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Business, economic and social studies (BESS) common entry degree programme leading to 10 degree options

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

Course overview

BESS is a uniquely flexible degree programme offering you 10 different degree options across the disciplines of Business, Economics, Political science and Sociology (see ‘BESS Degree Options’ section). It provides students with a broadly-based education allowing them to opt for either a single honor or joint honor degree. It also offers a high level of flexibility in two very important ways: from the second year onwards students are allowed to (a) choose the specific degree they wish to take (see BESS Degree Options box) and, (b) choose individual modules within their chosen degree path. Students therefore have an opportunity to adjust their study programmes in accordance with their academic results, interests, aptitudes and emerging career aspirations.

Is this the right course for you?

All students on the BESS programme take the same programme of study in the first year – this is called a common entry programme. This common first year of BESS introduces you to a broad range of disciplines that will help you make sense of the complex world in which we live today. From the second year onwards, the flexible structure of the BESS programme allows you to pursue these specific interests in greater breadth and depth while still retaining considerable freedom over the selection of individual modules. Graduates invariably tell us that it is this broad flexible approach that allowed them to build the knowledge and insights that they rely on progressively as they advance to more senior positions in their careers.

Course content

The common first year

Students take six modules:

  • Introduction to Economics
  • Introduction to Political science
  • Introduction to Organisation and management
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Choose one from Law, Social policy, Introduction to Central, East European and Russian Area studies OR a language*

*For French and German a grade HC2 in the Leaving Certificate. For Spanish a grade HB3 in the Leaving Certificate, Russian and Polish are taught at beginners level.

Lectures are complemented by smaller tutorial/seminar groups in which you will work throughout the academic year. In this way BESS students are provided with the best of both worlds: lectures deliver authoritative summaries of material which is then analysed in detail in small groups.


Degree options

After the common first year, BESS students can choose any of the following 10 degree options.

BESS Degree Options   Single honor degrees (choose from one of the four below)
  • Business (B.B.S.)
  • Economics
  • Political science
  • Sociology
Joint honor degrees (combining any two of the four disciplines above)
  • Business and Economics
  • Economics and Political science
  • Political science and Sociology
  • Sociology and Business
  • Business and Political science
  • Economics and Sociology

Features of the BESS degree structure:

  • Access to all 10 degree options is completely open at the end of the first year.
  • It is possible to keep open up to three BESS degree options during second year, thus facilitating the postponement of a final choice until the beginning of the third year.
  • Consultations with your personal tutor, lecturers and the Careers Advisory Service help to ensure that informed choices are made in line with your aspirations and subject orientation.

Years 2, 3 and 4

The table 'BESS at a glance' (see above) gives you a sense of the richness and diversity of modules that are available within BESS in the second, third and fourth years, including complementary modules offered by other disciplines.

Choosing modules - single honor degrees:

In the second year, single honor students take approximately half of their modules from their preferred discipline, leaving them free to choose their remaining modules from one or more of the other three disciplines.

In the third and fourth years, students take the majority of their modules from their chosen discipline but, in keeping with the BESS philosophy of flexibility, there is significant scope to choose modules which appeal most from the range of available modules.

Choosing modules for the Joint(two) Honor degree options:

Throughout years 2, 3 and 4, joint honor students take approximately half of their modules from each of the two disciplines they select. Since module choices may be made from among the full range available in two disciplines, the joint honour programmes offer exceptionally high flexibility with regard to programme design and module choice.

Final year dissertation/case study:

In the final year, students may be required or permitted to write a dissertation or prepare a case study. This allows students to research a particular subject, issue or company in greater depth, at the same time providing an excellent opportunity to position oneself for a career in a specific sector or for postgraduate study.


Most BESS modules involve a system of continuous assessment, essays, projects and/or presentations contributing between 30% to 50% of the overall grade per module. The remainder is based on results of written end-of-year examination.

Study abroad

Students in BESS have the opportunity to study abroad in their third year at prestigious universities in countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium or Spain, as well as English-speaking international exchange programmes to prestigious universities in Europe, North America, Australia and in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan). First and second year BESS students have the option to study French, German, Spanish, Russian or Polish. Some of the more popular universities are Uppsala University, Sweden, Emory University, Georgia, Senshu University, Japan, IEP – Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, France, QUT Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Why choose BESS?

(Business, Economics, Political science and Sociology)


  • Top international professors and leading business people engage with the students, challenge them and guide them into top roles within the business world. Past students are now leaders in the world of business, government, entertainment, technology, innovation and non-profit businesses.
  • The Trinity Business School is ranked 1st in Ireland and 37th in the world by Eduniversal, 2013, and the Trinity MBA is in the top 39 globally (2013 QS Elite Global Business Schools).


  • Many of the economic problems which dominate the headlines are engaged within this discipline. Economics blends together theory, data and statistical techniques to help understand economic problems and to make policy recommendations.
  • Trinity is ranked first in Ireland, in the top 40 in Europe and in the top 100 universities in the world for Economics and Econometrics (2014 QS World University Rankings).

Political science

  • Politics affects us all in our daily lives. Should government tax the rich for greater equality? Should the amount of money the EU spends on agriculture be cut? Questions such as these, along with analysis of political systems and how democracy works, are at the heart of the study of politics.
  • Trinity is ranked first in Ireland, 11th in Europe and 46th in the world for Politics and International Studies (2014 QS World University Rankings).


