Professor

Michael Thies

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2.4
Overall Ratings
Based on 150 Users
Easiness 1.7 / 5 How easy the class is, 1 being extremely difficult and 5 being easy peasy.
Workload 1.8 / 5 How light the workload is, 1 being extremely heavy and 5 being extremely light.
Clarity 2.7 / 5 How clear the professor is, 1 being extremely unclear and 5 being very clear.
Helpfulness 2.4 / 5 How helpful the professor is, 1 being not helpful at all and 5 being extremely helpful.

Reviews (150)

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April 1, 2020
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: A-

After taking this class, I genuinely hate this man. Even though I got a good grade in the end, he was the most disagreeable person to learn from. He would get unnecessarily heated if someone walked in late to class and talked about life in the most grumpy fashion. Yes, he covered a lot during his lectures and I did learn a lot. However, he often rambled on about a topic or a single example for 20-25 minutes and that information ended up being useless. His graders were INTENSE and it was nearly impossible to do well on his essays. Another thing on those essays, the instructions are weirdly vague yet graded harshly. If I didn't love poli sci, this class would have made me hate it. I read the bruinwalk reviews before I took the class and decided to take a chance. DONT IGNORE THE REVIEWS ITS SO HARD TO DO WELL IN THIS CLASS.

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March 27, 2020
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: A

A complete and utter nightmare of a class. I'm a poli sci major, and I previously took AP Comp Gov, so I knew a little bit of the material beforehand, but STILL, the workload was just insane. Basically, per lecture you have to do 30-60 pages of reading plus a reading quiz, which is pretty easy and getting at least 60% will get you full credit, just the amount of reading you have to get through just to do a 7-question quiz is quite a lot. The lectures themselves are pretty unorganized and not engaging, Thies really just likes to hear himself talk, and the slides he posts are literally just graphs. The debate preps and documentary responses aren't too too bad, and honestly you can finesse doing them the day before. It's just that the readings and writing assignments tend to pile up if you're not on top of it, and if you have other classes you have to worry about (I made the mistake of taking a Writing II class the same quarter as this one - 11/10 would NOT recommend, and honestly I did more writing for this class than my Writing II one). You actually have to talk and make substantive contribution to discussion sections to get participation points. It's really just the PAPERS especially that were ridiculous, and contribute to the largest portion of your grade, besides the final, which btw was equally as ridiculous considering the average was a 51%. Anyways, the papers were just atrociously long and complicated, they were graded pretty tough, and the professor and TAs don't do much at all to help you. The second paper required us to search for totally obscure, specific, impossible-to-find information about electoral systems of other countries, which took me AGES to do. Just letting y'all know that the time Thies predicts it will take you to finish the paper is a complete underestimate and it will probably take you 10x longer than he says for you to finish the papers. The only silver lining is that he does curve your final grade based on how well do you compared to other students, and considering how ridiculously hard all the assignments are, the curve should help you. I only took this class because I needed a prereq for my major and I thought I could just push through it, but honestly there are like 5 other perfectly good poli sci prereqs that you can take to fulfill your requirements. That goes for GEs as well, I guarantee you, there are WAY easier GEs out there. Overall, if you can get away with not taking this class, literally take any other class.

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Dec. 13, 2019
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: N/A

I wrote a tangent about how awful this class is, but I accidentally deleted it.
In summary, this class is the WOAT.

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March 9, 2020
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: N/A

A mean professor. I saw him be rude to my TA and in one instance when a student left a backpack in the classroom and went to retrieve it, after the student left the professor talked about beating the student up. Thinks he's really important and wants students to treat his class like it's their most important one. Unreasonable amount of coursework for an intro-level poli sci class. Grading is quite arbitrary and the class average for the second paper was a 67%, which made up 15% of our course grade. He puts on a macho persona and attempts to act tough, but all the students can see through him. Quintessential toxic masculinity.

I would not recommend taking this class with this professor. This is possibly the most interesting subject I've studied so far at UCLA, but perhaps the worst experience in a class yet.

We also have to buy our own scantrons for the finals. What??

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March 14, 2020
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: N/A

This class was an absolute nightmare. I found him to be an awful lecturer and just a rude person in general. Also, I'd like to add that the class average for the final was 51% lmao...

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March 12, 2020
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: NR

Worst class/professor of my life. Do not take.

