BSc Government

Undergraduate Study

Undergraduate Study

BSc Government

Welcome to the homepage of the BSc Government. The BSc Government is the flagship academic programme of the Department of Government and it is one of an exciting new generation of degrees on offer in UCC. 

The four-year programme combines political science and public administration with a broad range of other subjects in business, law, modern languages, social sciences and information technology.

An attractive component of the BSc Government is the work placement in third year. This includes the prestigious internship in the New York State Legislature and many other highly prized placements in international (e.g. European Parliament) and national (e.g. Department of the Taoiseach) institutions. The placement programme for the BSc degree has been so successful that the model has since been copied by many other programmes. 

Now, more than ever before, the study of government and politics is crucial. Politics affects everyone. Aristotle called politics the master science for a reason: he understood that through politics the future of the world is shaped. Ultimately, politics is the activity through which people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live. Do you want to be an active or a passive citizen? Do you want a say in how your future is shaped or do you want to blindly follow the path set down by others? Students of the BSc Government will be the political and business leaders of tomorrow and will be a vital part of the generation that shapes the 21st century. Accept the challenge and be a positive force for change. 

By following the links on this page, you can read more about the different academic modules that form the core of the BSc Government, the opportunities you for foreign study, and details on the department’s work placement programme. 

If you have any questions about the programme, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Dr Aodh Quinlivan

Director of BSc Government 

Department of Government 

Room 2.54, O’Rahilly Building 



Tel:        00353 (21) 490 3368 

Fax:       00353 (21) 490 3135


Academic Content of the BSc in Government

What is the Study of Government?

The practice of democratic government is a specific and sometime tedious business – seeking nomination, winning election and serving constituents is the concern, for the most part, of career politicians. The study of government, on the other hand, is quite different. Students of government learn to understand, using the tools of applied social research, some of the fundamental puzzles and outcomes that shape our world.

Over the course of four years, students reading for a BSc in Government are trained to address a range of substantive issues across Irish, European and international politics. Courses, as a rule, are formed around a series of key questions that direct scholarly inquiry. Consider some of the following questions that concern government students:

-         Is tension between East and West the result of a deep and inevitable ‘clash of civilisations’?

-         Can we trace the origins of genocide to ‘ancient tribal animosities’?

-         Why did Irish democracy – conceived at a time when many European democracies were failing – survive?

-         Why do some democracies fail (Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe) while others succeed (Ireland, South Africa)?

-         Can ideas shape the course of political history (Enlightenment thought and political liberalisation)?

The BSc in Government also contains a hard-nosed quality: students have the opportunity to study business and language modules offered within the School of Commerce that will prepare students for a career in the financial or business community. Students, in an equally practical vein, also take modules where they learn qualitative and quantitative research skills that are considered essential to both further study and careers in policy-making.

Entry Requirements

Prospective students are required to achieve the minimum grade of HC3 in two subjects and passes in four other subjects at Higher or Ordinary Level in the Leaving Certificate from: Irish, English, another language, Mathematics and two other subjects recognised for entry purposes. In addition, students must also have requisite points. Mature students, Access students and others with a disability may qualify for entry to the BSc Government by other routes. Further information is available from the Admissions office (

What Do Graduates Do?

According to a recent survey, the overwhelming majority of graduates from the BSc in Government are either in full-time employment, or pursuing further study or professional training.

A Career in the Public or Private Sector

The BSc in Government at UCC is different to other ‘Politics’ degrees. Unlike many other courses that are traditionally situated in the ‘Arts and Humanities’ faculties, the Department of Government at UCC is situated in the Faculty of Commerce. Unsurprisingly, then, quite a few of our graduates – armed with useful introductions to such skills as market research and marketing – have gone straight to work for prestigious companies such as Merrill Lynch and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Other students have taken accounting and legal exams and continued to make a career in the professions, while others still have progressed to the public sector (for instance, the Courts Service, Cork County Council and the Department of Education and Science), journalism (Evening Echo), and banking, sales and management and in non-governmental organisations.

Increasingly, too, graduates of the BSc in Government have decided to do further study. Former students have enrolled at prestigious universities – including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the London School of Economics (LSE) – for both Masters and Doctoral research programmes. The success of our graduates, again, is unsurprising: students taking the BSc in Government receive a rigorous introduction to both quantitative and qualitative research methods that transfer across disciplines in the social sciences and provide students within a distinct advantage.

Take a look at five students who graduated in recent time; their experiences present a fairly representative account of the variety of careers chosen by government graduates.

Student Profiles

Michelle Healy:

The BSC Government and Public Policy degree programme (2001-2005) gave me the opportunity to study various issues around human rights, international and European Union politics, ethnicity and conflict (amongst others). A bachelor degree encompassing these subjects is the first stepping stone into an international career. During my degree, I spent semester interning at the New York State Assembly in the USA. I specialised with a master's in Human Rights Law, and received a scholarship to study child labour in India. Following this, I spent one year as a United Nations Volunteer with UNICEF in Kenya. The BSc in Government and Public Policy can give you the flexible foundation you will need to gain a future career in Irish, European and International affairs.

