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History

The long room in the College Library

Political Science has been taught at Trinity College since 1855 (see details in Undergraduate section below). The Department of Political Science itself seems not to have been formally founded until the introduction of a faculty system in Trinity in the late 1960s – the precise date when this reorganisation took effect was 13 July 1969. However, Patrick Keatinge, in his short overview of the history of the department (originally published in the Bulletin of the PSAI in 1987), identifies the academic year 1959–60 as the de facto establishment of the department as such, given Basil Chubb's elevation to a newly-created Chair in Political Science together with a second full-time appointment, that of David Thornley as a Junior Lecturer as from 21 December 1959. Professor Basil Chubb (1921–2002) was appointed Professor of Political Science on 16 March 1960; this was not what would today be termed a personal chair but, rather, the establishment of a permanent Chair of Political Science of which he was the first occupant, a firm statement that Political Science was being recognised and institutionalised as a discipline in its own right. Whether the term 'department' was formally employed or not, Basil Chubb was head of the de facto department during the 1960s, which he combined with being Bursar (in effect, Minister for Finance) of Trinity College. His appointment to the chair in the spring of 1960 and the effective creation of a Department of Political Science during the 1959–60 academic year meant that the first students to complete the 4-year undergraduate cycle since the creation of the department would have graduated in the summer of 1963, and on this perhaps slightly tenuous basis a 50th anniversary was celebrated by a series of special events for alumni in August 2013.

Chubb had been appointed a Lecturer at TCD on 1 April 1948 while still working on his PhD thesis at the University of Oxford; his undergraduate studies had been interrupted by the second world war, in which he took part as a member of the RAF, and he spent 15 months in a German prisoner-of-war camp. His uncle, Sir Cecil Chubb, a wealthy barrister, had bought Stonehenge in 1915 for £6,600 and then gifted it to the nation in 1918, being awarded the title of Baronet the following year. Basil Chubb was promoted to Reader in December 1955, was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1969, and held the chair from 1960 until his retirement in 1991. While best known as an Irish politics specialist, he taught in a range of areas and from the late 1970s until his retirement he taught a highly-regarded final-year module on 'Public policy-making'. Just as his time as Trinity's Bursar is sometimes seen as having dragged the college's financial management system into the second half of the twentieth century, so he did much to professionalise the study of politics in Ireland. His most important contribution was The Government and Politics of Ireland (Stanford University Press, 1970), a path-breaking analysis that was not only the first systematic attempt to apply social science techniques to the study of Irish politics, hitherto largely the preserve of historians, but also broke new ground by gathering much of the data needed for such analysis. The book laid a foundation for the study of Irish politics upon which all subsequent work in the field has built, directly or indirectly. In addition, he made a broader impact on Irish life and society, through his work as chairperson of the Employer–Labour Conference for many years after 1970, and as a result of the analysis conducted by himself and David Thornley at the time of the 1968 referendum on the abandonment of proportional representation. He and Thornley also wrote a number of influential newspaper articles on governance in Ireland, later published in booklet form as Irish Government Observed (1965); see cover (Chubb's photo is on the right and Thornley's on the left). The findings of this analysis about the way in which votes would have been converted into seats for the various parties at the previous general election played a significant role, by all accounts, in convincing voters that a move to the British single-member plurality system would be undesirable. He is commemorated through the annual Basil Chubb prize awarded by the Political Science Association of Ireland (PSAI) for the best politics PhD thesis conferred by a university in Ireland in the previous year.

After Basil Chubb's retirement, the position of Professor of Political Science lay vacant for two years before being filled in 1993 by Professor Michael Laver, who moved east from his previous position in NUI Galway. Michael Laver, who was and is widely regarded as one of the world's leading political scientists, was Head of Department 1993–98 and 2002–04. He took up a new position at New York University in January 2005 and the Chair in Political Science has lain vacant ever since, although four different staff members, originally appointed as Lecturers, have risen to the rank of Professor through promotion to personal chairs.

