Course Overview

This postgraduate programme builds on the rich tradition of 50 years of the teaching of Political Science and Sociology at University of Galway, offering students the opportunity to critically explore social and political forces that impact on contemporary issues. The MA (Politics and Sociology) provides the theoretical and empirical skills that graduates of Politics and Sociology require for the analyses of why our societies are the way that they are and if they can be improved.

The programme comprises of core taught modules in Politics and Sociology and a thesis  of 10,000 words which will be supervised by a member of academic staff in the School, providing one-to-one support and expertise in the student’s chosen field of enquiry.

Graduate attributes/learning outcomes for the programme

Students of the programme will acquire essential graduate employment skills, including written and oral communication skills, group work skills, critical thinking skills and problem solving skills.

 On successful completion of this programme students will be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge of contemporary and classical political and social theory to issues in contemporary society.
  2. Think critically about a range of political and social issues and problems.
  3. Design and conduct advanced political and social research on a range of political and social problems.
  4. Organise and present their work effectively.
  5. Work effectively in a group setting. 

Scholarships available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Reference for Graduate/Postgraduate Applicant

An interview may, in addition, form part of the application process.

Who Teaches this Course

Mark Haugaard is the founder editor of the Journal of Political Power (Routledge), and a book series, Social and Political Power (Manchester University Press). He is interested in sociological theory and normative political theory. In particular, the four dimensions of political power, authority, domination, empowerment, freedom and democratic theory. The best overview introduction to his work is (2012) ‘Rethinking the Four Dimensions of Power’, Journal of Political Power 5(1): 35–54. 

Allyn Fives is a lecturer in political theory. He is interested in value conflict, and monist and pluralist responses to conflict, and has explored these issues as they are dealt with in the work of Judith Shklar and Isaiah Berlin and also by considering real world problems such as political obligation, paternalism, toleration, ordinary crime, and political extremism. He is currently completing a book on Shklar’s liberalism of fear, and is co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of Res Publica. His published books are Evaluating Parental Power (Manchester), Political Morality (Palgrave), and Political and Philosophical Debates in Welfare (Palgrave), along with the edited collection Philosophy and Political Engagement (edited with Keith Breen, Palgrave).

Niamh Reilly is Established Professor of Political Science and Sociology at University of Galway. She has published widely on topics in human rights; feminist, political and social theory; religion and the public sphere; transnational social movements and the UN; and women, peace and security. Her books include: Women's Human Rights: Seeking Gender Justice in a Globalizing Age (Polity Press); Demanding Accountability: The Global Campaign and Vienna Tribunal for Women's Human Rights (UNIFEM) (with Charlotte Bunch); and two edited volumes, Religion, Gender and the Public Sphere (Routledge) (with S Scriver) and International Human Rights of Women (Springer, Major Reference Works). Niamh's current research interests focus on the relationship between theory and practice, the role of ideas in emancipatory projects, and inclusive approaches to the history of ideas.

Niall Ó Dochartaigh is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at University of Galway. He has published extensively on the Northern Ireland conflict and on mediation, peace negotiations and territorial conflict. Recent publications include the co-edited books Political Violence in Context (ECPR Press) and Dynamics of Political Change in Ireland: Making and Breaking a Divided Island (Routledge). He has organised or co-organised numerous seminars, conference sections, panels, workshops and conferences on peace, conflict and political violence. He recently completed a monograph on Negotiation and Political Violence in Northern Ireland. He was a founding convener of the Standing Group on Political Violence of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) and the Specialist Group on Peace and Conflict of the Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI). More information at

Su-ming Khoo is a Lecturer in Political Science and Sociology, and Cluster Leader of the Whitaker Institute: Environment, Development and Sustainability and Ryan Institute: Socio-Economic Impact Research Clusters at NUI Galway. She holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy. Her research interests include international human rights, global public goods and ethical perspectives on international development including: human development and capabilities approaches, postcolonial, feminist and ecological perspectives and strong sustainability. Su-ming is engaged in inter and transdisciplinary research and public scholarship. She researches and teaches international public advocacy and activism, focusing on human development and capabilities, the role of higher education, decolonial approaches to research and teaching and global ethics in higher education curriculum. She is a member of the International Sociological Association (ISA) Research Committees on Social Movements, Social Transformations and Sociology of Development, Sociology of Health, Human Rights and Environmental Sociology; a member of the Human Development and Capability Association’s (HDCA) Ethics, Foundational Issues and Human Rights Thematic Groups, and the Academic Network on Global Education & Learning (ANGEL). Recent publications here.

Brian McGrath is a Lecturer and former Programme Director of the MA in Community Development 2000-16. He holds a Bachelor of Social Science from UCC, MA (Community Development) from University of Galway and PhD (Land Economy) from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is currently Chair of the School’s Teaching & Learning Committee. His research interests span the following areas: sociology of community and development; the sociology & politics of welfare and wellbeing; and more recently the interdisciplinary study of human-nonhuman-nature relations. His research has been published in: Journal of Youth Studies, Journal of Rural Studies, Sociologia Ruralis, Community Development Journal, Child & Family Social Work and Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology.

