Advanced Diploma in Electoral Law and Politics

Page last updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2024

INTRODUCTION

At a time of unprecedented change in our electoral and parliamentary system, which includes new regulations on party funding; gender quotas; election expenses; the creation of the Electoral Commission; and new legislation governing parliamentary inquiries, electoral law has never been more complex or regulated.

An understanding of the law governing the democratic process is of critical importance to all citizens. In Ireland, the interaction between electoral law and politics can have profound implications for how the State is run. This Electoral Law and Politics course will seek to provide participants with insights in respect of relevant legal principles and to provide them with opportunities to hear from leading experts with experience in applying these principles in their engagement with the electoral and political processes and with litigation in this field.

PROGRAMME AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of electoral law in Ireland, with a focus on both constitutional theory and the practical operation of the democratic and electoral process at domestic level.

On completion of the Advanced Diploma, participants should be better able to:

  1. Describe key features of Ireland’s electoral system;
  2. Explain the impact of the Constitution on Irish democratic processes;
  3. Discuss the workings of the Electoral Commission and its functions;
  4. Explain key legislative provisions applying to donations and finance;
  5. Describe regulatory changes affecting social media and elections;
  6. Discuss the case law relating to parliamentary inquiries;
  7. Explain rules governing general elections and election counts;
  8. Outline the key principles of the separation of powers in the context of parliamentary inquiries.
  9. Engage in critical thinking and legal analysis of a range of relevant topics.

WHO IS THE COURSE FOR?

This Advanced Diploma is aimed at public representatives; political advisors; election agents; civil servants; journalists; political scientists; legal practitioners; and anyone interested in knowing more about electoral law in Ireland.

Having a diverse group of professionals studying this course together allows participants to learn from each other as well as from the expert speakers.

COURSE DESIGNER AND LEAD LECTURER

The designer and lead lecturer of the course is Ruadhán Mac Aodháin. Ruadhán spent seven years as a barrister practising in personal injury cases, general civil litigation as well as a series of successful constitutional cases, before transferring to become a solicitor in 2017. He currently specialises in the areas of serious personal injury, environmental and planning law and continues to take public interest cases.

COURSE CONTENT AND DELIVERY

The course is comprised of two modules, which take place over two weekends.

Course Start Date: Friday, November 8, 2024

In–person attendance is possible (and welcomed) at all sessions on the course. Some sessions on the course will also be available to attend remotely, via livestream, and some (but not all) sessions will also be recorded. Prospective students should note the mode of delivery below. 

Any recorded classes will be filmed using eLearning software and made available to students for streaming via our Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle).

All class notes are available to read through our Virtual Learning Environment. Online tutorials and IT support are available to help students navigate their way through our library and legal resource databases.

Course Content

Module 1: The Electoral Process: Core Foundations and the Election Count Friday 8 and Saturday 9 November 2024

Friday evening: classes take place 5.45 pm – 8.00 pm. Classes on this date can be attended in person or via livestream and will also be recorded.

Saturday morning: take place between 10 am – 4 pm. Classes from 10 am – 1 pm can be attended in–person or via livestream and will also be recorded. The afternoon session on the election count presentation from 2 pm – 4 pm can only be attended in person and will not be livestreamed or recorded.

  • Introduction to the course (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will also be recorded)
  • Functions of the Electoral Commission Constituency Boundary Review (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will also be recorded)
  • Rules governing general elections and election counts (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will also be recorded)
  • Democratic principles contained in Bunreacht na hÉireann (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will also be recorded)
  • Election count presentation (due to the highly interactive nature of this session, it will only be possible to attend this session in–person)


Module 2: The Oireachtas, the Separation of Powers and Political Parties – Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December 2024

Friday evening: classes take place 5.45 pm – 8.30 pm. Classes on this date can be attended in–person or via livestream. Note that the panel discussion on Friday evening will NOT be recorded.

Saturday morning: take place between 10 am – 3 pm. Classes from 10 am – 12.15 pm can be attended in–person or via livestream and will also be recorded. The afternoon panel discussion from 1 pm – 3 pm can only be attended in–person and will not be livestreamed or recorded.

  • Functions of the Oireachtas (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will also be recorded)
  • Panel discussion on the impact of the Kerins decision on Oireachtas Committees (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will NOT be recorded)
  • Regulation of political parties and finance (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will NOT be recorded)
  • Elections and social media (in–person, with option to attend from anywhere via livestream – this session will also be recorded)
  • Panel discussion on future of politics and law (in–person only, this session will NOT be livestreamed or recorded)

Contributors

The course is delivered by leading experts in the field. In addition to the course coordinator, speakers on the course will include:

  1. Art O’Leary, CEO of the Electoral Commission
  2. Dr Catherine Donnelly SC
  3. Dr Laura Cahillane, University of Limerick
  4. Pádraig Hughes, former returning officer and election count expert
  5. Dr Elaine Byrne BL, barrister and expert on transparency and governance
  6. Adrian Kavanagh, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Maynooth University

ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION

This is a professional development course and it is accredited independently by The Honorable Society of King’s Inns. The skills and competence gained in studying at King’s Inns are transferable, portable and recognised internationally. It is a valuable qualification delivered by distinguished lawyers, members of the judiciary, legal and other practitioners specialising in legal education.

To be awarded the Advanced Diploma, a participant is required to successfully complete a learner’s journal and reflective piece, to be completed on an individual basis.

Instructions on how to complete the assessment will be released on the weekend of the second module and the deadline will be four weeks later. The assessment will have a word limit of 2000 words.

Note: The timetable and assessment information are subject to change in 2024. Details will be confirmed and updated soon. 

COURSE FEE

Course fee: €1,500

  • You should view the fee structure, payment terms, and other charges here >

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

There are no admission requirements for this course. A place on the highly sought–after course is not secured until the tuition fee is received in full. Once payment is received, you are automatically accepted on the course.

HOW DO I APPLY?

Application Deadline: Midnight (Irish time) on Friday, October 18, 2024

  • In order to verify your personal details, you must first create an account on the Application Portal through the ‘register and apply here’ button below. Once you verify your email address in the Portal, you can then proceed with your application.
  • The application process is very short and your place on the course will not be secured until payment is received in full. Once payment is received, you are automatically accepted on the course.
  • Payment can be made through the Application Portal using your credit or debit card (please make sure your bank allows you to process the full payment in one go), or
  • If your employer is paying for your studies, you will require a valid PO number in advance of making the application, the name and email address for the person responsible for payment in your organisation.
  • The invoice will issue directly to the person whose details you enter. The participant will also be able to download a copy of the invoice through the Application Portal. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure their employer has paid in full within the timeframe required in order to secure a place. King’s Inns cannot contact your employer for payment, we can only liaise with the applicant.
  • An automated payment receipt will be generated confirming your place on the course.

Applications will be open soon

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