Course Overview

The MA in Public Advocacy and Activism is an interdisciplinary programme that combines training in the practical skills of advocacy and activism with an exploration of the theories and concepts which inform these fields. No other programme in Ireland offers students the opportunity to acquire skills and training in such a breadth of disciplines, including management, communications, public relations and human rights. By drawing on the expertise of scholars and practitioners across these fields, the MA in Public Advocacy and Activism provides the skills crucial for those who wish to work in organizations which seek to shift attitudes and initiate change, including those working in community organisation, international relations, development, labour, rights, health and the environment. 

Scholarships available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System


Who Teaches this Course




Requirements and Assessment

Assessment on the programme is designed to develop students’ writing and presentation skills, as well as their ability to undertake independent research.  Assignments include a combination of essays, presentations, reports and projects, including a work placement report, and a short film-making exercise.  Students practice and demonstrate their research skills undertaking a 16,000–18,000 word minor dissertation, which is submitted in early August.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

NQAI Level 8 degree or equivalent H2.2. GPA 3.0 or international qualification. IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent if applicable. Students who do not meet the Honours degree requirement but have a Level 7 (Merit 2) degree may be admitted to the PDip course with the possibility of progressing to the MA if they receive a minimum of 60% in their course work during the year.

Additional Requirements


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

Next start date

September 2020

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

You are advised to apply early, which may result in an early offer; see the offer round dates

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting

MA—90, PDip—60



Course code

1MPA1, full-time | 1MPA2, part-time

Course Outline

Across the wide-ranging syllabus, there is a focus on both the socio-political environment in which advocates and campaigners for change must operate and the tools and techniques by which change can be achieved. Students use actual campaigns as the basis of their course work analysis, so that critiques and debates are firmly based in the real world of current events. In addition to gaining a theoretical understanding of how change may be effected, students learn how to develop and run successful campaigns, how to interact with large organizations, and how to influence public opinion on important issues.

The course may be taken as a full-time degree taken over a twelve-month period (September to August) OR as a part-time degree taken over a twenty-four month period. The year is divided into two teaching semesters, from September to December and from January to April. The full-time programme comprises three core taught modules during the academic year and a choice of 4 out of 5 electives as well as a research methods seminar over two 12-week semesters. Students will also undertake a service learning placement. The minor dissertation (30 ECTS) is completed over the summer and submitted in August.

  Core modules:

  • The Theory and Practice of Advocacy and Activism (10 ECTS)
  • Communications Media and Marketing for Advocates (10 ECTS)
  • Short Filmmaking for Advocacy (10 ECTS)
  • Service Learning Placement (10 ECTS)

Elective Modules (4 out of 5 to be selected) include:

  • Human Rights for Advocates (5 ECTS)
  • Film & Politics (5 ECTS)
  • How  to Argue with an Economist (5 ECTS)
  • Organisational Analysis and Management (5 ECTS)
  • The Social and Political Context of Advocacy (5 ECTS)

Modules for Full Time Course

Modules for Part Time Course

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.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

Required FM6116: Communication, Media & Marketing for Advocates

Semester 1 | Credits: 10

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the principles, concepts and practice of marketing communications within public advocacy so that they can use communications to effect change for those for whom they will be advocating. The course emphasis will be on applying all theory to practical situations.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Recognise different communications and marketing approaches to advocacy and the values and strategies that underpin them.
  2. Plan an effective communications marketing programme or campaign to meet identified objectives and reach key audiences, within a realistic budget.
  3. Target and analyse key audiences and formulate messages that speak to those audiences.
  4. Apply the media skills learnt in the classroom in real life situations, i.e. radio or television interviews, writing press releases.
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Social Marketing" by Lynne Eagle
    ISBN: 9780273727224.
    Publisher: Ft Prenticehall
  2. "Integrated Marketing Communications in Advertising Promotion" by Terence A. Shimp
    ISBN: 0324665318.
    Publisher: South-Western, Div of Thomson Learning
  3. "Hands-On Social Marketing" by Nedra K. (Kline) Weinreich
    ISBN: 1412953693.
    Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc
  4. "Integrated Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Communications 4th Ed. Global Ed." by Kenneth E. and Baack, Donald Clow
    ISBN: 0138157375.
    Publisher: Pearson
  5. "Sticky Marketing" by Grant Leboff
    ISBN: 0749471093.
The above information outlines module FM6116: "Communication, Media & Marketing for Advocates" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required FM6114: The Practice and Theory of Advocacy

Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module introduces the basic elements of public interest and human rights advocacy and campaigning. Its chief focus will be on strategising for successful campaigning. It will support students to analyse and respond to the fast changing environment in which much advocacy work now takes place. Students will be introduced to the core skills of strategising, lobbying, managing publicity and of negotiation. The module aims to provide the student with an opportunity to extend, consolidate and apply learning from other modules, and to ‘practice’ her or his emerging advocacy skills with the benefit of support and the privacy of the classroom.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Understand the historic and current context and basic principles of public interest and human rights advocacy, and the role of the advocate.
  2. Apply a strategic approach to all aspects of advocacy and to make basic strategic calculations related to advocacy in practice.
  3. Apply empowerment approaches in practical advocacy situations.
  4. Develop a lobbying strategy to support the achievement of campaign objectives.
  5. Use effective negotiating skills and be able to develop a negotiating strategy.
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Networks of Outrage and Hope" by Manuel Castells
    ISBN: 978074566285.
    Publisher: Polity Press
  2. "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paolo Freire
    ISBN: 9788577532285.
  3. "Freedom Is a Constant Struggle" by Angela Y. Davis
    ISBN: 9781608465644.
    Publisher: Chicago; Haymarket Books
  4. "Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions" by Paul Mason
    ISBN: 9781844670284.
    Publisher: Verso
  5. "Rules for radicals" by Saul D. Alinsky
    ISBN: 0679721134.
    Publisher: Vintage Books
  6. "Do it yourself" by edited by the Trapese Collective
    ISBN: 9780745326375.
    Publisher: London ; Pluto Press, 2007.
The above information outlines module FM6114: "The Practice and Theory of Advocacy" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required FM6115: Short Filmmaking for Advocates

Semester 1 | Credits: 10

With the growth of social media and digital platforms which advocates can use to disseminate ideas and reach large audiences, short films have become an increasingly useful tool for those seeking to bring about change. This module addresses the role of short film in advocacy and activism, and includes both practical and theoretical elements including documentary style, film language, propaganda versus social marketing, and making short films with advocacy themes.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of short films in campaigning and social change.
  2. Describe the various platforms and distribution networks for short films.
  3. Write a briefing document and understand the function of these documents in the making of the films.
  4. Read and analyse short films in terms of images and messages, particularly in relation to advocacy issues.
  5. Make short films with advocacy themes.
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Introduction to documentary" by Bill Nichols
    ISBN: 0253339545.
    Publisher: Indiana University Press
The above information outlines module FM6115: "Short Filmmaking for Advocates" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required FA515: Dissertation

15 months long | Credits: 30

Learning Outcomes
  1. tbc
  • Research (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module FA515: "Dissertation" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required FM6113: Service Learning For Advocacy and Activism

Semester 2 | Credits: 10

Students undertake a work placement of approximately 4 weeks duration in an advocacy role in a relevant organisation, with a view to developing their skills, gaining practical experience, and contributing to the organisation. A written report provides opportunity for reflection and personal development. This module, which incorporates the placement and a written report, is considered as 'service learning'.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Appreciate the application of theoretical learning to practical situations.
  2. Better understand the challenges of advocacy and activism and their potential role in this sector.
  3. Demonstrate a greater confidence in their own abilities and expertise.
  4. Evaluate the learning experience in terms of practical skills gained or improved, and also in relation to their own personal development.
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module FM6113: "Service Learning For Advocacy and Activism" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional FA551: Social & Political Context of Advocacy & Activism

Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This course aims to provide an introduction to the social and political context of international advocacy and activism. It links the national and international contexts for advocacy and activism, drawing upon historical, sociological and political perspectives on the rise of international campaigning for social justice. It explores the relationships between the state, market and civil society sectors and charts the dynamic emergence of new social and political actors in local and transnational public advocacy.

