Academic program

The major in politics offers students the opportunity to examine politics from a variety of theoretical, cultural, and methodological perspectives. By raising fundamental questions about politics, courses encourage students to reflect carefully about the behaviors, institutions, ideologies, and dynamics of political life. Students are asked to reexamine their commonsense assumptions regarding politics, and to learn to think and write critically about political questions. As the study of politics is inherently multicultural and multidisciplinary, courses stress the importance of the diversity of the political experience, including a global range of cultural issues that address the roles of race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender in political life. More information on the politics department is available on the website (

Major Requirements. Students majoring in politics must complete eleven courses including:

1) Five courses in a politics major concentration (see "Politics Major Concentrations" below), which include:

a) no more than one 100-level course;
b) at least one 300-level seminar, and;
c) senior thesis (457 or 458) on a topic related to the politics major concentration.

2) Three courses in politics not listed among the courses in the politics major concentration. These courses must be taken from at least two different concentrations.

3) s49 (Political Inquiry), which must be taken in the sophomore or junior year and is a prerequisite for the senior thesis (457 or 458).

4) Two other courses in any politics major concentration.

All of the above requirements are subject to the following stipulations:

Students may count no more than two 100-level courses total toward the major.

Students may count no more than two Short Term courses, including s49, toward the major.

A first-year seminar may count toward the politics major if and only if it is taught by a member of the politics faculty.

Students may not count internships or transferred courses toward the major concentration.

Subject to the approval of the department chair, students may receive credit for up to two relevant off-campus courses. To receive approval, students must provide evidence of the content of the course and of the work completed. Non-Bates courses may count toward requirements (2) or (4) above. Requirements (1) and (3) must be completed with Bates courses.

Subject to the approval of the department chair, transfer students may receive credit for up to four courses toward the major taken prior to their arrival at Bates, and must take at least seven courses in the major on the Bates campus. The seven courses include s49, a 300-level seminar in the concentration, and senior thesis (457 or 458).

Politics Major Concentrations. Students declaring a politics major must declare a concentration within the major in one of the five approved major concentrations, listed below (see also "Major Requirements" above). The courses that fulfill each major concentration can be found on the department website. In addition, the major concentrations fulfilled by a course appear in parentheses at the end of the course catalog description. The major concentrations are:

Institutional Politics (IP): Formal organizations with written rules such as political and electoral institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and international organizations.

Identities and Interests (IDIN): Politics, power relations, and movements embedded in and constructed through issues such as ethnicity, nationality, gender, race, sexuality, religion, kinship, class, and political affiliation.

Political Economy (PLEC): Interactions of political and economic institutions and organizations, among states, within states, and across ethnic or national boundaries.

Philosophical, Literary, and Legal Studies (PLL): Close study of texts in political philosophy and contemporary theory, literature and other cultural productions, and legal cases and interpretations.

Governance and Conflict: Global politics (GOCO); conflict resolution; issues of legitimacy, civil strife, peace, and war.

Declaring a Major in Politics. To declare a major in politics, the student must complete both the college's process on Garnet Gateway and the department's major declaration form, which is available on the politics department website. The student must meet first with the department chair, who assigns the major advisor, and then with the major advisor to discuss the contents of the politics declaration form.

A new form must be completed and approved by the department chair and major advisor if the student's politics major concentration changes.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may be elected for one course applied toward the major. This course must be below the 300 level and may not be s49.