The field of political science offers a great multitude of interesting essay and research paper topics. This collection of almost 100 political science topics for essay and research paper writing and example papers on political science highlights the most important topics, issues, questions, and debates that any student obtaining a degree in this field ought to have mastered for effectiveness. The purpose is to provide students in political science with an authoritative reference sources and sample essays and research papers that will help their writing efforts with far more detailed information than short essays.

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Research Paper Topics in General Approaches in Political Science

cover the history of the discipline (e.g., the behavioral revolution, the rise of neoinstitutionalism, and the postbehavioral critique), as well as several general approaches in political science (such as rational choice, political psychology, and principal–agent theory).

  • History of Political Science
  • Postmodernism
  • Neoinstitutionalism
  • Systemism
  • Rationality and Rational Choice
  • Principal-Agent Theory
  • Political Psychology
  • Straussians

Research Paper Topics in Comparative Politics

focus on topics related to political development (such as modernization theory, dependency and development, statism), political violence (e.g., coups, civil wars, terrorism, ethnic conflict), political institutions (the effects of electoral laws, presidentialism, federalism, comparative judicial politics), political culture and civil society (religion and comparative politics, ethnic identity), and comparative methods (case studies, most-similar and most-different systems approaches).

  • Systems Theory and Structural Functionalism
  • Political Development and Modernization
  • Statism
  • Dependency and Development
  • Civil Wars
  • Terrorism
  • Political and Military Coups
  • Resource Scarcity and Political Conflict
  • Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Parties
  • Comparative Electoral Systems
  • Federalism, Confederalism, Unitary Systems
  • Presidentialism vs. Parliamentarism
  • Comparative Judicial Politics
  • Civil Society
  • Political Culture
  • Religion and Comparative Politics
  • Ethnic and Identity Politics
  • Social Movements
  • Gender and Politics
  • Environmental Politics and Conflict
  • Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism
  • Semiauthoritarianism
  • Models of Democracy
  • Processes of Democratization
  • Comparative Methods
  • Case Studies

Research Paper Topics in International Relations

deal with essential topics in international relations, including research papers on realism and neorealism, liberalism, world-systems analysis, and foreign policy analysis. There are also research papers on international conflict and war (e.g., on the balance of power, rivalry and interstate war, and the democratic peace), international political economy (e.g., complex interdependence, trade, and resource scarcity and rentierism), and global governance (international organizations and regimes and international law).

  • History of International Relations
  • Realism and Neorealism
  • Idealism and Liberalism
  • Dependency and World-Systems
  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • Feminist International Relations
  • Leadership and Decision Making
  • Balance of Power
  • Deterrence Theory
  • Rivalry, Conflict, and Interstate War
  • Democratic Peace
  • Global Politics of Resources and Rentierism
  • Complex Interdependence and Globalization
  • International Political Economy and Trade
  • Nonstate Actors in International Relations
  • International Organizations and Regimes
  • International Law
  • International Environmental Politics

Research Paper Topics in Political Science Methodology

cover research paper ideas on the philosophy of science (including empirical approaches, positivism and its critique, and constructivism), followed by papers that illustrate commonly used quantitative and qualitative techniques (such as experimentation, and content analysis) and then by research papers on game theory and formal modeling approaches in political science. These research papers in particular are meant to be easily understandable to students who are just beginning to engage in political science studies.

  • Evolution of Political Science
  • Positivism
  • Constructivism
  • Content Analysis
  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research
  • Survey Research
  • Experiments
  • Formal Theory and Spatial Modeling
  • Game Theory

Research Paper Topics in Political Thought

include research ideas on political thought, not only Western political thought but from elsewhere in the world as well. We have included research papers not only on the Western classics (the “ancients,” enlightenment thinkers, neoclassical liberalism, socialism, anarchism, etc.), but also on Asian political thought, Islamic political thought, and Christian political thought. Thus students will have exposure to points of view that are not entirely rooted in the Western experience. The ability to view fundamental political issues from different points of view is, we believe, an essential skill students must have nowadays.

  • Ancient Political Thought
  • Asian Political Thought
  • Islamic Political Thought
  • Christian Political Thought
  • Early Modern and Classical Liberal Political Thought
  • Neoclassical Liberal Political Thought
  • Modern Democratic Thought
  • Modern Liberalism, Conservatism, and Libertarianism
  • Anarchism
  • Nationalism
  • Fascism and National Socialism
  • Marxism
  • Revisionism and Social Democracy
  • Leninism, Communism, Stalinism, and Maoism
  • Socialism in the Developing World

Research Paper Topics on American Politics

include research papers on the political structures and institutions of the United States (including research papers that cover research on Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, federalism, state and local politics, and the media) and political behavior (including public opinion and voting behavior, as well as policy making and administration). Furthermore, we have included papers on an increasingly important area in the study of American politics: identity politics. There are research papers that cover topics such as race, ethnicity, and politics; gender and politics; religion and politics; and LGBT issues and queer theory.

  • Founding of the American Political System
  • Urban Politics
  • Media and Politics
  • U.S. Congress
  • U.S. Presidency
  • American Judicial Politics
  • American Bureaucracy
  • Interest Groups and Pluralism
  • American Federalism
  • American Political Parties
  • State and Local Government
  • Public Policy and Administration
  • Political Campaigns
  • Political Socialization
  • Voting Behavior
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Politics
  • Gender and Politics in the United States
  • Religion and Politics in America
  • LGBT Issues in America

Browse our collection of free political science research papers. This collection of research papers on political science is an attempt to make fairly complex approaches in politics accessible to advanced undergraduate students and beginning graduate students. There is very little in the way of reference works in political science that are sufficiently accessible that students can profitably use them to assist the pursuit of their research paper writing. In particular, we have sought to make a collection that would provide students with the essentials of various approaches (both theoretical and methodological) in political science. Our focus on essentials has meant covering fairly broad areas in the discipline, rather than specific research paper topics. In our view, this broad focus would be most useful to students.

The first efforts to systematically study politics can be traced to Plato’s Republic (c. 427–c. 347 BCE) and Aristotle’s Politics (384–322 BCE). Their works were later incorporated into Christianity through neo-Platonists, such as St. Augustine (354–430 CE), and neo-Aristotelians, such as St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225–1274 CE). The classical and Christian traditions of political philosophy postulated metaphysical first principles and relied on a process of deductive reasoning that sought to derive the moral and ethical principles of an ideal-state. Whether the ideal-state was ever achieved by any civilization was considered secondary to discovering the “highest good” that ought to guide citizens and statesmen.

The political writings of Niccolo Machiavelli were the first to break with these traditions of political philosophy. Machiavelli believed that the study of political history could yield general principles to guide statesmen in the conduct of politics, diplomacy, and war. He studied existing and historical political institutions, and the actions of great statesmen, not for the purpose of discerning a morally ideal-state, but to identify institutional arrangements that would maintain social order and political stability. The separation of politics from any metaphysical or theological foundation led subsequent political philosophers to seek a new basis for legitimate political authority, although, in the end, solutions such as reason, natural law, custom, and tradition were superceded by the idea that sovereignty resides in a nation’s people.

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