Specification Structure

Politics and Society is organised in four strands, each structured around key concepts. These are:

Strand 1

Power and decision-making

Strand 2

Active citizenship

Strand 3

Human rights and responsibilities

Strand 4

Globalisation and localisation

Strand 1 addresses foundational concepts in the study of Politics and Society and should be studied first.

Strand 2 has a strong focus on some of the key skills relevant to Politics and Society: skills in coming to reflective and informed decisions through debating and discussing ideas with other people and skills in being an effective active citizen. These skills will need to be explicitly taught, and time should be allocated for teaching them. At the same time, they will also be developed through on-going application and so they should continue to be practised through the learning activities selected for teaching in all four strands. Many of the skills addressed in strand 2 will be developed and applied through the learner’s engagement in a citizenship project. This project is a central opportunity for learning in Politics and Society and also forms part of the assessment of the subject. The skills developed in this project will primarily be those identified in strand 2. However the project will also provide an opportunity for application of some of the key concepts addressed in strands 1, 3 and 4.

Strands 3 and 4 provide opportunities to apply the foundational concepts and skills of Politics and Society in increasing depth.
A number of features also permeate these strands. They are:

  • the discussion of the local, national, European and global dimensions of the issues studied
  • the exploration of the similarities and differences in social and political practices around the world
  • the analysis and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative social and political research data
  • the use of active, participatory, democratic and discursive practices in teaching and learning.

Politics and Society is characterised by an exploration of different ideas about the most appropriate means and ends of human participation in civic, social and political life. Learners take certain issues and look at them in their own local context, then also consider them in a broader context: through this they engage in comparative study. Over the course of their studies, learners will engage with a balance of national, European and wider-world contexts and with both qualitative and quantitative data.
This means that many of the topics addressed in Politics and Society follow a common structure:

  • learners can begin to engage with a topic through exploring how it applies to their own lives or to a context that is meaningful to them
  • they can then explore this topic in more detail through applying a range of different arguments to their context
  • in doing this they can develop their skills of discussion and debating and of analysing information and, using these skills, they can come to conclusions
  • they can compare their own context to another context at national, European or global level
  • they can explore how various activists and thinkers have contributed to the development of some of these key ideas.

While this structure does provide a logical order for addressing these topics, the decisions as to the most appropriate sequence and structure for learning will need to be made by the teacher in light of their own knowledge of the learners in their class.
One of the features of Politics and Society is that learners will engage with the ideas of a range of thinkers, activists and writers on social and political issues. Those studying at Higher level will be able to identify some specific writers and the contribution these writers have made to social and political thought. The writers selected in the specification  include women and men from Ireland, from Europe and from the wider world. Contemporary writers are included as well as more historical figures. It is not intended that these would be regarded as the definitive selection of great thinkers in the field. Rather it is intended that they would demonstrate some of the diversity of, and ongoing change in, thinking on social and political issues.

Time allocation

Politics and Society is designed to be taught in 180 hours. It is recommended that a double class period is allocated each week to facilitate engagement in participatory learning activities and in undertaking project work.
It is envisaged that the facilitation of the citizenship project will take in the region of 30 hours. As such, the specification is designed so that each of the strands could be taught with an initial engagement of 30 hours, with a further 7.5 hours per strand for revision and reinforcement of learning.