Study Skills: Learn How To Study Political Science (2023)

Study Skills: Learn How To Study Political Science (1)

What is Political Science?

The beginning of being prepared to take a political science course is understanding exactly what political science is. This field examines both the theory and practices of government. In the U.S., this means studying not only government at the federal level, but also at state and local levels. This field requires better learning how power functions at all levels of government.

The study of political science requires an in-depth understanding of numerous topics. First, it’s important to understand the levels of government that exist. Second, you have to understand different political ideas and theories. Third, you have to understand the different groups that influence the government. Besides all this, it’s also important to know different institutions, processes, and both diplomatic and military strategies that are employed by the government.

It’s a lot to cover, and so political science can seem complex. That’s understandable, since the government is complex. It involves a lot of moving parts at many levels that impact the lives of millions of people. Political science attempts to bring this all together into a single field of study. However, this field of study is important because it helps answer many questions. Why does a government declare war? Why is there financial disparity between different groups of people? These are only a few of the questions that political science tries to answer.

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Preparation Begins at Home

One of the keys to performing well is being alert and ready for class every day. For this reason, it’s important to start preparing for your classes early. That means getting ready the day before your classes are supposed to happen. Getting your clothes laid out and making sure you have all the materials you need for the day are important parts of preparing for classes.

Those may seem like small things, but they really do play an important role on the day of your classes. Without having to worry about your clothes or everything you need for your class, you’ll have more time every morning to clean up and have breakfast. That means less rushing to school and a better chance that you’ll arrive on time. Without all the anxiety of having to rush to your classes, you’ll be better prepared to be attentive during your courses.

Listening and Note Taking

Listening and note taking should go hand in hand. Listening does not mean hearing. Hearing just means that you’re processing what your instructor is saying but not really comprehending it. Active listening means engaging with the material, asking questions about it in your head, and staying focused. Make as much eye contact as possible, identify important points in the lecture, and think up questions you have about what your teacher is talking about.

Of course, you can jot down those questions and important points in your notes. Good notes are brief and highlight only the core points that your instructor is trying to communicate. You should be able to, at a glance, summarize what your teacher was trying to say. Don’t go into overly long, wordy notes or you’ll lose the point. You also might miss follow up information your teacher is trying to provide. The questions that you write about the material are important because they mark areas you might be confused about. You can follow up on those points in your study materials or with your teacher.

Key Concepts in Political Science

Part of understanding political science involves understanding the basic concepts that underlie the field. Importantly, these aren’t all the concepts that you’ll encounter in political science. However, they’re some of the core ideas that you’ll find time and again as you study how governments operated and why they operated the way they do.

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Sovereignty refers to the concept that people get to rule themselves. There is a certain amount of power invested in a nation or country by which life within its borders is organized. Government exerts public power and enforces laws that allow order to be maintained in society. Sovereignty also refers to the power of countries to rule themselves, asserting authority within their territories.

Within a sovereign state, there are few limitations to an authority’s power, that authority is permanent so long as the country exists, and the authority exerted is wide in scope. These powers cannot be given away and are not under the control of foreign actors. For instance, the United States government is divided into three branches, but these branches govern the people within its borders from the local to the national level and influence everything from religion to federal taxes. This power has existed and been modified since the country’s founding and is exerted by the representatives of the people, not by foreign countries.

Over time, sovereignty has also come to refer to different forms of power.

  • Domestic sovereignty refers to the control over a country’s borders by an authority that exists within that country.
  • Interdependence sovereignty refers to the authority exerted over movement between borders.
  • International legal sovereignty exists when a country’s authority is formally recognized by other countries.


The concept of development refers to the process of growth in a country. Strategies are put together that are designed to improve the nation’s outlook. The tactics that country’s establish can include planning highways, water systems, the development of urban centers, improved agricultural processes, and higher quality amenities for people. Other examples of development can include planning for improved healthcare or communications access. In short, the concept of development has to do with the growth of a country. When researchers try to judge a country’s development, they look at mortality rates, employment rates, income levels, and other factors that indicate how much a country has improved the lives of its people.