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Dec. 27, 2019
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: A

This class is undoubtedly the worst I have ever taken at UCLA. While the content is fascinating, the professor and teaching assistants made this class a miserable experience for my peers and me. If you are reading this review, PLEASE listen to all of these reviews and take Comparative Politics with a DIFFERENT PROFESSOR.
I took this class Fall 2019 with Dr. Thies and Julian Michel as my TA. I initially thought that the assignment questions were fair and reasonable, but after the grades came out, I was shocked to see that the average was in the low 70s. I have taken numerous science classes at UCLA and the means are often not this low, especially in an INTRODUCTORY political science class. What makes this class suck is that you can't even ask your TA what you did wrong- each TA grades a different question. To find out what you got wrong, you need to go to each individual TA's office hours, which is unreasonable and ridiculous.

The workload for this class was also unreasonable and ridiculous. Every week we had to watch a documentary, prepare a debate, and take two reading quizzes before every lecture. This workload would be 10000% doable and worth the effort if this were the only course we were taking.

My final bone to pick with this class is with Dr. Thies and the TAs themselves. I am convinced Dr. Thies and his TAs (with exception of Kevin Gatter (I've heard great things about him)) do not know how to converse normally with people. Dr. Thies comes across as extremely condescending, rude, and arrogant; he treats students as if they are mentally inferior. If you go to his office hours with a genuine question about an assignment, he will tell you that "it's all self-evident- I don't think you realize how much time the TAs and I spent writing this assignment and making this clear." Yet, during lecture, he bitches about not having enough students come to his office hours. Maybe try being a better person and more people will start showing up? Just a suggestion... Julian Michel was also very condescending and rude- there was a girl in my section who came back from office hours with him, literally in tears.
10/10 would not recommend this class. This class represents everything that is wrong with toxic masculinity- the work put into this class is not worth it.
thank you for coming to my TedTalk

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Dec. 13, 2019
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: N/A

Let me start off by saying that this was undoubtedly the WORST class I have ever taken at UCLA, and this marks the first time I have ever felt compelled to write a review for a class. I cannot say this enough, but if you do not need this class for a requirement, then save yourself and STAY AWAY. There are far more interesting, engaging, and manageable GE classes than this one, and the workload that this course demands as a lower division class is absolutely egregious. I know a few POL SCI majors this quarter who seriously considered switching just based off this course alone.

Let's start with the workload. There are anywhere from 20-60 pages (give or take) of reading each week, and two subsequent quizzes on the readings each week as well. The quizzes themselves aren't so hard, but the readings can be rather dense and time consuming to get through, especially as the quarter progresses and other classes demand your time. I'd go as far as to say that the readings were more helpful to writing the papers than ANY of the lectures, and so I stopped going altogether. On top of the readings and the weekly quizzes, there are two film response essays and 3 debate prep responses throughout the quarter.

However, the real workload of this class comes from the damn papers. The prompts for all 3 papers are so open-ended and vague in what information they require from you, that you can never fully grasp exactly what the prompt would like you to articulate. Do not be fooled by the simplicity of the essay questions, simply answering them is not enough. You are expected to integrate ideas and information from the class into your writing, and infer connections to the material in your essay that may or may not ever be discussed in lecture or section. Perhaps the most infuriating part about the papers, is that the TA's are NOT ALLOWED to discuss them with you in class. And because the TA's are so limited in how they can help you improve, they often end up giving you generalized, blanket statements about the paper that don't help at all. You literally CANNOT learn how to improve your paper, or specifically identify what aspects you may have gotten wrong just because Professor Theis says so. What kind of class, or even professional setting, inhibits feedback from its students, and then expects them to improve and progress in their work? Exactly.

Perhaps what's most infuriating is how oblivious Professor Theis is to all of this. He's either ignorant, or a narcissist who gets off on one-upping his students. (probably the latter as are most liberal arts professors) He expects papers to take no more than a few hours, when in reality they take a few days minimum to complete. He also has median score targets that the TA's need to reach, so you may invariably end up getting your participation score LOWERED for the sake of hitting these target median scores. There's just so much in the way of this class ever being worth your time, and if you're a POL SCI major, I sincerely wish you the best of luck if you decide to take this.

As for TA's, I had Kevin and he was actually a huge highlight of this course. He's personable, cracks jokes, and really tries to get people engaged even if it means sometimes straying off topic. And from what I've heard throughout the quarter, he's one of the more lenient graders when it comes to papers, participation, etc. It's a shame he's got to TA for this course, but he was awesome.

All in all, DO NOT be lured into this class just because there is no final. If you want to get a decent grade, expect to spend many hours on this course, and to not receive any GENUINE feedback or guidance on how to improve. I'm walking away from this class gaining nothing. My worst experience at UCLA so far, and this experience ultimately solidified my major switch back to STEM. Goodbye POL SCI, see ya never.

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POL SCI 50
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Dec. 31, 2020
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A

Ok, first of all: DO NOT take this class as a GE unless you're SURE that you're actually interested in the topic; it's definitely not worth it just for GE credit as there are tons of other, easier, more interesting classes out there to take. Even if you're a PoliSci major and aren't sure about this class, I'd say skip it and take another of the lower divs if you can (PS20 was my favorite).

That being said, if you have a PoliSci background, are actually interested in comparative politics, and know what you're getting yourself into, I think this class can be pretty rewarding. I was lowkey pretty scared after reading the other reviews on Bruinwalk, and they're honestly not too far off the mark in some cases; the amount of work in this class is totally unnecessary for a lower div. There are 4 quizzes (2 lecture/2 reading) a week, which are pretty easy to get 100% on, but the readings can sometimes be ~50 pages when there are only 1 or 2 useful concepts you need to know. Discussion participation is required, which is a bit annoying but you can generally say pretty much anything and get credit. What makes this class an absolute FUCKton of work at times is the essays, especially the 2nd one which I probably spent ~25 hours on and was full of unnecessary busywork (doing the exact same thing for 3 countries). The average for that essay? 62%. Yikes. The final was also around a 50% average... and it was multiple choice (thankfully only worth 10% of your grade). Thies knows that this class is a ton of work, and he doesn't care what people think about it, so if that isn't for you, definitely stay away. AND the class is graded on a curve, so only the top ~25% get an A/A-, meaning you're competing against everyone else in the class for those grades.

Despite all that (or maybe because of it), I learned a TON from this class, a lot of which was pretty interesting (at least for someone who was already interested in the subject). Thies clearly knows his shit, and my TA was also SUPER smart and pretty helpful in discussions (although he was a bit rude at times). Maybe I'm a nerd, but comparative politics is a pretty cool thing to study and Thies' lectures were pretty good (especially at 1.5x speed). He can apparently be kinda mean/callous, but I basically never interacted with him because the class was asynchronous and I didn't go to office hours, so I didn't really notice; people said that he was a kind of a dick if you're doing bad in his class though. Overall, I'd recommend this class to people who already like the topic/PoliSci in general and are ok with doing a lot of work at times (mainly just the 2nd/3rd essay). Otherwise, skip this one.

Oh, and I uploaded the textbook to libgen; you're welcome :)

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Aug. 1, 2020
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: B+

If you are a political science major, try to not take this as your first political science class. The content is interesting, but the papers are graded too harshly.

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: A-
April 1, 2020

After taking this class, I genuinely hate this man. Even though I got a good grade in the end, he was the most disagreeable person to learn from. He would get unnecessarily heated if someone walked in late to class and talked about life in the most grumpy fashion. Yes, he covered a lot during his lectures and I did learn a lot. However, he often rambled on about a topic or a single example for 20-25 minutes and that information ended up being useless. His graders were INTENSE and it was nearly impossible to do well on his essays. Another thing on those essays, the instructions are weirdly vague yet graded harshly. If I didn't love poli sci, this class would have made me hate it. I read the bruinwalk reviews before I took the class and decided to take a chance. DONT IGNORE THE REVIEWS ITS SO HARD TO DO WELL IN THIS CLASS.

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: A
March 27, 2020

A complete and utter nightmare of a class. I'm a poli sci major, and I previously took AP Comp Gov, so I knew a little bit of the material beforehand, but STILL, the workload was just insane. Basically, per lecture you have to do 30-60 pages of reading plus a reading quiz, which is pretty easy and getting at least 60% will get you full credit, just the amount of reading you have to get through just to do a 7-question quiz is quite a lot. The lectures themselves are pretty unorganized and not engaging, Thies really just likes to hear himself talk, and the slides he posts are literally just graphs. The debate preps and documentary responses aren't too too bad, and honestly you can finesse doing them the day before. It's just that the readings and writing assignments tend to pile up if you're not on top of it, and if you have other classes you have to worry about (I made the mistake of taking a Writing II class the same quarter as this one - 11/10 would NOT recommend, and honestly I did more writing for this class than my Writing II one). You actually have to talk and make substantive contribution to discussion sections to get participation points. It's really just the PAPERS especially that were ridiculous, and contribute to the largest portion of your grade, besides the final, which btw was equally as ridiculous considering the average was a 51%. Anyways, the papers were just atrociously long and complicated, they were graded pretty tough, and the professor and TAs don't do much at all to help you. The second paper required us to search for totally obscure, specific, impossible-to-find information about electoral systems of other countries, which took me AGES to do. Just letting y'all know that the time Thies predicts it will take you to finish the paper is a complete underestimate and it will probably take you 10x longer than he says for you to finish the papers. The only silver lining is that he does curve your final grade based on how well do you compared to other students, and considering how ridiculously hard all the assignments are, the curve should help you. I only took this class because I needed a prereq for my major and I thought I could just push through it, but honestly there are like 5 other perfectly good poli sci prereqs that you can take to fulfill your requirements. That goes for GEs as well, I guarantee you, there are WAY easier GEs out there. Overall, if you can get away with not taking this class, literally take any other class.

