Winthrop University 

The Department of Political Science

Fall 2013



PLSC 490 Section 001: Senior Capstone in Political Science (3 credit hours)

Time & Location:

Monday & Wednesday 3:30-4:45 ♦ Bancroft 339


Dr. Scott Huffmon

Dr. Stephen Smith

Office Locations:

344 Bancroft

338 Bancroft


Office Hours:

Mondays 12:15-1:15pm;
Tuesdays 10:00-11:00am; Wednesdays 2:30-3:30pm and by appointment


Monday 12:15-1:15; 9:15-9:45
Wednesday 4:45-5:15; 9:15-9:45
Friday 12:15-12:30
 and by appointment.

Contact Info:

Phone: 803.323.4669

Fax: 803.323.2568


Phone: 803.323.4661

Fax: 803.323.2568




Course Description and Goals


This course is designed to provide all Political Science degree-seeking students with a team-taught, culminating capstone experience. We will collectively discuss a diverse set of readings that provide a comprehensive overview of the major theories and methods in each of the subfields in the discipline: American Politics, Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Politics, Public Law, Public Policy, and Public Administration. PLSC 350, a total of 21 hours of political science course credit, and senior status are prerequisites for this course.


There are two main goals for the course. The first is to provide an overview of the theories and methods of the discipline. The second is to provide a capstone experience through the writing of a lengthy research paper. Therefore, students will, in consultation with their professors, select, design, and write an original research paper to be presented to the class at the end of the semester.


This course meets the University’s Intensive Writing requirement. It also contributes to the mastery of the following university-level competencies (ULCs):


1. Competency 1: Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems
Winthrop University graduates reason logically, evaluate and use evidence, and solve problems. They seek out and assess relevant information from multiple viewpoints to form well-reasoned conclusions. Winthrop graduates consider the full context and consequences of their decisions and continually reexamine their own critical thinking process, including the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments.


Competency 2: Winthrop graduates are personally and socially responsible. 

Winthrop graduates value integrity, perceive moral dimensions, and achieve excellence.  They take seriously the perspectives of others, practice ethical reasoning, and reflect on experiences.  Winthrop graduates have a sense of responsibility to the broader community and contribute to the greater good. 



Winthrop University graduates communicate effectively. 

Winthrop graduates communicate in a manner appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience. They create texts – including but not limited to written, oral, and visual presentations – that convey content effectively. Mindful of their voice and the impact of their communication, Winthrop graduates successfully express and exchange ideas. 


This course participates in the Global Learning Initiative, especially in its discussions of Comparative Politics and International Relations.



Student Learning Outcomes


At the end of this class, students will be able to: (1) effectively demonstrate an understanding of the diverse theories and methods employed in the discipline of Political Science; (2) prepare a professional, original, research paper in the field of political science that may be used in one or more of the following capacities: as a graduate school or employment writing sample; to deliver at a state, regional, national, or international Political Science conference; to complete an Honors Thesis requirement; to demonstrate proficiency in the design, implementation, and writing of an original political science research project.



Requirements and Guidelines


It is our sincere hope that each student will do well in the course.  For this to happen, students must live up to the responsibilities and requirements outlined in this syllabus.  Each student will be expected to:



Complete the readings prior to the class in which the material will be discussed.



Attend class, participate in classroom activities, and take notes. Regular attendance is expected and required. Excessive absences will lower your grade in two ways: (1) the loss of notes from lecture and discussion; (2) the loss of participation opportunities. Participation— which requires your presence—will raise or lower grades on the border line.  Please contact the instructors if prolonged illness or other problems cause you to miss class for an extended period.  In addition, every student must be in class on time.  Arriving late or leaving early disrupts the class and is unacceptable.



Show sensitivity and respect for your colleagues and the professors.  Our classroom is a place for lively exchange of ideas and discussion. All students, however, will treat their peers with courtesy, even if they disagree.


