Some Pol-Soc ideas to keep you going over the summer…



The summer holidays that are just about to get started aren’t going to be like any holidays that have previously happened. Many of the sports camps, language schools, activities, and travel that you might have been hoping for have all “vanished into air, into thin air” (to quote from The Tempest). So one thing I’ll be trying to do over the summer is to keep a relatively steady stream of resources to engage with via the website. I’m going to try and post once every 10 days or fortnight, as much to keep myself sane and focused as trying to help the students, I suspect!

So, here is a list of a few possible activities that you can be getting along with under your own steam that would be an excellent starting point:


  1. 2-6 June. They’ll have sample lectures on all the different disciplines from across the university. Obviously, I’d want you to pay particular attention to the Politics/International Relations and Sociology/Social Policy lectures that are happening next week, but as I mentioned in the class, I do think you should use the opportunity to dip into some of the other subject areas that you may never have looked at before.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, make sure that your subscribe to my website at (click ‘follow’ on the home page) to make sure you get email alerts for the new materials (podcasts, screencasts, readings, exercises, etc) that will be going up at fairly regular intervals during the summer.
  3. Follow along on Twitter with @khpolsoc ( to see other relevant materials that I’ll be circulating through the twitter feed.
  4. Try and take ONE news event each week to take a deep dive into. Look at it from different perspectives and see how a single event is covered from different media outlets. (You could start by keeping track of the Trump ‘vs’ Twitter confrontation that is about to kick off…) Use the TLDR handout template from the website ( to keep a track of your reading and to make sure that you’re in a position to use those materials when it comes to your essays next year.,
  5. Start a log of movies, documentaries, and YouTube videos that you’ve watched that you think might be able to draw on for your work next year. Share those video resources with your classmates, and maybe even start up a movie/documentary discussion group where you all watch similar shows and might even discuss them afterward.
  6. If you haven’t already done so, you could start with the Covid-19 Key Thinker reading list that I posted previously. (

Take it upon yourself to read one article a day. That’s eminently doable!!! It’ll be a good way to keep up to date, while also reinforcing your key thinkers.

Above all, remember to keep safe, follow the guidelines, be kind to your parents (it is very stressful for them, you know), and try to get a bit of valuable rest of the summer.

The class of 2020 has moved on now, but there’s still a big hill ahead for the class of 2021. We’ll do our best to help you along that journey.



Pol-Soc and Covid-19 – a (provisional) Reading List

There are lots of ways in which the Covid 19 ‘experience’ (he said euphemistically) is relevant to the Pol Soc Specification. I wouldn’t be advising students to write a WHOLE essay about Covid-19, but I do think that a well-sourced and well-supported paragraph about how Covid-19 illustrates aspects of the course could fit comfortably into lots of different types of essay. The readings will make that clearer, I hope!

I’ve ‘appropriated‘ (i.e. stolen) some of @NorthMonPolSoc‘s great resources (if you’re not already following Jon, you should be…!) and provided my own workable reading list of articles about, or by some of the Key Thinkers or key themes from the specification. Some of the articles are quite short, so you could try engaging with one a day for the next fortnight. It’d serve are really valuable Key Thinker revision too!

I’ve also included a link to my TLDR handout that is designed to help students keep notes on the articles that they have read. Alternatively, you could download the google doc and add the key data, or 1-2 key quotes from each article underneath the link so you have a useable set of qualitative and quantitative data-sets that are ‘exam ready‘.

Download the google doc here: Covid-19 and the Pol Soc Spec

There’s still lots of uncertainty around what’s happening with the Leaving Cert, but I hope that the lack of clarity isn’t getting students too down… (sad-face emoji…)

And for the record, Jon is more than happy for me to be sharing his great resources! (I always check!)


JD 7/5/2020

Screencast #5 (Northern Ireland) is Now Live!

In an effort to get my head around the new remote learning landscape, I’ve been trying to put together usable weekly plans that can guide students through a meaningful process of learning. This week I’ve focused in on how the subject specification deals (both explicitly and implicitly) with power and decision making in Northern Ireland.

You can watch the screencast here. But perhaps more importantly, you should engage with the Episode Notes page which has details of how best I think these materials can be used. Make sure to download the “Screencast 5 Listen Along Guide” to remain focused during the screencast and to help you collate all the relevant materials, information, and perspectives that I’ve tried to communicate during the episode. There’s even a self-marking “Google Forms Quiz” that you should be taking mid-week to try and assess how your learning is going…

I’m very grateful to Ms Catherine McGing down in Laurel Hill in Limerick for her help in putting this week’s work together. All the good ideas are hers, all the errors are my own. Thanks Catherine!

Best of luck with your “lockdown learning”. I hope this makes it ever so slightly easier to carry out!


