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Political Science

The undergraduate program of Political Science at Ashoka University aims to provide students with a conceptual foundation in the discipline, with an ability to critically analyze the omnipresence of the “political.” Through various courses we shall examine the nature, distribution and dynamics of power – both at the macro level of national and international politics and also at the micro level of the individual, family and community. We will map the ways in which knowledge systems and challenges to particular power relations have been constructed over specific vectors of time and space. We will study both Aristotle and Plato, Gandhi and Iqbal; complementing studies on Cold War politics will be an exploration of party politics in South Asia. The relationship of theory and ethnography, quantitative and qualitative techniques, analysis of objective data and descriptive accounts will provide the background to our studies. Exploration of the ‘field’ and ‘data collection’ will be of vital importance as we seek to prepare a strong foundation in research methodology. Following Ashoka University’s aim of covering the breadth of disciplines and exploring their interconnections, a student of Political Science will be encouraged to identify and pursue areas of interest that go beyond conventional disciplinary structures.

Major Requirements

Each student will take a total of 12 courses towards the major. For completing a major in Political Science, one must take the following courses (4 required courses +8 electives). The minimum credit requirement to complete the major with the department is 100 credits (including  FCs + CCs + Major courses + other courses):

 

1. Western Political Thoughts (I) or Introduction to Political Theory

2. Introduction to Comparative Politics

3. Introduction to Indian Politics

4. Quantitative Research Methods or Qualitative Research Methods

 

Eight electives in Political Science (including a maximum of three cross-listed courses)

Minor Requirements

Each student will take a total of 6 courses towards the minor. For completing a minor, a student has to take the following courses (3 required courses +3 electives). The minimum credit requirement to complete minor with the department is 24 credits:

 

1. Western Political Thoughts (I) or Introduction to Political Theory

2. Introduction to Comparative Politics

3. Introduction to Indian Politics

 

Three electives in Political Science (including a maximum of 2 cross-listed courses)

Concentration Requirements

Each student will take a total of 4 courses towards the concentration. For completing a concentration, a student has to take any two of the required courses and two other electives (2 required courses + 2 electives). The minimum credit requirement to complete concentration is 16 credits:

 

1. Two required courses other than the methods’ courses

2. Two electives in Political Science (including a maximum of 1 cross-listed course) 

Interdisciplinary Majors

1. Major in Politics and Society (ID Course- Political Science and Sociology & Anthropology)

 

(Kindly note that this major has been discontinued for batches after UG 2021) 

 

A student needs to take a total of sixteen courses, out of which one needs to take eight courses in Political Science. Out of those eight, four courses are mandatory, while rest four will be electives (4 required courses + 4 electives). The minimum credit requirement to complete an ID Major is 116 credits (including  FCs + CCs + Major courses + other courses). The required courses from the Political Science side are:

 

1. Western Political Thoughts (I) or Introduction to Political Theory

2. Introduction to Comparative Politics

3. Introduction to Indian Politics

4. Quantitative Research Methods or Qualitative Research Methods (in either Sociology & Anthropology or Political Science) 

 

Four electives in Political Science (including a maximum of 2 cross-listed courses)

 

 

 

2. Major in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (ID Course- Political Science, Philosophy and Economics)

 

Each student needs to take a total of sixteen courses, out of which one needs to take a minimum of four courses in Political Science. If a student takes a minimum of eight courses in Political Science, then it would qualify for a Degree in PPE with a specialization in Political Science. The minimum credit requirement to complete this ID Major is 116 credits (including  FCs + CCs + Major courses + other courses). The mandatory courses from the Political Science side are (3 + 1/5):

 

1. Western Political Thoughts (I) or Introduction to Political Theory

2. Introduction to Comparative Politics

3. Introduction to Indian Politics

4. One elective in Political Science (4)/Five electives in Political Science (8)

 

Note: In case of 4 courses in Political Science, a student can take a maximum of 1 cross-listed course. In case of 8 courses in Political Science, a student can take a maximum of 2 cross-listed courses. 

ASP in Political Science

For obtaining an Advanced Diploma in Political Science, students need to submit a thesis proposal in April. 
The thesis will be for 8 credits overall (4 in each semester). Students are expected to take at least three courses (12 credits) in Political Science during their advanced major. They can also choose to TA for Political Science courses instead of an elective and gain credits. The minimum credits required to complete the advanced major with the department are 32 credits.

 

Please refer to the handbook for more details.

Other Prerequisites

As you already know that the 100 level courses are entry-level or introductory courses, while the 300 level courses are advanced. The department doesn’t impose a sequence of course as per the level but strongly recommends that a student clear entry-level courses before taking advanced-level courses. Some advanced electives will require you to take Quantitative Research Methods as a prerequisite.

For example (non-exhaustive list):

 

1. Quantitative Research Methods 2: Students must have completed Quantitative Research Methods 1.

2. Political Islam: Students must have completed Concepts in Islam.

 

In the event that a course apart from these has some pre-requisites, it is communicated at the starting of the semester.

Required Courses

1) Western Political Thought I 

 

What is good? What is Justice? Is evil permitted in the service of the state? This course examines some of the canonical texts of the Western Political Tradition that were significant in shaping thinking about the normative political theory.  Through the texts, it will range over a number of important questions: the nature of political obligation, the ends of life, the relationship between virtue and politics, the nature of justice, property rights, the nature of the state, the nature of the self. The emphasis will be to come to terms with important arguments in these areas, while also understanding these major texts in their own right. This course equips you with the arguments and historical background for most of the debates in contemporary political thought as well. 