Underdevelopment is a related concept to development. The difference with underdevelopment is that it refers to a state when countries are lagging in their ability to improve the lives of its people. A country may have poor highways and transportation systems, for example. This would make it difficult for companies to operate in the country or even for people to just get around. Other signs of underdevelopment include low income levels, low literacy levels, or high mortality rates, among other factors.

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Law and Policy

Law and policy refer to the laws that govern a country and the policies by which a government operates. Law is often associated with the rule of law, meaning that everyone is accountable and will pay penalties for breaking the law. People can only be punished by an authority when there is actually a breach of the law. These basic principles establish that punishment can only occur within a certain context. Punishing people on a whim and without justification should not occur, at least if a country is operating according to democratic principles.

Policy and law are often associated, but policy is more closely associated with guidelines that an authority agrees to follow when making decisions. It may be the policy of a country to preserve public lands, for example. When this is the case, it may pass laws that set apart lands for the public rather than selling those lands for private use by companies. Policies establish the goal an authority is hoping to meet and the principles it will adhere to when establishing laws.


Rights refer to the what citizens are entitled. This concept establishes that there are fundamental rights people are owed that no law should break. For instance, in the United States Constitution, people are attributed fundamental rights in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights lists the right to free speech and the right to bear arms, as only two examples. These rights are important because they dictate what always may be passed and what may not. Laws can’t be passed that break a person’s right to free speech, for example. It’s important for a nation to establish what rights it considers fundamental, because this impacts the way the rest of its laws are established.

Study Skills

School is generally broken down into homework, quizzes, and tests, in progressing difficulty. Mastering the most basic material, homework, is the first step to acing tests. So, from day one, you want to be preparing for your tests by committing your time and energy to doing well on your homework.

Effective notes taken in class will make it all that much easier for you to more easily complete your homework, which is why it’s so important to be an effective note taker. Homework also helps you to more easily judge how far along your own progress is. IF you find you’re not doing as well as you’d hoped, it’s a good sign that you should consult with your teacher and get outside help.

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However, once you’ve started mastering your homework, you’ll be setting yourself up for success on your quizzes. Effective teachers use quizzes as a way of periodically judging the progress of their students, but quizzes are one more way for you to assess yourself. Keep track of all your scores on your quizzes and keep your old quizzes. When it comes time for your tests, review your quizzes and find where you went wrong. Good test scores come more easily when you’re performing well on quizzes, since quizzes are just smaller assessments. By reviewing your quizzes and homework before your tests, you’ll be in an excellent position to pass your exams.

Find Outside Help

Too many students don’t bother seeking outside help when they’re struggling in class. Very often, students are afraid to ask for help, or they just hope that they’ll do better on future assessments. Unfortunately, this often means that they just fall further behind. Instead of letting yourself fall behind in your studies, don’t be afraid to seek outside help.

The first step to getting help comes from interacting with your instructor. If they have the time, instructors are typically more than happy to review lessons with you and the materials you’ve previously studied. If the teacher has an assistant, sometimes they can help tutor you. However, it’s also possible to find help from other sources.

For instance, today there are many online sources that you can consult for help. Online resources can provide some quick help for a wide variety of topics in political science. However, since each class is different, each teacher approaches their lessons in different ways. Your instructor may cover topics in specific ways or want you to have knowledge about specific issues.

That’s why one of the best ways to stay on top of your lessons is by connecting with other students in your classroom. Your fellow students are some of your best resources. IF you are forced to miss a class, you can always rely on your study partners to fill you in. Your classmates also make for an excellent study group. By exchanging notes, you can help each other fill in what some of you may have missed. Your test notes can be more comprehensive than the notes you wrote on your own. For all these reasons, it’s smart to get to know your fellow students at the start of the year.

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College students majoring in political science may particularly benefit. Since you’ll be taking a series of college courses in political science, you’ll be able to keep your study partners through the years. This will help you create an even more effective study group as you continue to work with one another over time.

More Resources

You might also be interested to take a look at our Study Skills resource hub for more study guides. Below you'll find more editor and user recommended study skills resources, guides and learning tutorials that will help you learn Political Science and improve your study skills.


