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What You Should Already Know

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Learning Outcomes

This course is based on the following learning outcomes:

  1. Explain the fundamental principles and moral values of American democracy as expressed in the U.S. Constitution and other essential documents of American democracy.
  2. Evaluate, take, and defend positions on the scope and limits of rights and obligations of democratic citizens, the relationships among them, and how they are secured.
  3. Evaluate, take, and defend positions on what the fundamental values and principles of civil society are (that is, the autonomous sphere of voluntary personal, social, and economic relations that are not part of government), if and how they are interdependent, and the meaning and importance of those values and principles for a free society.
  4. Explain and analyze the unique roles and responsibilities of the three branches of government as established by the U.S. Constitution.
  5. Summarize landmark U.S. Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution and its amendments.
  6. Evaluate issues regarding campaigns for national, state, and local elective offices.
  7. Analyze and compare the powers and procedures of the national, state, tribal, and local governments.
  8. Evaluate, take, and defend positions on the influence of the media on American political life.
  9. Analyze the origins, characteristics, and development of different political systems across time, with emphasis on the quest for political democracy, its advances, and its obstacles.

Course Materials

There is no textbook for the course; all of the information you need to know is included in the discussion material.

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Each lesson is followed by a self check quiz. These quizzes are computer-graded but do not count toward your grade. They are designed to reinforce what you learned in the lesson and prepare you for the unit quiz assignments and the final exam.

This course has nine units. Each unit ends with a quiz. These computer-graded assignments count toward your grade and are the best way to prepare for the final exam.

In some units, you will encounter writing assignments. The assignments are designed to give you an opportunity to apply what you have been learning. Follow the instructions in the course on how and where to submit each writing assignment.

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The final exam consists of approximately 108 multiple-choice questions.

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Your final grade will be determined by the following percentage breakdown:

Assignments %
Unit 1 Quiz 6%
Unit 2 Quiz 6%
Unit 3 Quiz 6%
Unit 4 Quiz 6%
Unit 5 Quiz 6%
Unit 6 Quiz 6%
Unit 7 Quiz 6%
Unit 8 Quiz 6%
Unit 9 Quiz 6%
Writing Assignments (4 at 5% each) 20%
Final Exam (Comprehensive) 26%

Grading Scale

The following grading scale will be used to determine your final grade:

Grade Percentage
A 100-94%
A- 93-90%
B+ 89-87%
B 86-84%
B- 83-80%
C+ 79-77%
C 76-73%
C- 72-69%
D+ 68-65%
D 64-62%
D- 61-60%
E (fail) 59% or below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


9 computer-graded assignments, which may be resubmitted once, for a fee. 4 written assignment submissions, which may be resubmitted once, for a fee. 

For the writing assignments, follow the instructions in the course on how and where to submit each assignment.


1 proctored computer-graded exam, may be retaken once, must pass to earn credit for the course.

Course Duration

You have 1 year to complete this course, but if you need more than a year, you may purchase one 3-month extension. Because of the nature of some assignments, you will not be able to complete this course in less than 2 months.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. This may also include when a student copies and pastes directly from another source and passes it off as his or her own, copies computer-generated text from a translation tool and uses it as his or her own, or fails to cite a source after loosely summarizing its content in his or her own words.

As determined by your instructor or the BYU Independent Study administration, if evidence of academic misconduct on assignments or exams is established, one of the two following consequences will apply to each incidence:

First Offense of Plagiarism

You will fail the assignment and be allowed the opportunity to resubmit the assignment (or)

You will fail the assignment and be denied the opportunity to resubmit the assignment

Second Offense of Plagiarism

You will fail the assignment and fail the class (or)

You will fail the assignment, fail the class, and may be ineligible to enroll in a specific course or any of our courses without going through an appeals process which will determine the severity of your plagiarism.

University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.