Course Overview

This postgraduate programme builds on the rich tradition of 50 years of the teaching of Political Science and Sociology at NUI 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 20,000 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 NUI 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 NUI 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 the National University of Ireland, 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 NUI 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.

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.

Additional Requirements


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

Next start date

September 2021

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

1PSO1, 1PSO2, 1PSO3

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.

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


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,716 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Tuition

€6,576 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Student levy

€140 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Non EU

€16,216 p.a. 2021/22

Find out More

Dr Allyn Fives
Programme Director
School of Political Science and Sociology
T: + 353 91 495 732

Quick Links 



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 2021

    Postgraduate Prospectus 2021 PDF (11.3MB)