What skills do I need to study political science? ›

Analytical ability
  • Interpret data.
  • Understand components of complex problems.
  • See problems from a variety of perspectives.
  • Synthesize themes from complex issues.
  • Think "outside the box"
  • Think internationally.
  • Assess policy and propose options.
  • Analyze and solve problems systematically and logically.

What do you learn studying political science? ›

Political science delves into the study of governments, public policies, and political behavior. It is a social science which uses both humanistic perspectives and scientific skills to examine the United States and all countries and regions of the world.

What is political science best answer? ›

Political science is the study of politics and power from domestic, international, and comparative perspectives. It entails understanding political ideas, ideologies, institutions, policies, processes, and behavior, as well as groups, classes, government, diplomacy, law, strategy, and war.

What is the best way to study political science? ›

The study of political science requires an in-depth understanding of numerous topics. First, it's important to understand the levels of government that exist. Second, you have to understand different political ideas and theories. Third, you have to understand the different groups that influence the government.

What are good political skills? ›

Political skill refers to “the ability to effectively understand others at work, and to use such knowledge to influence others to act in ways that enhance one's personal and/or organizational objectives” (Ahearn et al., 2004, p. 311).

What is the importance of Political Science as a student? ›

Political Science equips students with an understanding of the political institutions and laws that govern all businesses function. It also sharpens students' understanding of organizational dynamics and human relations, and hones their writing, communication, and statistical skills.

Why political study is important? ›

It helps raise good citizens and good leaders. It provides knowledge about the state's constitution, laws, and duties. It helps people understand the significance of Political institutions like political parties, federations, and local bodies in our state.

What is the most important goal in the study of Political Science? ›

Its goal is to deepen human understanding of the forms and nature of political action and to develop theoretical tools for interpreting politically meaningful phenomena. The discipline deals with the traditional fields of public national life, such as democracy, parliaments, politicians, elections and the government.

What is political science * Your answer? ›

Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of political activities, political thought, political behavior, and associated constitutions and laws.

What is political science in your own words? ›

Put most simply, political science is the study of politics, government, and public policy, both in the U.S. and around the world. Political scientists seek to both describe and explain political phenomena.

What is political science simple answer? ›

Political science focuses on the theory and practice of government and politics at the local, state, national, and international levels. We are dedicated to developing understandings of institutions, practices, and relations that constitute public life and modes of inquiry that promote citizenship.

Is political science easy to study? ›

Is Political Science a Hard Major? Political science is a social science, so the degree program does not require upper-level math or science courses like an IT or engineering program would. This major relies on reading, research, critical thinking, logic, writing, and effective communication skills.

How can I learn politics? ›

Nine Strategies for Successfully Playing Office Politics
  1. Be nice to everyone. Don't believe the "nice guys finish last" stuff. ...
  2. Be a team player. ...
  3. Don't whine and complain. ...
  4. Be visible. ...
  5. Help your boss succeed. ...
  6. Be loyal. ...
  7. Be good at what you do. ...
  8. Mind your manners.
17 Feb 2004

How politics can be studied? ›

To study politics at university, you should consider taking subjects such politics, sociology, history, economics or law at school. Subjects like maths and philosophy are also common.

What political skills you should develop and why? ›

What are political skills?
  • Thinking before speaking. First, politically skilled individuals think before they speak and demonstrate impulse control. ...
  • Managing up. ...
  • Interpersonal influence. ...
  • Social astuteness. ...
  • Networking ability. ...
  • Sincerity.
18 Mar 2019

Why are political skills important for leadership? ›

In summary, leaders who effectively use political skill in the workplace will likely enhance others' perceptions of their ability to successfully lead their work groups or teams. Effective use of political skill is also likely to help leaders avoid displaying problems that can lead to career failure or derailment.

How can politics improve students? ›

Tips for being a political science student at university
  1. Try not to have political opinions. Failing that, at the very least don't talk about your personal beliefs. ...
  2. Always argue in good faith. It doesn't matter if you're criticising Thomas Aquinas or a classmate. ...
  3. Read consistently and widely. ...
  4. Don't engage in mud-flinging.

