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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: POSC 350
Course Title: Legislative Process
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description: Study of Congress, its structure, procedures, role, and impact in American Government. Prerequisite: POSC 111.
Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): POSC 111.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered even Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Any current edition of a textbook on Congress or legislative process covering all topics in the Topical Outline. Suggested texts are:

Congress Reconsidered
By Dodd and Oppenheimer (C Q Press)
Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process
By Oleszek, Walter (C Q Press)
Congress and Its Members
By Davidson (CQ Press)
The American Congress
By Smith, Roberts, and Wielen (Cambridge)
Course Objectives
  • To understand the impact of Congress in the American policy-making process.
  • To assess the impact of external and internal factors on the American legislative process.
  • To understand how Congress interacts with the other branches of government.
  • To understand the basic legislative structures and processes.
    Measurable Learning
  • Explain the historical development of Congressional power and responsibilities.
  • Explain the system of elections for members of Congress
  • Describe the essential Congressional structures
    - Committees and subcommittees
    - Leadership
    - Norms of behavior
  • Explain the basic legislative process (how a bill becomes a law)
    - Budgetary process
  • Explain outside influences on Congress
    - Interest groups
    - Parties
    - Other branches of government (executive, judiciary, bureaucracy)
  • Describe why Congress is often reactive rather than proactive.
    Topical Outline: Note: A significant writing component is required for this course. The requirement may be satisfied by requiring students to write a single type-written paper of twelve or more pages, properly cited, or by multiple assignments of similar length.

  • The Development of the American Legislatures
    - Development of structures
    - Development of rules
    - Development of parties
  • The Election of Legislators
    - Typical winners
    - Districting and apportionment
    - Primaries and general election rues
    - Campaigning and fund-raising
  • Organization and Power
    - Leadership
    - Parties and other factions
    - Committees (structures, membership, responsibilities)
    - Legislative bureaucracy (Congressional Budget Office, Library of Congress, etc.)
    - Rules and norms of behavior
  • Congress and the President
    - President as legislator
    - Veto
    - Executive/Legislative cooperation and competition
  • Congress and the Courts
    - Judicial review
    - Courts as referee between executive and legislative branches
  • Congress and organized interests (lobbying, etc)
  • The legislative “game” (how a bill becomes a law)
  • The major criticism of Congress


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 30

    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: August 5, 2014
    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 objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. 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.

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