If you’re thinking of studying a social science major, political science might be one of those courses that come to mind. However, you want to know what it takes to study political science and how hard it is.
Political science is the scientific study of the state, politics, and levels of government. It is not as difficult as STEM majors but can be challenging because it covers a wide range of topics and requires in-depth analysis.
For students who have recently begun studying political science, the topics are not just routine conversations but complex. Several factors contribute to the difficulty of the course as considered in this article.
What does political science entail?
This is a field that studies the theory and practice of government. Students typically learn the levels of government, power sharing, and the different groups that influence the government.
In addition to this, it studies the political activities and behaviour of people, international relations between countries, and the political and societal trends in a country.
Political science draws upon fields like history, law, economics, sociology, philosophy, psychology, human geography, and political anthropology.
Apparently, it is a very broad field that can be very demanding. However, it’s an important field of study because it addresses critical societal issues.
What makes political science hard?
Several factors contribute to the complexity of political science. Below are a few of them:
Political science is largely based on the ideologies, beliefs, values, and cultures of people. As a result, many concepts have several different interpretations based on individual perspectives.
It isn’t as straightforward as sciences where ideas are validated through experiments. Rather, in politics, every opinion can be right. They tend to back up their arguments with evidence that may be biased or based on one-sided events sometimes.
But as a student, you will need to study these things and juxtapose them. Many exam questions will be argument-based and you will need to provide objective answers.
Plus, there are countless words to learn. You will often come across many new and complex terms, both long and short and studies will date back centuries.
2. It is research-intensive
Another difficulty associated with political science is the level of research work involved. Students often engage in extensive research projects as a way to demonstrate their understanding of a course or to expand their critical thinking skills.
These assignments don’t allow students to make up stuff from their heads, rather you have to cite facts to support your claim. Plus, you must have a section to document the exact place you got your information.
Apart from that, some projects may require long writing, however, you must ensure coherence in your work. Hence, if you’re considering a major in politics, be prepared to do a lot of research.
3. Writing and reading intensive
If you prefer breaking down mathematical problems and numbers to writing and reading, political science isn’t for you. Political science majors are known for large textbooks and large writing assignments.
You may have to spend hours in the library reading about political ideologies, philosophies and theories, and the constitution, among other things.
You’d learn about the rise and fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) or how slavery was closely tied to the United States’ early economy. You’d also have to read the works of great philosophers like Karl Marx, Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, and more.
Essentially, political science opens you up to a lot of knowledge and widens your horizon but with that comes the demand to read far and wide.
4. Lots of debates and presentations
Debates can be fun for extroverts and outgoing people but can be quite a challenge for introverts. Many political science classes are debate hubs for students.
In fact, the level of rigour and depth of argument expected at a top philosophy in graduate school class would surprise you. While this is meant to teach you to think critically, you will need to make time for intense study.
Sometimes, you’d have to give presentations in front of the whole class which can be intimidating. But, the beauty of this is that it helps you build confidence and improves your communication skills. There may be flops when you’re just starting out but you’d get better with time.
How to excel in political science
Now that you have gotten an idea of the various demands of a political science major, how can you prepare yourself for a great study in the field?
1. Study smart
When studying political science, you’d often get a lot of homework. These assignments are usually the foundation for tests and exams. So, it’s smart to do your homework and master them well.
This will make reading easier when studying for tests or exams. By dedicating time to your homework, you can easily spot areas you really don’t understand and reach out to your tutor about it.
Because of the wide scope of political science, instructors may conduct quizzes from time to time. Mastering your homework would come in handy at these times, and if you can pass your quizzes, it may be easier to ace your test and exams.
However, if you find out that your results are not good enough, it’s an opportunity to check back and find out what’s wrong. Go back to your lecture materials and find the appropriate answers or ask your instructor for help.
2. Listening actively and taking notes
Listening is more than just hearing what your lecturer is saying. It involves engaging with your lecture materials, asking questions in your head, maintaining eye contact, and staying focused.
To make things better, jot down important points and questions you may have from time to time. But be careful not to overdo it so you don’t miss out on what your instructor is saying.
The best thing is to be brief and precise. Highlight points that may be missing in the course materials, put down insights that will simplify your reading and pen down questions on places that may confuse you.
3. Prepare ahead of the class
Studying ahead of classes is very helpful when studying political science. First, revise previous lessons taught and go ahead to read new lessons. This helps you to have an idea of what to expect in class.
Moreso, as your professor, explains you will be able to grasp things faster by relating them to what you’ve read. Plus, it helps you retain whatever you’re taught in class better.
4. Find a study group
Since political science involves lots of arguments, a good tactic for learning would be studying together as a group. It is a good place to bring up issues and debate them.
Through debates, everyone can exchange knowledge and improve their presentation skills. Study groups can also be a place to get help if you don’t understand a topic.
That is why it is important to find a group of people who are serious-minded, so, everyone can contribute towards each other’s growth.
5. Seek outside help
If you discover that despite your efforts to improve, you’re still falling behind academically, it is important to seek external help. The first thing to do is meet with your professor and ask them to review the course with you.
You can even join a tutorial center where you can get more personal with tutors as there as fewer students. Many students are willing to help academically as well, so reaching out to them can be helpful.
However, if your problem is more of a health or emotional one, visit the school support center and meet with a counselor for help.
Do you need math to study political science?
It doesn’t involve math.
Which is harder political science or history?
Political science may be harder because it cuts across other fields including history.
Is political science easier than sociology?
If you find qualitative work challenging, then political science may be harder than sociology.
Political science is a great major but it has its own challenges like every other discipline. So instead of focusing on the difficulty, think about the skills and opportunities that you could get from studying the course.
Additionally, consider your strength and interest before going for them. It is good for you if you’re fascinated by historic trends, political happenings, and societal issues.
One mistake people make is assuming that political science is for people who aspire to political offices. While political science can better prepare you for a political career, it is much more than that.
So, be sure to review your motivations and understand that anyone can become a politician without studying political science. That said, you should see the reasons to study political science in this article.
I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.