Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Best class I've taken at UCLA. If you get the chance to take Dienstag please do it. This was my first theory class and he was so clear in his lectures and was very engaging for someone who doesn't use slides. The class was laid out very well so you are actually able to understand and internalize the material rather than regurgitating useless info. The TA Steve was fantastic, I actually looked forward to discussion every week. I highly recommend this class and this professor especially.
Go to lecture or you'll fail.
He gives amazing insight about the topics and reading material needed to write the weekly essays, so go to lecture. Seriously.
I frankly enjoyed this class, and my TA Naveed was fantastic.
One time, Dienstag brought a fake axe to lecture to make a point about a political theory. He has very dry humor, and I was definitely a fan.
This class convinced me that I did *not* want to do political theory.
Going into it, I knew it was going to be more philosophy than contemporary political science, which is not really my jam. That being said, I very much enjoyed Professor Dienstag's lectures and found them to be really thought-provoking.
The problem was the harsh and subjective gradings from my TA. For a class that is all based on essays, my TA was not helpful at all in explaining 1) how to best construct an essay on political theory, 2) why a certain essay would get the grade it did, and 3) how to improve. Basically, I'd work hours on an essay, submit it, and get it back with no feedback, just a single letter grade. I went to his office hours once and he seemed pretty disinterested in helping me improve my essays.
Lastly, I have no idea how they calculate final grades for this class. As aforementioned, you are only assigned 5 (IIRC) essays for the entire class. They are each given their own weights. However, the grades I got on my essays were just solid As and Bs, no percentages or even plusses or minuses. How do you calculate that into being a final grade? Is an A a 95%, or a 93%? What about a B? I asked my TA about this, and he basically avoided my question. Essentially, all I see in my gradebook is a few As and and bunch of Bs, and then my final grade of a flat B. How was this final grade determined?
In all, I personally found the class material and Professor Dienstag to be interesting and thought-provoking, but the arbitrariness of grading and essays makes the class not worth taking, in my opinion.
Dienstag is the funniest and engaging I've ever had at UCLA. Even though the material is dense, expect to read in detail on Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, just to name a few. Intense work load, 5 two page paper and a 5-7 page final paper. Definitely not an easy GE, but I learned so much from the class.
It is not necessarily the lecture that is the problem, but unbelievably harsh grading by the TA's, especially Kye Barker, who seems more concerned in his opinion than the actual material presented in class. Have had several discussions to which I am spellbound at this particular T.A.'s departure from how papers should be formed. Will argue with you that a thesis needs to have a quote. Expect to learn things and even enjoy texts from the lecture, however see all the fun dry up as you continue to have to have each of the texts PRECISELY worded and defined in the way in which the T.A. would. If you care about good grades, this will drive you out of your mind. No matter how many office hours you spend, they will either "like" or "dislike" your writing. Never mind rubrics, fairness, and the classic structure of essay writing, but instead get roadblock after roadblock, inability to formulate original thought without penalty, and find the essays you write in this class to be nearly impossible without telepathy or simply the off chance the TA will like your writing style. If you like your G.P.A., do NOT take this class, especially if run by TA Kye Barker!!!!
As a Political Science major, I expected this class to pertain to politics since it was part of the department. If you've taken more concrete political science classes (American, Comparative, etc.), do NOT expect this class to be similar. It was very similar to philosophy classes I've taken, as it covers texts that are theoretical rather than concrete. I enjoyed it thoroughly because I also love philosophy and theory, but my friends who prefer more concrete politics did not enjoy it at all. Dienstag is a fantastic lecturer; his lectures are very clearly formatted and therefore easy to follow. The entire course grade is made up of weekly essays which increase in worth each week, leading up to a final essay worth 25%. If you don't mind essays, this is a completely doable workload. My TA (Naveed) was fantastic, so discussions often centered around contemporary issues, such as Black Lives Matter, which made dense material much more palatable.
This is quite possibly one of the most boring classes I have taken at UCLA. The reading is dense and often tough to understand, lecture consists of Professor Dienstag talking without multimedia for 75 minutes each lecture. I really don't have respect for Dienstag because all he does for this class is lectures. The TA are the ones who grade the papers and those are the only grades. Don't take this class if you can't stand 75 minutes of a mono toned description of Socratic politics. The one thing I can say good about this class is that it has made me certain that I do not want to study this field of political science.
Warning: This class should NOT be taken as a filler/fun class or a GE. If you want a fun class with Dienstag, consider Politics, Theory and Film (113B)
Dienstag is hilarious and a great lecturer. He brought a light saber to one of the lectures, and a small piece of the Berlin wall to another.
The material is very dry and his voice is monotone - a great lullaby. This is why I fell asleep almost every lecture despite his enthusiasm and energy. It's the material that gets boring.
The essays are annoying because you are reading and analyzing dense material: Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, Sophocles, etc.
The grading, depending largely on your TA, is moderate to hard.
I put in lots of effort, and still got a B+. After you get through the quarter for this class, you are entertained by the lectures, but exhausted by the time you spent on this one class.
Even Dienstag's charisma can't keep you interested in the material. You have to love political theory if you really want to enjoy the class material. Otherwise, it's an uphill battle.
Dienstag is a great lecturer. I think I picked the right teacher but the wrong class.
You might need to suffer through this class if you are a poli sci major and this is your prerequisite. It's like getting a rotten tooth pulled.
If you need to take this class, take it with a friend or roommate for some relief and company.
He's an amazing professor: professional, knowledgeable, funny, organized, and helpful. Everything he said had me thinking "Wow."
Make sure you keep up with the reading and attend lecture. The lectures are your glasses to the very foggy material.
His office hours are helpful if you actually have a question (it's one-on-one style). But I highly recommend going to OH.
Libby Barringer was my TA, and she really cared about your understanding of the material. She was good at getting the students to actively participate and derive the answers to the vagueness of the material. Plus, she actually answers questions, and will sit with you until you understand whatever you need to.
Overall, this class was amazing! It was hard and my brain hurt (literally) everytime we had an essay to write, but I was truly sad when it ended.
I DO NOT recommend this class to students who have troubles with writing, reading, or the English language in general.
But if you like to think, this class is for you.
Very funny lectures, but very intelligent man. Pay attention in his lectures and take good notes and you will understand the readings that he gives. Try not to fall behind and read the book before he gives his lecture on the book.
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