Requirements for the Major
The major has four basic components:
- PST Core Seminars (6 credits, taken in the third year)
- Foundation Courses (6 credits)
- Study Areas (18 credits)
- Thesis (thesis course, PST 4998 and PST 4999, taken over two semesters in the fourth year, with 6 credits awarded in spring semester upon completion of the thesis; plus the thesis-workshop seminar, PST 4980 and 4989, taken in fall and spring of the fourth year and graded C/NC, for a total of 2 credits, awarded in spring semester upon completion of the thesis)
PST Seminars – Credits: 8
Open to majors only, consisting of PST 4850, 4870 (3 credits each, taken in the fall and spring semesters of the third year; 3×2=6 credits); and PST 4980 and 4989 (this is the thesis-workshop seminar, 1 credit each, taken in fall and spring of the fourth year and graded C/NC; 2×1=2 credits).
Each student must complete at least six credits from the following list of courses, or equivalents approved by the director, dealing with political and social thought or its historical foundations. University faculty members are constantly updating their courses offerings. For this reason, the following is only an exemplary list. The current Director of PST will be happy to advise prospective PST majors concerning which courses are most suitable as preparation for the major. Students are normally required to take one Foundation course before applying for admission into PST:
- ANTH 3010 – Theory and History of Anthropology Credits: 4
- HIEU 3782 – Origins of Modern Thought, 1580-1943 Credits: 3
- HIEU 3802 – Origins of Contemporary Thought Credits: 3
- HIEU 3812 – Marx Credits: 3
- PHIL 2690 – Justice, Law, and Morality Credits: 3
- PHIL 2770 – Political Philosophy Credits: 3
- PHIL 3670 – Law and Society Credits: 3
- PHIL 3710 – Ethics Credits: 3
- PHIL 3720 – Contemporary Ethics Credits: 3
- PLIR 3310 – Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics Credits: 3
- PLPT 3010 – Ancient and Medieval Political Theory Credits: 3
- PLPT 3020 – Modern Political Thought Credits: 3
- PLPT 3030 – Contemporary Political Thought Credits: 3
- PLPT 4200 – Feminist Political Theory Credits: 3
- RELG 3650 – Systems of Theological Ethics Credits: 3
- SOC 3020 – Introduction to Social Theory Credits: 3
- WGS 3810 – Feminist Theory Credits: 3
Each student is required to define three different study areas. A study area is defined as a particular intellectual theme or subfield of interest to be investigated in the course of the student’s studies. These areas can be derived from within, between, or outside traditional disciplines. Some examples of study areas might include aspects of modern (or contemporary) political thought; ethical issues in modern economic development, human rights; the economics and sociology of inequality; religion in politics; identity politics in modern social movements; state-building and political solidarity; the modern welfare state; mass media and contemporary social communication.
For each study area, the student must complete two relevant courses, normally at the 3000 level or above. The total of six courses necessary to fulfill the area requirements must be drawn from at least three different disciplines, programs, or departments. In brief: 3 areas; 2 courses per area; 3 disciplines; Total credits: 18.
Taken together, the three study areas should be well thought out and intellectually coherent, and should form the general basis of study for the thesis to be written in the fourth year. The three study areas define the interdisciplinary character of the student’s program and must meet a rigorous standard of coherence. In consultation with their advisors and the Program Director, students are expected to articulate the rationale of their choices in a brief written statement due by the end of the third year.
Fourth-Year Thesis – Credits: 6
- PST 4998 – Thesis in Political and Social Thought Credits: 0
- PST 4999 – Thesis in Political and Social Thought Credits: 6
Fourth-year students enroll in these two classes in the fall and spring semester respectively. However, these classes do not actually meet: the mnemonic and number serves as a device for giving credit for the thesis, to be completed in the spring semester of fourth year, normally by the last Thursday in March. In their fourth year, as noted above, students also enroll in PST 4980 (fall) and PST 4989 (spring) (1 credit each, graded C/NC), which meet intermittently and require students to present their thesis proposals and thesis drafts.
Interested students currently in their fourth semester in the College of Arts and Sciences are invited to apply for admission into this interdisciplinary program. As a distinguished major, the program admits only eighteen new students a year. A 3.00 cumulative GPA is generally required for admission; the average GPA of recent classes is well above this. The program assumes the students will be in Charlottesville their third and fourth years. It is highly desirable (but not mandatory) that students applying for the PST program should take at least one course counting toward the Foundation requirement, as noted above, by the end of their second year. Courses taken before admission to the major do count toward fulfilling its requirements.
Students interested in becoming PST majors should submit:
- A cover sheet including full name (Last, First, Middle), student ID number (from your student card [transfer students in process are exempted from supplying an ID number]), e-mail address, cellphone number (if available), cumulative GPA, permanent (that is, home) mailing address, recommender name and department, and recommender e-mail.
- Your official transcript.
- A letter of recommendation by a faculty member, emailed by the recommender herself to the current Director of PST.
- A 300-500 word essay and statement of preferred study areas. This essay should address the following questions: (1) What are your intellectual goals and why are they best addressed in the interdisciplinary PST major? (2) At this (tentative) point, what three study areas might you select in constructing your PST curriculum and why? This answer does not commit students to a particular course of study if they are accepted into the Program, but it should reflect a thoughtful and coherent curricular plan.
- A writing sample from a previous course. This sample should consist of a previously-completed and commented-upon term paper or essay. The sample should represent your best work.
- An informal one-page CV that briefly describes your significant life and educational experiences, including extra-curricular interests/hobbies. (Since the goal is to say what is distinctive about you as a person, this document will be different from a traditional CV, where the goal is to lay out your qualifications for a job.)
The letter of reference needs to be sent, by the reference-letter writer, as an e-mail attachment to the Director. As for the other material, there are two ways of submitting it. (a) Submit to the Director all of the above material, except for the letter of reference, clipped together and placed inside a brown manila envelope. Or: (b) Submit all of the above-noted material, except for the letter of reference, in the form of a single PDF sent to the Director as an e-mail attachment. The deadline is normally the Thursday before the beginning of the March Break.
The director of the PST program holds a meeting for the prospective majors in early February to answer any questions about admission procedures and program requirements. Students may also obtain this information from the PST website. Abstracts of recent PST theses are available on the website; these provide a concrete sense of how students pursue the intellectual opportunities of the program.
All courses in political and social thought are open to PST majors only.
- PST 4850 – Core Seminar in Political and Social Thought I Credits: 3
- PST 4870 – Core Seminar in Political and Social Thought II Credits: 3
- PST 4980 – Workshop in Thesis Research Credits: 0
- PST 4989 – Workshop in Thesis Research Credits: 2
- PST 4998 – Thesis in Political and Social Thought Credits: 0
PST 4999 – Thesis in Political and Social Thought Credits: 6