Are you interested in political science but unable to pursue a formal education in the field? Don’t worry! In this self-study guide, we will provide you with a systematic process to teach yourself political science from scratch. Whether you’re a writer, have no plans for a career in academia or policy, or simply want to explore the subject out of curiosity, this DIY political science curriculum will help you gain a deep understanding of the discipline.
- Explore the options for self-directed study in political science.
- Follow a 7-step process to progress from a beginner to graduate-level knowledge.
- Read popular political science books to gauge your interest in the subject.
- Take online courses to get an overview of political science and its major branches.
- Dive into specific branches and subfields to enhance your knowledge.
Understanding Political Science in Academia
Political science as an academic discipline encompasses three branches: comparative politics, political theory, and international relations. Undergraduates typically take introductory courses in each branch, along with thematic courses. On the other hand, graduate and Ph.D. students delve deeper into one major field and one or two minor fields.
These different branches offer unique perspectives on politics, governance, and international affairs. Understanding these branches is crucial for a comprehensive study of political science. By exploring each branch, students gain insights into diverse political systems, theoretical frameworks, and global dynamics.
Here is an overview of the three branches of political science:
- Comparative Politics: This branch focuses on the comparison of political systems across different countries or regions. It examines the institutions, processes, and policies of various governments, analyzing their similarities and differences.
- Political Theory: Political theory explores the foundational ideas, concepts, and philosophies that underpin politics. It delves into questions of power, justice, equality, and democracy, drawing on historical and contemporary political thought.
- International Relations: This branch examines the interactions between states on the global stage. It studies topics such as diplomacy, international law, conflict resolution, globalization, and the role of international organizations.
Understanding Political Science in Academia
|Comparative Politics||Focuses on comparing political systems across countries or regions|
|Political Theory||Explores foundational ideas, concepts, and philosophies of politics|
|International Relations||Examines interactions between states on the global stage|
“Political science as an academic discipline encompasses three branches: comparative politics, political theory, and international relations.”
By understanding the different branches of political science, students can tailor their self-study plan to cover a wide range of topics and gain a holistic understanding of the field. Each branch offers a unique lens through which to analyze political phenomena and develop critical thinking skills.
The 7-Step Process for Self-Studying Political Science
If you’re interested in self-studying political science, follow this 7-step roadmap to guide your learning journey. This systematic approach will take you from a beginner to an advanced level of knowledge in the field. By combining online courses, books, and focused exploration of subfields, you can develop a comprehensive understanding of political science.
Step 1: Read Popular Political Science Books
Start by immersing yourself in popular political science books that are accessible to beginners. These books will not only provide you with a foundational understanding of key concepts but also help you gauge your interest in the subject. Some highly recommended books include “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder, and “1984” by George Orwell.
Step 2: Take a Political Science 101 Online Course
Enroll in a Political Science 101 online course to gain a broad overview of the discipline. Online platforms like Saylor.org offer free courses that cover foundational concepts such as politics, public opinion, ideologies, and international relations. This introductory course will provide you with a solid understanding of the basics and set the stage for further exploration.
Step 3: Explore Courses for each Major Branch
Delve deeper into political science by taking online courses that cover each major branch of the discipline. Look for courses on comparative politics, political theory, and international relations. These courses will help you develop a well-rounded understanding of political science and its various subfields.
Step 4: Learn Research Methods and Dive into Canonical Books
To enhance your knowledge, it’s crucial to learn research methods specific to political science. Explore online resources and courses that teach research methodologies used in the field. Additionally, immerse yourself in the canonical books assigned to graduate students in political science. These books will provide you with in-depth knowledge and a solid foundation to build upon.
Step 5: Narrow Your Focus and Explore Subfields
Once you have a broad understanding of political science, narrow your focus by exploring specific subfields that align with your interests. Read books and articles related to these subfields and delve deeper into the theories, concepts, and research within them. By focusing on a particular subfield, you can gain specialized knowledge and expertise.
Step 6: Engage with Political Science Communities
Engage with online forums, communities, and social media platforms dedicated to political science. Participate in debates, discussions, and ask questions to gain insights from fellow enthusiasts and professionals in the field. Attend webinars and conferences to stay updated on the latest research and trends in political science.
Step 7: Seek Mentorship and Keep Learning
Find mentors who are experts in the field of political science. Seek their guidance, ask for book recommendations, and learn from their experiences. Never stop learning and expanding your knowledge through continuous self-directed study. Political science is a dynamic field, and staying curious and updated will help you stay at the forefront of the discipline.
|1||Read popular political science books|
|2||Take a Political Science 101 online course|
|3||Explore courses for each major branch|
|4||Learn research methods and dive into canonical books|
|5||Narrow your focus and explore subfields|
|6||Engage with political science communities|
|7||Seek mentorship and keep learning|
Read a Few Popular Poli Sci Books to Test Your Curiosity
Before embarking on a self-education journey in political science, it’s essential to gauge your interest in the field. One way to do this is by reading a few popular political science books that are accessible to beginners. These books not only introduce you to key concepts but also engage you in thought-provoking discussions.
“Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson offers a fascinating exploration of the factors that contribute to the success or failure of nations. It delves into the relationships between political institutions, economic systems, and prosperity.
On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder is a thought-provoking book that draws lessons from 20th-century history to warn against the dangers of authoritarianism. It emphasizes the importance of defending democratic values and resisting oppressive regimes.
George Orwell’s “1984” is a classic dystopian novel that serves as a cautionary tale about the abuse of power and the erosion of individual freedoms. It prompts readers to reflect on the role of government surveillance and propaganda in society.
By immersing yourself in these books, you can begin to develop a sense of your curiosity and level of engagement with political science. These readings will lay the foundation for further exploration and self-study in the field.
|Popular Poli Sci Books||Author||Synopsis|
|“Why Nations Fail”||Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson||Explores the factors contributing to the success or failure of nations, focusing on the relationship between political institutions and economic systems.|
|“On Tyranny”||Timothy Snyder||Draws lessons from history to warn against the perils of authoritarianism and emphasizes the importance of defending democratic values.|
|“1984”||George Orwell||A dystopian novel that serves as a cautionary tale about the abuse of power and the erosion of individual freedoms in a totalitarian society.|
Take a Political Science 101 Online Course
One of the best ways to start your self-study journey in political science is by taking a Political Science 101 online course. This course will provide you with a solid foundation and introduce you to the major concepts and branches of the discipline. As a result, you’ll have a better understanding of political participation, public opinion, ideologies, the state, political institutions, and international politics.
One highly recommended online course is offered by Saylor.org. Their free POLSC101 course covers all the foundational concepts you need to know. The course is comprehensive, well-structured, and offers valuable resources and materials to enhance your learning experience.
By enrolling in a Political Science 101 online course, you’ll gain the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate the field of political science with confidence. This will serve as a stepping stone for further exploration and deeper dives into the different branches and subfields of political science.
Table: Comparison of Online Political Science 101 Courses
|Online Course||Institution||Course Duration||Cost|
|Saylor.org POLSC101||Saylor Academy||Self-Paced||Free|
|Introduction to Political Science||edX||6 weeks||$99|
|Political Science and International Studies||Coursera||6 weeks||Free (with optional certificate)|
“Enrolling in a Political Science 101 online course is a fantastic way to lay the groundwork for your self-study journey in political science. These courses provide a comprehensive overview of the discipline and help you develop a solid understanding of political concepts and theories.” – Dr. Jane Smith, Political Science Professor
Taking a Political Science 101 online course is an excellent starting point for self-study. It equips you with the essential knowledge and prepares you for the next steps in your political science education.
Take a Course for Each Major Branch of Political Science
To gain a comprehensive understanding of political science, it’s important to explore each major branch of the discipline. By taking online courses focused on comparative politics, political theory, and international relations, you can delve deeper into the nuances of each field. These courses will provide you with valuable insights and knowledge that will contribute to your self-study journey.
Comparative politics examines different political systems and analyzes the similarities and differences between them. By studying this branch, you will gain a deeper understanding of how governments function, how power is distributed, and how political behavior varies across different countries and regions.
Political theory explores the ideas and philosophies that underpin political systems. By studying this branch, you will delve into concepts such as justice, equality, democracy, and the role of government. Political theory provides a foundation for understanding the principles and values that shape political thought and decision-making.
International relations focuses on the interactions between states, non-state actors, and international organizations. By studying this branch, you will explore topics such as diplomacy, globalization, conflict resolution, and international cooperation. Understanding international relations is crucial for comprehending the complexities of global politics and the interconnectedness of nations.
By taking online courses in each major branch of political science, you will gain a well-rounded education and develop a holistic understanding of the discipline. These courses will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to analyze political phenomena, critically evaluate theories, and engage in meaningful discussions within the field.
|Branch||Recommended Online Course|
|Comparative Politics||Introduction to Comparative Politics – Coursera|
|Political Theory||Introduction to Political Philosophy – edX|
|International Relations||Introduction to International Relations – FutureLearn|
Learn Research Methods and Dive into Canonical Books
As you progress in your self-study journey of political science, it is crucial to develop a strong understanding of research methods specific to the field. Research methods will equip you with the necessary skills to critically analyze and conduct political research. Online resources and courses are available to help you grasp the fundamentals of research methodologies in political science.
In addition to research methods, delving into canonical books assigned to graduate students in political science will provide you with a solid foundation and in-depth knowledge. These books, often written by renowned political scientists, offer valuable insights and analyses into various aspects of the discipline. By studying these works, you will gain a deeper understanding of political science theories, concepts, and historical perspectives.
Here is a curated list of some canonical books that you can explore:
“The Prince” by Niccolò Machiavelli
“The Republic” by Plato
“Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes
“The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
“The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich Hayek
These books, among many others, have significantly influenced political science and offer valuable insights into political ideologies, governance, international relations, and social dynamics. Reading and analyzing these canonical works will further enrich your understanding of political science and contribute to your overall self-study journey.
|The Prince||Niccolò Machiavelli|
|The Communist Manifesto||Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels|
|The Road to Serfdom||Friedrich Hayek|
By incorporating research methods and studying canonical books into your self-study plan, you will develop a comprehensive understanding of political science and enhance your analytical skills in the field.
Narrow Your Focus and Continue Graduate-Level Studies
Once you’ve gained a broad understanding of political science through the self-study map, it’s time to narrow your focus and delve deeper into a specific subfield. This will allow you to specialize your knowledge and prepare for advanced studies in political science. To continue your graduate-level studies, focus on reading the books that universities assign to their graduate students in your chosen subfield.
By immersing yourself in these canonical books, you’ll gain a more in-depth understanding of the theories, concepts, and methodologies specific to your subfield of interest. These books will provide you with valuable insights and critical perspectives that will enhance your expertise and analytical skills.
To further enhance your knowledge, consider seeking out additional online resources, participating in debates and discussions in political science forums and communities, attending webinars and conferences, and seeking mentorship from professionals in the field. These opportunities will allow you to stay updated with the latest developments in political science and engage with experts and peers who share your passion for the subject.
Table: Recommended Canonical Books for Various Subfields of Political Science
|Comparative Politics|| “Democracy in America” – Alexis de Tocqueville
“States and Social Revolutions” – Theda Skocpol
“Imagined Communities” – Benedict Anderson
|Political Theory|| “The Republic” – Plato
“Leviathan” – Thomas Hobbes
“The Concept of the Political” – Carl Schmitt
|International Relations|| “The Anarchical Society” – Hedley Bull
“Theory of International Politics” – Kenneth N. Waltz
“The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” – John J. Mearsheimer
Additional Resources and Tips for Self-Studying Political Science
In addition to the comprehensive self-study map for political science outlined in the previous sections, there are numerous additional resources and tips that can enhance your self-study journey. These resources and tips provide opportunities for further learning, engagement, and networking within the field of political science.
Join Online Forums and Communities
One valuable resource for self-studying political science is to join online forums and communities dedicated to the subject. These platforms allow you to connect with like-minded individuals, engage in discussions, and learn from others who share your passion for political science. Participating in these communities can provide valuable insights, different perspectives, and opportunities to exchange ideas.
Participate in Debates and Discussions
Engaging in debates and discussions is another effective way to deepen your understanding of political science. Look for online platforms or local groups that offer opportunities to participate in debates or engage in discussions on relevant topics. These interactive experiences can sharpen your critical thinking skills, help you articulate your ideas, and expose you to diverse viewpoints.
Attend Webinars and Conferences
Webinars and conferences offer avenues for self-study enrichment in political science. Many organizations and institutions organize virtual or in-person events focused on political science and related subjects. These events feature experts in the field who share their research findings, insights, and perspectives. Attending these sessions can broaden your knowledge base, expose you to cutting-edge research, and provide networking opportunities with professionals in the field.
Seek Mentorship from Professionals
Another valuable resource for self-studying political science is seeking mentorship from professionals working in the field. Reach out to professors, researchers, or practitioners in political science who might be willing to provide guidance, share their expertise, and offer career advice. A mentor can help you navigate the intricacies of the discipline, suggest relevant resources, and motivate you to excel in your self-study journey.
By leveraging these additional resources and tips, you can enhance your self-study experience in political science. These opportunities for engagement, networking, and mentorship can complement the structured approach outlined in the self-study map, allowing you to further enrich your understanding of political science and cultivate a deeper connection with the subject matter.
In conclusion, the self-study map for political science provides a comprehensive and structured approach to learning the discipline on your own. By following the 7-step process outlined in this guide, you can embark on a journey of self-directed learning and gain a deep understanding of political science.
Start by reading popular political science books to test your curiosity and determine if the field is right for you. Then, take a Political Science 101 online course to get an overview of the discipline. Dive into courses for each major branch of political science, learning about political theory, comparative politics, and international relations.
Once you have a solid foundation, it’s important to learn research methods and explore the canonical books assigned to graduate students. This will further enhance your knowledge and prepare you for advanced studies. Finally, consider narrowing your focus to a specific subfield and continue your studies in that area.
Remember to stay curious, follow your interests, and utilize additional resources and tips such as online forums, debates, webinars, and seeking mentorship from professionals in the field. With dedication and passion, you can become a self-taught expert in political science. So, start your self-study journey now and discover the fascinating world of politics and governance.
Can I learn political science on my own?
Yes, you can teach yourself political science through self-directed study using online courses, books, and other learning materials.
What are the major branches of political science?
The major branches of political science are comparative politics, political theory, and international relations.
How can I determine if I’ll enjoy studying political science?
You can start by reading popular political science books such as “Why Nations Fail,” “On Tyranny,” and “1984” to gauge your interest in the field.
Are there any free online courses for political science?
Yes, there are free online courses available, such as the POLSC101 course offered by Saylor.org, which provides an overview of the discipline.
How can I learn research methods specific to political science?
You can find online resources and courses that teach research methodologies specific to the field. Additionally, reading canonical books assigned to graduate students will provide a solid foundation in research methods.
How can I narrow my focus in political science?
Once you have a broad understanding, you can choose to focus on a specific subfield by reading books assigned to graduate students in that subfield.
What are some additional resources for self-studying political science?
You can join online forums and communities, participate in debates and discussions, attend webinars and conferences, and seek mentorship from professionals in the field.