Studying Politics in Ireland

Politics is the study of the dynamics of human interaction. It is a field of study that is both humanistic and scientific, and is centuries old. Aristotle called it the "queen of the sciences”. When studying politics, we are interested in a diverse and lengthy range of topics which includes the role of individuals, the state, government, political parties, political institutions and public policy.

Politics considers the circumstances of conflict and cooperation among different actors in the political world and power is at the heart of politics. Very often, the study of politics is concerned with how power is distributed, used and abused.


“Aristotle called it the queen of the sciences.”

Politics is offered as a subject in universities across Ireland. While each university will have core areas of expertise, the politics of Ireland, European Union institutions and policies, international relations and political theory and philosophy will form the core of all politics programmes.

Studying politics in Ireland has never been more interesting and exciting. Economic upheaval in the last decade has brought new focus on political institutions and the culture of politics. A changing party system, and constitutional and institutional reform provide the backdrop to the study of politics in the Republic of Ireland.


“Studying politics in Ireland …”

Studying Northern Ireland provides a detailed understanding of its politics, including an understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict.  Such studies assess the conflict in detail, concentrating on its causes and effects. The constitutional and institutional structures established under the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement are critically evaluated and post-Agreement Northern Ireland is studied.

The role of the European Union has evolved over the decades and the interaction and relationship between Ireland (Republic and Northern Ireland) and the EU is fundamental to understanding the conduct of politics in Ireland.


“Studying Northern Ireland …”

Elections have become the defining feature of politics in the twenty first century and Ireland offers the opportunity to study elections, electoral systems and voting behaviour at local, regional, national and supranational levels. Additionally, referendums are a regular feature of politics in the Republic. Political parties, non-party actors, referendum and election campaigns, candidate selection and voting are all central features of studying politics in Ireland.

During their time on a politics programme in Ireland, students will encounter diverse teaching methods and varied and challenging assessment methods. Varied teaching and assessment styles are used to ensure that students develop critical thinking abilities, hone their analytical capabilities and build effective communication skills which include both written and presentation elements.


“Politics graduates will have many career opportunities …”

A degree in politics is valuable for many careers as politics surrounds us in our everyday lives. Politics graduates will have many career opportunities in the public sector, party politics and different levels of government. Politics is offered as a second level subject in many places, including Northern Ireland, and will shortly be introduced in the Republic, opening up career opportunities in teaching for politics graduates. Journalism, public affairs, law and the voluntary sector all regularly employ people with a degree in politics.

Dr. Theresa Reidy
Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI)