American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Courses



  • ICP 101: Introduction to Political Studies (6 cr.)

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the study of politics. It focuses on the political systems and governmental institutions which are functional in the contemporary world. Through lectures, seminars, readings and various assignments students will be exposed to the central aspects of politics and learn the major explanations of politics given by political science. The principal aim of the course is to provide students with general academic tools to interpret and understand contemporary political systems

This course is an introduction to the field of political studies, covering the basic topics of the discipline, such as the state, power, legitimacy, ideology, regime and bureaucracy. The course will introduce students to the analytic skills required to study politics, and help students distinguish between the study of politics and the practice of politics.

  • ICP 110.1: Introduction to International Relations (6 cr.)

This course introduces to the discipline of International Relations (IR) and to the key theoretical and conceptual debates that characterize the field. We will study IR in the context of ‘world politics’ because we are interested in understanding the politics, structures, processes, and issues that go beyond the relations between nation-states. In addition to inter-national relations, we are interested in the relations between actors that are not nation-states but are non-governmental and transnational organizations, multinational.

  • ICP 131 Introduction to Comparative Politics (6 cr.)

The study of comparative politics is far broader than merely comparing various governmental institutions across national boundaries. Comparative politics in the broadest sense compares everything that is “political:” not only governance, legislation, voting and political parties, but also nationalism, ethnicity, class, gender, culture, labor, economic and foreign policies. This course examines various forms of government and political cultures across time and nations. The first half of the course looks at a variety of principles and concepts having to do with comparative politics. The second half looks at specific case studies, such as Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, India, China, Russia, Germany, Britain and the United States.

  • ICP 240.2 Central Asian Politics (6 cr.)

This course adopts a historical and comparative approach to the study of contemporary Central Asian politics and society. It seeks to enable students to reflect in an informed and critical way upon the following issues and debates: the legacy of Soviet rule in the region; the emergence of new political institutions and their potential for fostering democracy; the impact of “transition” upon social institutions from the family to the nation; changing religious, ethnic and gender identities; political Islam and state policy; the development of civil society in the region; “nation-building” and the challenge of ethnic diversity; the evolving intra-regional situation and relations with Russia, the CIS and the world. The course gives students comparative skills to think outside the national frame in assessing the challenges facing the region, and it affords them the critical skills necessary to assess current policy priorities of domestic and international actors in the region in an informed and analytical manner.

  • ICP 251.1 Method of Political Research (6 cr.)

Upon completing this course, students will have acquired a basic map of major approaches to theory formulation, hypothesis testing, and research design. Besides learning first principles, students consider examples of failure and success in obtaining new knowledge of political phenomena that helps them become more proficient in evaluating theories they study in other courses, develop their critical and research skills and helps them make more informed decisions about their careers.

  • ICP 260.1 Public Policy Analysis (6 cr.)

The course is designed to introduce students to main policy processes and issues, and familiarize them with basic policy analysis instruments. The course is divided into three parts – conceptual, contextual and instrumental parts of policy and policy analysis. Reading assigned literature and discussing them in the class would constitute the major part of the course, writing and presenting papers – another part. One of each week’s class would be conducted in the form of lecture with discussions of presented materials, while the second day (seminar) would be devoted to discussing the assigned materials and exploring discussed concepts through the lenses of specific policy cases.

  • ICP 270.2 Intro to Political Economy (6 cr.)

Political economy preceded the study of ‘pure’ economics, and as a result carries many of its original ideas and concepts. Scarcity, rational choice, opportunity cost and other concepts traditionally associated with economics are in fact key to understanding our own behavior and reflecting on events happening in the world we live in.
The course is divided into two halves. The first considers the conceptual bases of political economy as a study, and focuses largely on the domestic (i.e national) setting, while the second relates to the emerging subject of International Political Economy, a subject which combines the traditional subject matter of political economy with that of International Relations (IR).

  • ICP 280.1 Introduction to Political Theory (6 cr.)

In this course, we will study some of the formative political writings of the Western tradition. We will read works by Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, and Marx. While this is not the only tradition in political theory, it has come to define the concepts, values, language, practice, and institutions of modern politics. This does not mean that the tradition itself is homogenous or that people that study the ‘Western’ political philosophy are in some.

  • ICP 318.2 Foreign Policy Analysis (6 cr.)

Foreign Policy Analysis investigates the processes involved in foreign policy decision-making. It requires an understanding of the contexts, pressures and constraints with which foreign policy-makers have to deal and the ability to engage in comparative analysis without losing a sense of historical context. The course is largely theoretical. Individual cases will be touched mainly for discussion purposes, but the major themes such as foreign policy decision-making process, influences on foreign policy, types of foreign policy actors etc. are approached from conceptual aspect.

