AP Government Course Outline - From the College Board Course Description

I . Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government  5-15%

A . Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution

B . Separation of powers

C . Checks and balances

D . Federalism

E . Theories of democratic government

II . Political Beliefs and Behaviors 10-20%

A. Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and its leaders

B. Processes by which citizens learn about politics

C. The nature, sources, and consequences of public opinion

D. The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life

E. Factors that influence citizens to differ from one another in terms  of political beliefs and behaviors

III . Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media 10–20%

A. Political parties and elections

1. Functions

2. Organization 

3. Development

4. Effects on the political process

5. Electoral laws and systems

B. Interest groups, including political action committees (PACs)

1. The range of interests represented

2. The activities of interest groups

3. The effects of interest groups on the political process 

4. The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process 

C. The mass media

1. The functions and structures of the news media

2. The impacts of the news media on politics

3. The news media industry and its consequences

IV.  Institutions of Nat’l Gov’t: Congress, Pres-idency, Bureaucracy, & Federal Courts  35-45%

A. The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power

B. Relationships among these four institutions and varying balances  of power

C. Linkages between institutions and the following:

1. Public opinion and voters

2. Interest groups

3. Political parties

4. The media

5. State and local governments

V . Public Policy 5–15%

A. Policymaking in a federal system

B. The formation of policy agendas

C. The role of institutions in the enactment of policy

D. The role of the bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation  and interpretation

E. Linkages between policy processes and the following:

1 . Political institutions and federalism

2 . Political parties

3 . Interest groups

4 . Public opinion

5 . Elections

6 . Policy networks

VI . Civil Rights and Civil Liberties  5–15% 

A. The development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial  interpretation 

B. Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties

C. The impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the  constitutional  development of rights and liberties