POLS205-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024

Politics of the United States of America

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


This course focuses on the institutions and government of the United States. Topics include civil rights and civil liberties, the Courts, Presidential-Congressional relations, the national security establishment (e.g. the military and Central Intelligence Agency), the Trump Administration, and the 2020 Presidential election. We also consider key foreign policy issues such as the U.S.in the Asia-Pacific region, U.S.-China relations, U.S.-North Korea relations, and the global significance of the U.S. economy. Particular attention will be given to the dynamics of the 2020 Presidential election.

In this course, we will explore the institutions of the United States of America government. In particular, we will explore how those institutions affect political behaviour. First, we will examine the founding of the United States government and its foundational document, the United States Constitution. We will examine the major political components of the US, including the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Second, we will examine various participants in the American government, which include public opinion, public participation, media, political parties, campaigns and elections, and interest groups.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will:

1. be able to describe the foundations of American government, including the structure of and relationships between the branches of government.
2. describe how the people interact with these institutions in the context of culture, history, and current events and policy debate;
3. be able to reason critically and write clearly about American politics;
4. be able to identify informal institutions in the American government, such as political parties, and their roles and functions;
5. be able to analyse and explain U.S. domestic and foreign policy from a critical and informed position; and
6. will develop and be able to demonstrate skills in analytical and critical thinking.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Any 15 points at 100 level from POLS, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA, or
the Schedule V of the BCom.

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 10:00 - 12:00 Rehua 009
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 11:00 - 12:00 Rata 222 & 223 Drawing Office
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Course Coordinators

James Ockey and Alex Tan


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Attendance Requirement 10%
Final Exam 30% 2 essay questions
Forum post 5% 150 - 200 words; tute forum post prior to discussion.
Essay 21 Aug 2020 25% 1800 words
Essay 09 Oct 2020 30% 2200 words

Textbooks / Resources

There is one required textbook for this course. Readings are listed in the course schedule which can be found in the course outline.

Jillson, Cal. 2019. American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. Tenth Edition. New York: Routledge:

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $844.00

International fee $3,950.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All POLS205 Occurrences

  • POLS205-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024