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Accordion List

The University of Pennsylvania's Political Science Department offers both undergraduate and graduate-level programs leading to bachelor's and doctoral degrees. The Graduate Program's areas of strength include comparative politics and political economy; international political, economic, and military problems; the domestic politics and foreign relations of major powers and geographic areas; American politics and political development; political theory, and constitutional theory. A full list of current undergraduate courses by subfield is available on the Undergraduate Program's Courses & Requirements website.

The collection development program supports the research needs of over 50 research and teaching faculty and 76 graduate students. There are over 150 undergraduates whose declared major is Political Science.

The majority of the University's political science collection is housed in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. The focus of the Van Pelt collection is on political theory, American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and public policy and administration. Other materials which political scientists often rely upon include law (K), philosophy (B), history (D-F), general social science (H), economics (HB-HL), sociology (HM- HX), and military science (U), including arms control and strategic studies.

Noteworthy among the latter are approximately 3,500 Indian political pamphlets from the British and Independence periods. Another important pamphlet collection (in paper) of 18th and 19th-century publications, primarily from the Henry C. Cary library, is housed in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts

The Penn Libraries is a depository for United States government documents and for nearly all English-language publications from the United Nations and the European Union. It is also a partial depository for Pennsylvania state publications. These materials are housed in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School, or the Biddle Law Library, depending on the subject material. Van Pelt has a blanket order for all UNESCO English-language books and pamphlets and for English or French periodicals. These documents collections are described in the United States Government Information and Foreign and International Governmental Organization Government Documents policies.

1. Chronological

Emphasis is on the 19th century to the present. Materials covering earlier periods are collected selectively to include support for teaching and research on political thought from antiquity to the present, as well as other historical concerns such as political philosophy, historical comparative politics, and the historical development of states and other entities.

2. Formats

Print and electronic books and journals are primarily collected. Video is also collected on an as-need basis. Periodicals are e-preferred. Videos are purchased as DVDs or video files with perpetual streaming rights when available and affordable. However, content will be purchased in any format as conditions require. Textbooks are not considered unless requested. The same applies to pamphlets, with the exception of topics such as major policy statements and political party platforms.

3. Geographical

The United States, Europe, East and South Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa are heavily represented.

4. Language

English language publications from the United States and Great Britain followed by those of the major Western European languages are collected. Materials in other languages, particularly in areas where Penn has historical strengths or ongoing research, are obtained selectively. Non-western language materials from the Middle East, South and East Asia, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe are collected by area studies bibliographers.

5. Publication Dates

Emphasis is on current materials. Some retrospective purchasing is done, especially to replace of missing and damaged books. Primary sources are collected from any period. 

The interdisciplinary character of Political Science results in materials being acquired from widely diverse sources. Approval plans, standing orders, publisher notifications, user requests, and regular reviews of the scholarly literature account for most of the material purchased. Although many publications of university and domestic presses come primarily on approval plans, faculty contact and review of the scholarly literature are crucial to assure all relevant materials are obtained in a timely manner, including much of the important secondary literature.

Subject Level Location
Comparative Politics 4F/4F  
Constitutional History and Administration 4E/4E with Biddle
United States 4E/4E with Biddle
Europe 3F/4F with Biddle, Lippincott
East Asia 3F/3F  
South Asia 4E/4E  
Middle East 3F/3F  
International Relations    
General and Theoretical 4F/4F with Biddle
United States 4F/4F  
Western Europe 3F/4F  
East Asia 3F/4F  
South Asia 4W/4W  
Middle East 3W/4W  
Diplomacy, Diplomatic Relations 3E/3E  
Political Philosophy 4F/4F  
Political Theory 4F/4F  
Public Policy and Administration 4E/4E  
State and [topic] 4F/4F  
United States -- Politics 3E/4E  
United States -- State Government 3E/4E  


In addition to the collections of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, the Political Science Department draws on other resources as well. The Anspach Institute has a collection of a number of the major journals in its reading room. The Biddle Law Library offers materials on American constitutional law, international law, and international organizations. The Wharton School's Lippincott Library contains publications on government-business relations, multinational corporations, and international political economy.