Chubb was not the first person appointed as a Lecturer in Political Science in Trinity. That distinction belongs to Olive Gertrude Armstrong (1892–1958), who herself had graduated from TCD in 1913 with a BA in History and Political Science. She was appointed to this position as from 19 May 1934 and remained there until the end of the 1956–57 academic year. Armstrong, whose life and career are summarised in Nadia Clare Smith, A "Manly Study"?: Irish women historians, 1868–1949 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), pp. 110–11, was by training a medieval historian who was best known for her 1923 book Edward Bruce's Invasion of Ireland, whose tone is described by Smith as 'didactic and moralistic'. According to Smith, Armstrong was unionist and pro-British and had 'ambivalent feelings about independent Ireland' (pp. 111, 115). She combined her post in Trinity with teaching history and civics at Alexandra College, a well-resourced girls' school on the south side of Dublin with a Protestant ethos. She was also a long-standing vice-president of Trinity College's debating society the Dublin University Historical Society. Despite her lack of training as a political scientist and the absence of any evidence of research by her in this field, the teaching in politics during her time drew on what were then current and well-regarded works of political science as opposed to political history (see Undergraduate section below).

While on the TCD staff she is credited with only one publication, an article in the 1941 volume of the Trinity journal Hermathena. In this article ('The necessity of immaterialism', Hermathena 57 (1941) 82–106) she declares herself to be 'in profound disagreement with the thought of my own day' (p. 106), attributes the second world war to the excessive importance attached to material factors and states her adherence to (Bishop) George Berkeley's immaterialist theory of the world, according to which only mental states, and not material things, exist. She indicates her disagreement with a formidable list of materialists: Marx, Darwin and the theory of evolution, Hume, Shelley, Dostoevsky, Bertrand Russell, Huxley, Auden, Nietzsche ('the man who more than any other is responsible for this war'), and for good measure takes a sideswipe at James Joyce with a reference to 'his slobbering style'.

After Olive Armstrong retired in 1957 (she died on 16 December 1958) she was replaced by another woman, a notable event given the overwhelmingly male composition of university academic staff at the time; two of the department's first three lecturers were women. The new appointment, as a Junior Lecturer from 21 September 1957, was Bernice Margaret Hamilton, who held a BA and a PhD from the University of London. Like Olive Armstrong she belonged to a religious minority, Armstrong being an Irish Protestant and Hamilton an English Catholic. According to a biographical note (in Illtud Evans (ed.), Light on the Natural Law (London: Compass Books, 1965), p. 126) she had 'a cosmopolitan education', after which she took a history degree at the London School of Economics and also did some teaching there. She had been a lecturer at University College of the Gold Coast (later Ghana) from 1948 to 1952, where she was in charge of the history department, though her specialisation in the political thought of sixteenth century Europe may have made her position somewhat anachronistic in the context of growing nationalism and interest in African history. According to one of her contemporaries, 'she had no especial interest in history in Africa' (John Fage, 'Legon and Birmingham' in A. H. M. Kirk-Greene (ed.), The Emergence of African History at British Universities (Oxford: Worldview Publications, 1995), p. 63). While at Trinity Dr Hamilton taught in the area of the history of political thought, with a particular interest in Catholic political and social theory and the contested concept of 'natural law'. Another biographical note, in The Month (July 1975) p. 196, states that 'Her interests lie in the history of ideas, particularly those lying on the borders of ethics and politics'. She remained on the staff in Trinity for two or three years. She was replaced by David Thornley, with no further political theorist being appointed until 1969. She returned to the UK to become a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and she also held a Simon Research Fellowship at the University of Manchester. She was then appointed to the position of senior lecturer in political science at the University of York and became the first Provost of that university's Alcuin College in 1967, a position she held until 1976 (see portrait).