What is political communication skills? ›

Political communication can be defined as the connection concerning politics and citizens and the interaction modes that connect these groups to each other. Whether the relationship is formed by the modes of persuasion, Pathos, Ethos or Logos.

Is political awareness a skill? ›

Many people may have been put off the idea of being politically aware by seeing people 'playing politics' or trying to manipulate others using political tactics. But used wisely and well, political awareness is a force for good, and for getting things done in organisations, and it is an essential skill in life.

What is the power of political? ›

'Political power' is defined as social causation in which a first actor causes changes in the behavior of a second actor.

What are two reasons why you should study politics? ›

To understand how individuals strive to attain power and their motivations to do so in order to support the right people. To be more aware of how policies are made in a political organization and what issues are being addressed by these actions.

Why do we need to study political science Brainly? ›

political science educates the common public about their political rights and shapes them into well-informed individuals who can be trusted to take the right decision and select the government that helps the country progress at a global level.

What is political in simple words? ›

Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.

What is importance and scope of political science? ›

Political Science also explains its ever-widening scope. Its scope includes study of the state and the study of political system; covering the study of government, study of power; study of man and his political behaviour and study of political issues which influence politics directly or indirectly.

What are the 5 types of political science? ›

The overall field of political science includes several major subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political economy, and political philosophy.

What is politics answer in points? ›

Politics is the way that people living in groups make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries. In large groups, such as countries, some people may spend a lot of their time making such agreements.

What is political science full? ›

political science, the systematic study of governance by the application of empirical and generally scientific methods of analysis. As traditionally defined and studied, political science examines the state and its organs and institutions.

Why is it called political science? ›

Political science is called political science because it deals with the study of politics and government. Not so much how politics and government are organized but how they are related to people and communities. Political science studies and analyzes political thought, political behaviors, and political activities.

How do you study? ›

How To Study Effectively
  1. Get organized. Carry a homework planner at all times. ...
  2. Pay attention in class. ...
  3. Steer clear of distractions. ...
  4. Make sure notes are complete. ...
  5. Ask questions if you don't understand. ...
  6. Make a study schedule/plan. ...
  7. Review notes from class every evening. ...
  8. Talk to teachers.
19 Apr 2017

Is it good for political science? ›

Political science is a useful degree because it can lead to diverse career opportunities in many sectors, depending on one's personality, preferences and other skills. It is a field of study that encourages personal growth by enhancing social skills as well as analytical and critical thinking abilities.

What does political learning mean? ›

Political socialization is the process by which individuals learn and frequently internalize a political lens framing their perceptions of how power is arranged and how the world around them is (and should be) organized; those perceptions, in turn, shape and define individuals' definitions of who they are and how they ...

What type of study is politics? ›

Politics is the study of how governments work, how public policies are made, international relations and political ideas - from democracy to human rights. You will learn to assess ideas and arguments and develop your written and spoken communication skills.

What are 3 major aspects of political science? ›

Modern political science can generally be divided into the three subdisciplines of comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

What are the 3 goals of political science? ›

General Skills

Use critical thinking and evidence to understand and evaluate rival theories and interpretations. Formulate and express in writing a well-organized argument, supported by evidence.

What is the importance of political science as a student? ›

Political Science equips students with an understanding of the political institutions and laws that govern all businesses function. It also sharpens students' understanding of organizational dynamics and human relations, and hones their writing, communication, and statistical skills.

What is the most important goal of political science? ›

Political science is a classical discipline that deals with the study of political phenomena. Its goal is to deepen human understanding of the forms and nature of political action and to develop theoretical tools for interpreting politically meaningful phenomena.

What is the purpose of political science? ›

Political science focuses on the theory and practice of government and politics at the local, state, national, and international levels. We are dedicated to developing understandings of institutions, practices, and relations that constitute public life and modes of inquiry that promote citizenship.

What are the 4 types of political science? ›

Teaching and coursework at the undergraduate level is organized according to the usual disciplinary subfields of American Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, and World Politics.

What are the 5 methods of political science? ›

Political scientists rely on a variety of empirical methods and statistical models, such as linear regression, maximum likelihood estimation, laboratory and survey experiments, and social network analysis. Mathematical models are also important tools for rigorous theoretical analysis.


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