Political Systems & Theories


About The Field

The study of political systems and theories represents an essential basis for explaining, understanding, and comparing the units and actors that comprise the world of the early 21st century.

As a field, Political Systems and Theories encompasses courses whose focus is alternative theoretical approaches for the conduct of research and analysis about political systems, major forces shaping the emerging world, the nature of international change and continuity, and the basis for theoretical development. The Political Systems and Theories field offers students the opportunity to explore, evaluate, and compare theories about such crucially important phenomena as power, legitimacy, institutions, cooperation, conflict, peace, and war.

Conceptually, the field is (or should be) integral to, and an essential prerequisite for, courses that comprise the “practice” parts of the curriculum. Students taking this field are expected to acquire basic knowledge about the major theories that shape international and comparative politics. Specifically, the field includes courses on such topics as international relations theory; non-governmental organizations in international politics; geography as a factor in international politics; theories of statecraft, bureaucracy, democratization, ethno-religious conflict, identity, sovereignty, nationalism, and self-determination.

This field should be of great importance to students preparing MALD theses or PhD dissertations and/or planning academic careers focused on political science. It should also be of interest to students seeking to understand the theories that help explain behavior and assumptions that guide policymakers. All students offering this field of study are required to take P200. Students taking the Political Systems and Theories field for the PhD must take P200 and at least three other course credits. A second required course credit for PhD students should be selected from a list that includes D210, P205, and P224.


Below is a representative portrait of curricular requirements for this Field of Study. Core requirements are subject to periodic updates and modifications; current Fletcher students should refer to the Registrar's course bulletin and to Fletcher Connect for definitive requirements in a given academic year.

Core Requirements for the Field
The Political Systems & Theories Field of Study requires the completion of a minimum of three course credits from the list of electives below.

Students taking this field for the PhD must take DHP P200 and at least three other course credits. A second required course credit for PhD students should be selected from a list that includes DHP D210, DHP P205, and DHP P224.

Elective Courses

We encourage you to download our course catalog to get a better understanding of Fletcher, our curriculum, and our students.

Current Students & Alumni

Catesby Holmes Fletcher
Michael Sullivan Fletcher
Saskia Green The Fletcher School
Catesby Holmes
Publisher, North American
Congress on Latin America -
New York, NY

   Read Catesby's story

Michael Sullivan
Political Systems & Theories,
International Security Studies

   Read Michael's story

Saskia Green
Associate, On Purpose -
London, UK

   Read Saskia's story

Outside the Classroom

  • Drafting Kosovo's New Constitution
  • A New Turkey and an Old America
  • Seventeen Years of Association With The Land of Fire - Thomas Goltz reflects on nearly two decades of change in the reborn Republic of Azerbaijan
  • Venezuela on the Spot: Current Trends
  • Three Tales of Horror: The Demons and Inner Hatreds of Early Turkish Nationalism
  • Round Table on the current state of Cuba
  • U.S. Department of State - Washington, DC
  • Middle East Institute - Washington, DC
  • Ghana Center for Democratic Development - Accra, Ghana
  • European Parliament Liaison Office - Washington, DC
  • U.S. Mission to the European Union - Brussels, Belgium
  • European Parliament - Brussels, Belgium
  • "The Legislation Dealing with Freedom of Expression in Post-Conflict Societies: Challenges of Implementation"
  • "Lessons Learned from the Hebei Spirit, Taean 2007 to the Wu Yi San, Yeosu 2014: the Impacts, Response Measures, and Policy Implications"
  • "A Legal Red Line in a Moral Grey Cloud: The Syria Case in Perspective"
  • "Beyond the Constitution: Enhancing the Role of Legislatures in Conflict-Affected Societies"
  • "State Branding in the 21st Century"
  • "Creating Obstacles to Peace: The International Involvement in Darfur"
  • "Unraveling the Paradox: The Resilience of Women's Rights Activism in Iran within the Context of a Changing Political Environment"
  • "Geopolitics of Energy in the Caspian Sea Region: Azerbaijan's Challenges"
  • "Achieving Complex National Security Missions: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Design and Management of Collaborative Institutions"
  • "Azerbaijan and Israel: Oil, Islam and Strawberries Pragmatism in Foreign Policy Between Unlikely Allies"
  • "The Political Potential of Israel-GCC Business Relations"
  • "A Story of Communication, Power and Vision: Bringing Guatemalan Civil Society into the National Decision-Making Process"
  • ASEAN Society
  • International Law Society
  • Fletcher United Nations Club
  • European Affairs Society
  • Asia Club
  • Fletcher Syria Crisis Working Group
  • Fletcher Diplomacy Club
  • Human Rights Project
  • International Development Group
  • International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Club
  • South Asia Society

Learn From The Experts: Fletcher Faculty

Robert Pfaltzgraff, Jr., Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at Tufts Fletcher School"A unifying theme of this field is the study of political units and their patterns of systemic interaction, including theories about such relationships."

Robert Pfaltzgraff, Jr., Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies

Other faculty with expertise in the field:

Daniel Drezner, Professor of International Politics at Tufts Fletcher School Richard Shultz, Professor of International Politics at Tufts Fletcher School
Daniel Drezner Richard Shultz