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Politics and Society - Young Sociologist

Young Sociologist competition poster

Young Sociologist of the Year

The Young Sociologist of the Year award is an essay-based competition hosted by the UCD School of Sociology and the (opens in a new window)Sociological Association of Ireland (SAI). We are delighted to see that so many Leaving Cert students have chosen the Politics and Society option and so many Northern Irish students are pursuing A Level Sociology. We want to encourage and reward students who are learning to think about how the society we live in is structured and organised.

Competition Prizes

We are offering the following prizes for the top student entries:

  • 1st place - €300 gift voucher
  • 2nd place - €100 gift voucher
  • 3rd place (x6) - €50 gift voucher

The teachers of the winning students will be awarded:

  • 1st place - €100 gift voucher
  • 2nd place - €50 gift voucher
  • 3rd place (x6) - €50 gift voucher

If you are interested in societal structures, themes such as gender, class, migration, or development,
or even if you would just like to have their essay read and assessed by a sociology academic, then this competition is for you!

Application Guidelines and Assessment Criteria

  • Students who wish to participate must submit the essay to their teacher
  • This essay can be a piece of work that has already been completed as part of your coursework for the Politics and Society programme or A Level Sociology curriculum.
  • The essay could also be a piece of work that will be relevant to the Leaving Cert citizenship project focusing on one of the following topics:

Strand 1: Power and decision-making
• Topic 1 Power and decision-making in school
• Topic 2 Power and decision-making at national and European level
Strand 2: Active citizenship
• Topic 3 Effectively contributing to communities
• Topic 4 Rights and responsibilities in communication with others
Strand 3: Human rights and responsibilities
• Topic 5 Human rights and responsibilities in Ireland
• Topic 6 Human rights and responsibilities in Europe and the wider world
Strand 4: Globalisation and localisation
• Topic 7 Globalisation and identity
• Topic 8 Sustainable development

  • Word count 800-1,000 words
  • The teacher will select the “top 3” essays from the class and submit to UCD Sociology and the SAI for assessment
  • Up to a maximum of 3 essay submissions per class is permitted
  • The competition is open to both 5th and 6th year students
  • Essays must be submitted to UCD Sociology by Friday 4th March 2022 (N.B. new deadline replaces previoous 18th Feb date)
  • The winners of the competition will be announced by the end of March
  • The names and essay titles of the winner and runner-up will be displayed on the School of Sociology website
  • Feedback will only be provided on winning essay entries
  • Essays can be hand written or typed

This competition is an opportunity for students to address themes relevant within our Society today. The
essay will be assessed by a panel of academics from the UCD School of Sociology and representatives from the SAI. The essay that presents the most insightful analysis of a sociologically relevant theme will win.

How to Submit the Essays: 

Complete application form

The application form must be completed and submitted with the essays to (opens in a new window)sociology@ucd.ie

Young Sociologist of the Year 2021/22 Winners

1st place: Aine Reeves, 5th Year,  St Wolstan's Community School, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Essay: Does Difference in cultural identity create political violence?

Teacher: Margaret Cosgrove

2nd place: Catherine Maher, 5th Year, Laurel Hill, South Circular Road, Limerick

Essay: Educational inequality leads to inequality in society

Teacher: Catherine McGing

Joint 3rd place: Caitlin Pharro, 6th Year, St. Catherine's College, Convent Road, Armagh

Essay: Assess Marxist explanations of crime and deviance

Teacher: Louise McGilly

Joint 3rd place: Caoimhe Whelan, 5th Year, St. Louis High School, Charleville Road, Rathmines, Dublin

Essay: Would theorist Kathleen Lynch agree that inequality in Irish society is perpetuated by the education system?

Teacher:Louise Stenson

Joint 3rd place: Ben Wade, 5th Year, Temple Carrig School, Greystones, Co Wicklow

Essay: Critically examine the view that Modern Irish society is a patriarchy

Teacher: John McGuinness

Joint 3rd place: Clodagh Donnelly, 6th Year, Drogheda Grammar School, Mornington Road, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Essay: The west has historically constructed itself in 0pposition to the non-western World (Us vs Them) and has Imagined itself as rational and others as irrational.

Teacher: Elaine Farrelly

Joint 3rd place: Rosanna Turner, 5th Year, Temple Carrig Secondary School, Blacklion,  Greystones, Co. Wicklow. 

Essay: Inequality in Irish Society is Perpetuated by the Education System

Teacher: John McGuinness

Joint 3rd place: Jeremiah (Miah) Falvey, 6th Year, Bruce College, Audley House, St Patrick’s Hill, Cork

Essay: Development in harmony with nature requires a move away from big industries and urbanisation and towards small scale self-reliant communities using renewable resources

Teacher: Declan Hourihan

Young Sociologist of the Year 2020/21 Winners

1st place: Martha Roe, 5th Year, Temple Carrig School, Greystones, Co Wocklow

Essay: Inequality in Irish society is perpetuated by inequality in the education system

Teacher: John McGuinness

2nd place: Kate Fennell, 5th Year, Temple Carrig School, Greystones, Co Wocklow

Essay: Modern Irish society is a patriarchy

Teacher: John McGuinness

Joint 3rd place: Chonaill Devlin, 6th Year, Meánscoil Gharman, Co Wexford

Essay: How the ideas of Paulo Friere could ameliorate inequality in our education system.

Muinteoir: David Gannon

Joint 3rd place: Grace Keane, 6th Year, Pobalscoil na Trionoide, Youghal, Co. Cork

Essay: Globalisation processes of trade, travel  and ICT are breaking down national culture and identities and creating a cosmopolitanism identity

Teacher: Garrett McSweeney

Joint 3rd place: Viktorija Petunova, Sacred Heart Grammar School, Newry, Co Down

Essay: What factors external to the education system lead to differences in class and educational attainment?

Teacher: Emma Westcott

Honourabe mentions go to:

Jack Phelan, 5th Year, C.B.S. High School Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Essay: Ireland’s system of accommodating those seeking international protection while in the asylum process is a flawed system

Teacher: Tom Ryan


Poppy Harley, 6th Year, Drogheda Grammar School, Co Louth

Essay: Underdevelopment is caused by people in countries not having the knowledge, technology and industry of people in developed countries

Teacher: Elaine Farrelly

Young Sociologist of the Year 2019 - Winners

Winner: Caitlin Parnell, 5th year, Santa Sabina, Howth, Dublin.

Karl Marx: Why his ideas are still relevant today.

Runner Up: Matthew Murnane, 6th year, Oatlands College, Mount Merrion, Dublin.

Is the “Invisible Woman” still a phenomenon in Irish Society Today?

Study With Us

Whether you are with us for one module, for a year or all the way to the degree we hope you find sociology enlightening. The School of Sociology is full of people who are passionately interested in topics from across the wide expanse that sociology spans. This is reflected in the range of module options taught in the School of Sociology covering topics such as gender, work, anthropology, the developing world, the state, health and illness, American society, childhood, the environment, education, cities, migration, etc.

Although you will find lots of other students with you in your sociology lectures, the School of Sociology is committed to small-group teaching. This is done by providing seminars to accompany the optional modules. The optional module seminars are taught almost exclusively by the lecturers themselves, thus giving you more face-to-face contact with your lecturers. 

Students can study Sociology in the following undergraduate programmes:

UCD School of Sociology

Newman Building (Room D401), University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8263