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: N/A
Dec. 13, 2019

I wrote a tangent about how awful this class is, but I accidentally deleted it.
In summary, this class is the WOAT.

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: N/A
March 9, 2020

A mean professor. I saw him be rude to my TA and in one instance when a student left a backpack in the classroom and went to retrieve it, after the student left the professor talked about beating the student up. Thinks he's really important and wants students to treat his class like it's their most important one. Unreasonable amount of coursework for an intro-level poli sci class. Grading is quite arbitrary and the class average for the second paper was a 67%, which made up 15% of our course grade. He puts on a macho persona and attempts to act tough, but all the students can see through him. Quintessential toxic masculinity.

I would not recommend taking this class with this professor. This is possibly the most interesting subject I've studied so far at UCLA, but perhaps the worst experience in a class yet.

We also have to buy our own scantrons for the finals. What??

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: N/A
March 14, 2020

This class was an absolute nightmare. I found him to be an awful lecturer and just a rude person in general. Also, I'd like to add that the class average for the final was 51% lmao...

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: NR
March 12, 2020

Worst class/professor of my life. Do not take.

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: A
Dec. 27, 2019

This class is undoubtedly the worst I have ever taken at UCLA. While the content is fascinating, the professor and teaching assistants made this class a miserable experience for my peers and me. If you are reading this review, PLEASE listen to all of these reviews and take Comparative Politics with a DIFFERENT PROFESSOR.
I took this class Fall 2019 with Dr. Thies and Julian Michel as my TA. I initially thought that the assignment questions were fair and reasonable, but after the grades came out, I was shocked to see that the average was in the low 70s. I have taken numerous science classes at UCLA and the means are often not this low, especially in an INTRODUCTORY political science class. What makes this class suck is that you can't even ask your TA what you did wrong- each TA grades a different question. To find out what you got wrong, you need to go to each individual TA's office hours, which is unreasonable and ridiculous.

The workload for this class was also unreasonable and ridiculous. Every week we had to watch a documentary, prepare a debate, and take two reading quizzes before every lecture. This workload would be 10000% doable and worth the effort if this were the only course we were taking.

My final bone to pick with this class is with Dr. Thies and the TAs themselves. I am convinced Dr. Thies and his TAs (with exception of Kevin Gatter (I've heard great things about him)) do not know how to converse normally with people. Dr. Thies comes across as extremely condescending, rude, and arrogant; he treats students as if they are mentally inferior. If you go to his office hours with a genuine question about an assignment, he will tell you that "it's all self-evident- I don't think you realize how much time the TAs and I spent writing this assignment and making this clear." Yet, during lecture, he bitches about not having enough students come to his office hours. Maybe try being a better person and more people will start showing up? Just a suggestion... Julian Michel was also very condescending and rude- there was a girl in my section who came back from office hours with him, literally in tears.
10/10 would not recommend this class. This class represents everything that is wrong with toxic masculinity- the work put into this class is not worth it.
thank you for coming to my TedTalk

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: N/A
Dec. 13, 2019

Let me start off by saying that this was undoubtedly the WORST class I have ever taken at UCLA, and this marks the first time I have ever felt compelled to write a review for a class. I cannot say this enough, but if you do not need this class for a requirement, then save yourself and STAY AWAY. There are far more interesting, engaging, and manageable GE classes than this one, and the workload that this course demands as a lower division class is absolutely egregious. I know a few POL SCI majors this quarter who seriously considered switching just based off this course alone.

Let's start with the workload. There are anywhere from 20-60 pages (give or take) of reading each week, and two subsequent quizzes on the readings each week as well. The quizzes themselves aren't so hard, but the readings can be rather dense and time consuming to get through, especially as the quarter progresses and other classes demand your time. I'd go as far as to say that the readings were more helpful to writing the papers than ANY of the lectures, and so I stopped going altogether. On top of the readings and the weekly quizzes, there are two film response essays and 3 debate prep responses throughout the quarter.