Her monograph Political Thought in Sixteenth-century Spain: a study of the political ideas of Vitoria, De Soto, Suárez and Molina was published by Oxford University Press in 1963. The Thomist concept of natural law formed the framework for these theologians' discussion of politics, and the book as a whole was described as being 'solidly documented and well-written' (Edward Taborsky in Journal of Church and State 6:1 (1964), 102–4), though another review pronounced it 'difficult to read' because of its organisational structure (H G Koenigsberger in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 42:1 (1965), 56). It explores and assesses these theologians' views not only on natural law but also on such topical issues as the relationship between church and state and the concept of a 'just war'. In the Acknowledgements section of the book she expresses her indebtedness to 'many Spanish writers in this field, not least to D. Manuel Fraga Iribarne of the Instituto de Estudios Politicos'. As well as being director of this institute Fraga Iribarne was the author of over 50 books, but he is now better known as having been Minister for Information and Tourism in Franco's government between 1962 and 1969 and, after the restoration of democracy, as the co-founder and leader of the main right-wing opposition party the AP (later PP) from 1977 to 1987 and 1989 to 1990. Dr Hamilton also wrote the standard account of 'The medical professions in the eighteenth century' (Economic History Review 4:2 (1951), 141–69). Both of these works are recorded as having a respectable number of citations on Google Scholar (233 and 63 respectively as of August 2017). She was an occasional contributor to the British Catholic periodical The Tablet and was among a large number of lay Catholics who in October 1968 published in that journal a statement expressing their disagreement with the recently-issued papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed traditional church teaching to the effect that the use of 'artificial contraception' was always and inherently morally wrong.

The number of staff grew slowly from its complement of two in 1960. (In addition to Chubb and Thornley, Calendars of the period up to 1965 also list Donal O'Sullivan, appointed 'Lecturer in international affairs' in 1949, though seemingly this was something close to a purely honorary position and did not entail delivering more than the occasional talk.) David Thornley was promoted to Lecturer in September 1962 and to Associate Professor as from October 1968. He is the subject of Yseult Thornley (ed.), Unquiet Spirit: Essays in memory of David Thornley (Dublin: Liberties Press, 2008), which contains a number of assessments and reminiscences of him, the theme of many chapters being that Thornley's life was one of great promise, only partly fulfilled. Like Olive Armstrong, he was a Trinity graduate; he had entered Trinity in 1951 at the precocious age of 16 and graduated four years later with a first-class degree in Modern History and Political Science. His 1959 PhD thesis was published in 1964 by MacGibbon and Kee (London) as Isaac Butt and Home Rule. Reviews were generally favourable, praising the level of scholarship, though one (Nicholas Mansergh in Irish Historical Studies 14:54 (1964) 183–5) expressed doubt as to whether Butt was sufficiently significant to warrant a biography and felt that the book exaggerated the importance of its subject. A later writer suggested that Thornley 'felt a strange sympathy' with Butt and identified 'a strange correspondence' between Butt's life, as related in Thornley's account, and Thornley's own (W. E. Vaughan, ' 'An element of electoral politics intruded into his life' ', in Unquiet Spirit, pp. 46 and 47). While in Trinity Thornley excelled in both boxing and singing, for which he won a Royal Irish Academy of Music prize in 1970. He was known to begin seminars in his module on 'Irish working-class movements 1864–1914' by pouring a glass of sherry for each of the students present, which no doubt contributed to the liveliness, or possibly the mellowness, of the class discussions.

Thornley acquired a high public profile as a current affairs presenter on RTÉ in the late 1960s, and was elected to the Dáil in 1969 at the head of the poll as a Labour TD for Dublin North-West. He was re-elected in 1973, but with a reduced vote and, despite the high expectations with which he had entered the Dáil in 1969, he was not seriously considered for a cabinet or junior ministerial role when Labour entered government in March 1973. As Ireland had just joined the European Union Labour was called on to nominate two MEPs (MEPs were not directly elected until 1979). The party asked another Labour TD, Barry Desmond, to take one of these positions, but he refused; the poisoned chalice was passed to Thornley, who accepted it. He was a Labour MEP for four years, a role that unfortunately contributed to his health problems, in particular his difficulties in dealing with alcohol. Barry Desmond later wrote of Thornley's becoming an MEP that 'It was to be David's death warrant' ('Our lost comrade' in Unquiet Spirit, p. 143). Thornley lost his Dáil seat at the 1977 election and died in June 1978, at the age of only 42, before he had been able to return to academic life on a full-time basis.