  • ICP 390.1/ICP 391.1 Internship I, II (3 cr./3 cr.)

ICP students in order to fulfill curriculum requirements should undertake two internships each worth 3 credits. It is advised that internships to be taken between the end of the 3nd semester and beginning of the 7th semester of studies. Each internship should entail working at least 120 of work hours. 

  • ICP 404 Senior Thesis I (6 cr.)

This is part I of a yearlong course designed to help the students develop a workable topic for their Senior Thesis research projects and complete their major undergraduate paper. For that purpose, the course assignments are all designed with the idea of pushing the students to devote a regular thinking and writing time to their research projects/topics. By the end of the course, the students should have a clear idea of both what their research design and research methods. At the end of the semester, the work process should culminate in a Chapter One of Senior Thesis – the chapter that outlines the core of the research project, which will then be written up during the Spring Semester. The critical/reflective objectives are to introduce students to some of the core methodological debates and problems in political/social science, to raise critical questions about doing social science, and to critically discuss notable and illustrative pieces of social science to reveal both the achievements and the limitations of social research. The idea in this purpose of the course is simple: political/social science is (still) a highly debated concept, and any advanced-level course in the discipline such as this should pay serious attention to the issue.

  • ICP 406 Senior Thesis II (6 cr.)

The course is designed to facilitate the writing of theses and for that purpose it includes submission and presentation of draft chapters by students, discussion of methods of research and approaches to writing a thesis, and invited lectures on research and writing.



  • ICP 209.1 International Organizations (6 cr.)

Why do international organizations exist? What role do they play in solving global problems? Traditional international relations theories characterize the international system as anarchic and focus on interactions between nation-states. Since WWII, international organizations have become more prominent players in the international system. Debate continues in academic and policy communities over why international organizations exist, whether they matter in global politics, and when they can help alleviate global problems. Both in their practical and theoretical aspects, international organizations (IOs) are a dynamic and increasingly important element in the functioning of modern world politics.
The goal of this course is that students develop a theoretical as well as practical understanding of international organizations (IOs) and the global problems they attempt to address. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to articulate the leading explanations within political science for why IOs exist, controversies surrounding IOs in the context of international relations theory, why they are thought to help solve global problems, and the major challenges IOs face in meeting their objectives. Students should also be able to apply theoretical arguments from the IR literature to several specific cases.

  • ICP 305 Democracy and Authoritarianism in Comparative Perspective (6 cr.)

Following the “Third Wave of Democratization”, there has been a considerable upsurge of research on democracy and democratization. Yet, so-called “teleological arguments” contending that the process of eventual consolidation of new democracies would unfold in a linear and smooth fashion proved implausible as few democratizing countries slid back into authoritarian or dictatorial rules and remained resilient. The course is designed to evaluate the main conceptual, methodological and theoretical approaches to studying and uncovering common patterns across varying types of both democratic and authoritarian regimes.

  • ICP 322.1 Contemporary Issues in Conflict and Security Studies (6 cr.)

This course will examine contemporary issues in conflict and security studies, such as broadening the security agenda, communal conflicts, the political use of violence, security communities, the environment and security, and critical approaches to security studies. This course is designed to introduce students to important theoretical approaches to the study of security policies. The empirical part of course is focused on Central Asia.

  • ICP-326.1 Federal Systems: EU, USA and India (6 cr.)

Federal Systems The course analyses federalism based on the case studies of three very different federal systems, namely the EU, the US and India.
· The United States with its bottom-up development is counted to be a traditional federal system.
· India is relatively recent state with a mixture of British democracy and symmetrical federal system, which was initiated top-down.
· The EU is a not a state as the former two, but it is an example of the federation creation process, where the member states (nations) are the motivating forces of the
These cases demonstrate that the federalism is a tool for managing various diversities, such as ethnic, religious, geographic, social, national etc. Federalism seems to be the only model that promoted the establishment of democracy in each of these cases.

  • ICP 340 Contemporary Social and Political History of Iran (6 cr.)

