You should plan to take your comprehensive exam in your final semester in the MA program. Department policy is to require at least 21 credits, including all required courses, to be completed before. We recommend that you start studying the previous semester, reviewing your class notes, the exam guides in your concentration (see below) and the posted readings (below as well). Please note that Brooklyn College allows the exam to be re-taken only once.
Registration: Early in the semester that you hope to take the exam, please notify your Chair that you plan to take the exam, and then apply through the college website (the college bulletin lists the specific stated deadline).
1. Sign in to the WebCentral Portal at https://portal.brooklyn.edu
2. Select the “eServices” tab and then look for the “Student Transactions” channel
3. Select the “Apply for a comprehensive exam” item in the Graduate Studies section (the college’s guidelines on registration are detailed here: BC Registration Comp Exam)
If you have completed all your coursework and plan just to take the exam, you should register for POL 7930, the 1-credit research tutorial, since the college requires all students to be registered in their graduating semester.
If you miss the deadline for registration, contact your Chair or the Graduate Studies Office at 718-951-5252 or in 3238 Boylan Hall or the Graduate Deputy.
The exams are one-week take-home exams. The questions are sent out one week before the scheduled exam date are are due by on the exam date. Each essay should be approximately five pages, double-spaced. Outside research and references are not required, but theories, concepts, and examples from your coursework should be used.
International affairs Concentration: the IA Exam consists of four questions: two from the field of International Relations and two from Comparative Politics. Students answer their choice of one question from each field.
Poltical Science Concentration: Students in the Political Science concentration answer two questions: one from your area of specialization (American politics, political theory, international, or comparative), the other from any of the other three fields.
In order to prepare for the exam, we suggest that you do the following:
1. Collect, organize, and review all of your syllabi, notes, and exams from the courses that you took. Faculty spend a lot of time creating syllabi, selecting the most important texts, and organizing them to reflect the central questions of the field.
2. Borrow from the Political Science Department, in 3413 James, the textbooks which provide an overview of essential concepts and theories. The books are located on the front desk and can be checked out for two hours at a time, or longer with permission.
3. Review the principal readings from your courses as well as the texts suggested below.
4. Use the study guides below to create your own study guide that summarizes the main arguments, authors, and theories of the field.
5. Attend a study session. If you would like to meet with a group of other students and faculty, let us know and we will organize a study session at a time convenient for your schedules.
Points for Writing Passing Exams
1. The essay must answer the question asked. Focusing your analysis on related topics, even if well-presented, is not acceptable. If the reader cannot tell which question you are answering, then you have not answered the question.(If you write on a related topic, you have not answered the question, and thus have not written a passing answer.)
2. Each essay must have an ARGUMENT, which is clearly stated in the first paragraph. This statement should convey what claim you defend in the essay/the position you take in the scholarly debate. (If you do not have an argument, you cannot answer the question, and thus have not written a passing answer).
3. Each essay must be clearly structured, beginning with a statement summarizing the response to the questions, and followed by clear and specific points to support that response. It should be clear to the reader how each paragraph supports the main argument.
4. The essay should provide specific examples for each point made. For example, an essay analyzing three causes of armed conflict should mention one specific example for each cause discussed.
5. Each essay must cite at least three scholars in the field. You should select scholars whose work is appropriate to the question asked, and your characterization of their argument must be correct.
6. Each essay must be clearly-written and be free of grammatical errors.
7. All sources must be cited following Chicago or APA structure. Quotes, figures, and theories are among the sources that require citations.
Here are study guides for each of the four fields. Each has three sections: questions areas, practice questions, and readings lists. Some readings listed in the guides are posted below.
Some international relations readings:
Some comparative politics readings:
- Duverger Number of parties
- Stepan and Skach 1993 Presidentialism vs Parliamentarianism
- The Political Feminization of Labor
- Social Policy in Developing Countries
- Globalization and Poverty: How Can Global Value Chain Research Inform the Debate?
- The Globalization of Capitals Flows- Who Benefits
- Standing. Global Feminization Through Flexible Labor
- The Institutional Origins of Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa
- What Strategies are Viable for Developing Countries Today?
- Globalization in Historical Perspective
- The Underdevelopment of Development
- Modernization Theory and the Comparative Study of Societies–A Critical Perspective
- War, Markets and the Reconfiguration of West Africa’s Weak States
- Peace Building and State-Building in Afghanistan–Constructing Sovereignty for Whose Security
- War Making and State Making As Organized Crime
- Studying the State through State Formation
- Structure and Example in Modular Political Phenomena
- The 2011 Uprisings in the Arab Middle East–Political Change and Geopolitical Implications
- Toward a Fourth Generation of Revolutionary Theory
- After Egypt–The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State
- The Paradoxical Nature of State Making– The Violent Creation of Order
- Personal Networks and Postrevolutionary State Building–Soviet Russia Reexamined
- The Social Foundations of Institutional Order–Reconsidering War and the Resource Curse in Third World State Building
- The Absence of Middle Eastern Great Powers–Political Backwardness in Historical Perspective
- Radnitz, Scott Informal politics and the State: review article 2011 Radnitz
- Caraway, Political Economy of Feminization: From Cheap Labor to Gendered Discourses at Work
- Mares and Carnes, Social Policy in Developing Countries http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/mec247/arps2009.pdf
- Moghadam, Valentine. Development and Women’s Emancipation: Is there a Connection? http://www.scribd.com/doc/24535508/Moghadam-Development-and-Women%E2%80%9AAos-Emancipation-Is-There-a-Connection
- Nadvi, Globalization and Poverty – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1759-5436.2004.tb00105.x/abstract
- Global Feminization through Flexible Labor http://csde.washington.edu/~scurran/files/readings/May19/Standing.%20Global%20Feminization%20Through%20Flexible%20Labor.pdf
- The Institutional Origins of Inequality in Sub Saharan Africa http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.polisci.11.063006.092318
- Wade, What Strategies are Viable for Developing Countries Today? The World Trade Organization and the Shrinking Development of Space. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28239/
- Cardoso, Fernando Enrique Globalization in Historical Perspective http://ijoc.org/ojs/index.php/ijoc/article/download/333/172
- Beissinger, Modular Democratic Revolution http://www.princeton.edu/~mbeissin/beissinger.modrev.article.pdf
- Dalacoura, 2011 “Uprisings in the Arab Middle East” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2346.2012.01057.x/pdf
- Goldstone, Jack, Fourth Generation revolutions http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1531902
- Lynch, America and Egypt after the Uprisings http://www.marclynch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/survival-america-egypt.pdf
- Cohen et al, Violent Creation of Order.pdf
- Kurtz, Reconsidering War and the Resource Curse in Third World Statebuilding.pdf http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/mkurtz/papers/socialfoundations.pdf
- Lustick Absence of Middle Eastern Great Powers.pdf http://psfaculty.ucdavis.edu/zmaoz/lustick1997.pdfReno War, Markets and the Reconfiguration of West Africa’s Weak States.pdf http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~courses/PoliticalScience/474A1/documents/WilliamRenoWarMarketsWestAfricaWeakStates.pdf
- Rubin, Peace Building and State Building in Afghanistan.pdf http://www.ssrnetwork.net/uploaded_files/3389.pdfTilly, Warmaking and Statemaking.pdf https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/rohloff/www/war%20making%20and%20state%20making.pdf