In September 1963 Patrick Keatinge became the fifth permanent appointment to the department when he was appointed a Junior Lecturer; he became a Lecturer in October 1966 and in 1992 he became Jean Monnet Professor in European Integration, being elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in the same year. He had graduated from Trinity with a BA in Modern History and Political Science in the late 1950s, and also had a masters degree from the University of London. His 1968 Trinity PhD thesis on the formulation of Irish foreign policy was supervised by Basil Chubb. Patrick Keatinge was initially hired with the challenging brief of teaching both comparative politics and international relations. After some years of teaching in both these areas (the comparative politics modules focused in particular on France and the USA), as well as a History module on the League of Nations, the arrival of additional staff with expertise in various aspects of comparative politics enabled him to concentrate on international relations. He was for many years Ireland's leading authority on Irish foreign policy and the European Union, and he retired in 1999 after 36 years in the Department (see here for fuller information). In 2002 a volume of essays written by former students was published in tribute to him: Ben Tonra and Eilís Ward (eds), Ireland in international affairs - interests, institutions and identities: Essays in honour of Professor N. P. Keatinge (Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 2002). For fuller details, see his personal page. He is commemorated through the Patrick Keatinge Undergraduate prize awarded annually to the Senior Sophister student, studying Political Science alone in SS year, who achieves the best performance (first award in 2013).

The appointment in October 1969 of two new Junior Lecturers, Ronald J Hill and John Joseph O'Day, brought the staff complement to 5, and now there was no doubt that the critical mass needed to constitute a department had been attained. John O'Day resigned in 1976 to return to the USA, where he went on to work in public affairs. Ron Hill, long regarded as one of the world's leading experts on communist politics, was made Professor of Comparative Government in 1991, became a Senior Fellow of TCD in 2006, and retired in September 2007 after 38 years in the department, including serving as Head of Department from 1991 to 1993 (see his personal page for fuller information). In 2014 he published Grammar School Boy: a Lincolnshire education (Clifden: Clifden Gate Publications) in which he recounts his early years and his school education. The book – which his former students will be unsurprised to learn is completely free of any typos, dubious grammar, convoluted syntax or stylistic infelicities – outlines the opportunities that education opened up for him, taking him away from the life of 'drudgery, hard work and limited expectations' that his parents had known, but at the same time bringing about a distance between himself and the environment in which he had grown up. He is commemorated through the annual Ronald J Hill prize awarded for performance in the annual Scholarship exams (first award in 2016).

In October 1973 Michael Marsh was appointed a Junior Lecturer, the eighth permanent appointment, and it was primarily through him that the 'behaviourist revolution' in the study of politics reached Trinity. Michael Marsh had been trained at two universities known for their strength in a behaviourist and quantitative approach to the study of politics, Essex and Strathclyde, and he was also one of the first appointees, perhaps the first, to have an undergraduate degree in political science. He rose to become Head of Department (1998–2002 and 2004–05), Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy (2005–08), Professor of Comparative Political Behaviour in 2007, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (2008–10 and 2011–12), and Vice-Provost (Chief Academic Officer) of TCD in 2010–11. He became one of the foremost analysts of electoral behaviour both in Ireland, as founder and director of the Irish National Election Study (INES) and more widely, as a leading analyst of voting behaviour at European Parliament elections across the EU, and he was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2016. He retired in 2013 after 40 years' service in the Department, though remains an active researcher. The book A Conservative Revolution? Electoral change in twenty-first century Ireland, published by Oxford University Press in March 2017, to which he contributed, can be seen as the equivalent of a festschrift for Prof Marsh, with contributions from many of those who have had the privilege of working with him over the years, as colleagues, collaborators or PhD students.

