Assignments & Exams


Congressional Roundtable

Every Wednesday, class will start with a brief (~15 minutes) informal discussion about the previous week's developments in Congress. Students will be required to come into class with a newspaper, magazine, or web page clipping to talk about. Students must email the article citation by 5pm the night before class, and come prepared to talk.

Introduction to Your Congressional District

Students will present a 3–5 minute political introduction to their home congressional district and current member of Congress.

Problem Sets

There are two problem sets in the term. Late p-sets will be penalized.

Redistricting Exercise

Students will be assigned to teams of three to draw congressional districts of states that meet certain criteria. Some of these criteria will be "nice" and others will be "mean." You will use Dave Bradlee's Redistricting App to draw maps.

Final Paper

The recent 2016 congressional election promised to be an interesting one, both in terms of the dynamics of the election itself and in terms of the likely affect on the behavior of Congress when it convened in January 2017. Students will be responsible for taking a broad topic that is pertinent to the study of Congress and write a 10–12 page paper about it in the context of the 2016 congressional election. Topics you might write about include new patterns of campaign finance; membership turnover; congressional redistricting; the performance of statistical models predicting the 2016 outcome; and the Senate election in any particular state. The election also provided the opportunity for institutional changes in Congress, which students are welcome to write about.


17.251 includes both a midterm and a final exam. The midterm from the 2015 iteration of the course is included for practice purposes.

2015 Midterm

2016 Midterm

2016 Final