Political Science (POLI) 277

Introduction to Political Science I: Concepts, Structures, and Institutions (Revision 6)

POLI 277 Course Cover

Under Revision

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Political Science home page

POLI 277 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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POLI 277 is the first half of AU’s introduction to politics course. It can be taken alone for students requiring 3 credits in political science, but not wishing to take both introductory courses. For students desiring a thorough introduction to political science, those intending to do other political science courses, both introductory courses are required and/or recommended. Together with POLI 278, POLI 277 introduces students to the basic concepts, ideas, processes, and institutions of politics. The course begins by defining such concepts as politics, conflict, and power, and then indicates how these concepts relate to the basic institutions of government.


  • Unit 1: Introduction
  • Unit 2: The Nation-State
  • Unit 3: Ideologies I—Political Philosophy, Liberalism, and the Democratic Ideal
  • Unit 4: Ideologies II—Conservatism; Radical Ideologies: Socialism, Anarchism, and Fascism; and Focal/Minor Ideologies
  • Unit 5: Constitutions and the Rule of Law
  • Unit 6: Different Forms of Governance
  • Unit 7: The Role of the Political Executive
  • Unit 8: Public Policy and Administration
  • Unit 9: Legislatures, Representation, and Political Parties
  • Unit 10: Judiciaries and Traditions of Law
  • Unit 11: Governance Beyond the Nation-State


To receive credit for POLI 277, you must complete the following assignments and achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent) and a grade of 50 percent or better on the final examination. The weighting of the assignments is as follows:

Assignment Weight
Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 30%
Final Exam 35%
Total 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 who 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


Registration in this course includes electronic textbooks. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to the eText Initiative site.

Brodie, J., Rein, S., & Smith, M. (Eds.). (2014). Critical concepts: An introduction to politics (5th ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada.

Mintz, E., Close, D., & Croci, O. (2018). Politics, power, and the common good: An introduction to political science (5th ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada.

A print version of both texts can be purchased from the publisher through a direct to student link for those students that prefer or need a printed version. Students may also print out copies of the required readings on their own.

Other Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

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, and 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 277 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the final 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 6, August 28, 2018.

View previous syllabus

Updated May 09 2019 by Student & Academic Services