With Michael Marsh's appointment in 1973 the department was in a strong position, with six members (Chubb, Thornley, Keatinge, Hill, O'Day and Marsh), and seemed poised for growth given the high levels of interest among students in the study of politics. Unfortunately, though, Michael Marsh's arrival in 1973 proved to be the last expansion appointment for a quarter of a century. The next three appointments were all replacements. Following John O'Day's departure, in 1977 James L Hyland (invariably known as Eddie Hyland) was appointed as the department's resident political theorist, a position that he retained up to his retirement in 2010 and indeed beyond, as he continued teaching on a part-time basis in the department until the end of the 2014–15 academic year. Hyland was only the second member of staff to have completed a PhD before he took up his post; all previous appointees, apart from Bernice Hamilton, had still been working on theirs when initially appointed. His book Democratic Theory: the philosophical foundations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995) is an outstanding analysis of the concept of democracy, a concept that 'has come to reign supreme in the pantheon of political ideas'. The book Raj Chari (ed.), Hard Questions for Democracy (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013) is in effect a festschrift for Dr Hyland. He is commemorated through the annual Eddie Hyland prize awarded for the best performance in SS year by a student following the History and Political Science programme (first award in 2018).

In 1979 Michael Gallagher was appointed to the vacant lectureship created by the untimely death of David Thornley, becoming the tenth permanent appointment to the department, and in 1993, following Basil Chubb's retirement, Michael Laver became the second Professor of Political Science, as noted above. From 1979 to 1991 the department displayed a level of stability that was remarkable even in that era; it consisted of the same six individuals (Chubb, Keatinge, Hill, Marsh, Hyland and Gallagher), and only of these six, each of whom was to serve at least 36 years in the department.

At that time (and indeed later) the department was fortunate to have a series of particularly dedicated and efficient administrative staff, then termed secretaries but later executive officers (EOs) to reflect their range of responsibilities. Its last EO while in House 6 (see section below on Location) was Carol O'Sullivan, who took part in the move to the Arts Building, and she was succeeded by Gillian McGarry (1979–81). Orla Sheehan was then the Political Science EO for four years (1981–85) and she has gone on to hold a range of senior administrative positions within Trinity at both School and Faculty level and in the Office of the Vice-Provost. The longest serving EO was Miriam Nestor (1985–2000), who was not only a great support for staff and a helpful and welcoming presence for undergraduates but also provided a particularly sympathetic ear for PhD students in the early and very demanding days of the department's integrated PhD programme after its introduction in 1995.

Not until the appointment of Ken Benoit as a Lecturer in 1998 did academic staff numbers rise beyond their 1973 level. The arrival of Raj Chari as a Lecturer in 1999 marked a further expansion, but the next permanent appointment, that of Gail McElroy as a Lecturer in 2005, was in effect a replacement for Michael Laver following his departure for New York. More recent arrivals and departures are noted in the News and News Archive pages, and information on current staff can be found on the Staff page.

Prior to the creation of the faculty structure in 1969, the embryonic department had no fixed place in the scheme of things, and staff were listed in several places in the College Calendar, according to the programmes on which they taught rather than by departmental affiliation per se. For example, in the 1965–66 College Calendar Chubb and Thornley are listed under both 'History and political science' and 'Business and Social Studies', while Chubb, Keatinge and Thornley are listed under 'Economics and political science'. Trinity's adoption of a faculty-based structure as from 1969 brought some order and hierarchy to the relationship between different units and areas. There were six faculties, and the Department of Political Science was situated within what came to be called the Faculty of Business, Economic and Social Studies (BESS). The faculty was originally named the 'Faculty of Social Sciences', being renamed 'Faculty of Economic and Social Studies' in 1970 and taking the name 'Faculty of Business, Economic and Social Studies' in 1988; unhelpfully, Political Science was more or less invisible in each of these titles. This continued to be the position until the 2005 dissolution of the existing faculty structure and its replacement by a series of Schools. The Department is now a member of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, along with the Departments of Economics, Philosophy, and Sociology. The school is, in turn, a member of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (one of three faculties across the College).

