1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
Enrolment not permitted
AMST2005 has been successfully completed
Topic description

The first half of this topic focuses on the assumptions and operation of the US political system, looking at the Constitution, the Congress, the party system, the presidency and the Supreme Court. The goal is to make clear the ideas on which the political institutions of the United States rest and the degree to which those ideas, and ideals, are achieved or not achieved. Also considered are the ways and the extent to which Americans are engaged in the US political system. The second part of the topic looks at challenges to the prevailing order posed by ideological groups from both left and right. The topic concludes with a consideration of the ways in which institutions, ideologies, social groups and interests intersect to create policy, both domestic and foreign.

Educational aims

  • To understand why so many ask whether, in respect of the United States, "those institutions can govern that society"
  • Develop students' research and analysis skills
  • Develop students' written and communication skills
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Appreciate the complex relationship between American society and American institutions of government
  2. Understand the philosophical basis of the structures of US national government
  3. Understand the vigorous nature of American public debate
  4. Appreciate the policy-making process in the US in respect of both domestic and foreign policy matters
  5. Critically analyse and assess a range of sources relevant to the topic
  6. Work both collaboratively and independently and apply knowledge in a range of situations
  7. Communicate effectively by constructing and developing a coherent argument in written assessment

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.