Course Outline

INT245 Politics of the USA

Course Coordinator:Stefanie Fishel ( School:School of Law and Society

2023Semester 1

UniSC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


The United States of America, as the world's only superpower, plays a dominant role in international politics. Its system of government, constitution and democratic model have provided examples for many states including Australia. This course will examine the development of the major political institutions of the United States and consider some important contemporary political issues. It will then examine the role the United States plays in international politics.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On campus tutorial/workshop - 2 hour 2hrs Week 1 13 times
Learning materials – Asynchronous online learning materials 1hr Week 1 13 times

Course Topics

Introduction to Class

First Peoples

Founding Documents

Constitutional Amendments Part 1 

Constitutional Amendments Part 2

Civil Rights Part 1

Civil Rights  Part 2

Three Branches: Congress

Three Branches: Executive

Three Branches: Judiciary 

US Foreign Policy 

What level is this course?

200 Level (Developing)

Building on and expanding the scope of introductory knowledge and skills, developing breadth or depth and applying knowledge and skills in a new context. May require pre-requisites where discipline specific introductory knowledge or skills is necessary. Normally, undertaken in the second or third full-time year of an undergraduate programs.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Contribute and engage in course content discussions with academic staff and peers during tutorials. Ethical
2 Discuss, explain and describe US political history and practice including actors, institutions, processes, key events. Knowledgeable
3 Demonstrate research, critical analysis skills, and argument development in essay papers, tutorials and verbally during the tutorial and in written assignments. Knowledgeable
Creative and critical thinker
4 Apply scholarly writing, research and reference practice in the field of Politics and International Relations. Empowered

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the UniSC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Timely and detailed feedback is provided for each assessment. Feedback is provided both within text and general comments to build scholarly skills. Students are able to seek feedback through face-to-face discussion with the course coordinator. Tutorials will include extended discussion and review of the assessment task requirements and scope.

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Journal Individual 30%
250 words
Throughout teaching period (refer to Format) Online Discussion Board
All 2 Examination - not Centrally Scheduled Individual 30%
1000-1500 words
Week 7 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Essay Individual 40%
1500-2000 word research essay
Exam Period Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Discussion Board
You will actively prepare for and then engage in classroom discussions and constructively respond to course content questions, theories and practices through the weekely readings. These will be used to support the final assessment essay.
Product: Journal
This is a 250 word class discussion entry based on the class readings. Student will submit and respond to an online discussion posts Weeks 2-11. Preparation for tutorials will require reading from the required and recommended reading list for the week's tutorial and thinking about the issues highlighted for tutorial focus. This discussion post aids in tutorial discussion.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrated knowledge of some of the relevant reading and lectures
1 2
Demonstrated capacity to analyse readings and arguments put to the class
1 2 4
Demonstrate an understanding of the actors, institutions, processes, key events and concepts relevant to this course 
contributed to class and group discussions with relevant and informed comments
1 2
All - Assessment Task 2:Midterm exam
Students will apply their knowledge from course readings in short essay format for the first half of the class.
Product: Examination - not Centrally Scheduled
A take home essay in two parts.  Part 1 will ask the student to analyse two current events using class readings and learning materials. Part 2 will ask students to pick two short essay questions to answer.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Scholarly and authoritative reference sources are used to directly support claims and arguments
2 4
Demonstrates critical thinking, analysis and synthesis of argument
2 4
Completely answers the questions using course materials
2 3
All - Assessment Task 3:Final Reflection Essay
To draw out and elaborate on a key topic (or topics) of the course which interest you most. Re-read and reflect on your weekly reading summaries. Ponder a constellation of themes or issues which you have explored across the whole span of the semester.
Product: Essay
Write a short but well-thought-out essay of approximately 1500-2000 words discussing some aspect of class themes or issues. Student will draw upon Assessment 1 discussion blogs, class readings, class materials and some outside research as necessary.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
A clear, consistent thesis is evident
2 4
Scholarly and authoritative reference sources are used to directly support claims and arguments
1 4
Critical thinking, analysis and synthesis of argument is evident
2 3 4
The paper is +/- 10 percent of the stated word count.

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Required Richard M. Valelly 2013 American Politics: A Very Short Introduction n/a Oxford University Press

Specific requirements

Not applicable

How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

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