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UCD School of Politics and International Relations

Scoil na Polaitíochta agus Gnóthaí Idirnáisiúnta UCD

Graduate Programmes

The graduate programme in the UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) encompasses master’s degrees and graduate diplomas in a wide range of areas, including development studies, European affairs, human rights, international relations, Irish and European politics, nationalism and ethnic conflict, and political theory. In particular, we offer both MSc and MA programmes in four subject areas, three interdisciplinary master’s degrees, and two graduate diplomas. Basic information on all these programmes is available below, with further details available by clicking on the various programmes’ titles.

SPIRe currently has nearly 150 postgraduate students from over 30 countries. In addition to their studies, these students have access to visiting speakers and other activities of the School's three research centres: the Centre for Sustainable Development Solutions, the Dublin European Institute, and the Institute for British-Irish Studies.

Our graduates work at leading universities and in governments, EU institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, the media, business and the voluntary sector. They are known for their ability to communicate clearly and effectively about complex issues, their ability to analyse and resolve difficult problems, and their contribution to cutting-edge scholarship.


Image Usage

Political Theory Image by J.-H. Janßen (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

First Year Modules

Level One Politics modules introduce students to the central areas of politics, giving them a solid foundation on which to develop their understanding of the contemporary world.  Those students who continue to levels 2 and 3 in Politics will be able to deepen their understanding and to pursue the areas of politics and international relations that interest them most. 

The object of the core foundation modules is to introduce students to the main features of politics, and especially of democratic government, in their practical and theoretical aspects. Students attend a combination of lectures and tutorials, and their final assessment is based on various forms of continuous assessment through tutorials, including attendance, participation, exercises and a final examination.

If students successfully complete the two core foundation modules in their first year, they will be able to choose Politics as a joint major in the subsequent years.  We recommend strongly that students take at least three modules in their first year, so that they will have broader choices of modules later.  Students who may be interested in pursuing Politics as a single subject major will need to achieve a B- average in their first year modules.

Tutorials are attached to all of our first year modules.  Lively and informed discussions are at the heart of learning in politics; to enjoy and succeed in Politics, students are expected to be actively engaged in tutorials, as well as regularly attending lectures and completing the exercises and essays set in tutorials.

Level 1 modules offered for 2016-17

Semester 1

POL 10160 Foundations of Contemporary Politics (CORE)
Module Coordinator: Professor Niamh Hardiman

People mean many different things when they talk about ‘politics’. Politics can be understood as the collective activity through which we organize the life we share in common, and work to give effect to the
values we think are important such as freedom, justice, equality, peace, security. Politics is also the term we use for the practices involved in organizing public life, regulating who gets involved in decision-making and
on what terms, and shaping how much influence they get to have over those decisions, whether at local, national or transnational level. And politics is often equated with the clash of preferences between people or groups, and the efforts people make to get their own way, sometimes by very low means indeed. This module introduces a variety of ways of thinking about politics, and provides some of the key concepts and analytical frameworks used in analysing politics. 

INRL 10010 Foundations of Political Theory and International Relations (CORE)
Module Coordinator: Dr Tobias Theiler

This module has two parts: an Introduction to Political Theory and an Introduction to International Relations. The first part of the course provides an introduction to political theory, focusing on changing conceptions and models of democracy, mainly through the thought of three challenging and influential political thinkers, Aristotle, Mill and Marx. This part of the module focuses in particular on four key themes: the meaning and relative importance of the political principles of liberty, equality and community; how much political participation there should be; the social pre-conditions for democracy; and to what extent the kind of democracy possible depends on how we think of human nature.
The second part of the course offers an introduction to the main issues in contemporary international politics. It first looks at the development of the modern international system, focusing especially on the post-Cold War era. It then examines a range of substantive issues that occupy students of contemporary international politics: war and other forms of inter-state conflict, global trade and communication, migration, economic inequality, global environmental issues, international integration, terrorism, human rights, and the role of multinational corporations and transnational pressure groups.
This module is required for any student wishing to take Politics as a major at Stage Two. In addition to the lectures, an essential part of this module are seven tutorials in which students learn through writing essays and exercises and through participating in discussions.

POL 10010 Irish Politics
Module Coordinator: Prof David Farrell

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the workings of the Irish political system. We start by locating Irish politics in comparative terms, showing how unusual a political system it is in comparison to other European states. The course then examines the historical, constitutional, social and political context of Irish politics. It deals with the ground rules within which Irish elections take place, the evolution of the Irish party system, and voting behaviour in elections and referendums. The course exmaines the operation of the main political institutions: the Dail, the Seanad, the government, the judiciary and major offices such as those of President and Taoiseach. Other important forums for political activity are also considered. This course will be taught entirely by lectures; there will be no tutorials. Assessment will be solely by exam at the end of the semester

Semester 2

POL 10160 Foundations of Contemporary Politics (CORE)
Module Coordinator: Professor Niamh Hardiman

People mean many different things when they talk about ‘politics’. Politics can be understood as the collective activity through which we organize the life we share in common, and work to give effect to the
values we think are important such as freedom, justice, equality, peace, security. Politics is also the term we use for the practices involved in organizing public life, regulating who gets involved in decision-making and
on what terms, and shaping how much influence they get to have over those decisions, whether at local, national or transnational level. And politics is often equated with the clash of preferences between people or groups, and the efforts people make to get their own way, sometimes by very low means indeed. This module introduces a variety of ways of thinking about politics, and provides some of the key concepts and analytical frameworks used in analysing politics. 

INRL 10010 Foundations of Political Theory and International Relations (CORE)
Module Coordinator: Dr Graham Finlay

This module has two parts: an Introduction to Political Theory and an Introduction to International Relations. The first part of the course provides an introduction to political theory, focusing on changing conceptions and models of democracy, mainly through the thought of three challenging and influential political thinkers, Aristotle, Mill and Marx. This part of the module focuses in particular on four key themes: the meaning and relative importance of the political principles of liberty, equality and community; how much political participation there should be; the social pre-conditions for democracy; and to what extent the kind of democracy possible depends on how we think of human nature.
The second part of the course offers an introduction to the main issues in contemporary international politics. It first looks at the development of the modern international system, focusing especially on the post-Cold War era. It then examines a range of substantive issues that occupy students of contemporary international politics: war and other forms of inter-state conflict, global trade and communication, migration, economic inequality, global environmental issues, international integration, terrorism, human rights, and the role of multinational corporations and transnational pressure groups.
This module is required for any student wishing to take Politics as a major at Stage Two. In addition to the lectures, an essential part of this module are seven tutorials in which students learn through writing essays and exercises and through participating in discussions.

POL 10120 Globalisation and Development
Module Coordinator: Dr Andy Storey

This module is designed to introduce students to key themes in global politics and development. The phenomenon of 'globalisation' - which may be described as the increasing interconnectedness of countries, as manifested through closer trade, investment and other economic ties, as well as through the claimed emergence of a common global culture (sometime seen as the imposition of Western culture on other parts of the world) and shared political values (such as human rights) - will be explored in depth. Critiques of the concept - including arguments that economic globalisation is exaggerated and that parts of the world are becoming more, rather than less, culturally distinctive - will also be examined. The so-called 'downside' of globalisation - including cross-border movement of terrorists, drugs and trafficked migrants - will likewise be addressed. The challenges of politically governing an (at least partially) globalising world economy will be discussed through close analysis of institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations.

For information on our undergraduate programmes and admissions please visit the UCD Horizons website