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

Formal Theory

FORMAL THEORY consists of mathematical efforts to model political behavior. This means developing a deductive system of propositions based on a basic set of assumptions about political action. In Game Theory, for example, the individual is modeled as a rational agent who uses the resources under his control in an effort to "Win the Game" based on the assumption that his opponent(s) are doing likewise. Game Theory is a set of mathematical propositions based on this premise. Game Theory applies to any interactive situation. As such, it is a cornerstone of Formal Theory. The Spatial Theory of Voting and Elections is one area of Formal Theory to which Game Theory is applied. The Theory of Social Choice is another area of Formal Theory and concerns the logical properties of group decision-making.


See "Preparation for Preliminary Examinations" immediately below.

Preparation for Preliminary Examinations

To prepare for the preliminary examinations, the student needs to take the core course (GOV 385N Introduction to Formal Political Analysis) and Game Theory (GOV 385R). In addition, it is strongly suggested that the student master the skills taught in Mathematical Methods for Political Analysis (GOV 380R). Also strongly suggested is the Game Theory sequence taught in the Department of Economics (ECO 387L, topics 27 and 28). It is important that the student consult with the field chair before preparing for the preliminary exam to make sure that he or she has studied the basic topics in Game Theory, Spatial Theory, and Social Choice Theory. Conference Courses can be arranged to fill in gaps in a student's background.


Listing of Graduate Courses

  • Introduction to Formal Political Analysis*
  • Math Methods for Political Analysis
  • Spatial Theory
  • Game Theory

Out-of-Department Courses

  • ECO 387L Topic 27 Introduction to Game Theory
  • ECO 387L Topic 28 Applications of Game Theory
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