Introduction to American Politics

Academic year
Subject Area
Political Science – International Relations
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for students to attend the courses. Except, of course, English fluency, as the lectures and discussions will be held in English, as will all the reading assignments.   

Teaching Methods

Teaching methods include both lecture and discussion. Each class will begin with a discussion of current events in the US, which students are expected to follow on their own. 

Learning Outcomes

The course proposes to provide students with a perspective about their own countries by introducing them to the basics of American politics: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. In addition, it will examine the environment in which those institutions function, such as the political culture and political economy in which they operate. Finally, it will examine their output in the form of domestic and foreign policy. Fortunately, timing for the course could not be better. The U.S. will be entering the 2020 presidential election season. This course will examine the emergence of right-wing populism in the U.S. that led to the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016 and prospects for the Republican Party and their opponents, the Democrats, in the 2020 elections.  

Work Placement(s)



Week I: Appetizers (Desmond, Evicted, all);

Week II: Political Economy (Greenberg and Page, The Struggle for Democracy, Ch.4,7 and; Week III: Ideology and Political Participation (Greenberg and Page, ch.2);

Week IV: Constitutiton (Dahl, How Democratic is the American Constitution?, all);

Week V: Parties and Elections (Greenberg and Page, Ch.9,10);

Week VI: Exam;

Week VII: Presidency (Greenberg and Page, Ch 12,13);

Week VIII: Congress (Greenberg and Page, Ch.11 Mann and Ornstein, It's Even Worse Than It Was, all); Week IX: Judiciary (Greenberg and Page, Ch.14),

Week X: Exam;

Week XI: Social Policy (Greenberg and Page, Ch.17);

Week XII: Foreign Policy (Greenberg and Page, Ch.18);

Week XIII: Final Exam.

Head Lecturer(s)

Professor a Definir - Faculdade de Economia

Assessment Methods

Periodic or by final exam as given in the course information: 100.0%


Stanley Greenberg and Bem Page, The Struggle for Democracy, 12e (Pearson, 2018)

Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Penguin 2017) (2017 Pulitizer Prize Winner best non-fiction book)

Robert Dahl, How Democratic is the American Constitution (Yale University Press, 2001)

Mann and Ornstein, It's Even Worse Than It Was: How the American Constitution System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism (Basic Books, 2016)

James Forman, Jr., Locking Uo Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (Farrar, Strauus and Giroux, 2017) (2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner best non-fiction book)

Michelle Alexander, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2012) .