The News and News Archive pages contain information on arrivals and departures in recent years. As well as those staff members already mentioned, other past permanent staff members include Dr Nalini Persram (appointed 1999), who left the department in 2006 after seven years in TCD to take up a position at York University in Toronto; and Professor Robert Thomson (appointed 2005), a leading scholar of decision-making in the EU and of pledge fulfilment by political parties, who left in December 2012 to take up a chair at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

 

PhD and masters programmes

The Department always had a number of doctoral students working on an individual basis with little or no methodological training, and many excellent theses emerged from their work. In a major initiative in 1995 Political Science introduced a new PhD programme, under which graduate students would undergo intensive coursework, with a particular emphasis on training in research design and methods, which would be followed by a completion of a thesis. After an initial lead-in period, the programme has produced a steady flow of PhDs. The Department's intellectual vibrancy has been greatly enhanced by the presence of, at any given time, around 20–25 PhD students, who contribute to the research and teaching work of the department and present their research findings at weekly departmental seminars and international conferences.

In a further strengthening of its postgraduate training, the Department introduced a Masters in Comparative European Politics in 2008. This has now been replaced by a Masters in Politics and Public Policy. In 2010 a Masters in International Politics was introduced. Both have been very successful in attracting high-quality students from all over the globe.

 

Undergraduate

The Department has also expanded its undergraduate teaching commitments over the years, in response to a exponential increase in its student numbers. While it is sometimes assumed that the choice of ‘Political Science’ as the name of the emerging department in the 1960s, rather than ‘Politics’ or ‘Government’, was a statement about where the department saw itself in relation to contemporary international debates about how the study of politics should be carried out, in fact the title simply represented a continuation of long-existing terminology within Trinity going back to the nineteenth century. In this tradition, ‘political science’ denoted the study of politics as a discipline or branch of study in itself, as distinct from disciplines such as history or economics, rather than implying an allegiance to any particular methodological paradigm, such as a specifically social scientific approach. The term 'Political Science' appeared in Trinity College first in 1855; at this time the major event taking place in Europe was the Crimean War, the alleged mishandling of which led to a change of prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from Lord Aberdeen to Lord Palmerston; the Democrat Franklin Pierce was President of the USA; in France, the 'emperor' Louis Napoleon was in the seventh year of his rule, and the Gare de Lyon was built as part of Baron Haussmann's reconstruction of Paris; the unification of Germany and of Italy still lay more than a decade in the future; and in Ireland, while there were no dramatic political developments, the aftermath of the famine was still strongly felt, with an estimated 70,000 people emigrating, down from a peak of 250,000 in 1847.

The Trinity College Calendar for 1855–56 announced the establishment of a 'fifth Moderatorship' in History, Political Science and English Literature, and the first cohort to take the prescribed final-year modules graduated in 1856 (Calendar pages here). In 1873 this degree became a Moderatorship in History and Political Science. By 1910 it was also possible to obtain a Moderatorship in Legal and Political Science. The 1913 final-year exam paper for 'Political and Economic Science', which was a module within the Legal and Political Science programme, is shown here. In 1924 the History and Political Science degree programme was expanded into a Moderatorship in Ancient History and Political Science and a Moderatorship in Modern History and Political Science, with a good deal of overlap between the two; in the 1932–33 academic year a Moderatorship in Economics and Political Science was introduced, with the first students to complete the programme being conferred with their degrees in December 1935; and in 1964 the combination of history and politics was rationalised into a new degree of History and Political Science. For admission to this programme students were required to have a matriculation qualification in Latin and another language, a requirement unlikely to be reinstated any time soon.

During the period between the appointment of Olive Armstrong in 1934 and the arrival of Basil Chubb in 1948 the books used, as listed in the annual Trinity Calendar, were a mixture of the modern and the 'classic'. The latter included A. Lawrence Lowell, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe (1896); Sir Frederick Pollock, An Introduction to the History of the Science of Politics (1890); and Henry Sidgwick's posthumously-published The Development of European Polity (1903). More contemporary items included Sir Ivor Jennings, Cabinet Government (1936); Arthur Berriedale Keith, Governments of the British Empire (1935); Harold Laski, Introduction to Politics (1931); Nicholas Mansergh, The Irish Free State: its government and politics (1934); Robert Henry Murray, The History of Political Science from Plato to the Present (1929); Michael Oakeshott, Social and Political Doctrines of Contemporary Europe (1941); and Kenneth Wheare, The Statute of Westminster and Dominion Status (1938).

