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Public Advocacy and Activism (MA/PDip)
Course OverviewThe MA in Public Advocacy and Activism is an interdisciplinary programme that combines training in the practical skills of advocacy and activism with an exploration of the theories and concepts which inform these fields. No other programme in Ireland offers students the opportunity to acquire skills and training in such a breadth of disciplines, including management, communications, public relations and human rights. By drawing on the expertise of scholars and practitioners across these fields, the MA in Public Advocacy and Activism provides the skills crucial for those who wish to work in organizations which seek to shift attitudes and initiate change, including those working in community organisation, international relations, development, labour, rights, health and the environment. This programme is offered in conjunction with the J.E. Cairnes Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, and the Irish Centre for Human Rights.
Applications and Selections
Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.
Who Teaches this Course
Requirements and Assessment
Assessments on the programme are designed to develop students’ writing and presentation skills, as well as their ability to undertake individual and group work and to critically assess their own work and that of their peers. Assessment is by a combination of essays, presentations, reports and projects, including a work placement report, and a film production project in which students collaborate with the MA in Production & Direction students in the making of short advocacy films. Students have the opportunity to specialise in a particular aspect of the programme through a 16,000–18,000 word minor dissertation, which is submitted in early August.
1 year, full-time
2 years, part-time
Next start date
A Level Grades ()
You are advised to apply early, which may result in an early offer; see the offer round dates
Mode of study
Across the wide-ranging syllabus, there is a focus on both the socio-political environment in which advocates and campaigners for change must operate and the tools and techniques by which change can be achieved. Students use actual campaigns as the basis of their course work analysis, so that critiques and debates are firmly based in the real world of current events. In addition to gaining a theoretical understanding of how change may be effected, students learn how to develop and run successful campaigns, how to interact with large organizations, and how to influence public opinion on important issues.
The course may be taken as a full-time degree taken over a twelve-month period (September to August) OR as a part-time degree taken over a twenty-four month period. The year is divided into two teaching semesters, from September to December and from January to April. The full-time programme comprises three core taught modules during the academic year and a choice of 4 out of 5 electives as well as a research methods seminar over two 12-week semesters. Students will also undertake a service learning placement. The minor dissertation (30 ECTS) is completed over the summer and submitted in August.
- The Theory and Practice of Advocacy and Activism (10 ECTS)
- Communications Media and Marketing for Advocates (10 ECTS)
- Short Filmmaking for Advocacy (10 ECTS)
- Service Learning Placement (10 ECTS)
Elective Modules (4 out of 5 to be selected) include:
- Human Rights for Advocates (5 ECTS)
- Film & Politics (5 ECTS)
- How to Argue with an Economist (5 ECTS)
- Organisational Analysis and Management (5 ECTS)
- The Social and Political Context of Advocacy (5 ECTS)
Why Choose This Course?
Why Choose This Course?
This imaginative course provides an opportunity for experienced advocates for social change as well as those interested in working in the area to achieve a specialist qualification in their field of practice. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the programme brings together a group of students from diverse backgrounds but with shared interests and ambitions. Discussion-based classes allow students to challenge and engage with ideas and topics in a dynamic learning process that increases understanding and clarifies opinions. The programme includes a work placement in which students gain the opportunity to put their developing skills into practice. Furthermore, as a student at the Huston School you will be part of a collaborative creative community, working with students on the MA in Production & Direction to develop a short film as part of an advocacy campaign. You will also have all the opportunities which come from studying at one of the world’s top Universities, including access to a range of seminars and high-profile guest speakers.
Recent visiting speakers have included practitioners and activists from organisations such as Comhlamh, Trocaire, UNOCHA, and the Migrant Rights Council of Ireland; campaigners including Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle; and filmmakers like Emily James, Risteard O Domhnaill, and Dearbhla Glynn, who have made documentaries on topics of human rights and social concerns.
Graduates have gone on to pursue a range of careers in lobbying, campaigning, advocacy and humanitarian roles in organisations such as the SOAR Foundation, PETA, UNOCHA, GOAL Ireland, ADAPT Domestic Abuse Services, the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association, Amnesty International (Irish section), Cancer Care West, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Trocaire, Spunout, and the Washington Post. Others have continued in higher education, with a number of PhDs completed or underway. It should be noted that while the MA is structured towards careers in the not-for-profit sector, many of the skills gained during the year, for example those in research methods, analysis, media and communications, are transferable to any sector.
Who’s Suited to This Course
Related Student Organisations
Fees: Student levy
Fees: Non EU
Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition. You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee. An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270. SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.
Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.
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What Our Students Say
Kevin Gadsey | Public Advocacy & Activism
I came to Ireland wanting to know how to change the world for people with disabilities. A year later, it was I who had been transformed because of the lecturers’ insights and the projects I chose to tackle. I learned about human nature, our strengths and weaknesses, and how they help and hinder any campaign. I now understand why parts of the world are struggling, what/who is oppressing them, and the dynamics of the relationship between the oppressed and the oppressors. I now understand tried and true methods and strategies to motivate oppressed peoples to create and sustain their own social movements.
Emmet Sheerin | Public Advocacy & Activism
The MA in Public Advocacy and Activism certainly informed my experience working as a human rights observer in the West Bank, giving me a particular confidence in my engagement with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. Furthermore, the course provided me with a valuable understanding of how change can be influenced at a local, national and international level.
Sarah Clancy | Public Advocacy & Activism
One of the most challenging aspects of the course was that it forced us all to question our own motivation for seeking social change. I would highly recommend this Masters as an eye-opening stimulus to an awareness which will benefit the student in practically any field of work or further study.
Lyndia Peters | Public Advocacy & Activism
One of the best parts of the MA in Public Advocacy and Activism was the way it fitted into my academic, career and personal goals. I aim to be a vital part of my community, to contribute to its health and success and to empower others to do the same – I know this course was an important step on that journey.