Politics and Society

A new Leaving Certificate subject option called Politics and Society is being introduced to the Leaving Cert syllabus next year.

From 2016, students in about 25 schools around the country will begin studying the subject in fifth-year. Points will be awarded for the first time in 2018.

Course structure and contentJan O’Sullivan says that there is not enough time to get law through

Students will be required to learn about power and decision-making at local and international level, and about human rights and globalisation. In power and decision-making, for example, students should be able to identify left-wing and right-wing political positions.

The course includes a focus on voting systems in the Oireachtas, ownership and control of the media, and definitions such as social class and patriarchy.

Students will also be introduced to thinkers such as Karl Marx, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Robert Nozick, Sylvia Walby and UCD academic Kathleen Lynch. They will explore the ideas behind ideologies and learn to critically evaluate ideas such as capitalism.

A section on human rights and responsibilities will require students to explore the way in which their right to education is framed. This will include being familiar with legal documents such as the Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The concept of equality of rights will also be explored, as well as basic human rights documents such as the European Convention on Human Rights and UN treaties.

The course content links in with third-level programmes, such as sociology, political studies, philosophy and law. It will suit any student who is interested in areas such as human rights, equality, diversity, sustainable development, power and democratic decision-making.


Teachers with a degree or post-graduate qualification in areas such as politics, sociology and anthropology will deliver the Politics and Societycourse.

The subject will be offered at both Higher and Ordinary level. The course is designed to be taught in 180 hours, or a double-class period each week.


Assessment has two components:

  • a written exam accounting for 80 per cent of the total marks and
  • a citizenship project undertaken by individual students which will attract 20 per cent of final marks.

The latter is aimed at giving students an opportunity to evaluate ways of becoming involved in civic, social or political life. The brief for the citizenship project will be based on a number of suggested topics, prepared annually by the State Examinations Commission.


Author: Francis O' Toole

Francis O' Toole is a Educational Psychotherapist & Guidance Counsellor. I set up this blog page to help students gain as much information as possible to be able to make right choices and decisions regarding their career options. I believe that we will be very successful in our careers if we follow what we enjoy.

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