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POLS 1030 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

POLS 1030 - American Government

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course offers an introduction to U.S. government and politics, focusing on citizen participation and governmental institutions.

Course Outcomes:

Students will acquire a general understanding of the key concepts and ideas upon which the American system of government is based, demonstrate a clear understanding of how the American political process works, and develop critical skills which are necessary to the decision-making process in a democratic republic like the United States. After completing the course students should be able to:

Understand our governmental heritage (where our rules emerged)

Understand basic societal rules (the Constitution).

Understand the mechanisms individuals use to influence their government (i.e., interest groups and political parties).

Understand how the electoral system operates.

Understand the delicate balance of power between the President, Congress and the courts.

Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

None.  Students must be able to read and write at the college level.

Course Topics:

The Constitution, Federalism, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Public Opinion, Political Action, Mass Media, Political Parties, Campaigns, Voting Behavior, Interest Groups, Congress, Presidency, Bureaucracy, Supreme Court.

Specific Course Requirements:

This is a distance-learning course. To enroll in this course and be successful, students must have access to their own computer with an Internet web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox), and will have to contract with an Internet service provider. 

Students must know how to navigate D2L (Desire 2 Learn), address technical problems immediately, and check e-mail every day for general announcements. Students enrolled in this course must complete all requirements as outlined in the syllabus in order to receive a grade.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:
Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:
  •  All testing will be completed online. No proctor is needed.
  • Exams must be submitted on time. Exams will be available until 11:55 p.m. Central Standard Time, on the last day of the testing period. Must log in before 11:00 p.m. if not, access will be denied.
  • Students may consult books and notes during quizzes and tests, but time is insufficient to permit reading the chapter simultaneously. Students will need to be familiar enough with the chapters to find information quickly. In other words, prepare for these in the same manner as any in-class exam.
  • Contact RODP Helpdesk in the event of technical difficulties. 

Examination grades will be posted immediately upon submission.

Grading Procedures:

 The final grade in the course is based upon the student’s performance on these assignments: quizzes, tests, reports, and discussions/participation. 

10 Quizzes (averaged)10% 
3 Tests (averaged) 30% 
3 Interest Group Reports (averaged) 25%
3 Simulation Reports (averaged) 25%
Participation 10% 
Total 100% 


Grading Scale:

90-100 A

80-89 B

70-79 C

 65-69 D 

Assignments and Projects:
  • Students will write 6 reports, participate in weekly online discussions, study an interest group in-depth, participate in online public opinion polls, take part in online simulations of political situations, and become acquainted with numerous websites related to politics and government.
  • All assignments are considered received on the day the instructor is able to open it.
  • Use Microsoft Word to submit your assignment in the dropbox.
  • Refer to the course calendar and the syllabus for due dates on assignments and exams.

Submitting Writing Assignments

Use the class Dropbox to submit your assignments. I will only accept assignments submitted in Microsoft Word or RTF document types. Please ensure that your document is converted to one of these formats so that I will be able to open it. All assignments will be considered received only on the day the instructor is able to open it. I will only accept and grade assignments submitted in the dropbox.

Class Participation:

Participation is important. It is what makes the class a class, instead of a student taking a correspondence course with the professor. With each new chapter, there will be an accompanying discussion and opinion poll. Students will submit a participation report at the end of the semester

Late Policy:

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on May 9, 2017