Welcome to UCLA Political Science

Political Science is the study of how humans relate to one another and the systems of power and institutions of rule we construct in order to arrange our collective lives. These institutions can be formal like electoral systems, or international courts, or the various branches of governmental power; but they can also be informal and include the cultural practices of diverse ethnic groups, the public contestation of beliefs and values, and everyday forms of collective participation ranging from sporting activities, to political activism, to digital networking and beyond. What these diverse expressions of political activity share is an acknowledgment of the fact that we are many and that in order for the many to live peacefully with one another we must innovate ways to negotiate forms of power. It was Aristotle who in his Politics famously declared that humans are “by nature a political animal.” As Political Scientists we hope to understand how humans are political animals, as well as the diverse historical and contemporary ways that we express our political lives.

The UCLA Department of Political Science has expertise in every important aspect of political life, both domestic and international.  In the 1950s, UCLA experts developed the cold war doctrine of deterrence.  Since the 1970s, UCLA has led the development of understanding of political change and economic development in the nations of Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. More recently, UCLA pioneered the study of Race and Ethnicity in US politics, in developing countries, and in political thought. Our department was an early leader in the application of statistics and game theory to the study of politics. Other current areas of strength include the study of corruption, inequality, the consequences of oil wealth, the politics of trade, political theories of representation, U.S. campaigns and party politics, and design-based inference. Scholars in all of these fields regularly publish in top academic journals, consult with governments and businesses, write in local and national newspapers and blogs, and regularly appear on television and radio to offer expertise for public circulation. We are committed to increasing our understandings of politics, but we also aim to share those understandings with our students, our peers, and the world at large.

We are one of the largest undergraduate majors at UCLA and offer around 140 different classes per year to 1800 Political Science majors as well as to students from across the campus. Overall, our faculty and graduate teaching assistants teach about 11,000 students every year. Our classes are consistently rated among the most popular on campus with a changing array of offerings that includes “Ethics and Governance,” “Trump’s Foreign Policy,” “Civil War and Mass Violence,” “Political Theory in Hollywood,” and “Economic Inequality in the US.”

Our graduate program is rigorous and encourages students to craft individualized study plans and take advantage of UCLA’s vast interdisciplinary scholarly offerings. The graduate curriculum is dedicated to providing students with the knowledge and expertise to become exacting researchers and compelling instructors. Every year we host around 100 Ph.D. students and we graduate around 12 new Ph.Ds. These graduates are often themselves published authors who go on to occupy faculty positions at some of the top teaching and research institutions throughout the world.

Davide Panagia
Professor & Chair