Political Science 349
Game Theory in Political Science

Course Syllabus
Summer 2006
MWF 10:00 - 11:50 a.m. in 280 SWKT

Instructor: Jay Goodliffe
Office: 752 SWKT
Office Hours: MW 1-2 p.m., or by appointment
Phone: 422-9136
e-mail: goodliffe@byu.edu


Home Page
Office Hours
How to Succeed in this Course
Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Home Page

The home page for Political Science 349 is http://goodliffe.byu.edu/349/. Check the home page often for announcements, corrections, instructions for assignments, syllabus, etc. You should also check your email regularly.

Office Hours

I will hold office hours on Monday and Wednesday 1-2 p.m. I am also available at most other times if you make arrangements with me. Feel free to talk to me before classes, or to contact me by email or voice mail. I encourage you to come by to talk about assignments in the class, suggestions for improving the class, politics and current events, the perils of student life, or for any other reason.


It is understood that students enrolled in this class will have taken the department core courses (Political Science 110, 150, 170, 200; Economics 110). It will also be of great benefit to have taken Political Science 205 and any math or logic classes.


This course is an introduction to game theory, concentrating on applications in politics. Game theory is the formal method of examining interdependent decisions. An interdependent decision is one where what you do will depend on what someone else does. For example, a politician running for office may consider how voters will react to an issue stance. The leader of a country may consider how other countries will react to an invasion of another country. A citizen may consider how a government will react if the citizen protests (peacefully or not).

Game theory provides tools for evaluating these situations. By the end of the course, you should be able to recognize strategic situations, and "solve" them. This will be useful for your studies in other classes and for interactions after you graduate.


The course will have primariliy lectures. But students will all have the opportunity/obligation to present their answers to various problems to the rest of class. You should read the material to be presented prior to the class. You should anticipate that I will call on you to contribute your opinion.

I actively encourage questions, interruptions, cries for help, protests of disbelief, etc. You will never be penalized for participating--even when this takes the form of vague complaints like, "I've got no clue why we are reading this stuff!" I urge--indeed, I expect--you to take advantage of the chance to talk with me during office hours.


A Chinese proverb (supposedly) says, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand." This philosophy drives the requirements of the class.

Problem Sets 40%
Midterm Exam


Final Exam 40%

Problem Sets

To understand game theory, you must use game theory.

All problem sets are due at the beginning of class on the day designated in the course schedule. If you cannot make it to class, please leave the problem set with the department secretaries (in the Political Science office--745 SWKT) before class begins. Alternatively, you may email me the problem set. I will not accept late problem sets. The primary reason for no late problem sets is so that we can discuss the problem set in class immediately after it is turned in. If you anticipate a problem with submitting an problem set when it is due, speak to me before the problem set is due so that we can try to work out an alternative arrangement.

On the days that problem sets are due, we will spend the first part of class going over the problem set. I will choose a student to go to the board and present their solution to a problem. To facilitate this, I suggest that you make a copy of your problem set before you turn it in. (This is a good habit for any class.)

You may work together on these problem sets (in groups of two or at most three), but you must write up your answers separately. I give much more detailed instructions on how to report your work together in the Academic Honesty section below. Generally, if you use other persons' work, or make changes to your own work without inquiring or understanding what you did incorrectly, then you are trying to get a grade using someone else's knowledge. Giving or receiving answers in this manner is not permitted in this course. If you do not learn how to analyze or solve problems on your own, you will have difficulty on the exams.

Generally, a class like this would have weekly problem sets. In a class during spring or summer term, this is complicated by the accelerated schedule. Instead of assigning two problem sets a week, we will do weekly problem sets that are twice as long as problem sets assigned during semesters. Most problem sets will be due on Friday, with exceptions around exam times. Most problem sets will be posted on the web, through the link above. I strongly suggest that you start working early on the problem sets.


There will be one midterm exam taken in class during the term that covers about 4 weeks' material, and a final examination that will be comprehensive. The final exam will be administered on Wednesday, August 16 in our classroom from 3:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. (as noted on the final exam schedule). Do not ask to take the final examination early. It is against university policy to give final examinations outside of the scheduled time. You should not make any plans that interfere with the final exam schedule. Please do not ask for exceptions. I am not authorized to grant them.

You may use calculators (but not other electronic devices) for the exams. You may not use notes (yours or others'), texts, or other students' exams. The exams will consist questions similar to those of the problem sets. The examinations will be difficult.

The final exams may be picked up in the Political Science office (745 SWKT) after they are graded. All exams will be discarded at the end of the Fall 2006 semester.

How to Succeed in this Course

The course is graded on a modified curve, using principles that will be explained in the course.

I include the following information from the BYU 2005-2006 Undergraduate Catalog which guides how I grade and determine workload:

"The grade given in a course is the teacher's evaluation of the student's performance, achievement, and understanding in that subject as covered in the class. The following adjectives indicate the meaning of the letter grades:
A Excellent
B Good
C Satisfactory
D Minimum passing
E Unacceptable
"Hence, the grade A means that the student's performance, achievement, and understanding were excellent in the portion of the subject covered in the class.
"There are prerequisites that qualify students to be admitted to the more advanced classes offered by a department. A senior has added experience, understanding, and preparation and, consequently, progresses in courses that would have been impossible when the student was a freshman. The level of performance, achievement, and understanding required to qualify for each grade that carries credit (any grade other than E, UW, I, IE, or WE) is higher in a more advanced class than in those classes that precede it, and the student is prepared to work at this higher level" (p. 50).
"The expectation for undergraduate courses is three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence" (p. 48).