Professor Mark Haugaard
B.A., M.Phil, Ph.D.
Personal Professor
Dept. of Pol. Science & Soc.
Tower 1, Arts/Science Building
NUI Galway
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Dr Allyn Fives
BA, MA, Phd
Senior Lecturer
Polictical Science & Sociology
NUI Galway
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Dr Niamh Reilly
M.A., Ph.D., LLM
Established Professor of Political Science and Sociology
Aras Moyola
School of Political Science and Sociology
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Prof Niall Ó Dochartaigh
M.A., Ph.D.
Personal Professor
School of Political Science & So
Room 333, Aras Moyola
NUI Galway
University Rd
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Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

A primary degree or its equivalent, with Second Class Honours Grade 2 overall. Applicants should also have achieved an upper Second Class Honours degree (2.1) or equivalent, GPAs of at least 3.0 of 4.0 or equivalent for international students, in a relevant subject such as Sociology, Politics, Public and Social Policy, Geography, History, Economics or Law. An interview may, in addition, form part of the application process.

(Please visit this website for detail of any supporting documents that may be required when applying to this course.)

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time; 2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2023

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

Please refer to the review/closing date webpage.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting



Course code


Course Outline

Programme Content and Structure

The MA (Politics and Sociology) is a 90-ECTS programme which is comprised of 60 ECTS of core taught modules and 30 ECTS allocated to a dissertation.

Students on the MAPS programme take three core modules and choose a further five from a range of optional modules (see table below):





Core or Optional

Social Theory




Irish Politics North and South




Research Methods




NGOs and the Making of the Twentieth Century World




Political Theory




Conflict, Power and Peace




Welfare, Social Change and Irish Society




Gender and Conflict




Dissertation Workshops

1 & 2




All year



NEW for 2020/21: Peace and Conflict stream

Students on this MA can now engage in the new Peace and Conflict stream. While all students on the MAPS programme take certain core modules, students are also free to choose between a number of other optional modules. These include four peace and conflict modules:

  • Conflict, Power and Peace
  • Irish Politics North and South
  • Gender and Conflict
  • NGOs and the Making of the Twentieth Century

More detail here.

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Required Core Subject
A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

Required SP6146: Research Methods & Methodology - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP6145: Research Paper - 20 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP6148: Social Theory and Social Change: Power, Resistance, and Critique - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP6147: Political Theory and Political Obligation: Authority, Autonomy, and Reason - 10 Credits - Semester 1
Required SP6135: Research Workshops I - 5 Credits - Semester 1
Optional SP6117: Module Dissertation (Politics and Sociology) - 30 Credits - Semester 1
Optional SP6120: Irish Politics, North and South - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional HI6100: NGOs and the Making of the 20th Century World - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6114: Welfare, Social Change & Irish Society - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6134: Independent Study - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Optional GG106: Women, Conflict and Human Security - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6128: Field-Based Learning - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6122: Social and Political Context of Activism and Advocacy - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6137: Policy and Governance of the Digital Age - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP599: Ecology & Colonialism - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6149: Conflict, Peace and Security - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6142: Ocean and Marine Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional SP6143: Urban Public Policy: Smart and Liveable Cities - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Optional GG113: Applied Gender Analyses - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Optional GG6103: Development and Human Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Optional GG6107: History and Narrative in Gender Research - 5 Credits - Semester 2
Optional GG6109: Gender, Sexuality and Global Health - 10 Credits - Semester 2
Required SP6136: Research Workshops II - 5 Credits - Semester 2

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

This programme will be of interest to students who wish to pursue careers in the public sector, non-governmental organisations, or research, or pursue PhD studies. Students can undertakee doctoral studies in political theory, social theory, politics, sociology, research methodologies and policy studies. They will acquire valuable written and oral communication skills, as well as skills in group work, critical thinking and problem-solving, furnishing them with essential graduate employment opportunities.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€7,040 full-time; €3,555 part-time p.a. 2023/24

Fees: Tuition

€6,900 full-time; €3,450 part-time p.a. 2023/24

Fees: Student levy

€140 full-time; €105 part-time p.a. 2023/24

Fees: Non EU

€17,360 p.a. 2023/24

Post Graduate Diploma: EU 7,040; Non EU 17,360 p.a. 2023/24

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.

Find out More


Alanna-Janelle Dotzauer |   VP, Government Relations, Strategies 360, Seattle

The National University of Ireland, Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology is internationally recognised for its research and was a desirable place to complete my postgraduate degree. As a student of the MA in Political Science and Sociology, I had the opportunity to learn from top academics in my field of study. The programme allowed me to delve deeper into practical and theoretical topics that I had only a superficial understanding of previously. My experience was both challenging and rewarding and helped me to gain new critical thinking and writing skills. As an Irish American in Galway, I was able to experience Irish culture and gain international perspective and credentials. In just one year’s time, I completed a master’s degree, which has accelerated my professional career and enhanced my world view.

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  • Postgraduate Prospectus 2023

    Postgraduate Prospectus 2023 PDF (20.6MB)