Federal Government


Updated September 08, 2011

  • State Approval Code: 4510025125
  • Semester Credit Hours: 3
  • Lecture Hours per Week: 3
  • Contact Hours per Semester: 48

Catalog Description

A study of the background and development of the government of the United States, including the foundations of political power, the national party systems, the national judiciary, and the development of the Federal Constitution.


TSI Reading Complete

Course Curriculum

Basic Intellectual Compentencies in the Core Curriculum

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Critical thinking

Perspectives in the Core Curriculum

  • Establish broad and multiple perspectives on the individual in relationship to the larger society and world in which he/she lives, and to understand the responsibilities of living in a culturally and ethnically diversified world.
  • Stimulate a capacity to discuss and reflect upon individual, political, economic, and social aspects of life in order to understand ways in which to be a responsible member of society.
  • Develop personal values for ethical behavior.
  • Integrate knowledge and understand the interrelationships of the scholarly disciplines.

Core Components and Related Exemplary Educational Objectives

Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • To examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods, social structures, and cultures.
  • To use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
  • To develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.
  • To analyze the effects of historical, social, political, economic, cultural, and global forces on the area under study.
  • To comprehend the origins and evolution of U.S. and Texas political systems, with a focus on the growth of political institutions, the constitutions of the U.S. and Texas, federalism, civil liberties, and civil and human rights.
  • To understand the evolution and current role of the U.S. in the world.
  • To analyze, critically assess, and develop creative solutions to public policy problems.
  • To recognize and assume one's responsibility as a citizen in a democratic society by learning to think for oneself, by engaging in public discourse, and by obtaining information through the news 4 media and other appropriate information sources about politics and public policy.

Instructional Goals and Purposes

Panola College's instructional goals include 1) creating an academic atmosphere in which students may develop their intellects and skills and 2) providing courses so students may receive a certificate/an associate degree or transfer to a senior institution that offers baccalaureate degrees.

General Course Objectives

1. Explain the environment and background of the American political system.

2. Discuss public opinion and voting patterns as they connect to the political process.

3. Discuss the historical background, ideas, and organizational structure of the American Constitution.

4. Discuss federalism, the specific relationships between various levels of government and its influence on the overall political system.

5. Understand the significance of interest groups and political parties in the political process.

6. Explain the powers, responsibilities, and requirements of the presidency, as well as the organization of the overall executive branch.

7. Discuss the functions, structure, and composition of the United States Congress.

8. Cultivate and build personal and civic values for ethical behavior and will also reflect upon individual, political, and economic aspects of life in order to become a responsible member of society.

9. Discover and successfully discuss current political and governmental issues

10. Explain responsibilities, powers, and organizational structure of the federal court system

11. Identify and discuss basic civil liberties, and equal rights guaranteed under the Constitution

12. Explain and recognize the structure, powers and responsibilities of the federal judiciary.

Specific Course Objectives

1. Identify key contributors' to the constitution and major ideas and part that shaped it.

2. Identify constitutional amendments and their significance.

3. Successfully differentiate between conservatism, liberalism, and diverse political philosophies such as Nazism, socialism, communism, and libertarianism

4. Explain the legislative process of how a bill becomes law.

5. Tell the major powers, duties, and requirements of the American presidency.

6. Discuss the media and its marriage with political thought

7. Identify landmark cases of the Supreme Court that have shaped the American landscape.

8. Recognize voting trends, political socialization, and levels of participation

9. Recognize major interest groups and political parties.

10. Identify major tools- filibustering, logrolling, etc..,-in the overall legislative process.

11. Identify levels of the federal court system, with an even greater command of membership of the Supreme Court and its history.

General Description of Each Lecture or Discussion

1. Evolution of the constitution

2. Structure of the constitution

3. Essential ideas and people at constitutional convention

4. Background of constitutional amendments and landmark Supreme Court decisions

5. Political style employed in campaigns

6. Electoral Politics and campaigning

7. The Press and Political socialization

8. Major Political ideologies

9. Powers, responsibilities, and structure of Congress

10. Legislative Process

11. Political Action Committees, Lobbyists, Interest Groups

12. Process and function of the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court

13. Historical background of the presidency, as well as responsibilities, and powers of the office

14. The executive branch beyond the scope of the presidency

Methods of Instruction/Course Format/Delivery

Lecture/Brainstorming Discussion/Web based research/Note taking and proactive listening, selected guest speakers, examination of relevant current events, including primary and secondary documents.


Assessment will include exams, quizzes, class participation, and written work assignments
delivered by the instructor to the student. Multiple choice, listening, matching, journaling, research papers, and discussions may be employed to properly assess the students’ learning.

The Grading distribution is as follows:
Exams = 70%
Written Assignment = 15%
Class Participation = 15%

The Grading distribution is as follows
Exams = 70%
Written Assignment = 15%
Class Participation = 15%

Text, Required Readings, Materials, and Supplies

James Wilson and John DiIulio, American Government, 11th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-618-95612-8
Other Reading Articles may be distributed at the instructor’s discretion.