Section menuClose menu Columbia College


Master Syllabus

Print this Syllabus « Return to Previous Page

Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: POSC 111
Course Title: American National Government
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description: Survey of the American political system, with emphasis on the Constitution, governmental structure, the political process and the economic system. G.E.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered Fall and Spring.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Any other standard text for American National Government.

American Government: Power and Purpose
By Lowi, Ginsberg, Shepsle (WW Norton)
The American Political System
By Kollman, Ken (WW Norton)
American Government: Institutions and Policies
By Wilson, Dillulio, Bose (Cengage)
The Basics of American Politics
By Wasserman (Pearson)
American Government: Roots and Reform
By O'Connor, Sabato, Yanus (Pearson)
American Government
By Losco and Baker (McGraw-Hill)
Course Learning Outcomes
  1. Describe how the Constitution was developed and explain its primary provisions.
  2. Describe the development of American federalism and explain its current application.
  3. Describe the structure and evaluate the workings of the institutions of American government: Congress, Presidency, Bureaucracy and Supreme Court
  4. Explain the impact of civil society, including public opinion, media organizations, interest groups and political parties on American politics.
  5. Identify and explain civil liberties and civil rights protections and how these rights have been interpreted by the Supreme Court.
  6. Use secondary sources to analyze contemporary issues in American politics.
  7. Demonstrate engagement in civic activity.
Major Topics/Skills to be Covered:

Views concerning the proper role of government:

  • Laissez Faire vs. Activist Government
  • Elitism vs. Pluralism
  • People who have contributed to the role played by the American government, including Adam Smith, John Locke, Rousseau, and others

The American Constitution

  • Background
  • Content
  • Interpretations


  • Constitutional provisions
  • Court interpretations
  • Historical development
  • Role of federal grants-in-aid

Civil liberties

  • Court interpretations of the First Amendment; speech, press, religion, and assembly
  • Due Process Rights of Amendments 4-8
  • Other rights added over time

Interest groups

  • Examples of groups
  • Interest group tactics

Political parties

  • Historical development
  • Structure of party organization
  • Differences between major parties
  • Minor parties in America


  • Primary system
  • Districting, their problems, and Court interventions
  • Presidential elections; primaries, conventions, the Electoral College


  • Structure, committees, leadership, political parties
  • Powers and responsibilities
  • The process of legislation

The presidency

  • Powers and responsibilities
  • Constitutional requirements
  • Advisors

The federal bureaucracy

  • The need for bureaucracy; why the size of government has increased
  • The scope of bureaucratic activity
  • The difficulty of controlling the bureaucracy

Fededal courts

  • Types of law
  • Organizational structure of federal courts
  • Court procedure
  • Judicial review
Culminating Experience Statement:

Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: David Roebuck Date: September 11, 2015
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course learning outcomes and cover the subjects listed in the Major Topics/Skills to be Covered section. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

Office of Academic Affairs