 

OR

 

Introduction to Political Theory

 

The course is an introduction to the theories born out of an engagement with social and political practices and ideas. It addresses some of the most important and interesting concepts and questions of politics: For instance, what rights and liberties can citizens claim? Is it equality that we really care about, or is it sufficient that people simply have “enough”? What might be the limits of tolerance and free speech? To answer some of the questions of this nature, major authors to be read during this course include John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Amartya Sen, G. A Cohen, Thomas Scanlon among others, which open up the wide range of debates over issues like liberty, equality, justice, state, religion, democracy etc. No background in political science is required for this course. 

 

 

2) Introduction to Comparative Politics

 

Comparative Politics is the study of political phenomena occurring predominantly within countries. The comparative method is a way of examining such phenomena. The thematic question for the course is: How does regime type affect policy outcomes? It will be explored through the selectorate theory- use its logic to understand how policy outcomes that emerge might differ between democratic and autocratic settings. Next, the economic and cultural determinants of democracy and study of how transitions to democracy can occur. There will also emphasise on the institutional variations within democracies and identification of its consequences. And the re-examination of the policy consequences of regime type. Is it merely a dichotomy; namely that “democracy is good” and while “autocracy is bad”?

 

 

3) Introduction to Indian Politics

 

This course serves as an introduction to the study of Indian politics. It begins from the politics of the colonial period, before studying the constitution as well as the Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-64), Indira Gandhi (1965-1984) and Narasimha Rao (1985-2014) eras. The course also looks at concepts in Indian politics such as the state, political parties, movements and identity politics, the political economy and welfare schemes. You will have a broad overview of basic concepts in Indian political science as well as a broad overview of national politics in India. It will enable you to take other, more specialised courses, in political science. 

 

 

4) Quantitative Research Methods

 

The goal of this course is to introduce political science students to the basics of statistical analysis of data. Topics covered include descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing and study design. 

OR

 

Qualitative Research Methods

 

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to qualitative methods of enquiry in social sciences.

Starting with the rules of observation and description and ending with the techniques of interpretation of collected information, this course will cover the various steps a scholar canonically follows to ‘do research’: from the formulation of a research question to defining a problematic, from collecting secondary sources to conducting first field observations, from drawing a research design to do fieldwork and conduct interviews, to analyze the material collected to finally writing. The main outcome of this course is the writing of a full-fledged research paper.

 

This course also aims at introducing you to three broad streams of scholarship:

-       One from the past: village studies, or questioning about rural or agrarian change in India.

-       Two more contemporary: the anthropology of politics and the anthropology of the state.

 

The questions of power and social dominance will be transversal to those three streams.

 

 

Electives- Spring'21

Following electives will be offered in Spring 2021:

 

 

  • Party and Electoral Politics by Gilles Verniers
  • Political Islam by Ali Khan
  • Modern Middle Eastern Political Thought by Ali Khan
  • Overcoming by Matthew Baxter
  • Democracy: the Politics of Pragmatism? by Matthew Baxter
  • The Political Arts by Malvika Maheshwari
  • Politics and Psychoanalysis by Malvika Maheshwari
  • Modern India: Political Theory and History by Sunil Khilnani
  • The BJP Before Modi (1924-2004) by Vinay Sitapati
  • Western Political Thought II by Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Past Offerings

The elective course offerings will change from year to year, but the list below provides a sense of the range and depth of the electives that our faculty members have taught in the past and are excited to develop and teach in future semesters at Ashoka.

 

  • Critical concepts in Islam
  • Political Economy
  • Gandhi, Law and Civil Rights Movements: Globalizing Non-violence
  • The Creation and Destruction of States: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • Advanced Political Philosophy
  • Advanced Plato: Republic
  • Ancient Political Philosophy
  • Dynamics of State Formation
  • Political Ideologies
  • Gender Equality and Societies
  • Political Thought in the Age of Nationalism
  • Democratic Peace
  • Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia
  • Critical Themes in Politics: Power, Gender and Feminist Thought
  • Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Karl Marx
  • Comparative Political Behavior
  • The Indian Constitution: History, Theory, Practice
  • Party and Electoral Politics
  • The Rule of Law
  • Politics of Development
  • Political Thought in the Age of Nationalism
  • Modern India: History and Political Theory
  • Modern Middle Eastern Thought
  • Critical Theme in Politics: Elections and Political Parties
  • Modernity
  • Ancient Political Philosophy
  • State, Culture, and the State of the Arts: The Indian Case
  • History of the Revolution
  • Theoretical Political Economy
  • History and Theory of Constitution
  • Comparative Right-wing Politics
  • The Creation and Destruction of States: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
  • Gandhi, Law & Civil Rights: Globalizing Nonviolence
  • The Middle East in Global Politics
  • Islam and Politics
  • Feminism, Power and Gender
  • Colonialism, Decolonisation, Nation and Postcolonial Politics
  • Political Things, Religious Things
  • What Does It Mean To Gather? Collective Action, Public Assembly, and Mass Movement
  • The Politics of Intimacy: Desire, Proximity, and History
  • Politics and Values
  • Comparative Urban Politics
  • Comparative LGBTQ Politics
  • Politics and Society in India, 1937-1977
  • Respect, Hierarchy, & Equality
  • Empirical Studies of Political Violence
  • 100 years of Hindu Nationalism, 1919-2019
  • Politics of Development
  • Frankfurt School and Critical Theory


 

Faculty
Political Science Handbook

Click here to view handbook

Contact

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