Certificate in Contemporary Politics and Public Policy

NFQ Level





12 weeks







The Certificate in Contemporary Politics and Public Policy aims to explore the way that public policy shapes our lives and the different forms that politics takes. It addresses a variety of ways of thinking about politics and provides some of the key concepts and analytical frameworks used in analysing politics. This includes examining the practices involved in organizing public life, regulating who gets involved in decision-making and on what terms, and shaping how much influence they get to have over those decisions, whether at local, national or transnational level.

A distinctive feature of this course is its applied nature. As part of developing learner’s skills in undertaking political and policy research, this module also focuses on building critical media literacy skills that facilitate learners’ active engagement in current affairs. The course provides the opportunity to develop learner capacity for rigorous oral and written argument. Class discussion and a research assignment aim to foster a critical approach that will encourage learners to re-evaluate commonly accepted ideas, to consider alternative explanations for important social and political developments, and to support conclusions with carefully deployed evidence. Learners will have an opportunity to carry out research into political life, developing analytical and debating skills.

Credits: 10 ECTS

Delivery: One evening per week (3-hours online) for 12 weeks. See January 2024 Programme Schedule for further details.

The course will cover the following areas:

Public Policy and the Policymaking Process

Understanding Public Policy, Policymaking Processes, Policymaking in Ireland, Policy Actors, Formulating Policy, Evidence-Based Policy Making, Policy Analysis

Politics of the European Union

History and Evolution of the EU; European Institutions and Political Actors of the European Union; Policy Processes of the European Union

International Relations and Global Governance

Multilateral Institutions; United Nations; The World Bank; The IMF; Non-state actors: multinational corporations and international non-governmental organisations; War in Global Politics; Migration and refugees; Global environmental politics; Climate change

Civil Society, Interest Groups and the Media:

Introduction to Civil Society, Interest Groups, The Impact of the Media, The Challenge of New Technologies, Corporatism (Social Media and Democracy, Fake News, Citizen Journalism, Post-Truth Politics, Infotainment, Disinformation, Critical Media Literacy, Media and Political Culture, Transparency and Accountability in Media, Political Orientation)

Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills:

Textual Analysis, Content Analysis, Validity and Reliability, Citation, Referencing, Evaluating Sources, News Sources, Primary and Secondary Sources, Social Media as Data, Rigour in Research, Oral Presentation Skills, Public Speaking, Political Argumentation; Analysing and Interpreting Data; The use of statistics in social and political science, Data Arrays and Graphs.

Entry Requirements

Applications are assessed on a case by case basis in accordance with Carlow College Admission Guidelines and Procedures for Part-Time Learners


Course fees are €350 and payable at registration.


Applications for Certificates commencing in January open in late October. Full application details are available here

The Certificate in Contemporary Politics and Public Policy
is validated by the South East Technological University.

Course Contacts

Dr Eoghan Smith

Course Enquiries

T: 059 9153257

E: esmith@carlowcollege.ie

Admissions Office

Admissions Enquiries

T: 059 9153268

E: directentry@carlowcollege.ie