Next, displaying good manners also includes turning off and storing all mobile phones, IPods, and other personal electronic devices before the start of class. (Note: We will answer your phone if it rings.  Also, if you are caught sending a text message, then you will be summarily dismissed.)  Students may tape record lectures and class discussions, and may take notes on laptop computers. Similarly, use of a laptop to reference JSTOR and other online articles during class discussions is encouraged. However, use of a laptop, unless it is an accommodation required for a disability, is a privilege that we will revoke if we learn that students are engaged in activities that are irrelevant to the course and disruptive to other students.  This includes checking email and using social media sites.  Further, If the instructors determine that recording in the classroom is inhibiting the free-flow of discussion or making any student uncomfortable, it will be disallowed. 


Lastly, note that any unauthorized use of personal electronic devices—including but not limited to cell phones—during examinations will be taken as prima facie evidence of academic misconduct. We will immediately confiscate the exam of any student caught using such devices. The student will not be permitted to complete the test and the incident will be reported to University authorities.  For more details, please see the College of Arts and Science Policy for Appropriate Use of Hand-held and Wireless Technology.



Hand in assignments on the date they are due; take examinations on the date that they are scheduled.  Students must take exams on the days they are assigned. Written assignments and take home examinations are due at or before the start of class on the specified due date. A student may take a make-up examination or submit an assignment late in case of emergency. In such circumstances, the student must call or email one of the instructors on the due date of the exam or assignment and be prepared to provide documentation of the emergency. The instructors will determine whether a make-up exam will be administered and/or the degree of penalty (if any) that will be assessed on late assignments.



Upload all writing assignments to



Make suggestions on how the course could be improved.



Abide by the Winthrop University Student Code of Conduct. (see p. 37)



Required Readings


Marsh, David and Gerry Stoker, eds. 2010. Theory and Methods in Political Science, 3rd edition. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.


Scott, Gregory M. and Stephen M. Garrison. 2011.  The Political Science Students Writer’s Manual, 7th edition. New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall.


All other required materials are available via the following password protected web site: 



Student Learning Activities, Evaluation, and Grading


Students will participate in the following learning activities and will be evaluated and graded based on the criteria described below:



Midterm Examination (30%): This course is divided into two sections. The first focuses on the subfields of and epistemological approaches to Political Science. Students’ understanding of these topics will be measured via the midterm exam.  The midterm exam may consist of essay, multiple choice, short answer, or fill in the blank in any proportion or combination. The second section turns to writing the capstone paper. Students will be evaluated based upon their final manuscript.



Attendance, Readings and Class Participation (10%): Attendance and participation are important aspects of your grade and students must keep up with the required readings. This course is designed to be a participatory seminar in which both faculty and students participate in generating knowledge. As a result, students are required to read and think about all assigned materials before class, and to come to class ready to engage the material. To this end, the instructors reserve the right to give quizzes and/or writing response exercises to evaluate your competent fulfillment of these obligations.  Any such evaluation will be part of your participation grade.  The instructors will look favorably upon participation in discussion boards and wikis on Blackboard. Moreover, feel free to come to us with any questions, comments, or concerns that you may have as the class progresses.


During the Writers’ Workshop portions of the class, students will be expected to present or discuss the progress they are making on their papers. All students should come prepared to discuss the relevant portion of their papers during each class period.



Research Paper (50%): The central work product students will generate in this course is a lengthy (25-30 pages) research paper in which students will choose a topic and, using one of the epistemological approaches covered in this course, generate new knowledge about the topic.  Each student’s grade on the assignment will be determined on the quality of her/his final research paper. However, to ensure that each student writes a paper that reflects her/his best work, the assignment is broken down into several required components. While these components are not individually graded, we will penalize the final paper grade if a student does not complete and submit each component on the designated due date.  For more details, see Appendix 1.


Finally, consistent with University Level Competency #2, Personal and Social Responsibility, all students engaging in research on human subjects will undergo CITI training, and apply for approval by the Winthrop University Institutional Review Board, even if their projects are exempt under 45CFR46. The applications must be complete and include all necessary signatures.



Presentation (10%): In lieu of a final examination, each student will present her/his paper to the professors and the entire class during the final examination period. Students may present the paper using PowerPoint, posters or other means. Each presentation should be no more than 10 minutes long.