There is no doubt that Political Science was very much the junior partner in all of the degree programmes in which it featured, and indeed the subject is not even mentioned in McDowell and Webb's Trinity College Dublin 1592–1952: an academic history (Cambridge University Press, 1982). The University of Dublin Calendar for 1960–61, for example, by which stage a de facto Department of Political Science existed as discussed above, gives the syllabus for Modern History and Political Science, and shows that there were no Political Science courses (or modules, in post-2012 terminology) in either JF or SF year (1st year and 2nd year in non-Trinity parlance). The predominance of History was attenuated slightly in JS year (3rd year), where Political Science supplied the module 'History of Political Thought in Europe', while in SS year (the 4th and final year) the offerings were solidly from History apart from one module titled 'Problems in Modern Political and Social Philosophy'. There was a slightly greater Political Science contribution to the Economics and Political Science degree programme, with a JF module titled 'Social and political institutions' and a SF module on 'Public administration'. In JS and SS the same modules as in History and Political Science were available, as well as, in SS, a module on 'Vocational representation'.

In the 1961–62 Calendar the SS module 'Problems in Modern Political and Social Philosophy' had been replaced by 'Contemporary political theories', a module that has survived for over 50 years. Political Science retained its marginal role in the Modern History and Political Science degree, with the only modules specifically flagged as being supplied by Political Science throughout the 1960s being the two political theory modules, History of political thought in JS year (also a long-term survivor, though now taught in SF) and Contemporary political theories in SS. Among the History sophister offerings were 'Working-class movements, 1864–1914', which was taught by David Thornley, and 'The evolution of parliaments in western Europe', though the latter was not offered after 1966–67. In short, the Modern History and Political Science degree and the History and Political Science degree were, despite their names, basically History degrees that simply included two modules on political theory supplied by Political Science.

The degree in 'History and Political Science' gradually faded away; it appears under that name for the last time in the 1970–71 Calendar. In the two following Calendars the relevant section is titled 'School of History', though those who scoured the small print of the section would find a couple of references to 'history and political science' buried in the text. Even these were absent from the 1973–74 Calendar; now, the two political theory modules taught by Political Science were merely options for students taking a History degree. The dropping of 'and Political Science' from the name of the degree was simply a recognition of the reality that students graduating from the programme had studied very little political science during their four years in Trinity and could not really claim much familiarity with the field, unlike graduates from the very different History and Political Science programme that was to be introduced in 1990.

As from 1963–4 the module offerings in the Economics and Political Science degree programme began to grow. Political Science in Trinity was defining itself more as a part of the social sciences than as an adjunct to History, in line, as Patrick Keatinge observes, with world-wide trends. By this time, the department offered 'Political institutions 1' in JF and 'Political institutions 2' in SF year. In JS two new modules appear, 'Development of political thought' and 'International political institutions', the latter reflecting the appointment of Patrick Keatinge as a junior lecturer in September 1963. In SS year there were 'Political theory 1', 'Political theory 2' and a third dose of 'Political institutions'. In addition, by the middle of the decade the department was making minor contributions to the Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS) and Bachelor of Social Studies (BSS) degrees, though usually this did not extend beyond a single module in 'Political institutions'.

The modules supplied in the Economics and Political Science degree became more diverse as from 1968–69; now, there was a JF module titled 'The government and politics of Ireland and the United Kingdom', an SF module titled 'History of political thought', JS modules on 'Government and politics of France’ and ‘International political institutions’, and SS modules titled ‘Contemporary political theories’ and ‘Comparative government'. Even so, the balance in the Economics and Political Science degree programme was approximately 75–25 in favour of the former subject. As from the 1970–71 academic year, this degree was in effect subsumed into the Moderatorship in Economic and Social Studies. While there was undoubtedly a certain logic to this, it meant that for the next twenty years the name 'Political Science' was not mentioned in the title of any degree programme, an unwelcome low profile for the subject and for the department that did not assist in the recruitment of undergraduates as it may have created the impression among some school-leavers considering their third-level options that political science was not among the subjects that could be studied at Trinity.

