Political Science


Political Science Overview

Political Science is the social scientific study of political institutions and political behavior. The study of political institutions includes topics such as the effect of the design of electoral systems on the quality of representation in government, the formal and informal elements of the legislative process and their implications for the making of law, and the impact of domestic political institutions on the incidence of international conflict. Under the rubric of political behavior, political scientists study how and why people choose to participate in politics, the determinants of vote choice, and the nature and origins of public opinion. Students studying political science at UC Merced develop a strong substantive understanding of both political institutions and behavior. Students also learn the theories that help us better understand the political world and the methods by which these theories are tested and refined.

Political Science majors choose courses from three subfields of the discipline: American Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. The study of institutions and behavior is central to all three of these subfields, although the substantive emphasis differs. Courses in American Politics focus on domestic politics in the U.S., while courses in Comparative Politics examine government and politics in other nations. International Relations classes address issues in foreign policy, international conflict, and the institutions intended to govern the interactions between nations. Students focus on one of these three subfields, although they also are able to take courses in the two subfields outside of their focus. Due to both the broad intellectual roots of political science as a scholarly field and the interdisciplinary nature of UC Merced’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, Political Science majors also take at least two selected upper division classes in Cognitive Science, Economics, History, Philosophy, Psychology or Sociology.

Areas of Research in Political Science                  Careers

  • Morality, Justice, Convention, Elections
  • Language and Politics
  • Law and Social Policy
  • Elections, Voting, Public opinion
Foreign Service
Political Advocacy


Political Science Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation, our graduates demonstrate:

  1. Understand the processes, theories, and empirical regularities of political institutions and political behavior in the student’s chosen emphasis area;
  2. Employ critical thinking and demonstrate social scientific literacy, including basic quantitative literacy.
  3. Utilize contemporary social science research methods to conduct rigorous research on political phenomena;
  4. Write effectively, particularly to convey complex concepts and information in a clear and concise manner;
  5. Apply abstract theory and research methods to understand contemporary political events and public policies.

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