  • Sociology is the study of social change and the consequences of human behaviour. When you study Sociology you will get the opportunity to analyse people and societies, exploring areas as diverse as popular culture, education, employment, migration and conflict.
  • Trinity’s Sociology Department is ranked first in Ireland and in the top 40 in Europe (2014 QS World University Rankings).

Career and Postgraduate opportunities

From a career perspective BESS is an extremely flexible and practical degree programme. Many BESS graduates have gone on to postgraduate study at leading universities around the world such as the London School of Economics, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Warwick.

Graduates are also highly sought after by employers, in a range of fields, such as in finance and banking, politics, research, management consulting, teaching, public service, journalism, within both national and international organisations within the profit, not for profit and public sectors. Graduates have gone on to successful and rewarding careers in varied roles around the globe. The following are just a few examples of the organisations that have recruited BESS graduates:

Accenture, Alcatel, Cisco, Barclay’s Bank, Commission for Energy Regulation, Enterprise Ireland, Google, KPMG, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Tesco, Topshop, Channel 4 and Atlantic Philanthropies,

See for further details.


Further information

Web :


Phone: +353 1 896 1840 Course Office : Room 3023, Arts Building, Trinity College, Dublin 2

BESS at a glance

Year 1 (6 modules)

  • Introduction to organisation and management
  • Introduction to economics
  • Mathematics and statistics
Political science
  • Introduction to political science
  • Introduction to sociology

Complementary modules

Choose one subject from:

  • Law
  • Social policy
  • Intro to Central, East European and Russian Area studies
  • Language (French, German, Spanish, Russian or Polish)


Year 2 (6 modules)

Choice depends on single or joint honor*


  • Organisational behaviour
  • Introduction to marketing principles
  • Introduction to accounting
  • Introduction to finance
  • Introduction to operations management
  • Creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurial action
  • Intermediate economics
  • Economy of Ireland
  • Economics of public policy
  • Mathematics and statistics
Political science
  • History of political thought
  • International relations
  • Comparative politics
  • Gender, culture and society
  • European societies
  • Introduction to social research
  • Power, state and social movements
Complementary modules
  • Central problems in philosophy
  • History of philosophy
  • Logic and philosophy of science
  • Social security policy
  • Health policy
  • Housing policy
  • Crime and Irish society
  • Language
  • Law
  • Broad Curriculum


Year 3 (6 modules)

Specialise in depth in 1 or 2 BESS disciplines


  • Financial and management accounting
  • Applied finance
  • Marketing management
  • Human resource management
  • Organisation theory
  • Services and information management
  • Business in Society
  • Innovation, entrepreneurship and new venture development
  • Management accounting for business
  • Personal and professional development (B.B.S. students)
  • Economic analysis
  • Money and banking
  • European economy
  • Economics of less developed countries
  • Investment analysis
  • Economics of policy issues
  • Industrial economics
  • Mathematical economics
  • Econometrics
Political science
  • Research methods for political scientists
  • Irish politics
  • Democracy and development
  • European Union politics
  • Social theory
  • Globalisation and development
  • Researching society
  • Race, ethnicity and identity
  • Social policy and inequality
Complementary modules
  • Comparative welfare states
  • Crime and social policy
  • Company law
  • Commercial law
  • International law


Year 4 (4 modules)

Specialise in depth in 1 or 2 BESS disciplines

  • International business and the global economy
  • Exploring organisational experiences
  • Financial reporting and analysis
  • Financial markets and the corporate sector
  • Advances in marketing theory and practice
  • Managing new product development
  • Social entrepreneurship and social innovation
  • Economic policy and business history
  • Economic theory
  • World economy
  • Economics of financial markets
  • Transport economics
  • Quantitative methods
  • International economics
  • Monetary thought and policy
  • Economic and legal aspects of competition policy
  • Applied economics
Political science
  • Contemporary political theories
  • Political parties
  • Issues in contemporary politics
  • Contemporary international relations
  • African politics
  • Topics in political science
  • Research seminar
  • Sociology dissertation
  • Economic sociology of Europe
  • Conflict studies
  • Popular culture and digital lives
  • Migration
Complementary modules (available as electives)
  • Poverty, inequality and redistribution


Specific Entry Requirements

Leaving CertificateOC3/HD3 Mathematics
GCSEGrade B Mathematics
Other EU examination systemsSee

Graduate Profile

Name: Peter Robert Gardner
Degree: B.A. (Mod) Single Honors Sociology

(BESS Graduate 2012, currently reading for a PhD at the University of Cambridge)

I was originally attracted to the BESS programme because it would provide me with a broad base of subjects in junior freshman year (with modules in Economics, Sociology, Business, Political Science, and a choice between law and a language) whilst allowing me to specialise in a single subject by senior sophister year.

Graduate Profile

Name : Iseult Ward     Degree: BBS in Business Studies

(BESS Graduate 2013, founded the Food Cloud company during 3rd year)

I really enjoyed my time in BESS. I loved studying the various subjects in first year and then found that Business was my favourite one, which was why I specialized in it for the next three years. In third year, I founded a company FoodCloud. I was able to shape my final year courses to keep them relevant to my ‘new 'business', receiving great support from lecturers.