93-100 = A

90-92 = A-

Designates work of superior quality 

Class participation is voluntary, frequent, relevant, and reflects that you have both read and thought about the material.  Performance on exams is consistently strong; demonstrates complete mastery of facts and concepts.  Written work is clear, well-organized and thought-provoking, and free of grammatical or mechanical errors. 



87-89 = B+

83-86 = B

80-82 = B-

Designates work of high quality 

Class participation is voluntary, frequent, and reflects that you are keeping up with the assigned materials.  Performance on exams is very strong; demonstrates mastery of facts and concepts.  Written work reflects a good understanding of the issues and concepts.  Writing is clear with minimal errors. 



77-79 = C+

73-76 = C

70-72 = C-

Designates work that minimally meets the course requirements 

Class participation is occasional and/or rarely voluntary, with comments that reveal only a superficial grasp of issues and concepts.  Performance on exams demonstrates acceptable degree of mastery of facts and concepts.  Written work may contain arguments that are confusing, with minimal evidence of organization.  Writing is marred by errors.



67-69 = D+

63-66 = D

60-62 = D-

Reflects minimal clarity and comprehension 

Class participation is minimal, never voluntary, and reveals that you have either have not read the assigned materials or did not understand the readings.  Performance on exams demonstrates minimal mastery of facts and concepts.  Written work is confusing, contradictory, repetitive, and/or not supported by either your own ideas or your sources.  Writing is marred by errors. 



0-59 = F

Unsatisfactory performance along most (or all) measures.



The “N” Grade Issue: This semester, the deadline to withdraw from a course with an automatic grade of “N” is Friday, October 19 Students may not withdraw from the course after this date without documented extenuating circumstances.



Note: Both instructors are equally involved in course development, instruction and student evaluation. The two instructors will grade each assignment independently and then discuss each student’s assigned grade. While each student may work more closely with one of the instructors on his/her research paper, both instructors will read each component and provide feedback to the student.



Assignment and Examination Schedule


Topics paper

Week 7


October 7

CITI Training

Week 8


October 9

Midterm examination

Week 9


October 23

Draft No. 1 (8 pages)

Week 10


October 30

Draft No. 2 (16 pages)

Week 11


November 6

Draft No. 3 (24 pages)

Week 13


November 20

Final paper (25-30 pages)

Week 14


December 2

Final presentation



December 10, 3pm



Syllabus Change Policy and Course Calendar


Note: The syllabus and/or course calendar will be adjusted to accommodate events that provide significant learning opportunities for students, weather conditions, guest speakers, etc.  Additionally, a more detailed syllabus and/or course calendar may be issued at the discretion of the instructors.






Week 1








Aug 21

Goals of the course


Writing Big Papers:

Topics, Strategies, and Sources



Aug 26

The History of the Discipline:


Gunnell (available via the following password protected web site:;


Scott and Garrison, Glossary of PLSC Terms



Week 2




Aug 28

Understanding Ontology and EpistemologyMarsh and Stoker, Introduction, Chapter 9



Sept 2

Behavioral Analysis: Marsh and Stoker, Introduction to Part 1 and Chapter 1



Week 3




Sep 4

Normative Theory:  Plato:



Sep 9

Digeser (available via the following password protected web site:
; Lindblom (available via the following password protected web site:



Week 4




Sep 11

Constructivism and Interpretive Theory, Marsh and Stoker, Chapter 4



Sep 16

Dahl available via the following password protected web site:; Bachrach and Baratz (available via the following password protected web site:



Week 5




Sep 18

The Institutional Approach Approach: Marsh and Stoker, Chapter 3; Diermeier & Krehbiel (available via the following password protected web site:



Sep 23

Political Psychology: Marsh and Stoker, Chapter 5; Lane “Political Psychology” Epilogue (available via the following password protected web site:; Westin, et. al. “Neural Bases of Motivated Reasoning” (available via the following password protected web site:



Week 6




Sep 25

Rational Choice: Marsh and Stoker, Chapter 2; Page & Shapiro, “The Rational Public,” chpt 1 (available via the following password protected web site:



Sep 30

Marxism, Structure and Agency: Marsh and Stoker, Ch. 7 and 10 (in particular 215—220); Manley (available via the following password protected web site:





Week 7




Oct 2

Feminism, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality


Marsh and Stoker, Ch. 6; Crenshaw (available via the following password protected web site:;

Fraser and Gordon (available via the following password protected web site:



Oct 7

Public Law and Public Administration Lindblom (available via the following password protected web site:; Waldo (available via the following password protected web site:; Black (available via the following password protected web site:

Topics Paper Due


Week 8




Oct 9

Comparative Politics:

Marsh and Stoker, Ch. 14; Bunce (available via the following password protected web site:

Complete CITI Training


Oct 16

International Relations:

Singer (available via the following password protected web site:



Week 9




Oct 21

Quantitative and Qualitative Method: Marsh and Stoker, Ch. 12 and 13; Laitin “The Perestroikan Challenge to Social Science” (available via the following password protected web site:  




Oct 23












Week 10


Writing Workshop:

Understanding APSA Style,

Organizing the Literature Review, Linking Your Research

Question to Your Methodology.


Scott and Garrison, Ch. 5 and Appendix A;

Marsh and Stoker, Conclusion;

Winthrop Writing Center, “Evaluating Internet Sources”



Oct 28


Writing Workshop:


Developing Your Research Question, Honing Your Methodology, Identifying and Collecting Data, Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

Scott and Garrison, Ch. 4 and 9;

Stoker and Marsh Ch. 11



Oct 30

In-Library Instructors’ Conferences: Research Question and Data Collection Final Day to Discuss Changing Paper Topic with Instructors

Draft 1 due (8 pages)


Week 11




Nov 4

In-Library Instructors’ Conferences



Nov 6

In-Class Writing Workshop: Peer Evaluations,

Instructor Conferences

Draft 2 due (16 pages)


Week 12




Nov 11

In-Class Writing Workshop: Peer Evaluations,

Instructor Conferences



Nov 13

In-Class Writing Workshop: Peer Evaluations,

Instructor Conferences



Week 13




Nov 18

In-Class Writing Workshop: Compiling Your Evidence,

Making an Argument Writing Up Your Data Analysis,

Finding Your Conclusion

Scott and Garrison, Ch. 10



Nov 20

In-Class Writing Workshop: Writing Competently/Paper

Formats Discuss ALL FINAL Remaining Problems

and Questions

Draft 3 due (24 pages)


Week 14




Nov 25

In-Class Writing Workshop: Peer Evaluations,

Instructor Conferences



Nov 25

Political Science Assessment Instrument


Senior Exit Survey


Student Course Evaluations



Dec 2


Final drafts due in each of our offices by  12 PM


Dec 10


Final Paper Presentations

3 p.m.









Institutional Support Services


Academic Success Center (ASC)

Winthrop’s Academic Success Center is a free resource for all undergraduate students seeking to perform their best academically.  The ASC offers a variety of personalized and structured resources that help students become effective and efficient learners. The services available to students are as follows: peer tutoring, academic skill development (test taking strategies, time management counseling, and study techniques), group and individual study spaces, and academic coaching.  The ASC is located in University College on the first floor of Dinkins Hall, Suite 106.  Please contact the ASC at (803) 323-3929 or


Dacus Library

Not everything can be found online.  Dacus Library is the primary on-campus provider of scholarly information in all forms from print to electronic.  To fulfill its mission, the library provides information quickly, efficiently, and in sufficient depth to promote excellence in all academic programs offered by the university.  Additionally, the library maintains depository status for federal and state publications.  For information on library hours call (803) 323-2362.


The Writing Center

Students who wish to improve their writing skills should seek assistance from the Writing Center, located at 242 Bancroft.  Tutors works with students on an individual basis in all phases of the writing process and on academic and writing projects in any discipline.  Call (803) 323-2138 for information regarding hours of operation and services.