Learning Outcomes
  1. understand key international structures, actors and events driving contemporary processes of public activism and advocacy, and how these involve the efforts of states, markets and civil society.
  2. understand the historical background and the social, political and economic relevance of international public activism and advocacy.
  3. demonstrate familiarity with the international rights, development and environmental frameworks for activism and advocacy, including specific knowledge of key international actors.
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to End Slavery" by Hochschild, A
  2. "Civil Society" by Edwards, Michael
    Publisher: Polity Press
    Chapters: introduction
  3. "Global Citizens: Social movements and the Challenge of Globalization" by Mayo, Marjorie
    Publisher: Zed Press
  4. "Thinking the Unthinkable Think Tanks and the Economic Counter-revolution 1931-1983" by Cockett, Richard
    Publisher: HarperCollins
  5. "A Brief History of Neoliberalism" by Harvey, David
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Chapters: The construction of consent
  6. "Educating for Human Rights and Global Citizenship" by Dower, Nigel in A. Abdi and L. Shultz (eds)
    Publisher: SUNY press
    Chapters: Are we all global citizens or are only some of us global citizens?
  7. "Global Citizenship: A Critical Reader" by Imber, Mark in Dower, Nigel and J. Williams (eds)
    Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
    Chapters: ‘The UN and Global Citizenship’
  8. "Human Rights Politics and Practice" by Glasius, Marlie/M.Goodhart ed.
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Chapters: ‘Global Civil Society and Human Rights’
  9. "Democratising Development: The Politics of Socio-economic Rights in Africa" by Jones, P and K. Stokke
    Chapters: ‘Introduction –Democratising development: The Politics of socio-economic Rights’
  10. "International Human Rights: Law, Politics, Morals" by Sen in Steiner and Alston
    Chapters: Human Rights Watch
  11. "International Human Rights: Law, Politics, Morals" by Dreze and Sen in Steiner and Alston
    Chapters: The Relationship between the two sets of rights
  12. "Political Economy and the Changing Global Order" by Bernstein, Stephen in Stubbs, R and G. Underhill (eds)
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Chapters: Environment, Economy and Global Governance
  13. "Rights. Resources and the Politics of Accountability" by Cornwall, A et al in Newell P. and J. Wheeler (eds)
    Publisher: Zed Books
    Chapters: Rights to health and struggles for accountability in a Brazilian municipal health council
  14. "The Ethics of Assistance: Morality and the Distant Needy" by Pogge, Thomas
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Chapters: ‘“Assisting” the global poor’
The above information outlines module FA551: "Social & Political Context of Advocacy & Activism" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional FA552: Introduction to Human Rights for Advocates

Semester 1 | Credits: 5

An introduction to Human Rights Law (primarily the UN Convention on Human Rights) for advocates and activists.This course provides a theoretical and philosophical introduction to human rights and moves on to a discussion of the practical problems involved with their implementation via consideration of global challenges to their protection.

Learning Outcomes
  1. • recognise human rights both in theory and practice
  2. • understand the human rights legal and philosophical framework
  3. • Identify and explain the core legal framework pertaining to human rights
  4. • Discuss and evaluate specific human rights issues such as trafficking, women’s human rights, torture, freedom of expression, corporate social responsibility and the role of the international community and individuals in the prevention of human rights abuses
  5. identify the role of human rights in campaigning against injustice
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction" by Andrew Clapham
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
The above information outlines module FA552: "Introduction to Human Rights for Advocates" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional FA514: Organisational Analysis & Management

