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Politics and Irish Society

Module Code: PO1603

Module Name: Politics and Irish Society 2018-19

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Michaelmas + Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 2 Hours Lecture per week; 1 fortnightly tutorial
  • Module Personnel: Lecturer - Dr Jacqueline Hayden

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to identify the core issues and debates at the heart of political discourse. Students will be able to use a variety of different theoretical and practical approaches to analysing political questions.

Module Learning Aims

This course has three aims:

  1. First, it seeks to equip students with a basic theoretical knowledge of the key political questions and policy problems the world of politics experiences today.
  2. Second, it will furnish students with the fundamental conceptual and analytical tools used in the discipline of political science in the consideration of such questions.
  3. Third, it seeks to enable students to critically analyse the major political questions in Irish society and beyond.

Module Content

There are six main sections in the course.

  • The first section considers the basic principles of politics and political philosophy, including different conceptions of the nature of power, and basic theories of political analysis. It focuses on questions such as how differing ideas about the nature of human motivation, liberty, equality and justice inform political decision-making. In this section key concepts such as the state, nation, and political system are explored. We look at differing conceptions of the state and explore ideas about what purpose the state serves.
  • The second section examines key elements of a political system including the role of political institutions such as constitutions and electoral systems in shaping how society and government functions. We examine the idea and role of the separation of powers, representation, the executive, and the judiciary.
  • Focusing on democratic theory, this section explores the conditions that promote and constrain the emergence of democracy and examine authoritarian resilience and re-emergence in various parts of the world.
  • In section four, theories of international relations are introduced and the impact of globalization on the sovereignty of states is assessed. Issues such as the use of terror by sub-state actors and questions about the key cleavages in international politics are discussed.
  • Section five examines how citizens and social scientists interrogate the world around them. Is it ever possible for human beings to be completely objective? The role of the media in framing political discourse and setting agendas is explored with particular attention focusing on the media in Ireland. We also examine the claim that research by political scientists is ‘scientific’.
  • In the final part of the course we focus on Irish public policy. In particular we will look at key issues such as housing, public and private debt as well as the debates around economic policy and fiscal management. The many challenges posed to Ireland in the context of Brexit will underpin the content of this part of the course.

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Recommended Reading List

The main textbook is:

  • Andrew Heywood, Politics, 4th edition (London: Palgrave 2013).

Other useful texts are:

  • Andrew Heywood, Political Ideologies: An Introduction, 4th edition (London: Palgrave 2012)
  • Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View, (Macmillan: London, 1974) (2nd edition 2005)
  • Gallagher M., M. Laver, and P. Mair, Representative Government in Modern Europe, (McGraw-Hill: 2011)

Assessment Details

This course will be assessed by an end of year examination, participation in an in-lecture seminar and by two multiple choice exams that will be taken at the end of each Term. 
Exam                                      70%
Multiple choice exams             20%    
Seminar participation              10%

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