Sinead Murray: Tax Specialist with PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Following the degree I received a scholarship to Washington College in Maryland.
In September 2005 I completed a Higher Diploma in Accounting and Corporate Finance in U.C.C. Since October 2006 I have worked as a Tax Specialist for Tax and Legal Services in PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dublin. I am currently completing my professional qualifications as a Chartered Accountant and will also be sitting tax exams to become a Registered Tax Consultant. When I interviewed during the graduate recruitment process for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a key focus of the interview was my experiences during my internship in the New York State Legislature as part of the 3rd year work experience programme in the BSc Government and Public Policy degree.

Holly Hardwicke

I have completed the BSc Government at UCC and have since pursued a career in research. The small classes, approachable staff and interesting subjects made for a highly enjoyable and valuable four years. The programme equipped me with important skills and knowledge which have served me well in my current career. The BSc Government programme was also supported by a vibrant student society which made the social experience of this degree programme just as valuable and enjoyable as the academic. 

Why study political science?

Political science is the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behaviour.  Political science subfields include political theory, political philosophy, political ideology, political economy, policy studies and analysis, comparative politics, international relations, and a host of related fields.  Political scientists use both humanistic and scientific perspectives and tools and a variety of methodological approaches to examine the process, systems, and political dynamics of all countries and regions of the world. 

There is no single reason to study politics. We may have an interest in the workings of government, or some questions about the civic nature of our society. Or, some event – either domestic or international – may arouse our interest, making us want to know more than just what we are able to learn through television or newspapers. There may be deeper questions on our mind, such as the true nature of political systems, or how pressing problems may be overcome. Perhaps we just want to know why humans tend to divide themselves and be so antagonistic to others.

We can, of course, gain an insight into all of these matters through studies of other disciplines, such as history, sociology, law, and economics. Politics, though, offers something that these other perspectives do not: a specific understanding of the political nature of human organisation – our governments, political parties, interest groups, trade unions, business associations, and international institutions. Human interaction results in a struggle for goals and objectives, and political science seeks to explain and understand the basis of this struggle.

The study of politics allows us to become a participant in the process, and not a mere observer. Political science gives us greater insight into our daily lives, and the world around us. The aim of the political analyst is not just to point out the wrongs of the world, but also to present ways to improve conditions for future generations. This might sound naive, but to have any other objective would be to resign ourselves to our current, imperfect, state of affairs.

Studying politics means studying the real world and developing the skills to make sense of that world. A degree in political science is not geared to any particular type of job. It will prepare you for many forms of employment or further study. You will gain analytical and practical skills, invaluable in today’s competitive employment market. Political science graduates are recognised as flexible people who can fit into a variety of positions in modern life.

A degree in political science will equip you for all sorts of careers: political activity, management, retail, banking, in government departments, local government and international organisations. Political science graduates work in the media and for pressure groups, become consultants and go on to lecturing and research posts at universities. Others become teachers in secondary schools. One thing is clear: studying political science provides you with many choices of what to do when you graduate.


For more reasons to study politics go to: (prepared by the Political Studies Association in the UK) (prepared by the American Political Science Association)


BSc Government Handbook 2016-2017

Government Undergraduate Handbook

For all information relating to the BSc Government Degree please download this handbook.

Joining the SGPP List

To join the SGPP-List please click on the link below.  Once you have clicked on the link, select "Join" and follow the steps.

Extension Application Process

Please find below an explanation of the assignment extension application process.


Extension requests need to be supported by appropriate documentation, e.g. medical cert or counsellor's letter.

These documents need to be submitted in timely fashion with the extension request. Extensions will not be granted for retrospective medical certs which are submitted weeks after the assignment deadline has passed.

Requests will only be considered where the documentation is received within the period of the assignment, i.e. before the deadline.


We are always happy to support students who have genuine difficulties and will continue to do so.

It is also not in the interests of students to rely on extensions as it results in assignments being delayed and piling up on one another which is problematic in a semesterised system.


The Extension Form which needs to be completed by the student and approved by Dr Emmanuelle Schön-Quinlivan before‌ the assignment deadline.


On the day when you submit your assignment to the Department of Government (Room 2.48), please attach the completed and approved extension form to the front of your assignment.


Extension Officer:

Dr Emmanuelle Schön-Quinlivan

College Lecturer 

Department of Government

O'Rahilly Building

University College Cork


Information for Incoming Students 2016-2017

The staff of the Department of Government would like to welcome all incoming students to UCC.

Please use the following link to find all the information you will need for starting in UCC.  

Timetables 2016-2017

 All timetables subject to change. Students are advised to check


BSc Government I


BSc Government year II


BSc Government year III


BSc Government IV

Department of Government and Politics

2nd Floor, Block B, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland