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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Fall 2009

GOV 310L • American Government

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39005 MW
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
CAL 100
Leal, D

Course Description

Fulfills first half of legislative requirement for Government. This course will introduce you to the government and politics of the United States. We will cover U.S. political history, political institutions, elections, public opinion, rights and freedoms, and public policy issues. The class begins with the creation of the nation and its fundamental features, including the adoption of the Constitution, the development of democracy, and the importance of federalism. The class then examines public input into the political system, particularly public opinion, individual and group participation, and the political parties. Public input is nowhere better found than in congressional and presidential elections, which are separately discussed. In fact, the main textbook of the class argues that American government can only be fully understood by studying the central role of elections. We then explore the basic institutional building blocks of government - the Congress, presidency, bureaucracy, and courts, as well as the media. We continue by studying fundamental civil liberties and civil rights, followed by the key policy issues that face national, state, and local governments today. The class will also make frequent comparisons between American government and Texas government.

Grading Policy

A midterm constitutes 30% of your grade and a final constitutes 40%. They are designed to test your understanding and knowledge of the concepts and facts in the lectures and readings. 20% of your grade is based on a writing assignment, and the remaining 10% is based on class participation and engagement.


Morris Fiorina and Paul Peterson. The New American Democracy. David T. Canon, John J. Coleman, and Kenneth R. Mayer. Fault Lines: Debating the Issues in American Politics. 2nd edition.


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