Semester 2 | Credits: 5

A defining mark of modern society is the structuring role which various organisations and institutions play in our lives. Whether it is in the form of the family unit, the university, political parties or religious affiliations – organisations in some shape or form are ubiquitous to contemporary life. Ultimately, a key part of any organisational structure is the role of management. This course will: • Provide a comprehensive understanding of the key concepts and principles of organisational management. • Develop critical analysis skills through the examination of theories and practices concerning the way organisations and work are managed and structured. • Examine how management principles are applied in a range of organisational settings with particular reference to third sector organisations.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Articulate and trace the historical lineage of management and work organisations with reference to the classical school and later systems and contingency analysis.
  2. Identify the major external influences on organisations and be able to deploy tools with which to analyse the broader contextual environment in which they operate
  3. Understand competing perspectives on aspects of decision and governance on making in organisations
  4. Critically evaluate competing perspectives on management and governance of organisations with particular relevance to the third sector
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Work Organisations: A Critical Introduction" by Thompson, P., McHugh, D.
    Publisher: Macmillan Press LTD
  2. "Sociology, Work and Organisation" by Watson, T. J.
    Publisher: Routledge
  3. "Employment Relations in the Voluntary Sector: Struggling to Care" by Cunningham, I.
    Publisher: Routledge
  4. "Strategic Management for Voluntary Nonprofit Organisations" by Courtney, R.
    Publisher: Routledge
  5. "Understanding Employment Relations" by Dundon, T. & Rollinson, D.
    Publisher: McGraw-Hill
  6. "Modern Management: Theory and Practice for Irish Students" by Tiernan, S.D. & Morley, M.J.
    Publisher: Gill & Macmillan
The above information outlines module FA514: "Organisational Analysis & Management" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional FA520: Film and Politics

Semester 2 | Credits: 5

In this module we will consider the significance of film as a mode of cultural production and the role of ‘national’ cinema. A wide variety of films (including some from Hollywood), which address subjects including colonial history, marginal groups, conflict, resistance, and postcolonial realities, will be viewed and aspects of those films including genre, theme, narrative structure, and the political and historical circumstances of their production will be discussed and analyzed.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate understanding of the relationship between film and politics, and the difference between propaganda and entertainment.
  2. explore ideas about films and politics which provide theoretical and analytical tools that can be deployed in the specific media practices involved in advocacy.
  3. Analyse the politics of representation, with reference to the historical and social context of films under discussion.
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Inventing Vietnam: The War in Film and Television." by Anderegg, Michael, ed.
    Publisher: Temple UP
  2. "Questions of Third Cinema" by Jim Pines
  3. "Irish Film: The Emergence of a Contemporary Cinema" by McLoone, Martin
    Publisher: BFI
The above information outlines module FA520: "Film and Politics" and is valid from 2017 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional FA550: How to argue with an Economist

Semester 2 | Credits: 5

A technocratic, obscuring kind of language pervades much of today’s mainstream economic discourse. We are told by the political and media establishment that questions of policy are best left to ‘the experts’ and, when it comes to austerity type policies, that ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA). The central objective of this course is to provide activists with the tools necessary to decipher the arguments used by mainstream economic analysts and engage them in debate, to show that there are always economic, political and social alternatives in the resolution of any economic situation.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. - Understand core economic concepts and how economists deploy them.
  2. - Acquire a critical perspective on economic and social issues
  3. - Be able to articulate a well thought out alternative to mainstream economic doctrine
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Principles of Economics" by Gerard Turley, Maureen Maloney and Frances O'Toole
    Publisher: Gill and MacMillan
  2. "Macroeconomics in Context" by Neva Goodwin, Julie Nelson, Jonathal Harris, Brian Roach and James Devine
    Publisher: Routledge
  3. "History of Economic Thought" by E.K. Hunt and Mark Lautzenheiser
    Publisher: Routledge
  4. "The Globalisation Paradox" by Dani Rodrik
    Publisher: Norton and Co.
  5. "Globalizing Capital" by Barry Eichengreen
    Publisher: Princeton University Press
  6. "Bad Samaritans" by Ha-Joon Chang
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Press
  7. "Kicking Away the Ladder" by Ha-Joon Chang
    Publisher: Anthem Press
  8. "The University of Chicago Press" by Paul Bairoch
    Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
The above information outlines module FA550: "How to argue with an Economist" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional HI6100: NGOs and the Making of the 20th Century World