This course provides an overview of primarily contemporary social and political history of Iran. It also briefly touches on the Qajar dynasty (1794-1925) and discusses the foundations of the 1906 Constitutional Revolution. Students become familiar with the Pahlavi era (1925-1979), while looking into the dynamics of Iranian society in that period starting with the rule of Reza Shah (1925-1941), his forced abdication during WWII, followed by the reign of his son, Muhammad Reza Shah (1941-1979), the nationalization of oil under the premiership of Muhammad Mosaddeq, the 1953 coup, the 1970s rapid economic development of Iran, and the monarchy’s political monopolization and suppression of descent. A key focus of the course will be the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the post-Revolution era, including Iran’s international relations, war with Iraq, and engagement with selected Middle Eastern state, but also the country’s long-standing feud with the United States including the problematic 2015 nuclear agreement. Furthermore, the course will analyze political descent in Iran, including the Green Movement (2009) and the causes behind the widespread early-2018 demonstrations. Furthermore, the course will discuss issues of political economy, elections, human rights, patriarchy, religion, the environment, and potential future scenarios for Iran.

  • ICP 342 Civic Engagement: Global Trends and Development of Civil Society in Central Asia (6 cr.)

This is a Bard network course which will examine historical, philosophical, and practical elements of civic engagement while exploring the underlying question of what it means to be an engaged citizen in the early XXIst century. It will examine themes including citizenship, political participation, voting, social justice, and notions of personal responsibility. It will explore modes of community engagement on a number of levels, including governmental (especially local government), various forms of associational life, and social action. The course lends itself to involving guest speakers, conducting site visits, and assignments which encourage the active engagement of students in their local communities. The course will take a “global” approach, focusing on the differing circumstances in the Central Asia and beyond.
In particular, we will look at the following issues: significance of the civic engagement concept for the political development of the country; engaging youth in policy-making processes and community decision-making; freedom of speech and expression; government relations and lobbying; leadership, and corporate social responsibility. These issues will be studied through the circumstances and current situation in the region but we will also be making cross national comparisons and transnational themes.

  • ICP 412.2 Constitutionalism: Theories and Practices (6 cr.)

Constitutionalism: Theories and Practices” is an advanced seminar aiming to delve in-depth into the foundations of the idea of a constitutional state, from some of the earliest statements in ancient theory to the contemporary thinkers and theorists. In surveying the evolution of the constitutional state, the seminar will specifically highlight core themes and debates in it, such as rule of law, separation of powers, democracy, and citizenship. Throughout the course, all themes and discussions will build on both theoretical material and consideration of practical cases. The seminar will result in a critical appreciation of, and applied thinking about, constitutionalism in contemporary societies.

  • ICP 416 Political Regimes/Democracy in post-communist countries and East Asia (6 cr.)

The course is aimed at giving an overview of some classic theories on democratization studies from the perspective of comparative politics. One of the main research interests of comparative politics is a study of types of political regimes: democracy and autocracy. It conducts comparisons between domestic political systems to make clear reasons of fundamental research questions: why one nations are (consolidated) democracies and others are autocracies. It provides discussions on explanation of political phenomena among similar and different political regimes. The course consists from two parts: the first focuses on some classic theories on democratization studies and second gives the cases of political regimes from East Asian countries.

  • ICP 428 International Security Studies (6 cr.)

This course is designed to provide ICP students with a basis in contemporary international security studies. The course is divided into four parts. The first part is introduction – explains aims of course, syllabus, reading materials, grading system. The second part reviews the main paradigms in international relations theory and introduces students to relevant conceptual issues. The second part deals in-depth with some of the main concepts, theories, and issues in international security studies. Our main focus in this part is theoretical approaches in studies international security, definition and concept of security, traditional and modern security approaches. The third part of the course deals with case studies of modern security issues, including humanitarian intervention, state failure, ethnic conflict, nuclear proliferation, migration and refugee issues, drug, arms and human trafficking, separatism, human rights issues, extremism and transnational terrorism. Throughout the course, we will apply different theories to select historical and contemporary cases in order to illustrate how theory can help us make sense of complex, real-world events. The fourth part of the course will be dedicated to “Path to security” – how to solve security issues by discussing roles of nation states – balance of power, cooperation, game theory, and international institutions and other non-state actors.

  • ICP/LAW/HR-396 (cross-listed) Democracy in Dark Time (6 cr.)

This course has been put forward by the co-teachers as an occasion to seriously and critically reflect on these recent developments. “Democracy in dark times” may come with a question mark for some, and as an established fact for others. Regardless how you view it, the invitation here is to collectively engage in some readings and discussions of some “what, how and why” of democracy’s challenges. The course emphasizes active, participatory learning principle – unlike conventional courses, here we deal with a new and evolving theme, and the course intentionally deals with events and processes that are just unfolding and still feature in daily news reports. The idea here is to take such troubling and significant current affairs and put them to critical analysis based on our conceptual and theoretical understanding of democracy. The schedule of the course is designed so as to facilitate such a progression of discussion and analysis.

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American University of Central Asia
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Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

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