Advanced Diploma on the Democratic Process and Electoral Law

(Course available via blended learning)

The democratic process in Ireland has never been more complex, legally, or more regulated. At a time of unparalleled change and reform, this course is uniquely designed to enable participants to navigate the complexities of State administration, the workings of parliament, law making and our electoral system. 

This advanced diploma course is uniquely relevant to those directly or indirectly involved in the democratic process, including lawyers, civil servants, political party members, public representatives and their staff, journalists, diplomats, policy makers, political scientists, scholars, county councillors and others interested in the democratic and political system in Ireland.

Contributors to the course include former Attorneys General, members of the legal profession with expertise in constitutional law, top civil servants and former senior news editors.

Topics include: how the institutions of the State act in accordance with the law and with the Constitution; why administrative decisions of State agencies are open to judicial review; the extent to which the courts can intervene in respect of actions taken by the State; how law is made and how it can be delegated; how political campaigns are regulated during and election cycle; how the referendum process is regulated under the Constitution. Those involved in local and national government will be particularly interested to learn how political power works in local authorities and in the Houses of the Oireachtas. The course also covers how election counts are conducted – essential information for anyone involved in the political process, from county councillors to aspiring public representatives.

PROGRAMME AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

This advanced diploma course, the first of its kind in Ireland, will significantly deepen participants’ understanding of and expertise in the law that governs the democratic process, including elections and parliamentary procedure, both in Ireland and the European Parliament. Students will also gain an understanding of the international legal framework that underpins Ireland’s electoral system and expert training will also be provided in emerging areas, such as parliamentary inquiries and international election observation.

COURSE DELIVERY

The course is delivered via a combination of lectures and small group teaching (tutorials). This course will also be available via blended learning, with lectures recorded using e–learning software and made available to students for streaming via our student intranet system. This means that, while all students are welcome and encouraged to attend class in person, lectures will be recorded so that students who are based outside Dublin or who are otherwise unable to attend can catch up on the material by streaming the video in their own time. Lecture videos require an internet connection to be streamed. 

Tutorials (small group sessions) require attendance in person due to their interactive nature. 

There will be 21 lectures / large group sessions (Thursdays 8.30am–10.00am) and 4 tutorials (Wednesdays 8.30am–10.00am) on the course. The course will be delivered by experts, including international experts, in the field. 

Course Start Date:  Thursday 3 November 2016.

PROVISIONAL COURSE OUTLINE (subject to change):

Week No.

Date

Topic

.

1.

 

Introduction to the democratic process and key constitutional principles

 

2.

 

Organs of the State and the Separation of Powers

 

3.

 

The Law Governing General Elections (1): Franchise, PR and Dáil constituency reviews

 

4.

 

The Law Governing General Elections (2): Dáil elections and campaign regulation

 

5.

 

 The Law Governing General Elections (3): Rules governing the counting of votes

 

6A.

 

Tutorial 1: Mock Election Count

 

6B. 

 

 

Civil and Political Rights and Judicial Review 

7.

 

Seanad Elections

 

8.

 

European Electoral Processes

 

9.

 

Local Authorities: Powers, Functions and Representation

 

10.

 

Presidential Powers and Elections

 

 

11A.

 

Tutorial: Constitutional rights, presidential powers and the functioning of the Seanad 

 

11B.

 

Obligations of the Broadcast Media

 

12.

 

Party Funding, Donations and Election Expenses

 

13.

 

Referenda in Ireland

 

14.

 

International Standards for Elections


 

15.

 

Election Monitoring

 

16A.

 

Tutorial 3: International Standards and Election Observation

 

16B.

 

Functioning of Government and Dáil:

 

17.

 

Workings of Dáil Éireann

 

18.

 

Extent of the legislative power


19.

 

Parliamentary Inquiries

 

20A.

 

Tutorial 4: The Executive, the extent of the legislative power and parliamentary inquiries

 

20B.

 

Guest Speaker on the PAC

 

21.

 

Course Roundup

 

 

ASSESSMENT

In order to be awarded with the diploma, students will have to successfully complete one assignment and one examination.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND

This course will be of interest to:

  • Public representatives, party political and parliamentary service staff;
  • Lawyers
  • Journalists and political correspondents
  • Civil and public servants
  • Diplomats, both Irish and from embassies based in Dublin
  • Policy makers
  • Political scientists and scholars
  • Returning officers.

FEES

Fees can be viewed here.  

HOW TO APPLY

Applications should be emailed to AdvDip@kingsinns.ie or sent to Admissions, The Honorable Society of King’s inns, Henrietta Street, Dublin 1.

Applications are made here.

LECTURERS

A wide range of senior lawyers and other experts will deliver this course. Lecturers include:

  • Michael Mc Dowell SC
  • Senator Ivana Bacik
  • Mairead Ahern, Country Registrar and Returning Officer (Provisional)
  • Niamh Hyland SC
  • Jim O’Callaghan SC
  • Noel Whelan BL
  • Ruadhán MacAodháin BL
  • Barry Ward BL

 TESTIMONIALS FROM PAST STUDENTS

Padraig Hughes

“I have successfully completed the Advanced Diploma course on the Democratic Process and Electoral Law in 2016. I have had a background in the Democratic Process having served as Returning Officer for Urban District Council, County Council, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Dáil elections. I embarked on the course in the hope of furthering my knowledge in the Democratic Process and Electoral Law areas. Having now completed the Advance Diploma Course it gave me a much broader insight into the Electoral System in Ireland. The course was very professionally run. My initial objectives for undertaking the course were fully delivered upon. I would wholeheartedly recommend the course to any person with an interest in the Democratic Process in Ireland at whatever level.” (Class of 2016)

Padraig Hughes, Semi–retired.

James Gough

“King’s Inns is an institution which I would recommend to anyone interested in furthering their ‘continuous’ adult learning. The Advanced Diploma courses are well structured and the lectures are delivered by experts in the particular field of study pertinent to the course taken. King’s Inns is a prestigious establishment, specialist in delivering a range of law courses suitable to a wide variety of students from all age groupings.” (Class of 2016)

James Gough, Semi–retired.