Courses within the department are divided into three levels:

Level A Courses (Government 1000-1999)

First-Year Seminars

All first-year seminars offered by the department are designed to provide an introduction to a particular aspect of government and legal studies. Students are encouraged to analyze and discuss important political concepts and issues, while developing research and writing skills. Registration is limited to sixteen first-year students in each seminar.

Introductory Lectures

Government 1100, 1400, and 1600 are large lecture courses, limited to fifty students each, and designed to provide a substantive introduction to American politics, comparative politics, or international relations, respectively. These courses are intended for first-year students and sophomores. Others may take them only with the permission of the instructor.

Level B Courses (Government 2000-2999)

Courses designed to introduce students to or extend their knowledge of a particular aspect of government and legal studies. Courses range from the more introductory to the more advanced. Registration is limited to thirty-five students in each course. Students should consult the individual course descriptions regarding any prerequisites.

Level C Courses (Government 3000-3999)

Courses provide seniors and juniors with appropriate background the opportunity to do advanced work within a specific subfield. Registration is limited to fifteen students in each seminar. These courses are not open to first-year students. Students should consult the individual course descriptions regarding any prerequisites.

Requirements for the Major in Government and Legal Studies

Courses within the department are divided into four sub-fields. Every major is expected to complete an area of concentration in one of these sub-fields:

American politics: Government 1000-1009, 1037-1039, 1100, 2000-2199, 2700-2799, 3000-3199, and 3700-3799.

Comparative politics: Government 1017-1029, 1400, 2300-2599, and 3300-3599.

Political theory: Government 1007-1019, 1040-1045, 2100-2399, 2800-2899, 3100-3399, and 3800-3899.

International relations: Government 1025-1045, 1600, 2500-2899, and 3500-3899.

The major consists of nine courses, with no more than two taken at Level A, and no more than one of these a first-year seminar, distributed as follows:

  1. A field of concentration, selected from the above list of sub-fields, in which at least four courses including one Level C course and no more than one Level A course are taken.
  2. At least one course in each of the three sub-fields outside the field of concentration. These courses may be at Levels A, B, or C, though only two Level A courses may count toward the major and no more than one of these may be a first-year seminar.

The following courses, while not fulfilling the requirement for any of the four fields of concentration, may be counted toward the total number of courses required for the major or minor: Government 2900–2969, 3900–3999, and Environmental Studies 2304.

Students seeking to graduate with honors in government and legal studies must petition the department. Interested students should contact the honors director for specific details. Students must prepare an honors paper, which is normally the product of two semesters of independent study work, and have that paper approved by the department. One semester of independent study work may be counted toward the nine-course departmental requirement and the four-course field concentration. Students who hope to graduate with honors in government and legal studies thus normally must complete at least ten courses in the department.

To fulfill major requirements, a grade of C- or better must be earned in a course. Courses used to fulfill major requirements must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).

A total of 2 credits from outside Bowdoin can normally be applied to the government major. Only 1 credit can be applied (as a Level B course) to the four-course major concentration requirement. The Level C concentration requirement must be completed at Bowdoin.

Requirements for the Minor in Government and Legal Studies

A minor in government and legal studies consists of five courses from at least three of the departmental sub-fields. No more than two Level A courses, with no more than one of these a first-year seminar, may count toward the minor.

To fulfill minor requirements, a grade of C- or better must be earned in a course. Courses used to fulfill minor requirements must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).

A total of 2 credits from outside Bowdoin can normally be applied to the government minor.

Additional Information

In some cases a Government course is cross-listed with another department or program.  Normally, one such course may be used to satisfy major/minor requirements in Government and Legal Studies and also the major/minor requirements in another program or department.