El Camino College

Political Science

Political Science 1
Governments of the United States and California

Political Science
Dr. Ellen R. Antoine   

Class Information
Course Policies
Course Material
Online Resources
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Class Information:

Political Science 1 - Section 2624                      

Room: SOCS 122             

MTWTh   8:00-10:05am

This is an Honors Transfer course which has additional assignments not listed on this website. 

Political Science 1 - Section 2640                            

Room: SOCS 122             

MTWTh   10:30-12:35pm      


Office:   SOCS 112              




Course Description:  This course is a survey of the concepts, theories, and functions of the American political system.  The basic principles of the United States constitution and the government of California will be examined.  Emphasis will be placed on the formal and informal influences of federalism on national and state governments, as part of an overall analysis the principles, institutions, policies and politics of the U.S. national and California state governments.  This course will have a contemporary focus that will allow us to address current issues and events in American politics.  IT WILL BE ESSENTIAL FOR STUDENTS TO HAVE READ THE MATERIAL TO BE DISCUSSED BEFORE CLASS.  In addition, you should read a (real) daily newspaper--paper or online, e.g., NYT, WASHINGTON POST, WSJ, FINANCIAL TIMES, ETC.    


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Course Policies:

Student Learning Outcomes:

SLO #1.  Articles and Amendments -  In a multiple choice test, students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of the United States Constitution including its Articles and Amendments, as well as those for the government of California.
SLO #2.  Linkage Mechanisms - In a multiple choice or written essay exam, students will demonstrate  and understanding of how political parties and interest groups serve as channels for popular participation, and compare/contrast the techniques they use to do so.

SLO #3.  The Executive Branch - In a written essay or multiple choice exam, students will demonstrate an understanding of the various roles played by the President and California Governor, the political resources available to them to meet the expectations associated with those roles, and how those resources are limited.  


Behavior Requirements:  This should not be necessary, however....

1. Please make every effort to be on time-rare lateness is understandable; regular tardiness, no. 

2.  Excessive absences will reflect negatively on your grade.

3.  Once class begins, YOU SHOULD REMAIN IN CLASS!!  It is very distracting to me and your fellow classmates to have students going in and out of class during class.

4.  If you must leave early, please inform me before class.


6.  If you decide to drop the class, please take care of it yourself.  If you simply cease to attend, you will receive an F at the end of the semester.  The last day to drop with a W is Tuesday, June 28, 2016. 


ADA Statement and General suggestions for Success

In order to be successful in meeting the goals and objectives of this course it is strongly recommended that , in addition to the above, students will:

1.  Stay focused and attentive during class lecture and discussions.  It is VERY important that you take good notes in class.  In addition to the material that is put on the board, supplement it with as much detail as possible.  I lecture about the material I find most important, and most of it will appear later on your exams.

2.  Do the readings as assigned.  This includes any supplemental materials assigned in class in addition to the text.  Your textbook is a valuable tool--USE IT !

3.  If there is something that is not clear to you--either from the lecture or the readings, pose your questions immediately either during class discussions or lecture.  You are, of course, always welcome to come to my office ours for further explanation or clarification.

4.  Take advantage of learning resources available on campus, including the Learning Resources Center, your Counselor, tutoring programs if needed, and other services and/or mini-classes designed to sharpen your "survival skills," such as note taking, outlining chapter readings, and dealing with test taking anxieties.

5.  El Camino College is committed to providing educational accommodations for students with disabilities  upon the timely request by the student to the instructor.  A student with a disability, who would like to request an academic accommodation, is responsible for identifying herself/himself to the instructor and to the Special Resource Center.  Contact the SRC to make arrangements for necessary academic accommodations.  The college fully supports all assistance possible (in compliance with the ADA) to aid all students in achieving success.

6.  Use the review sheets to prepare for the exams and form study groups to learn from one another.  A combination of the two is best, but I strongly recommend that you not overlook the advantages of forming study groups with your classmates.

7.  For examinations: you will need a blue book for all essay examinations, and if you intend to take the objective examinations for the first 4 tests, you MUST have either Scantron 883e or 885e.  ALL students will need a blue book AND a scantron for the final.





