School of Arts and Sciences




 Course Number

  POL 405

Course Title

  Political Ideologies

 Fall Semester


 Spring Semester


Summer Semester

Credit Hours

Name of Instructor

 William Miller

Meeting Day, Time, and Room Number
 Wednesdays, 6:30-9:15, St Joseph Hall, G105

Final Exam Day, Time, and Room Number

 Wednesday, May 4, 6:30, St Joseph Hall, G105

Office Hours, Location, Phone

 Tuesdays and Fridays 1:00-2:00pm, 3:30pm to 4:00pm; Wednesdays 3:00 to 4:00pm & by appointment. My office is Ireton G107, my telephone number is 703 284 1687, but always email ahead of time!

 E-mail and Web Site

 My email is Email is the best way to reach me! All announcements and assignments are posted only on my web site,, not on Blackboard.

Course Description

A study of ideology as a particular form of political thought. The course examines the origins of ideology, its distinguishing characteristics, and various examples of ideology. Prerequisites: a grade of C or better in POL 210 or POL 211, and a grade of C or better in POL 250 or its equivalent, or permission of instructor. (3)





By accepting this syllabus, you pledge to uphold the principles of Academic Integrity expressed by the Marymount University Community. You agree to observe these principles yourself and to defend them against abuse by others. Items submitted for this course may be submitted to for analysis.


For the benefit of current and future students, work in this course may be used for educational critique, demonstrations, samples, presentations, and verification.  Outside of these uses, work shall not be sold, copied, broadcast, or distributed for profit without student consent. 

Please address any special challenges or needs with the instructor at the beginning of the semester. Students seeking accommodations for a disability must complete the required steps for obtaining a Faculty Contact Sheet from the Office of Student Access Services (SAS). Students are then responsible for meeting with their instructors at the beginning of the semester to review and sign the Faculty Contact Sheet and develop a specific plan for providing the accommodations listed. Accommodations cannot be granted to students who fail to follow this process. Appointments with the SAS director can be scheduled through the Starfish "Success Network" tab in Blackboard. For more information, check the SAS website, e-mail, or call 703-284-1538 to reach the SAS director or an academic support coordinator.


When students are absent due to a crisis situation or unexpected, serious illness and unable to contact their individual instructors directly, the Division of Student Affairs can send out an Emergency Notification. To initiate an Emergency Notification, students should contact the Division of Student Affairs 703-284-1615 or Emergency Notifications are NOT appropriate for non-emergency situations (e.g. car problems, planned absences, minor illnesses, or a past absence); are NOT a request or mandate to excuse an absence, which is at the sole discretion of the instructor; and are NOT a requirement for student absences. If a student contacts instructors about an emergency situation directly, it is not necessary to involve the Division of Student Affairs as arrangements are made to resolve the absence.

For non-emergency absences, students should inform their instructors directly. 


Copies of your work in this course, including copies of any submitted papers and your portfolios, may be kept on file for institutional research, assessment, and accreditation purposes. All work used for these purposes will be submitted anonymously. 


Weather and Emergency closings are announced on Marymount’s web site:, through MUAlerts, area radio stations, and TV stations. You may also call the Weather and Emergency Hotline at (703) 526-6888 for current status. Unless otherwise advised by local media or by official bulletins listed above, students are expected to report for class as near normal time as possible on days when weather conditions are adverse. Decisions as to inclement closing or delayed opening are not generally made before 6:00 AM and by 3:00 PM for evening classes of the working day. Emergency closing could occur at any time making MUAlerts the most timely announcement mechanism. Students are expected to attend class if the University is not officially closed. If the University is closed, course content and assignments will still be covered as directed by the course instructor. Please look for communication from the course instructor (e.g., Blackboard) for information on course work during periods in which the University is closed.


A study of ideology as a particular form of political thought. The course examines the origins of ideology, its distinguishing characteristics, and various examples of ideology. The focus this semester is on contemporary (1900 to the present) ideologies— e.g., Nazism, Communism, Positivism, and radical Islamicism—and their relationship to revolutionary and terrorist activity.