Semester 2 | Credits: 10

In the 20th century NGO's emerged as one of the key building blocks of the contemporary world. This module introduces the historiography, key concepts and methodologies in the study of transnational action. How did NGOs operate? How should we study them? What can they tell us about the growing inter-connectedness of the modern world? The second part of the module puts these concepts into practice through a series of focused case studies, from Amnesty INternational to the Ante-Apartheid Movement.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and informed understanding of the historiography, key concepts and methodologies involved in the study of NGOs in the twentieth century
  2. Show familiarity with a range of primary source documents relevant to the course, and develop skills allowing them to analyse documents of this type in depth.
  3. Give an oral presentation based on their reading and research.
  4. Develop a discreet project and write an accompanying scholarly essay appropriate to an MA student.
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "The politics of expertise: how NGOs shaped modern Britain" by Matthew Hilton, James McKay, Nicholas Crowson and Jean-François Mouhot
  2. "Global Community: the role of international organisations in the making of the contemporary world" by Akira Iriye
  3. "Activists beyond borders: advocacy networks in international politics" by Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink
The above information outlines module HI6100: "NGOs and the Making of the 20th Century World" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Why Choose This Course?

This imaginative course provides an opportunity for experienced advocates for social change as well as those interested in working in the area to achieve a specialist qualification in their field of practice. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the programme brings together a group of students from diverse backgrounds but with shared interests and ambitions. Discussion-based classes allow students to challenge and engage with ideas and topics in a dynamic learning process that increases understanding and clarifies opinions. The programme includes a work placement in which students gain the opportunity to put their developing skills into practice. Furthermore, as a student at the Huston School you will be part of a collaborative creative community, working with students on the MA in Production & Direction to develop a short film as part of an advocacy campaign. You will also have all the opportunities which come from studying at one of the world’s top Universities, including access to a range of seminars and high-profile guest speakers.

Recent visiting speakers have included practitioners and activists from organisations such as Comhlamh, Trocaire, UNOCHA, and the Migrant Rights Council of Ireland; campaigners including Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle; and filmmakers like Emily James, Risteard O Domhnaill, and Dearbhla Glynn, who have made documentaries on topics of human rights and social concerns.

Career Opportunities

Graduates have gone on to pursue a range of careers in lobbying, campaigning, advocacy and humanitarian roles in organisations such as the SOAR Foundation, PETA, UNOCHA, GOAL Ireland, ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services, the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association, Amnesty International (Irish section), Cancer Care West, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Trocaire, Spunout, and the Washington Post. Others have continued in higher education, with a number of PhDs completed or underway. It should be noted that while the MA is structured towards careers in the not-for-profit sector, many of the skills gained during the year, for example those in research methods, analysis, media and communications, are transferable to any sector.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,600 p.a. FT; €3,355 p.a. PT 2020/21

Fees: Tuition

€6,376 p.a. FT: €3,187 p.a. PT 2020/21

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. FT; €168 p.a. PT 2020/21

Fees: Non EU

€15,550 p.a. 2020/21

Please note:  The fee payable by EU students is listed under "Fees:  EU".  This field is the sum of the student levy + tuition.  Fees are payable each year and are subject to change year-on year.

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

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


Find out More

What Our Students Say


Kevin Gadsey |   Public Advocacy & Activism

I came to Ireland wanting to know how to change the world for people with disabilities. A year later, it was I who had been transformed because of the lecturers’ insights and the projects I chose to tackle. I learned about human nature, our strengths and weaknesses, and how they help and hinder any campaign. I now understand why parts of the world are struggling, what/who is oppressing them, and the dynamics of the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressors. I now understand tried and true methods and strategies to motivate oppressed peoples to create and sustain their own social movements.

Emmet Sheerin |   Public Advocacy & Activism

The MA in Public Advocacy and Activism certainly informed my experience working as a human rights observer in the West Bank, giving me a particular confidence in my engagement with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Furthermore, the course provided me with a valuable understanding of how change can be influenced at a local, national and international level.

Sarah Clancy |   Public Advocacy & Activism

One of the most challenging aspects of the course was that it forced us all to question our own motivation for seeking social change. I would highly recommend this Masters as an eye-opening stimulus to an awareness which will benefit the student in practically any field of work or further study.

Lyndia Peters |   Public Advocacy & Activism

One of the best parts of the MA in Public Advocacy and Activism was the way it fitted into my academic, career and personal goals. I aim to be a vital part of my community, to contribute to its health and success and to empower others to do the same – I know this course was an important step on that journey.

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  • Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2020

    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2020 PDF (21 MB)