Putting these statements together, the university expects an "average student" to work "much more" than 9 hours a week to receive an 'A' (= "excellence") in a 3 credit-hour course. (This would be "much more" than 18 hours a week in the double-time term.) This is my expectation as well.

This workload has been affirmed by President Bateman in his devotional addresses. On 7 September 1999, he stated, "It takes approximately three hours of study outside class for every hour in the classroom. If you take 15 hours of credit, you should allocate upward of 45 hours for study per week." On 19 September 2000, he advised, "Study daily--at least three hours for every hour in class."

Students who succeed in this course have the following characteristics. They

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

From the Academic Honesty section of the BYU Honor Code: "The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to `be honest.' Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. `President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education' (The Aims of a BYU Education, p. 6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim.

"BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct." Read the full version here (parts attached to the original paper syllabus).

A colleague (Mitch Sanders, formerly of Notre Dame) has already explicated these issues specifically for political science. Please read here (also attached to the original paper syllabus).

In this class, you need to acknowledge the contributions of others toward your assignments. I have taken the following guidelines from MIT's Unified Engineering class. I have changed various words where appropriate:

"The fundamental principle of academic integrity is that you must fairly represent the source of the intellectual content of the work you submit for credit. In the context of [PlSc 349], this means that if you consult other sources (such as fellow students, TAís, faculty, literature) in the process of completing homework, you must acknowledge the sources in any way that reflects true ownership of the ideas and methods you used.

"Discussion among students to understand the homework problems or to prepare for [exams] is encouraged.

"COLLABORATION ON HOMEWORK IS ALLOWED UNLESS OTHERWISE DIRECTED AS LONG AS ALL REFERENCES (BOTH LITERATURE AND PEOPLE) USED ARE NAMED CLEARLY AT THE END OF THE ASSIGNMENT. Word-by-word copies of someone elseís solution or parts of a solution handed in for credit will be considered cheating unless there is a reference to the source for any part of the work which was copied verbatim. FAILURE TO CITE OTHER STUDENTíS CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR HOMEWORK SOLUTION WILL BE CONSIDERED CHEATING.

"Study Group Guidelines

"Study groups are considered an educationally beneficial activity. However, at the end of each problem on which you collaborated with other students you must cite the students and the interaction. The purpose of this is to acknowledge their contribution to your work. Some examples follow:

  1. You discuss concepts, approaches and methods that could be applied to a homework problem before either of you start your written solution. This process is encouraged. You are not required to make a written acknowledgment of this type of interaction.
  2. After working on a problem independently, you compare answers with another student, which confirms your solution. You should acknowledge that the other studentís solution was used to check your own. No credit will be lost if the solutions are correct and the acknowledgments is made.
  3. After working on a problem independently, you compare answers with another student, which alerts you to an error in your own work. You should state at the end of the problem that you corrected your error on the basis of checking answers with the other student. No credit will be lost if the solution is correct and the acknowledgment is made, and no direct copying of the correct solution is involved.
  4. You and another student work through a problem together, exchanging ideas as the solution progresses. Each of you should state at the end of the problem that you worked jointly. No credit will be lost if the solutions are correct and the acknowledgment is made.
  5. You copy all or part of a solution from a reference such as a textbook. You should cite the reference. Partial credit will be given, since there is some educational value in reading and understanding the solution. However, this practice is strongly discouraged, and should be used only when you are unable to solve the problem without assistance.
  6. You copy verbatim all or part of a solution from another student. This process is prohibited. You will receive no credit for verbatim copying from another student when you have not made any intellectual contribution to the work you are both submitting for credit.


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU’s policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 422-2847.

Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the UAC office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D-282 ASB.


All readings should be read before class for full understanding of the subject material.

The text for the course is:

(You can also obtain this book new or used through an on-line bookstore. The following link searches out the price for this book at several bookstores simultaneously: BooksPrice.com. Be careful to purchase the second edition. The first edition of the book will not work well for the course, as it was extensively revised.)

Schedule (subject to change)

Date Readings Assignments
June 26 Chapter 1  
28 Chapter 2  
30 Chapter 3 Problem Set 1
July 3 Chapter 4  
5 Chapter 4 (skip 4.5)  
7 Chapter 5 (skip 5.1.A and 5.4) Problem Set 2
10 Chapter 6  
12 Chapter 7 (skip 7.2.B)  
14 Chapter 7 Problem Set 3
17 Chapter 8 (skip 8.5)  
19 Review Problem Set 4
21   Midterm Exam
24 No Class--Holiday  
26 Chapter 9  
28 Chapter 10  
31 Chapter 11 Problem Set 5
August 2 Chapter 11 
4 Chapter 12  
7 Chapter 14 Problem Set 6
9 Chapter 15  
11 Chapter 15  
14 Review Problem Set 7
15 Reading Day  
16   Final Exam


This is the first time I have taught game theory to BYU undergraduates. Thus, I am more likely to make mid-course adjustments in this course than other courses I teach.


I consulted numerous game theory syllabi in designing this course. Particularly helpful were syllabi by Randy Calvert, Vincent Crawford, Eric Dickson, James Fowler, and Kristin Kanthak.

Political Science 349 home page

Jay Goodliffe's home page

This page is http://goodliffe.byu.edu/349/syllabus.htm