Seamus Allen - MSc International Public Policy and Diplomacy

I’m incredibly lucky to have my place in UCC on the International Public Policy and Diplomacy Masters programme. The University College Cork Campus is an incredibly beautiful environment in which to pursue my postgraduate studies and the College offers a fantastic range of facilities and services to its students. My Masters programme is incredibly stimulating, and it allows a student to research some of the most topical and pressing issues of today’s world. Topics that I have been able to study so far include global energy security, Brexit, the Arab Spring, the shifts in US foreign policy under Donald Trump, and the nature of the international human rights regime, amongst many others.

The range of modules from which a student can choose to study in my Masters programme is incredibly diverse with over thirty elective modules on offer, not counting the language electives. These options include electives from fields as diverse as Law, Philosophy, Sociology, Business Management and Marketing, Food Business and Development, and History. Students who are so inclined can pursue the study of a language, with eight languages available to pick from.

My very first piece of assessed course work was delivered only two weeks ago and was a project related to the International Human Rights Regime. My project examined how the great powers are able to use their influence to undermine the existence of an International Human Rights Regime when it suits their interests to do so. For my case study, I examined how the US and its allies were able to use their influence at the United Nations to channel aid to the Khmer Rouge movement through UN agencies during the 1980’s. During this period the Khmer Rouge were attempting to retake control of Cambodia, the same country in which the Khmer Rouge had conducted a genocide during the 1975-1979 period.  This was a grim but fascinating subject to study.

In addition to working on my academic assignments, I have also been kept busy due to my pursuit of a work placement. The strong work placement programme of my course, and its proactive approach to assisting students with finding work placement, was something that really attracted me to the International Public Policy Masters. I found the Work Placement Coordinator for the course, Dearbhail O'Callaghan, incredibly professional and supportive of students in their search for placements. Due to this support, I am thrilled to have been very recently granted a 6 month Internship with the Central Bank in Dublin, due to start in late March/ early April of 2019. My next challenge will be searching for accommodation in Dublin for during this period.

So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed my course, and cannot strongly recommend it enough to anyone interested in the subject area.

Check out the prospectus page for the MSc International Public Policy and Diplomacy.

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Pictured above: UCC’s O’ Rahilly Building, which contains the Administrative Office and the Co-ordinator’s Office for the International Public Policy and Diplomacy Masters.

Seamus Allen - MSc International Public Policy and Diplomacy

Blog Post 2 

Now that I have completed my first Semester in the International Public Policy and Diplomacy course (IPPD), I’m able to say that I’ve had a really fantastic experience so far. The course coordinator, Niall Duggan has been wonderfully supportive of all students in the course, and has always been really approachable.

The course allows students to study a diverse range of areas, while also allowing them to hone in on particular interests. For example, in the module ‘Contemporary Global Politics’ we studied a wide range of subjects like peacekeeping, energy security, global warming and food security. For the module’s policy report paper, students could write a paper making recommendations on any global policy issue of their choice. Students chose topics like the EU’s policy towards the migration crisis, on the climate change policy of international organisations, on peacekeeping in Lebanon, or on the biodiversity policy of the UN. I chose to focus on Brexit, which is a particular interest of mine. I wrote a paper which evaluated the Norway model for Brexit. This is a proposal that post-Brexit Britain ought to emulate Norway’s special relationship with the EU and which has both strong supporters and harsh critics across both sides of the Leave/Remain divide.

Brexit, was of course, also prominently discussed in the EU Political System and Policies module. This module combined broad coverage of the European Union, with an assessment that allowed students to hone in on any EU policy area of their choice. For instance, I chose to study the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy towards the EU’s Arab neighbours,  in relation to democracy and human rights within those countries. I sought to assess why, contrary to its rhetoric, the EU has generally been a force opposed to the development of democracy in the region.

I also chose to focus on the topic of Western power in the Middle East for my module on US Foreign Policy. Once again, this was a broad survey course of US Foreign Policy in contemporary history, covering topics like US Foreign Policy and the Cold War, Vietnam, US policy and China, and the foreign policy of Donald Trump. Students were able to choose almost any topic related to US foreign policy for the final assignment, subject to the lecturer’s approval. For my final assignment, I wrote a paper on the influence of oil on US-Iraq relations, roughly covering the 1990-2010 period. 

The module I had initially been most nervous about was our module on European Union Law. I had never studied law before, so a module focused entirely on EU law seemed rather daunting at the outset. However, the module is provided specifically only to International Public Policy students, so no law background is assumed. EU Law quickly became one of my favourite modules, as I found all the new content exciting and stimulating.

With my holidays now over, I’m truly excited to be returning to the beautiful UCC Campus for another Semester of the International Public Policy course.

Check out the prospectus page for the MSc International Public Policy and Diplomacy.

Statue of Boole

Picture: The Quad, UCC Campus 

Seamus Allen - MSc International Public Policy and Diplomacy 

Blog 3

I’m now in the third and final semester of the postgraduate course in International Public Policy and Diplomacy. The last month and a half have been hectic but rewarding. In addition to the large number of assignments due throughout April, I have also moved up Dublin for the first time to begin my work placement. Having to organise a move up to Dublin, getting used to a new city, and settling in in a new workplace, on top of ongoing college assignments, is challenging and intense. I’ve already managed to get myself chronically lost in Dublin! But thankfully I have now started to learn my way around a bit better.

My transition has been made easier by the fantastic friendliness of everyone I have met so far in the Central Bank of Ireland, where my work placement is based. I am working in the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection division. Some other students from my course are also on work placement in Dublin – working for the Oireachtas or President’s office for example - while others are abroad, and working for instance, for the Scottish or European parliaments. Other students have gotten their work placements in Cork with the Cork County Council or the Cork Chamber of Commerce. Other students have opted to do the thesis rather than the work placement and work-based dissertation- my course offers a choice between work placement and a 10,000-word dissertation on the one hand, or a 20,000-word thesis on the other.

While I am eager to begin the dissertation, I really enjoyed the Second Semester’s range of modules. Once again the range of modules was diverse, including modules ranging from International Law to a module on Global economic policies and institutions, and a module called Organizational Dynamics, delivered by UCC’s Department of Management and Marketing. This Management and Marketing module was about business/ organisational cultures and leadership and was thus refreshingly different from other mandatory modules.

My favourite module of the Semester, however, was my elective module on the ‘Politics of Terrorism.’ This was a fascinating module that emphasised large amounts of student discussion. As of now, I need to focus on getting used to my work placement in the Central Bank and to start thinking about the dissertation. Students who choose to do the work placement must do a dissertation on a topic in some way related to a subject area relevant to the place in which they work. Balancing the dissertation and the work placement will probably be quite tricky, especially because getting into UCC library for library books will be a lot more difficult as will be meeting with my dissertation supervisor. Nonetheless, I have been enjoying my work placement so far and am excited to begin the dissertation.


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