The Office of Disability Services

Winthrop University is dedicated to providing access to education.  If you have a disability and require specific accommodations to complete this course, then contact the Office of Disability Services at (803) 323-3290.  Once you have your official notice of accommodations from ODS, please inform me as early as possible in the semester.


The Office of Victims Assistance

The Office of Victims Assistance (OVA) provides services to survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking as well as educational programming to prevent these crimes from occurring. The staff assists all survivors, regardless of when they were victimized in obtaining counseling, medical care, housing options, legal prosecution, and more.  In addition, the OVA helps students access support services for academic problems resulting from victimization.  The OVA is located in 204 Crawford and can be reached at (803) 323-2206.  In the case of an after-hours emergency, please call Campus Police at (803) 323-3333, or the local rape crisis center, Safe Passage, at their 24-hour hotline, (803) 329-2800.



Academic Honesty and Integrity


The Student Conduct Code notes, “A fundamental tenet of all institutions of higher learning is academic honesty.  Academic work must depend upon respect for an acknowledgement of the research and ideas of others.  Misrepresentation of someone else’s work as one’s own is a most serious offense in any academic setting.”  Winthrop University is no exception.  In short, academic integrity is very important and misconduct, in any form, will not be condoned.  If you have any questions regarding academic honesty and student conduct, please review Section V of the Student Conduct Code.


Political Science Department Statement on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct


The Winthrop University Political Science department abhors all forms of academic misconduct, and faculty members aggressively investigate all incidents of suspected cheating. This includes, but is not limited to, using

Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, is by far the most common form of academic misconduct in the Political Science department. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:


·         Using the words or ideas of others as one’s own;

·         Reproducing, in whole or in part, principal ideas from a fellow student’s work;

·         Granting a fellow student permission to copy one’s paper, or to reproduce some or all of its principal ideas;

·         Quoting or paraphrasing material from sources without any citation;

·         Quoting or paraphrasing material without sufficient and/or proper citation;

·         Omitting some or all sources used in a paper; and

·         Submitting a paper written for one course – whether in Political Science or another discipline – to meet a course requirement in a second course, without the express permission of all instructors involved. This is the case even though many paper topics may be relevant to several different courses.


All incidents of suspected academic misconduct are investigated with equal vigor.


When a faculty member suspects that a student engaged in academic misconduct, the faculty member will follow the appropriate procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. The faculty member will apply whatever sanctions s/he deems appropriate. Possible sanctions include, but are not limited to:


·         Failing the assignment;

·         Requiring a student to repeat an assignment for reduced credit;

·         Requiring a student to repeat an assignment for no credit; or

·         Failing the course.


Academic misconduct applies equally to required assignments and extra credit assignments.



Consistent with University Level Competency #2, Personal and Social Responsibility, all students engaging in research on human subjects will undergo CITI training, and apply for approval by the Winthrop University Institutional Review Board, even if their projects are exempt under 45CFR46. The applications must be complete and include all necessary signatures.


Any student seeking IRB approval may not begin to collect data for her/his research until s/he has received IRB approval or been informed that the research is exempt. Collecting data prior to receiving IRB approval is grounds for an academic misconduct charge.


All incidents of academic misconduct will be reported to the Department Chair, the Dean of Students, the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the student’s academic advisor. The University may impose its own sanctions in addition to sanctions imposed by the faculty member or the department. The University may impose sanctions even after a student has graduated, and may include revoking a student’s diploma. 


In addition, students who engage in more than one incident of academic misconduct may be declared ineligible for departmental awards, ineligible for employment in the department or its affiliated programs, and ineligible to volunteer as a peer advisor.



Appendix 1: Research Paper Requirements


The central component of this course is a lengthy research paper, in which students will generate new knowledge on a topic of political science. We recognize that this undertaking is new to most students, and may be intimidating. Consequently, we have broken down the research paper into five components. Only the last component, the final research paper, will be graded.  To ensure that students can produce the best possible paper, however, the other components are required, even though are ungraded. As a result, each student’s final assignment will be penalized if she or he fails to complete any or all of the first four elements, or turns them in late.