The overriding goal of this course is for students to understand the theoretical and practical workings of both American and California politics and government.  Upon completing this course, it is hoped that students will be able to meet the following objectives.

1. Identify the theoretical foundations and the applications of the American political system. 
2. Analyze major political institutions: the presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, Judiciary, elections, political parties, and interest groups. 
3. Examine and assess the implementation of democracy, including the different perspectives of elitism, pluralism, and majoritarianism. 
4. Evaluate the role of the mass media in the political process. 
5. Identify and discuss political culture and the function of political socialization. 
6. Compare and contrast the relationship of federal and state governmental systems and processes with emphasis on California. 
7. Evaluate and analyze the interdependence of economics and politics. 
8. Distinguish between civil rights and civil liberties and their evolution in American society. 
9. Assess the federal and state judicial systems and their impact on public policy. 
10. Examine and discuss the process of public policy making in relation to international and domestic policy issues. 
11. Assess the concept and implementation of citizenship. 
12. Analyze issues of race, ethnicity, class, age, and gender as they relate to the distribution of power in the political process.        

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Topic 1.  Introduction to certain theoretical ideas about politics, about how and why we study government; brief historical perspective and examination of the constitution, and discussion of the nature and development of federalism.  Chapters 1-3 of Bardes.  The first exam on the above material will probably be the 2nd session of the 2nd week.


Topic 2.  After the first exam, we shall begin discussion of civil liberties and civil rights--the examination of fundamental protections offered to all people under American law, the exceptions to these protections and rights, and the different roles of government in each.  Chs. 4-5 of Bardes.  Finish discussion of civil rights; followed by discussion of political socialization and public opinion.  Ch 6 of Bardes.  The second examination will follow completion of this material.  Probably 2nd session of week 3.


Topic 3.  We shall continue to explore the various ways people and government establish a 2-way flow of communication--including interest groups, political parties, campaigns, elections, the media, etc.  Chs. 7-9 of Bardes.  Exam #3 following completion--probably 2nd session of week 4 or 1st session of week 5.


Topic 4.  A study of institutions of government, beginning with Congress.  Chs 10-13.


Review.  Fourth Examination.  The last examination will probably be the Wednesday or Thursday of the 6th -last week.  Your papers will be due the Tuesday of the 6th week.  Five points will be deducted for each day the paper is late.


As you can see, your "homework" assignments are to read the assigned chapters.  Therefore, you will be expected to participate in class discussions that demonstrate the fact that you have read and understood the material.  The reading is not excessive; however, you must NOT let yourself fall behind as it will rapidly seem undoable.  So...READ!!!

Note:  this syllabus does not give specific dates for examinations.  Please verify dates for assignments and exams, particularly if you have been absent.  You should have at least one contact person in the class with whom you can exchange notes I case of absence and whom you can phone to find out anything you may have missed if absent.  Once again I urge you to find a study partner or group in the class.            

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There will be four examinations during the course of the semester.  Each will be worth 100 points--the lowest of the four will be dropped automatically.  On each of the tests, you will have the choice of taking either an essay or an objective (multiple choice, matching, short answer) examination.  In the honor's section you MUST take at least one essay exam.  In addition, there will be a book review worth 50 points.  In the honor's section, this will be a short research paper (5-7 pages) worth 100 points--discussed in class.  Point and grade distribution breakdown as follows:      


Total Points:

Three Examinations:                                            300 points (based on having 4 exams)

Book Review                                                          50 points

Demeanor & Participation:                                       50 points


Total Possible                                                      400 points


Grade Distribution Scale:  361-400 = A; 321-360 = B; 281-320 = C; 241-280 = D

Anything less than 240 points is an F      

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Course Material:

Bardes, et al. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials, 2015-2016 edition.     

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Online Resources: (list related websites as links)

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El Camino College, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, California 90506
Phone: 310-532-3760 Toll Free: 1-866-ELCAMINO (1-866-352-2646)
 Last Published 7/14/16