Political theory

Political Theory is a mandatory course for political science majors and is considered one of the more analytical classes at Elon. There is a lot of philosophical thought as one would imagine. You really go back in time and understand the roots of political philosophy. Here are 10 things you need to know about POL120 at Elon:

1. You Study Classic Theorists

Not only do you study political theorists such as Democritus, but you look into Hobbes, Locke, Machiavelli, and other classic theorists. Socrates is a major focus of the first unit as the professor wants the students to really question themselves in what they know, what they think they know, and to realize that we all ‘don’t know what we don’t know.’

2. Attendance Policy

There is no attendance policy for this class, but the exams and essays are difficult to do without going to class. Depending on your professor you may have a policy that allows you to miss only 4-6 classes, but this does not include the in-class simulation as you may only miss one of those classes.

3. In Class Simulation

The last third of the class is an in-class simulation relating to the American or Indian revolutions from the British. This is an extremely interactive part of the class as one would expect, and makes the end of the semester enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to be active and have fun with this.

4. There is Extra Credit

Throughout the class the professor will offer extra credit through in-class games or attending extra curriculum events. These events should be taken advantage of as you can add 5-15 points on exams for going to 2-3 events and winning an in-class activity or two.

5. You Need the Textbook

There is only one book necessary for this course, but don’t get too excited because it’s huge (roughly 600 pages). The readings all come out of this book and generally take 30-60 minutes per class. Make sure to highlight keep points and pages as the book is massive.

6. Do the Readings

The readings are long, but they genuinely broaden your knowledge in politics. You will do much better by participating in the in-class discussions. The theorists and their beliefs are referenced and used in a lot of classes so it really is good to understand the main beliefs behind them all.

7. Quote Identification

The largest factor being tested on all tests and quizzes are quote identification. This goes back to needing the textbook and doing the reading, you have to identify who said what and in which ‘book’ it was said in.

8. You Need to Participate

Not only do you need to participate, but you will want to when you read the book and hear the in-class discussion. Participation also accounts for a decent chunk of your grade, specifically in the simulation, but throughout the class.

9. Prepare for the Exams

The Midterm and Final exam account for over 40% of your final grade! Don’t take these lightly as they are not easy and require a lot of studying. Try to create a study guide of key terms and theorists with their main ideas a couple days of advance.

10. Do NOT Procrastinate

There are group projects and assignments due throughout the course, but they come up sporadically and your professor does not remind you often. You have to be self-dependent and be aware of due dates. Try getting a friend in the class that you can be in contact with if you’re not good at keeping up with due dates.


Political Theory is a fun engaging class, and it should be taken full advantage of. General theorists are learned that can be applied to many other classes. Now that you know a bit more about POL120 and have some tips for success, enjoy it and go get em!


Skyler De Groot

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