Research Reports

Read about our research in this Summary or this Full Report on our research.

You are welcome to download our latest research:

SHAG 2017 Report

Smart Consent Summary Report 2017

Smart Consent Full Report 2017

Consent is SMART

Our workshop activities help you explore all the different dimensions of consent. We think consent is SMART, i.e. it relates to each of these factors:

S: All Sexual orientations and Gender identities
M: Your State of Mind – Willingness; Free from pressure; Thinking clearly without the influence of alcohol or drugs
A: All Activities, on an ongoing basis – Kissing, Touching, Oral, Penetrative Sex etc.
R: All relationships, both casual and committed
T: Talking or nonverbal signs and signals

Basically, consent involves Feeling, Saying and Showing your agreement to take part in intimacy.

Typically, young adults already know what consent is. There is more uncertainty and difference of opinion when we apply this knowledge to particular situations –
When it comes to sex, is a smile enough to show consent?
How much alcohol is too much before someone loses the capacity for consent?
If a person doesn’t say no, does that mean consent?

The philosophy behind this work is to work with students, not provide classes, by using the evidence-based activities that we have designed. No one is asked to give personal information or talk about their experiences. Within a short workshop we can see positive changes in attitudes:

What we do:

  • Do the research first: We have surveyed and interviewed over 3,000 students in order to build up a full understanding of consenting and non-consenting sexual behaviour, and all the influences that affect these important issues – alcohol, gender, attitudes (among other).
  • Design activities: Using this research, we design activities for the SMART Consent workshop that are engaging, thought provoking, and fun
  • Deliver workshops: Since 2015, over 2,000 third level students have taken part in a SMART Consent workshop
  • Provide training: To make this work sustainable colleges need workshop facilitators. In 2017-2018 we trained approximately 100 people to be SMART Consent workshop facilitators – students, academic staff, and support staff
  • Work with you: People we have trained have gone on to deliver workshops to hundreds of students at DCU, TCD, QUB, UL, NUI Galway, and the National College of Art & Design. We have delivered workshops ourselves at a number of other colleges around the country.

What students say:

We evaluate all the workshops that we deliver. On average we get ratings of 4.00 to 4.50 out of 5.00 for the activities we do in the workshop, and typically find significant attitude change after a one hour workshop.

Pre-workshop: 22% strongly agree they feel well informed about consent, compared with 65% post-workshop
18% strongly agree they have all the skills they need for consent compared with 48% post-workshop

What to do next:

  • Get in touch with us if you would like to hear more about our work – 
  • The project leader is Dr Pádraig MacNeela, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, NUI Galway
  • Training is currently available with Dr Siobhán O’Higgins
  • Chiara Seery is researching SMART Consent for her PhD thesis

Main contact:
padraig.macneela@nuigalway.ie
091 495121

Our work has been supported by:

  • Irish Research Council
  • HSE Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme
  • NUI Galway Student Project Fund
  • Confederation of Student Services in Ireland