Secondary Research Fields

  • Critical Theory
    UC Irvine is one of the world’s leading centers of scholarship in critical theory. Anchored by the activities of the internationally known Critical Theory Institute, the campus routinely ranks first or second in this field. The Critical Theory Emphasis (CTE) taps these resources to enhance the work of graduate students across the campus. It is an officially recognized, interdisciplinary concentration open to students in any PhD program on the UC Irvine campus. Political Science students who are admitted to the Critical Theory Emphasis and complete all of its requirements may count it as one of their fields for the Political Science PhD. Students seeking to do so should apply for admission to the Emphasis as soon as possible. They may also seek the advice of Political Science faculty who participate in the program.

    Participating Political Science faculty include:

    Kevin Olson | Keith Topper

    Please see the UC Irvine General Catalogue for current requirements

    Application instructions and annual course offerings can be found on the CTE website.
  • Democracy Studies
    Democracy Studies at UCI integrates comparative politics and American politics in the study of both established and emerging democracies. UCI is one of the leading places in the world to study empirical democratic theory. Nineteen department faculty are joined by nearly two dozen sociologists and economists in organizing a set of core courses in democracy studies administered under the umbrella of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD). These courses are organized in five areas: democratic transitions and consolidation, institutional mechanisms for democratic governance, race and ethnicity, political economy and the economics of governance, and social movements and collective action. The specialization in Democracy Studies also involves the research and participation conference participation of political science faculty in other University of California Political Science Departments, such as UC San Diego, UC Riverside, and UCLA. Political scientists from universities from around the world interested in topics such as electoral systems and constitutional design, public opinion, interest groups and social movements regularly come as visitors to UCI.
    Faculty members include:

  • Ethics

    Ethics permeates the field of politics in many ways. The subfield of ethics in the Department of Political Science conceptualizes ethics broadly to include: (1) the study of systems of moral principles; (2) rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular culture or group, etc., as in medical ethics or Christian ethics;(3) moral principles, as in those of an individual and how an individual relates to others; and (4) those parts of philosophy and social science dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

    Students wishing to do a concentration in Ethics should take the Ethics workshop, offered each Spring term, three additional courses offered in ethics and write one of their qualifying papers in ethics. Other courses may be substituted upon approval of the course instructor and the Graduate Director. Undergraduate courses may be taken for graduate credit by using a special topics code and the approval of the instructor and Graduate Director. Unless otherwise indicated, courses and faculty are within Political Science.

    Political Science Faculty:


    Affiliated Faculty:

    Margaret Gilbert,

    Brian Skyrms,
    Logic and Philosophy of Science

    Roxane Cohen Silver,
    Psychology and Social Behavior

  • Methodology & Modeling

    The Political Science Department, drawing on the broader resources available within the School of Social Sciences and in other units at UCI, is one of the premier places to study formal modeling, and methodology in all its forms. Four department faculty, including Bernard Grofman, Marek Kaminski, Charles A. Smith, and Carole Uhlaner, do work in game theory and decision theory. Graeme Boushey works on diffusion models, and one emeritus faculty who is still involved in teaching, Rein Taagepera, is a world recognized leader in developing models that are inspired by those in the physical sciences. A number of other political scientists, including Matthew Beckmann, Sara Goodman, Davin Phoenix and Michael Tesler teach courses that draw heavily on methods, including experimental methods.

    While specific courses in game theory, research design, and methods are taught by political science faculty, and course requirements in methodology are imposed within Comparative Politics and American Politics, the structure of graduate requirements in the Political Science Department, which allows for six of the eighteen required graduate courses to be taken outside the department, and the uniquely interdisciplinary tradition within the School of Social Sciences, facilitate the learning of sophisticated tools of analysis in courses taken outside the department. Training in game theory and formal modeling is carried out in conjunction with the Department of Economics, and in conjunction with the UCI Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences, which includes several members of the National Academy of Sciences, and which offers an M.A. in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences in which political science graduate students with the appropriate background are eligible to participate. Training in quantitative methodology also draws on resources in the Department of Economics, such as courses in econometrics, and on courses in the Department of Statistics, as well as courses taught in Sociology and in Social Ecology, including courses in social networks and geographic information systems (GIS).

    To further develop their skills, students with interests in advanced methodology are also strongly encouraged to participate in summer workshops. Whole or partial funding is provided for such workshops.

  • Public Choice - Political Economy

    The Economics and Political Science Departments jointly offer a Ph.D. concentration in Political Economics and Public Choice under the joint umbrella of the UCI Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences and the Center for the Study of Democracy available to students in either discipline.

    The set of faculty who supervise this concentration include two members of the National Academy of Science, a past President of the Public Choice Society and past Chairs of the Economics Department at UCI. Three Department faculty, Bernard Grofman, Marek Kaminski, and Carole Uhlaner, are very active scholars in the fields of political economy and public choice and do work in the area of games and decisions. The faculty involved in the study of political economy and public choice represent a variety of perspectives, but they share a commitment to empirically grounded analysis and theory building, and to the view that theirs is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of political science and economics, which draws on quantitative and mathematical tools to model the functioning of political institutions and processes. They are joined by six economists including Linda Cohen, Amihai Glazer, Michelle Garfinkel, Michael McBride, Stergios Skaperdas, and Donald Saari and one philosopher, Brian Skyrms.

