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Disciplinary and Multidisciplinary knowledge
The Bachelor of Arts offers a structured and progressive education in the social sciences and humanities.
In the first year, students discover the content and reasoning specific to each discipline (economics, history, humanities, law, political science, sociology). In the second and third years, they continue disciplinary study from a multidisciplinary perspective. Priority is placed on the developing the following skills:
- Define and analyse key theoretical concepts in each discipline
- Understand the historical background and regional specificities of contemporary debates
- Acquire methodological rigour and the ability to collect, assess, and synthesize various types of information (text, graphical, data) in both written and verbal formats
- Cultivate intellectual agility by engaging with different ways of thinking and acting as well as drawing links across fields of study
- Build a critical understanding of how knowledge is produced as well as of social norms
Undergraduate instruction in this discipline examines the role that law plays in society and in governing mechanisms. It enables students to interact with the main legal processes, aspects of legal practice, and foundations of legal thought that are most important for understanding the contemporary world.
To this end, the law courses offered highlight the links between law and society, economics, political life, academia and the arts. They also introduce students to the techniques and modes of reasoning specific to crafting and implementing the law.
Depending on their chosen major, students may decide to explore certain elementary subjects more deeply from a legal point of view and to study common objects from a comparative perspective between law and other disciplines.
Economics courses at the College offer an introduction to major contemporary economic issues. They allow students to dig deeper into basic concepts of economics, current theoretical and empirical debates within the discipline, and quantitative methods necessary for further specialization.
Sciences Po has structured its economics course offer such that all students – even those wishing to pursue other fields of study – develops a sound understanding of the discipline: historical elements, economic mechanisms, institutions, and policy debates. As such, students learn how economic reasoning influences major political and social debates (globalisation, development, inequality, unemployment, crises, finance, etc.).
Students are equipped with a rigorous theoretical foundation, enriched by recent empirical research and inclusive of other disciplines.
The Undergraduate College offers a wide range of modern and contemporary history courses. Political history in all its dimensions (history of politics, public policy, and international relations) is a central focus with a pronounced international approach.
Courses cover all geographical areas and are closely linked to research.
Two compulsory core courses provide all students with a common foundation: “Political History of the 19th Century” in the first year and “Political History of the 20tth Century” in the second year.
The Political Humanities shed light on politics as a human experience by encouraging dialogue between the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences (history, anthropology, psychoanalysis, law, literature, art, and philosophy), using current issues as a starting point. Some examples include : the crisis of democracy, the dimensions of liberalism, the meanings of justice, new forms of violence, and so on.
Students acquire core political knowledge and the conceptual skills essential for interpreting current affairs and expressing opinions as part of contemporary debate. The courses emphasize critical thinking and ethical judgment and challenge students to develop a specific set of skills: contextualization (time and space), interpretation (analyse, summarise and decode texts and images), construction (conceptualise, demonstrate, problematise), and personal expression (writing, speaking, persuading).
Political Humanities students are exposed to a plurality of reasoning and discursive methods that help them to grasp political reality and, ultimately, to act upon it.
Political science instruction provides students with core knowledge in the discipline and encourages the mastery of concepts and analytical models. Major topics covered include: political forms, regimes, power relations, forms of coexistence, participation and communities, and the use of violence. Students will also have exposure to subfields in the discipline: political sociology, area studies, international relations, public policy, comparative politics, political institutions and organisations, political theory, and political economy.
Students learn to pinpoint the links between political science, expert knowledge, and public policy (relation between theory and practice) in order to venture a personal analysis of political situations (relation between ethics and politics), and to develop critical thinking skills with regard to contemporary controversies.
Students acquire qualitative and quantitative techniques and methods allowing them to read, understand, and analyse contemporary political documents and literature; to build a comparative approach to studying political phenomena; and to conduct research.
Sociology courses help students to identify the discipline’s main approaches and fundamental concepts through theoretical analysis and empirical research.
The course addresses subjects central to current societal debates, such as the persistence and change of social norms and practices, the existence and interrelationship of various types of inequalities, and organizational analysis (school systems, states, among others). Students gain core knowledge by examining both classic works and to the latest contributions to the discipline.
An introduction to sociological reasoning sharpens students’ critical understanding of the relationship between the individual and society and the resulting transformations on the contemporary world.
Economy & Society
The Economy & Society major invites students to understand the effects of economic changes on contemporary societies, the extent of social changes and their impact on the economy, and the relationship between economic forces and principles of justice.
Drawing on economics, history, law, political science and sociology, students are taught to grasp the complexity of the economic and social processes related to technological developments and financial, political, climate and economic crises; and of the issues involved in new forms of governance within states, businesses and organisations at the local, national, and international levels.
Students look at the functioning of public policy, markets, financial systems, and models of social protection; changes in social, regional, and environmental inequalities; and the movement of people, goods, services, and information in a globalised world.
They must also understand market transformations such as the orientation of capital flows to certain categories of the population, sectors and regions; and labour market transformations in view of the obsolescence and diversification of forms of employment.
Students are taught to research, process, and represent the relevant quantitative data to support their arguments on these topics.
By promoting myriad forms of knowledge and methods, the Political Humanities major invites students to understand politics as a human activity that we experience individually and share collectively.
This embodied approach to politics is analysed and understood through the study of works (text, visual, audio) and key authors from art history, economic history, law, literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and theology.
The major allows students to develop their personal and critical reflections on contemporary political phenomena, ideological debates, and decision-making from the following angles:
- Concepts of politics (liberalism, totalitarianism, republic, authority, etc.)
- Meanings and values of politics (ethics, justice, otherness, etc.)
- Times and spaces in politics (the idea of Europe, cities in the Mediterranean, the Silk Route from yesteryear to the present, etc.)
- Representations of politics (narratives, mythologies, aesthetic forms, etc.)
- Objects of politics (the body, language, commemorations, etc.)
- Feelings and emotions about politics (fear, indignation, hope, etc.)
Students hone their knowledge of politics and the practice of rhetoric by comparing historical, literary, philosophical, and political texts and images.
Politics & Government
The Politics & Government major invites students to understand modes of public policy, the roles of national and international political institutions, and the specificities of political life at all levels (local, national, regional and international) from an historical and comparative approach.
The major combines law, economics, history, political science and sociology, and covers the following themes:
- Public policy: policy making (economic, social, environmental, educational, etc.), implementation and evaluation at the national, European and international levels.
- States and institutions: the State, imperial, colonial, national and supranational constructions; regimes, governments, powers and oppositions; political ideologies and violence, war, conflict and genocide; market regulation.
- Political life: representation (parties, social movements, participation, politicisation, electoral behaviour, resistance and protest); international relations; political cultures; gender.
The major also examines the role of public/private interactions; the development of transnational issues (peace and security, environmental crises, international migration, social justice, heritage, etc.); the effects of new technologies on modes of government; and the uses of power.
Students are confronted with the complexity of political issues and sharpen their critical thinking ability through qualitative (archives, simulation of international conferences, negotiation, etc.) and quantitative analysis (national and international statistics, field data, surveys, etc.).