Syllabus for POS-310

Constitutional Issues


Constitutional Issues analyzes the role of the United States Supreme Court in interpreting the scope of government power, individual rights, civil rights, and public policy within the parameters of the Bill of Rights, other constitutional amendments, and legislation. Throughout the course, the major Supreme Court rulings on civil rights and civil liberties are examined in their historical, legal, political, and social context in relation to both the federal and state governments.



After completing this course, you should be able to:

CO1        Analyze the origins of civil rights and civil liberties within the context of the Constitution and subsequent amendments.

CO2        Utilize seminal legal rulings to appraise the role of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Bill of Rights and defining the scope of individual freedoms and citizenship rights.

CO3        Differentiate between the limits and the protections extended to individuals under the Bill of Rights, through Supreme Court decisions and through the practice of selective incorporation.

CO4        Trace the development of the First Amendment rights of free speech, association, and religion.

CO5        Describe the historic background of the safeguards of the accused under the Constitution and the major Supreme Court rulings.

CO6        Distinguish the major Court decisions that expanded privacy rights in the United States.

CO7        Analyze the struggles for equal protection and equal opportunity for women, ethnic and racial minorities, and other disadvantaged groups in the United States, within the scope of the Constitution, key amendments, Court rulings, and legislation.

CO8        Summarize the landmark cases and legislation on voting rights and equal representation.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University’s textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN-13: 978-0495914907


Constitutional Issues is a three-credit online course consisting of  6 modules, with 6 discussion forums, 12 written assignments, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in six online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and take a proctored midterm examination and final examination. See below for details.

Consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

You are required to participate in six online discussion forums. The discussion forums are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules.

Each initial discussion forum post should be a minimum of 200 words in length. Please cite any sources used in the post, including the textbook. Your replies to your classmates’ responses should be a minimum of 100 words in length. They should be analytical and not simply complimentary.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete twelve written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules and will be due on the same day in each module to allow you to think about the trends and continuities in the questions.

Six of the written assignments will be short essays of at least 500 words in length (2 pages, double-spaced), using 12-point font, and in proper APA format. You should use a minimum of two sources, one of which may be the textbook, for each essay. You will also include a references list of your sources at the end of your essay. Be sure to proofread to avoid grammatical and writing errors.


You are required to take two proctored online examinations: a midterm exam and a final exam. Both exams require that you use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the Examinations and Proctors section of the Online Student Handbook (see General Information area of the course website) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to schedule your exams within the first week of the semester.

For a list of key concepts that may appear on your exams, refer to the study guides available in the Examinations section of the course website.

Online exams are administered through the course website. Consult the Course Calendar for the official dates of exam weeks.

Midterm Examination

The midterm exam consists of six short essay questions that include material from Modules 1, 2, and 3. The exam is 2 hours long and is closed-book.

Final Examination

The exam consists of six short essay questions that include material from Modules 4, 5, and 6. The exam is 2 hours long and is closed-book.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during the exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in your exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > Citing Sources.)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Edison State University. All rights reserved.