In 1969–70 'Government and politics of France' was replaced by a module with the magnificently Hibernocentric title of 'Modern foreign governments', a title that did not do justice to the genuine interest in both political and academic developments in the wider world that was taken by the department's staff at this time. The recruitment of Ron Hill in 1969 gave the department a new expertise in the communist world, especially the Soviet Union, and was marked by the introduction during the 1970s of modules in 'Government and politics of the USSR', 'Soviet society', and 'Soviet government'. The impact of Michael Marsh's arrival in 1973 was apparent in the appearance of modules such as 'West European politics and government', 'Measuring political behaviour', 'Quantitative political and social analysis', and 'European political movements'. The behaviourist revolution had arrived in Trinity. Perhaps surprisingly, there was no dedicated module in 'Irish politics' until 1978, when it was taught as a JS module by Basil Chubb, and subsequently by Michael Gallagher.

The geographical range of departmental teaching was widened further by the inclusion in the JF 'Introduction to political science' course of a 7-week module on 'The politics of West Africa', taught from the late 1970s through to the mid-1990s first by Michael Marsh and then by Michael Gallagher. The strongest recollection of students from that time seems to be not anything about the substance of the lectures but the politically relevant music played by Gallagher during lectures, notably 'Jah Houphouet' by the Ivorian musician Alpha Blondy (a speech by Cote d'Ivoire president Felix Houphouet-Boigny over a backing track) and 'Candidat na Biso Mobutu' (Mobutu, candidate of the people) by Franco and the TPOK Jazz, written in support of the Zairean president / dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in the 1984 presidential election campaign; this track, together with the fact that he was the sole candidate permitted by law, enabled him to secure re-election with a claimed 100 per cent of the vote. More recently the department has been able to offer a final-year module in African politics, taught successively by Shane Mac Giollabhui, Clionadh Raleigh, Christian Houle and Michelle D'Arcy. It has also expanded its teaching in EU Politics through Raj Chari and Robert Thomson.

From the early 1990s, a number of new degree programmes have been introduced; in some cases, probably unbeknownst to the designers of the new degree programmes, these were in effect a reinstatement, albeit with very different content, of programmes that had been in existence in earlier decades. In 1990, a new programme, History and Political Science, was introduced, with Philosophy and Political Science following in 1995. In each case the two disciplines were equal partners in the degree programmes, in contrast to the earlier 'History and Political Science' degree programmes. History and Political Science continues to flourish, though PhilPol has now been subsumed into the PPES (Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology) degree, introduced in 2008, through which students can study these two subjects, or any other combination, together. Two further programmes began in October 2009: Law and Political Science, and Political Science and Geography. The first cohort in both of these programmes graduated in the summer of 2013. Full details are on the Undergraduate page.

 

Location

Even after what can be seen as its founding moment in 1959, it took time for the Department to acquire a definite home. When Patrick Keatinge arrived as a lecturer in 1963 he was assigned an office in the Rubrics, the oldest buildings on the campus, while head of department Basil Chubb was in a separate building in New Square. At a later stage in the 1960s department staff moved to more or less contiguous office space on the upper two floors in House 6, near the main entrance to Trinity's campus, subsequently the base of the Students' Union and the student-run Trinity FM radio station. In 1978 the department relocated to the then-new Arts Building, occupying rooms on the 3rd floor, the departmental office being Room 3072, with the head of department in 3073 and other lecturers in rooms 3055 to 3058. In 1998 it moved again, this time to a new location off campus, adjacent to the Temple Bar area, in 1 College Green. The Department occupies the top two floors of the building, with sweeping views across the city skyline taking in College Green, the Millennium Spire, Croke Park and the Hill of Howth (plus the Phoenix Park from a few west-facing offices), though these views are being progressively obscured by the growth of the trees in Foster Place. There are details of how to find us on our contact page. Much of the Department's teaching still takes place in the Arts Building.

 

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Last updated 1 November 2017 polsci@tcd.ie.