Political Science Subfields

The Department of Political Science Offers Four Subfields

The study of American Politics encourages students to engage with the problems, politics, and policies that surround them, whether that be at City Hall, the state capital in Sacramento, or in Washington, D.C.

From careers in law to those in policy and activism, SF State's Department of Political Science prepares students for the challenges and rewards of careers following graduation, by encouraging them not only to become subject area experts, but develop skills in political methodology and statistical analysis.

Our faculty conduct research and have published books and scholarly journals on a wide range of topics including voting behavior, state and local politics, political participation, the judicial process, public policy, and the presidency. Our department is also particularly strong at providing students with experiential learning through our Moot Court team, Judicial and Legal internship program and our Public Service internship program.

Examples of our American Politics Breadth courses include:

  • PLSI 461: Voting Behavior, Campaigns, and Elections
  • PLSI 463:The Politics of Immigration in the United States
  • PLSI 464: Race and American Politics
  • PLSI 468: Women and American Politics
  • PLSI 473: California Politics and Government
  • PLSI 476: The American Presidency

Useful links in American Politics

Comparative Politics is the study of politics and political dynamics in countries around the world.

Comparativists study a huge range of subjects: democracies and democratization, nationalism, social movements, comparative legal systems, authoritarianism, regime change and more.

The Department of Political Science at San Francisco State University offers many courses on comparative politics, and students may take others in related departments such as International Relations. We are particularly strong in the study of nationalism and social movements. Our faculty conduct research in Russia, China, the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Sri Lanka, Colombia, South Africa, and elsewhere, and have published highly regarded work on politics in these areas. Many of our M.A. students also study issues in comparative politics.

Examples of our Comparative Politics Breadth courses include:

  • PLSI 404: Politics of China
  • PLSI 407: Politics of Russia
  • PLSI 412: South Asian Politics
  • PLSI 416: Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • PLSI 422: Law and Courts in Comparative Perspective
  • PLSI 424: Social Movements
  • PLSI 425: Imagining Power in the Middle East

Our department has a deep commitment to Political Theory, a subfield of political science that seeks to critically interrogate some of the key concepts and assumptions of political science and political life.

We are particularly strong in the field of comparative political theory, critical theory, environmental theory, Anglo-American theory, rhetoric, and post-structuralism. With four tenured political theorists and several long-term lecturers who specialize in this subfield, the department offers one of the richest undergraduate theory programs in the country.

Our theory faculty's research and publications are widely regarded as important and cutting-edge works within the field and the discipline. We welcome inquiries about our special political theory curriculum.

Examples of our Political Theory Breadth courses include: 

  • PLSI 353: Political Theory: The 20th Century
  • PLSI 354: Politics, the Environment, and Social Change
  • PLSI 372: Critical Political Theory
  • PLSI 381: Political Theories of Sexuality
  • PLSI 386: Introduction to Critical Social Thought 
  • PLSI 387: Non-Western Comparative Political Thought
  • PLSI 389: Latin American Revolutionary Societies
  • PLSI 393: Anarchist Political Theory
  • PLSI 396: Fascism and Communism in 20th Century Europe

Public Law is the law that governs the public sector — the law that governs government. It is also a major sub-discipline of Political Science.

The Department of Political Science at San Francisco State University has a vigorous and growing offering in public law.

We offer many upper division courses in Public Law for students considering law school, graduate school, or government work. These courses include Judicial Process, Legal Issues, Jurisprudence, Moot Court, four Constitutional Law classes, and the Senior Public Law seminar. We also offer a valuable judicial internship. Our public law program is also greatly enriched by our dynamic young SF State Moot Court Team, led by Dr. Nick Conway. Students with B.A.'s from our department have recently gone on to such law schools as Georgetown, Cornell, Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and UC Berkeley, and three have been editors of the UC Hastings Law Journal.

We welcome student inquiries into our Public Law program.

Examples of our Public Law Breadth courses include:

  • PLSI 478: Judicial Process
  • PLSI 481: Race and Public Law
  • PLSI 552: Individual Rights and the Constitution
  • PLSI 554: Separation of Powers and Federalism
  • PLSI 555: Moot Court
  • PLSI 561: Jurisprudence