However, the real workload of this class comes from the damn papers. The prompts for all 3 papers are so open-ended and vague in what information they require from you, that you can never fully grasp exactly what the prompt would like you to articulate. Do not be fooled by the simplicity of the essay questions, simply answering them is not enough. You are expected to integrate ideas and information from the class into your writing, and infer connections to the material in your essay that may or may not ever be discussed in lecture or section. Perhaps the most infuriating part about the papers, is that the TA's are NOT ALLOWED to discuss them with you in class. And because the TA's are so limited in how they can help you improve, they often end up giving you generalized, blanket statements about the paper that don't help at all. You literally CANNOT learn how to improve your paper, or specifically identify what aspects you may have gotten wrong just because Professor Theis says so. What kind of class, or even professional setting, inhibits feedback from its students, and then expects them to improve and progress in their work? Exactly.

Perhaps what's most infuriating is how oblivious Professor Theis is to all of this. He's either ignorant, or a narcissist who gets off on one-upping his students. (probably the latter as are most liberal arts professors) He expects papers to take no more than a few hours, when in reality they take a few days minimum to complete. He also has median score targets that the TA's need to reach, so you may invariably end up getting your participation score LOWERED for the sake of hitting these target median scores. There's just so much in the way of this class ever being worth your time, and if you're a POL SCI major, I sincerely wish you the best of luck if you decide to take this.

As for TA's, I had Kevin and he was actually a huge highlight of this course. He's personable, cracks jokes, and really tries to get people engaged even if it means sometimes straying off topic. And from what I've heard throughout the quarter, he's one of the more lenient graders when it comes to papers, participation, etc. It's a shame he's got to TA for this course, but he was awesome.

All in all, DO NOT be lured into this class just because there is no final. If you want to get a decent grade, expect to spend many hours on this course, and to not receive any GENUINE feedback or guidance on how to improve. I'm walking away from this class gaining nothing. My worst experience at UCLA so far, and this experience ultimately solidified my major switch back to STEM. Goodbye POL SCI, see ya never.

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POL SCI 50
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
Dec. 31, 2020

Ok, first of all: DO NOT take this class as a GE unless you're SURE that you're actually interested in the topic; it's definitely not worth it just for GE credit as there are tons of other, easier, more interesting classes out there to take. Even if you're a PoliSci major and aren't sure about this class, I'd say skip it and take another of the lower divs if you can (PS20 was my favorite).

That being said, if you have a PoliSci background, are actually interested in comparative politics, and know what you're getting yourself into, I think this class can be pretty rewarding. I was lowkey pretty scared after reading the other reviews on Bruinwalk, and they're honestly not too far off the mark in some cases; the amount of work in this class is totally unnecessary for a lower div. There are 4 quizzes (2 lecture/2 reading) a week, which are pretty easy to get 100% on, but the readings can sometimes be ~50 pages when there are only 1 or 2 useful concepts you need to know. Discussion participation is required, which is a bit annoying but you can generally say pretty much anything and get credit. What makes this class an absolute FUCKton of work at times is the essays, especially the 2nd one which I probably spent ~25 hours on and was full of unnecessary busywork (doing the exact same thing for 3 countries). The average for that essay? 62%. Yikes. The final was also around a 50% average... and it was multiple choice (thankfully only worth 10% of your grade). Thies knows that this class is a ton of work, and he doesn't care what people think about it, so if that isn't for you, definitely stay away. AND the class is graded on a curve, so only the top ~25% get an A/A-, meaning you're competing against everyone else in the class for those grades.

Despite all that (or maybe because of it), I learned a TON from this class, a lot of which was pretty interesting (at least for someone who was already interested in the subject). Thies clearly knows his shit, and my TA was also SUPER smart and pretty helpful in discussions (although he was a bit rude at times). Maybe I'm a nerd, but comparative politics is a pretty cool thing to study and Thies' lectures were pretty good (especially at 1.5x speed). He can apparently be kinda mean/callous, but I basically never interacted with him because the class was asynchronous and I didn't go to office hours, so I didn't really notice; people said that he was a kind of a dick if you're doing bad in his class though. Overall, I'd recommend this class to people who already like the topic/PoliSci in general and are ok with doing a lot of work at times (mainly just the 2nd/3rd essay). Otherwise, skip this one.

Oh, and I uploaded the textbook to libgen; you're welcome :)

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POL SCI 50
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: B+
Aug. 1, 2020

If you are a political science major, try to not take this as your first political science class. The content is interesting, but the papers are graded too harshly.

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