2.  COURSE OBJECTIVES:  Upon successful completion of this course students will be expected to:


1. be able to describe the distinctive features of political ideologies in contrast to other forms of political thought;

2. demonstrate familiarity with the related concepts of "millennialism," "millenarianism," "gnosticism," “hermeticism,” "Marxism," "fascism," “Islamicism,” “Nazism,”  and "utopianism;"

3. demonstrate familiarity with the basic outlines of several past and present political-religious movements;

4. demonstrate in writing a detailed knowledge of the tenets, the genesis, and the historical impact of one particular such movement as a result of the individual student's research;

5. be able to assess the nature of the ideological aspects of the movement in light of the concepts and approaches discussed in the course.







The class will consist of seminar discussions, including student presentations. Reading assignments will be approximately 75 to 100 pages per week.



          Friday, February 12, 2016, is the last day to withdraw from a class without academic record.

          Friday, March 18, 2016, is the last day to withdraw from a class with a grade of W.


The final grade will consist of the following components:


·        Mid-term Essay Exam 30%

·        Book/Article Review (See guidelines on article and book reviews) 15%

·        Research paper (See guidelines on research papers) 25%

·        Three class presentations (depending on class size) and participation 30%


The class presentations, or seminar papers, will be commentaries of about three pages (typed) on some aspect of the readings assigned for an evening's class. One-third to one-half of each paper summarizes the point to be focused on, and the rest of the paper offers comments. Those not giving seminar papers will prepare one discussion question on the assigned readings; the questions will be graded.


The usual scale of 90-100%=A, 80-89%=B, 70-79%=C, 60-69%=D, and 59% and below=F will be used for all graded work.




Class One (1/13): Introduction to the course; basic concepts; revolutionary and terroristic implications. Hoffman article.

Class Two (1/20): Eric Voegelin, New Science of Politics, ch. 1 & 2.

Class Three (1/27): Voegelin, New Science, ch. 3; “Science, Politics, and Gnosticism.”

Class Four (2/3): Socialism; Marxism: readings from primary sources and Niemeyer.

Class Five (2/10): A. James Gregor, Marxism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism, ch. 1-3.

Class Six (2/17): Nazism: readings from Hitler and Rauschning. REVIEW DUE.

Class Seven (2/24): Islamic radicalism: Barry Cooper, New Political Religions; Richard Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.

Class Eight (3/2): Islamic radicalism: readings from primary sources.




Class Nine (3/16): Islamic radicalism: readings from primary sources.

Class Ten (3/23): EXAM.

Class Eleven (3/30): Student topics.

Class Twelve (4/6): Student topics.

Class Thirteen (4/13): Student topics.

Class Fourteen (4/27): Student topics. RESEARCH PAPER DUE

Class Fifteen (5/4): Student presentations.




The only books that you need at the beginning of the semester are Eric Voegelin’s The New Science of Politics and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, which can be bought separately, or, preferably, in the collection Modernity Without Restraint (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000) ISBN 978-0826212450, which is available in the bookstore.



For the benefit of the class and your classmates, the following rules regarding electronic devices also apply to this course:

1.     Turn your cell phones off during the class. If you are expecting an important call, put your phone on “Vibrate,” sit near the door, and, when the call comes, answer it outside the classroom.

2.     It follows from the foregoing rule, but it must be separately stated: no talking and no texting on cell phones during class. If you do not follow this rule, I will publicly ask you to leave the room for the remainder of the class and will do my best to have you removed from the course for the rest of the semester.

3.     No open lap-top or other computers are allowed in class without my prior permission. Devices such as tablets, Ipads, Kindles, Kobos, and Nooks that lie flat on the desk and on to which the readings can be loaded are permitted if approved by me, but hard copies of the readings are better. You can mark them up and take notes on them in class.

4.     Be sure to check your Marymount email address regularly! This is Marymount’s and my principal way of contacting you with important information. Perhaps you rely mostly on Yahoo, gmail, or some other provider, but check your mail daily to make sure you do not miss school information.


These rules are necessary to foster a suitable learning environment in the classroom during class. There are enough distractions with lawnmowers, snow blowers, air conditioners, and other outside forces to combat during lectures and discussions without these controllable distractions within the room.