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I am a Political Science Major who just graduated and am delighted to have taken Professor Sissa as my last instructor in my major. I have always enjoyed Political Theory although it isn't my emphasis but there are lessons here that can be applied to the contemporary and personal. The course is Plato-intensive, she does cover whether he is the first feminist, Ancient Greek thought, looks at Ancient Rome, Christian philosophy, and she concludes with Machiavelli.
I did not get an A solely because I did badly on two pop quizzes. I only did get a 5 once on them, you should really be ahead in the readings as much as possible (I think this is where I messed up).
I recorded and listened to the lectures on my commute. I strongly advise you to look into how to listen to audiobooks when you're too busy too read (see youtube). Be active in your discussion and make an effort to not miss a day. The class is very fairly graded and distributed throughout the term. Her midterm and finals are passage-derived. She will pick a passage from one of the readings up to the midterm and expects you to connect it to the text, author, overall message, and connection to the other texts. You have about 5 or 15 minutes ( I forget which) per passage. No term papers. No books to buy, she posts everything but you can also get different versions online (some free). Her quizzes are very straight-forward: she'll ask you bullet point questions which you can answer as such or in essay format. Her final is cumulative which is the most challenging part. It does connect through though and should be able to figure it out. Her class and instruction inspired me to read other political theory and as an independent observer looking-in I saw some similarities between Plato's Kallipolis and other authoritative figures of the 20th century. To be culturally sensitive, I would rather not mention the authors I found parallels with but I think they are there. I think Plato is a feminist fascist.
I loved this class so much. Very inspiring professor. Good luck.
Class of 2016!!!!!!
I have taken PS10 (Spring 2013) and PSM111A (Fall 2013) with Professor Sissa. With that being said, she nominated me for a department award and wrote a letter of recommendation for a study abroad programme I was applying to (and was subsequently accepted to), and I would like to acknowledge my individual bias in writing this review.
Her accent is not the most easy to understand, but it isn't completely indecipherable either. If you are having trouble understanding what she is saying, I would recommend visiting her during office hours or making an appointment to see her. Once, I could not attend her office hours and she made a special appointment to see me the next day because so many students had queued outside her office during her office hours; it was rather easy to schedule and she was gracious about the situation. If you are questioning why you should even bother attending her office hours to clarify your questions and concerns regarding your studies, you should also question why you/your family have opted to pay thousands of dollars to attend UCLA.
There were some concerns regarding PSM111A. There are a lot of reviews about how terrible she was, and I have to ask where some of these students are coming from. The class was scheduled from 5-7pm on Mondays and Wednesdays; it was not popular with students. Every time I walked into the lecture hall, it would be sparsely populated with thirty people max. I did not miss a single lecture. Come the day of the final exam, the hall was packed with students, and I could not figure out where they all came from. You cannot expect to not attend lecture all quarter and expect to pull off a good grade in Sissa's class. Come to think of it, why are people paying tuition to be occupied as full-time students, only to miss class constantly?
Admittedly, the email that Professor Sissa sent out following the deluge of negative reviews on Bruinwalk.com following the release of grades was not a pleasant Christmas surprise, and I had enjoyed a good working relationship with her since spring 2013. I didn't think that student reviews on Bruinwalk.com were worth responding to due to their extremely subjective nature, but apparently she did.
I have heard from another student that he had a bad experience with his TA for PS10, because the TA had a previous record for bullying undergraduates. Apparently that class had no standards of grade equalization between TAs either. I think this rather sorry, because my experience with the two TAs for both of her classes was extremely positive - I would recommend them both (Anuja Bose for PS10 and Lucy Williams-Smoot for PSM111A). However, it is worth mentioning that you should closely investigate your TA to ensure you have a good one.
TL;DR You should take her if you are serious about your education, and if you are serious about wanting to learn about the subject matter. If you aren't, you shouldn't take her, and you should be questioning what is a worthwhile use of your time, if being a full-time student isn't.
I was shocked to find the grade I received from Professor Sissa. It was a full letter grade lower than I expected, and I'm usually pretty accurate in my estimates of what I think I deserve. Her grading policy is so off-mark that even the TAs were scrambling to calculate curves and bonus points just so that the class average would be raised. In my opinion, if your tests are flunking the majority of your students, then they aren't proper gauges of what the students are learning. That, or you're not teaching effectively with regard to the material you're testing on. Either way, I'm extremely disappointed with the experience. Giving a test that not only contains combinations of multiple correct answers per question (e.g., correct answer is A, C & D), but also grading that test to deduct points from the overall test grade whenever a student incorrectly marks an answer (e.g., correct answer is NONE, but if one answer sounded right and you circled it, you LOSE points) is indicative that Sissa was looking to give students trick questions. The class shouldn't be set up that way. She should want to see you succeed. But despite the protests of my classmates, and the TAs telling us they were on our side and would work with Sissa, the final ended up exactly as unfair as the midterm. What a waste of my time.
I am going to start by saying I got an A- in her class. She is not that good of a teacher. There is only a final and a midterm plus 15% for discussion for your grade.
The format of the test has changed and it includes multiple choice now with as many as 4 or no right answers per question and she takes off points for circling any wrong choices. Her class average was a C- this quarter in my class. After everyone writing her emails this was a response from her email that I am quoting:
" I do respect THE TEXTS, as Machiavelli did, when he used to dress up in order visit his best friends : Plato, Aristotle and their likes."
She basically compares herself to Machiavelli and that is just disgusting for a professor at UCLA to do. She basically put the blame on students for getting a C- average and put herself up with greats like Machiavelli, Plato, and Aristotle.
The most important thing is that you have a good TA who I had and if you get a bad one expect a failing grade in the class.
Professor Sissa is one of the most knowledgeable professors of ancient political theory at UCLA. She knows almost every facet of ancient Roman and Greek political life, has quite interesting lectures, and is very enthusiastic about teaching. I've taken two of her classes and found both intellectually stimulating. Attending the lectures is a must because her essay questions/IDs all pertain to things taught in class...if you attend, there is almost no need to read any of the material. Also, she is great about answering questions and clarifying complex material, and wants to make sure that the class understands the important concepts before she moves on to new material. Further, She's wonderful about replying to e-mails, and is willing to grant paper/exam extensions if you ask her in advance. Overall, attend lecture, take notes, and you'll be fine. I got an A- in M111A and an A in M112B without trying too hard... attended 2/3 of classes and only googled for an analysis of any misses material.
I took this class last winter and I have to stay Professor Sissa is VERY BORING. There where countless of times where I was in a comatose state in her class.
I say this class really depends on the T.A. There where only 2 paper which where either 45- 50 % of your grade.
After the first paper I stop going to class and relied solely on my T.A. ( try to get a T.A. that majors in classics )