    Faculty and student interests range from applied areas of political decision-making such as voter and party choice, collective action, electoral systems and constitutional design to more purely theoretical and mathematical topics in social choice and social welfare theory and the theory of public goods. Students normally choose to specialize in either more empirical or more formal areas of research. In addition to the faculty directly involved in the concentration, the School of Social Sciences has a number of other faculty in political science, economics, or sociology with strongly related interests, e.g., in topics such as trade, urban economics, social movements and collective action, social networks, and economic sociology with whom students in the concentration may also work.

  • Political Psychology

    The field: Political psychology has emerged as a major subfield of political science and a focal research interest of psychology. The growth of the field is reflected in the establishment of an academic society, the International Society of Political Psychology, the formation of Political Psychology sections in both the American Political Science Association and the European Consortium of Political Research and the emergence of major journals devoted to political psychology in both the US and Europe.

    The Political Psychology field at UC Irvine is one of several programs that have emerged in the US over the last 15 years. The program draws on the School of Social Sciences’ tradition of interdisciplinary research and boasts the active participation of distinguished faculty in political science, psychology, critical theory and medicine. The UC Irvine program is unique in the US in several important respects:

    • It emphasizes the need to combine rigorous empirical research with a serious consideration of the broader concerns of normative and analytical political theory.
    • Students are required to do substantial coursework in both political science and psychology.
    • It recognizes an array of research methods including: open-ended interviewing, semi-structured interviews, surveys and the observation of behavior. It also recognizes the value of a variety of research designs including: case studies, sample surveys and experiments.
    • The program hosts the Southern California Political Psychology Workshop. Twice a year, this brings faculty and graduate students from the California area together for a one day conference on the UC Irvine campus.
    • Through the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality, the program also maintains formal linkage with the Caucus of Concerned Scholars: Committee on Ethics and Morality of the International Society of Political Psychology

    Core Faculty:

    Pete Ditto,
    Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior

    Mark Fisher,
    Professor of Neurology & Political Science

    Elizabeth Loftus,
    Distinguished Professor of Psychology

    Sal Maddi,
    Emeritus Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior

    Krsten Monroe,
    Professor of Political Science

    Kevin Olson,
    Associate Professor of Political Science

    Shawn Rosenberg,
    Professor of Political Science & Psychology & Social Behavior

    Gabriele Schwab,
    Professor of English

    Michael Tesler,
    Assistant Professor of Political Science

    Davin Phoenix,
    Assistant Professor of Political Science

    Joey Cheng,
    Assistant Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior

    Associated Faculty at other Institutions:
    While not on located campus, the following professors are actively associated with the program. They are occasional visitors at UCI. More importantly, they assist in the review of qualifying papers and the supervision of doctoral candidates. They also host UCI students at their home universities. The participation reflects the program’s commitment to conceiving political psychology as an international field of inquiry.

    John Cash, Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne

    Janusz Reykowski, Professor of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw School of Social Psychology

    Marco Steenbergen, Professor of Political Sociology and Political Psychology, University of Berne, Switzerland

  • Public Law

    Public Law is the study of legal institutions and law from the perspective of political science. It is concerned with the analysis of legal institutions, the behavior of legal decision-makers and citizens, and the study of legal and constitutional doctrine and culture. Public law seeks to understand the role of law in society and in government. Courses and faculty research may consider how the actions of legal decision-makers (judges, police, regulatory officials, bureaucrats, etc.) are shaped both by legal doctrine and by political, institutional, and social constraints. Public Law at UC Irvine includes consideration of domestic legal topics at the state and national level, comparative and international law, as well as law and legal regimes as global institutions.

    Faculty Members Include:

  • Race, Ethnicity & Politics

    Although fundamental to the understanding of American (and increasingly international) politics, the study of race and ethnicity has often been relegated to a second tier in the discipline of political science. UCI's Department of Political Science recently emerged as a national leader in research, graduate training and undergraduate teaching in the field of race, ethnicity, and politics. Our first Ph.D. in this area, Matthew Barreto, now an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington; our second, Natalie Masuoka, is now an Assistant Professor at Tufts University. Faculty recruitments over the past several years have placed UCI in the enviable position of having leading scholars of African American, Asian American, and U.S. Latino politics as well as scholars of immigrant political incorporation. This group is noteworthy because of the rich variety of methodological approaches that they collectively employ, including survey analysis, historical interpretation, and elite interviews.

    UCI's wealth of scholars working in the field of race, ethnicity, and politics makes it uniquely positioned not only to add significantly to the growing body of scholarship in this field, but also train the next generation of race/ethnicity scholars in the field of political science. But the resources available to graduate students interested in race and ethnicity is not limited to members of the Department of Political Science. Indeed, distinguished as is the department faculty within this area, there are numerous other faculty at UCI from whom students interested in race and ethnicity can learn, and students with an interest in race and ethnicity are encouraged to explore courses outside the Department.

    To further assist graduate students in the area of race and ethnicity to receive truly multi-disciplinary graduate training the Political Science Department developed a collaborative relationship with leading scholars in race and ethnicity in the Department of Sociology to allow for participation in their courses by political science graduate students. That arrangement also includes faculty from other units such as Anthropology and Chicano-Latino Studies, and outreach to scholars in the Humanities as well. The Sociology Department is among one of several UCI units prominent in the race and ethnicity field, with nearly a dozen scholars in this area. In addition, UCI has an internationally respected interdisciplinary Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy, with ongoing funded research projects in which several political scientists participate, as well as an interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Demographic and Social Analysis whose course offerings can be taken by political science graduate students. Also, special funding opportunities for graduate students with interests in race and ethnicity are available through the Center for the Study of Democracy.


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