The ungraded components are: 1) The Topic and Supporting Materials Paper; 2) Instructor’s Conferences; 3) Peer Review of the 8 page and 16 page drafts; and 4) Complete Rough Draft. We expect students to put in an honest effort on these assignments. The better your work on these ungraded components, the higher the quality of the feedback we can provide you, and the better your final paper will be. If we are not satisfied with the quality of these required, ungraded components, we may require you to redo an assignment and/or penalize the grade on the Research Paper.


1) The Topic and Supporting Materials Paper (500-word minimum)

With this assignment, each student will describe her or his topic, articulate a specific central research question and thesis, explain the methodological approached used to pursue the research question, and discuss data sources (quantitative and/or qualitative).  Students will also submit an annotated bibliography.


In the annotated bibliography, each student must list and describe at least eight sources that she or he has consulted and will use in the paper. Each entry should be 2-5 sentences long.  The annotated bibliography must include at least two relevant scholarly books, at least three scholarly, peer-reviewed articles, and no more than two contemporary news articles.


Note that the following sources are inappropriate for this and all writing assignments: Wikipedia,,, Spark Notes or other online sources not vetted by an editor or peer reviewed (blogs, personal websites, and the like are examples); encyclopedias; textbooks.


2) Instructor’s Conferences

We expect students to meet with both instructors to receive suggestions on how to improve their work. The first conference will be held after the Topic Paper is submitted during two in-class workshops scheduled for October 28 and 30. The conference will help the student design and complete the paper. Subsequent conferences can be scheduled on an as needed basis. Professors and students may request additional consultations if they so choose. While their peers are conferencing, each student must continue working on identifying sources, reading, collecting and analyzing data, and drafting their paper. At the end of each session, students will submit a “What Did You Do For Your Paper Today?” report as part of your class participation grade.


3) Peer Reviews

We expect students to participate fully in the peer-review component of this assignment. Students will bring the assigned portions of their papers to class for distribution to a small group of classmates, who will critique their work. Students must provide substantive criticism of their colleagues’ papers and will complete a written peer review form to turn in to us and share with their partners.


4) The Incomplete Drafts (Draft Nos. 1 and 2)

Students are required to complete the paper in stages. The components and lengths of these drafts are listed above. These drafts will adhere to all of the requirements of the research paper, and the instructors and peers will provide specific comments on the content of the paper and make suggestions for improvement. Students will bring each required draft to the class with them, as well as to submit each draft to before the start of class. Each day a draft is late, the paper loses 10% of the grade. Students are expected take these comments seriously and to incorporate them into subsequent drafts.


5) The Complete Rough Draft (Draft No. 3)

This draft will adhere to all of the requirements of the research paper and will be a minimum of 24 pages long, and the instructors will provide specific comments on the content and suggestions for improvement. Students are expected to take these comments seriously and to substantially revise the draft for the final paper. Students will bring each required draft to the class with them, as well as to submit each draft to before the start of class. Each day a draft is late, the paper loses 10% of the grade.


6) The Final Research Paper

This paper will be 25-30 pages in length and include a minimum of 20 outside, peer-reviewed sources other than the data used in the paper. Students will use APSA style. The paper must focus on a topic germane to political science, and include the following elements:


  • Introduction, research question, and thesis
  • Literature review
  • Justification of importance of research question
  • Description of methodology and data sources (quantitative, qualitative, or theoretical)
  • Presentation of findings
  • Interpretation
  • Conclusion



The paper will account for 50 percent of the course grade. The grade is based on the quality of the final product. However, those students who failed to complete all components of the assignment will see their final paper grades penalized. The penalties for missed components are as follows:


  • Topic and Supporting Materials Paper:          10%
  • Incomplete drafts                                            10% (each)
  • Instructors’ conferences:                                5% (each)
  • Peer review:                                                    5% (each)
  • Rough draft:                                                    15%



Students with a documented emergency that results in missing a component’s deadline will not be penalized.


Students will bring each required draft to the class with them, as well as to submit each draft to before the start of class. Each day a draft is late, the paper loses 10% of the grade.