taken a class on international relations, their course would have primarily been a study of diplomatic history—who did what, where and when. Exams would have tested knowledge such as when the Peace of Westphalia occurred, which nations signed it, and who the foreign ministers were.

While those types of questions are important, major events in the 20th Century led students of international relations to wonder if we were really asking the right questions. The high loss of life and destruction of World War I led many to call it “the war to end all wars.” Yet, the world would find itself in another such war within a generation in World War II.

Instead of who did what, when and where—many began to wonder if perhaps the much more important question was “why”? In other words, what causes war to occur? Moving from historical questions of place and time to causal questions has transformed the study of political science, particularly the sub-field of international relations.

The tools for answering the question of why are the techniques of the scientific method. Answering “hard science” questions such as “what causes cancer?” or “why does gravity keep us on the ground?” requires the application of theory, hypothesis, and testing. Social science, like international relations, uses these same methods. In this class, we will explore the theories that attempt to answer significant questions of international relations such as:

Even though this course is an online course, it is not an independent study course. This course also involves large amounts of reading and is designed to meet the expectation that each week you will spend 3–4 hours per credit working on course materials; therefore, you will need to commit to working on this course for 9–12 hours each week. If you are unable to commit to the time demands this semester, please consider taking this course some other time when you will have the time necessary to complete the workload.

Civility in Political Discourse

Students often hold strong feelings about political ideology, political parties, and the politics of different regions of the world. While encouraging you to be actively engaged in the political process, we as a political science faculty call your attention to the First Presidency’s recently published statement on Civility.

The Political Science department shares the Church’s growing concern at “the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible.” The First Presidency reminds us that “[t]he need for civility is perhaps most relevant in the realm of partisan politics.” The Church “embraces the richness of pluralism” while recognizing that “the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies.”

As this is an online class, you will be interacting with others in various assignments, please remember to be kind, considerate, and respectful of differing viewpoints. “You can differ in opinions (sometimes the best learning comes when others challenge your thinking) but still be civil. Any violation of basic common courtesy—including interaction with the instructor—will negatively impact your grade.

Please Note: Though this course is relevant and engaging, it is also time intensive. Each lesson has several readings with accompanying activities. Former students report finding the topics so intriguing they ended up spending extra time each week. However, you should carefully consider if you have the time necessary to devote to this course this semester. (See above.)


Learning Outcomes

Course Architecture

In an online course, regular and sustained attention to the course is critical. Be attentive to the deadlines, reading assignments, and course activities. This course will run in 12, one-week lessons with an additional Introductory Lesson (L01) at the beginning and a Conclusion Lesson (L14) at the end. In Lesson 01, you will complete Course Introduction activities, which will help orient you to the course and give you practice in using the I-Learn tools.

Each Lesson


The due dates of the Introduction lesson activities have been relaxed and are not due until Midweek of Lesson 02. This extra time is given to help students who add late to have time to complete the assignments. Be sure not to procrastinate these assignments until Lesson 02 as that will make completing all of the assignments in Lesson 02 more difficult and time consuming.


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Additional activities

Course Benefits

During the semester, we will discuss important concepts and approaches to understanding the nature of world politics. We will explore the role of individuals, states, and the international system in shaping the policy options available to nations and their eventual choices. This course will help you build a knowledge base of principal analytical approaches to international relations by:

Not all of these ideas and skills will come easily. It may take a lot of work and practice before some of the things we talk about will even start to make sense, so don’t be surprised to find that it takes you a little extra time to comprehend these ideas. Just be patient—as you approach the end of the semester your knowledge of, and proficiency in, the things we have studied will start to come together, and you will really see how much progress you have made. You will understand what this course is working to teach you, and you will be glad you persisted in your efforts to learn.

An additional benefit of this course is that, as you thoughtfully apply the learning model to teach one another and ponder/prove what you have learned, and as you humbly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

Course Activities

Due by Date #01

Be aware that: The time it takes to complete the assigned readings may not be consistent every week. You are encouraged to work ahead when you can.

Due by Date #02

Due by Date #03


Some lessons have additional assignments, such as Mid-course Feedback, Midterm, and Final Tests.

Course Requirements

Course Text

Grading Criteria

Activity Total Points
Introductory Activities 30
Media Watch Discussion Boards 70
Preparation Materials Quizzes 35
Class Activities 120
Geography Quizzes 50
Statecraft Manual Quizzes 10
Statecraft Weekly Memo Submissions 70
Statecraft Peer Evaluations 60
Weekly Report 130
Exams 250
Total Points Possible 825

There will be 3 exams (in L05, L09, and L14) for this course. The final exam study guide will be distributed two weeks in advance (in Lesson 12). The final exam is weighted more heavily to reflect both the comparative demands of the final, as well as the fact that students will have a better understanding of what is expected of them after the midterm.

Grading Scale

A 93–100% C 73–76%
A- 90–92% C- 70–72%
B+ 89–87% D+ 67–69%
B 83–86% D 63–66%
B- 80–82% D- 60–62%
C+ 77–79% F 59% and below

Class Policies

Course Questions/Problems/Concerns

This course has a “Questions and Conversations” board in each lesson where you can post general questions/problems/concerns, etc. Using these boards will inform the instructor, other class members, and others monitoring the course of the issues you find and will allow the proper people to correct them for everyone. Please use this board in each lesson. If you are experiencing the same problem as another student who has posted, you can post as well so others know the seriousness of the problem. If you know the answer to a problem, please post solutions. Helping to solve your classmates’ problems is another way to teach one another. Additionally, your instructor will use this board to inform you of fixes and solutions. So check back often to learn of any changes to the course.


You should only email your instructor directly if the problem is of a personal nature OR your instructor informs you this is the way he/she would like to be informed of questions/problems/concerns.

Study Assistance: Go to Academic Learning, for information about how the writing, reading, math, and study skills centers can help you increase success in this and all of your classes.

Late Work Policy

Assignments are due on the day indicated. No late work will be accepted without permission from the instructor. Work that is late hampers your ability to fully participate in the course and will be accepted only at your instructor’s discretion. Inform your instructor before the assignment is due. Any late work that is accepted is subject to a penalty as determined by your instructor.


While all students sign the honor code, there are still specific skills most students need to master over time. These include correctly citing sources—especially in this new age of the internet—and dealing with the stress and strain of college life without resorting to cheating. Please know that your professor will notice instances of cheating on exams or plagiarizing in papers. Academic honesty is expected from all students. Be aware that ignorance of plagiarism rules is not an excuse.


The instructor reserves the right to change any part of this syllabus any time during the semester in order to adapt to changing course needs. You will be notified prior to any changes that may take place.

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disabilities, which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities Office, (208) 496-1158. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by this office. Before the end of the first week of class, it is the student’s responsibility to disclose to the teacher any special need she/he may have. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against based on your disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Human Resources Office at (208) 496-1130.

Sexual Harassment

Brigham Young University-Idaho prohibits sexual harassment. The university also prohibits unlawful sex discrimination and inappropriate gender-based behavior in the workplace or in an academic setting directed at another due to that person’s gender. Inappropriate gender-based behavior is conduct which violates the Church Educational System Honor Code or the individual dignity of university personnel, students, or campus visitors, but which does not rise to the level of unlawful sexual harassment or unlawful gender-based discrimination.

Once you have read through and understood the course requirements, take the Syllabus Quiz to complete the activity.