Political Science (POLI) 345

American Government and Politics (Revision 1)

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Political Science home page

POLI 345 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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In POLI 345, we explore US politics and political culture, the US Constitution and federalism, and the various participants in the American government, which include public opinion, public participation, media, political parties, campaigns and elections, and interest groups. We also explore the major institutions of the American government, which include Congress, the president, the bureaucracy, and the courts, specifically the United States Supreme Court. In the last part of the course, after becoming familiar with the operation of the American government and the various participants in the governmental system, we explore five specific outcomes or public policy areas of the American government: personal liberty, civil rights, the economy, social welfare, and national security.

Course Objectives

When you have completed the course, you should be able to achieve the following course objectives:

  1. Identify, define, and explain the significance of basic terms and concepts, including but not limited to federalism, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, majoritarianism, democracy, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, individualism, public opinion, political socialization, gerrymandering, civil disobedience, agenda setting, patronage, primary elections, Electoral College, incumbency, lobbying, the free-rider problem, oversight, apportionment, redistricting, filibusters, impeachment, executive privilege, veto, judicial review, judicial activism, judicial independence, separation of church and state, symbolic speech, the right of privacy, equality of opportunity, equality of result, segregation, and affirmative action.
  2. Compare and contrast features of the government of the United States to the government of Canada.
  3. Recognize and explain the complexities of the American federal system and the interplay of the three branches of government at the national level.
  4. Apply knowledge of the structure and operation of the American political system to certain events, such as elections, court decisions, conflict between the public and the police, etc.
  5. Explain how an individual or group might attempt to affect public policy in the United States.
  6. Describe how and why politics and law affect our daily lives.


POLI 345 comprises the following 18 units:

Part I: Politics

  • Unit 1: Politics
  • Unit 2: Political Culture

Part II: Constitution

  • Unit 3: The Constitution
  • Unit 4: Federalism

Part III: Participants

  • Unit 5: Opinion and Participation
  • Unit 6: Mass Media
  • Unit 7: Political Parties
  • Unit 8: Campaigns and Elections
  • Unit 9: Interest Groups

Part IV: Institutions

  • Unit 10: Congress
  • Unit 11: The President
  • Unit 12: The Bureaucracy
  • Unit 13: Courts

Part V: Outcomes

  • Unit 14: Politics and Personal Liberty
  • Unit 15: Politics and Civil Rights
  • Unit 16: Politics and the Economy
  • Unit 17: Politics and Social Welfare
  • Unit 18: Politics and National Security


To receive credit for POLI 345, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least a ā€œDā€ (50 percent). You must achieve a minimum grade of 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1 Analytic Thinking Exercise Assignment 2 Research Paper Proposal Midterm Assignment Assignment 3 Major Research Paper Final Exam Total
10% 10% 20% 25% 35% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators that can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Dye, Thomas R., and Bartholomew H. Sparrow. Politics in America, 8th ed. New York: Pearson Education, 2009.

Audiovisual Material

Iron Jawed Angels. DVD. HBO Home Video, 2004.

Other Materials

Most of the course materials for POLI 345 are available online through the myAU portal. The print and audiovisual materials will be sent to you before your course start date.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the POLI 345 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least ā€œDā€ (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, December 17, 2010.

Updated May 26 2016 by Student & Academic Services