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Introduction to Political Science  

Political science is the study of politics, voting behavior, the nature of government and its institutions, political theory and the exercise of political power.
Last Updated: Aug 25, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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The U.S. Capital Building


Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)


John Locke (1632-1704)


What is Political Science?

Political science deals with politics and the exercise of political power. It deals with legitimacy, sovereignty and authority.  It covers classic and modern theories: the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke and Jefferson.  It covers democracy, totalitarianism and authoritarianism. It deals with voting behavior and the structure of governments.  It covers party systems, the nature of bureaucracies and international politics.

For a general discussion of the discipline of political science go to:    

"The New World Encyclopedia" has a very good entry on Nation-States .  Go to:




Political Theory

Political Theory is a branch of Political Science.  Certain philosophers are usually studied in introductory political science classes  i.e. Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson and to be contemporary, Martin Luther King.

For information about Plato's theories see:

"The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy" has a long entry on Aristotle's ideas on politics.  One can click on a specific section if desired.    

There are many Internet sites on Machiavelli.  One that is clearly written can be found at

For a comparison of the ideas of Hobbes and Locke see:

Much can be written about Jefferson's political thought.  For a good summary see:

The King Center covers the philosophy of Martin Luther King and can be found at:


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