Q&A with Lisa Walshe – Lecturer and Academic Coordinator of the Higher Diploma in Arts (Politics and Society) – launched in June 2018.
Why did you feel there was a need to create this course?
In September 2016, 41 Irish schools piloted a new subject ‘Politics and Society’ as a leaving certificate subject and since then the number of schools offering the subject has risen to over 100. While I was aware that the subject was being proposed as part of the leaving cert curriculum (the School of Political Science and Sociology here in NUI Galway were involved in its development), I didn’t really know too much else about it or what was going on in that area to be honest. The idea for the course came about in response to the number of queries I had received from post-primary teachers who were teaching or hoping to teach the subject in their school but didn’t have Sociology and Politics as part of their primary degree.
As a lecturer in Political Science and Sociology, I understood that there was a need for those teaching these subjects to have the necessary knowledge and theoretical infrastructure to support the work they were doing in the classroom. We are lucky and somewhat unique here in NUI Galway to have a School devoted to both Political Science & Sociology, a Centre for Adult Learning & Professional Development, the School of Education and we are also home to the Irish Centre of Human Rights. We had everything and everyone we needed to offer a bespoke course like this and were delighted to be the first university in the country to do so. We officially launched the Higher Diploma in Arts (Politics and Society) at our Adult Learning Information evening which was on the 20th June 2018 – the same day that over 900 students sat an exam in Politics and Society in Ireland for the first time. I remember feeling very lucky that our official launch coincided with that. It really wasn’t planned that way – it was sheer coincidence.
Can you tell us a little bit about this course?
Absolutely, the course is run over two years, part-time and offers 60 ECTS. It was designed to correspond directly with the four strands of learning on the subject’s curriculum and provides students with the learning, knowledge, skills and teaching methodologies required to teach Politics and Society at post-primary level. It is delivered in a blended learning format combining face-to-face lectures with online study throughout each academic year. It only involves attendance on campus on four full Saturdays per year so my current students are finding it very manageable in terms of juggling both professional and personal commitments.
Who is this course suitable for?
This course is suitable for anybody who is currently teaching or who is interested in teaching Politics and Society at post-primary level. It is also open to those who are not teaching but simply have an interest in the subject matter on offer.
Is there any specific entry requirements?
It is open to anybody who has a level 8 honours degree. Those who do not meet this criteria may be considered for the course under the university’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy.
How & when can you apply for this course?
You can apply for this course online from April 2019.
Find out more about the Higher Diploma in Politics and Society