JD (20/2/20)

Screencast #4 Citizenship Project Section C

Finally got around to doing the screencast designed to help students get to grips with writing up the final section of their Citizenship Projects. Hopefully you’ll find it useful. I’m also including all of the PowerPoint presentations that I used so that other teachers can download them and use in class. They can update them as we find out more about the process and adapt them for their own students needs and add their own insights. Take what’s useful and discard the rest…

This time around I take THREE different examples of Section Cs that my own students completed (with varying degrees of success) over the last few years. Hopefully you’ll be able to see how to progress your work up from a H4/H3 level, up to the final example which is a H1 students. It’s all about providing a pathway to students to identify and correct their own mistakes, without falling into the most obvious pitfalls that I identify in the video…

Citizenship Project Section A ppt

Citizenship Project Section B ppt

Citizenship Project Section C ppt

Best of luck with the submission of your projects (whenever that ends up being!!!)

JD (4/14/20)


“Lockdown Listens!”

Delighted to have been featured in the Irish Times’s “Lockdown Listens” listing for educational podcasts in today’s paper. Find the article here. More importantly, there are lots of other excellent podcasts listed there that students should check out. Also don’t forget to check out the list I’m compiling of ‘Pol-Soc’ focused podcasts that students can dip in and out of to progress their own independent learning! Useful Podcasts for Students and Teachers

Would love to hear of any other podcasts that you’re listening to that you feel might be helpful for others…



Screencast #3 – Citizenship Project Section B

So here’s the best I could come up with in terms of helping students to avoid some of the unnecessary pitfalls when it comes to drafting their Section B of their Citizenship Projects, which is worth the Lion’s Share of the marks (45/100). I hope you find it useful…

To make it a little easier, you should download the handout, so that you don’t have to try and read the contents off the screen (especially if you’re watching this over your phone!

As ever, it’s only my own best judgment of what’s happening and how they have been marked, combined with a fair amount of “reverse engineering” of the projects my own students have submitted. Hopefully they’ll be of use to students who are stranded due to Covid-19… All they need is the link and a smart phone for this to work for them…

I deliberately didn’t mention that you could talk about how Covid-19 impacted your project in your “Critical Evaluation of Action Plan” section, because we don’t know how the SEC are going to react to this, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that if you were unable to complete certain elements of the action, you can talk about that in your ‘Section B’ – though if I hear any more on that, I’ll be sure to update you as soon as I can.

Best of luck with your submission!

JD 1/4/2020

(definitely not an April Fool… just sayin’)


Screencast #2 – Children’s Rights Essay

In an effort to expand my repertoire and skills somewhat, I’m starting to work a little more on screencasts. This contribution is aimed at helping students with their essay writing by working through ONE way of approaching a Children’s Rights essay.

I’m at pains to emphasize that this is not a ‘sample essay’ to be learned off by heart and reproduced in the exam (that’d be too ‘Banking Concept’ for me…!). Rather, it aims to show students how they might structure their work and highlight lots of different sources of data that students can investigate for themselves and which they can then include in their essays to strengthen their ‘Evidence’ mark. It also hopes to press home the need for ‘Alternative and Comparative Perspectives‘ (which accounts for 15% of essay marks) by conspicuously attempting to bring in different counter-arguments and different ways of looking at any given essay title.

You can watch the video here, pausing at the appropriate time to complete the tasks on the Screencast 2 Listen Along Guide. While the actual video is just under 20 minutes, you should allot 60-90 minutes in total (with access to an internet browser) to complete all the different elements of the tasks

You should also download the Children’s Referendum Case Study that has three different sections, including ‘Background and Outcome’, ‘Arguments in Favour and Against’ the Referendum, and a ‘Brief Outline of the articles in the UNCRC that are needed for Pol Soc students’. Any and all of this is relevant to how you might approach the essay and this topic more generally.

I hope you are all remaining sane during the Shutdown. From this process I’ve learned that I MUCH PREFER teaching in an actual classroom compared to this digital environment, but we don’t seem to have much choice in the matter…!

Keep sane and wash your hands.


Citizenship Project Videos


So I spent the guts of last night and today making a screen-cast designed to help students with the process of writing up the ‘Section A’ of their Citizenship Project Report Booklets. It also deals with some common mistakes that I’ve observed with my last four groups that have worked through the process.

As ever, it’s only my own best judgment of what’s happening and how they have been marked, combined with a fair amount of “reverse engineering” of the projects my own students have submitted. Hopefully they’ll be of use to students who are stranded due to Covid-19… All they need is the link and a smart phone for this to work for them… But students’ engagement with the video would definitely be helped by downloading the samples from my students last year that can be found here. (scroll down to the bottom of the page…)

Any and all (constructive) comments and suggestions are most welcome…

Hopefully, in the coming days I’ll be able to put together content to help with the other elements of the project. But bear in mind, they’re very, very time consuming to make!

Keep well and WASH YOUR HANDS…

JD 19/3/20

Pol-Soc Writing and Exam Resources


Just trying to pull together other bits and pieces of resources that might be of use to you and your students. Some I’ve already posted, others are little “one pagers” (I’m a big fan of ‘one-pagers’), that I’ve dug out over the last few days.

For the time being, I’ll leave them on the ‘Key Thinkers Notes’ page, but I’ll put links here also. I’ll figure out the best way to deal with that later!

As always, I’d be happy to hear any (constructive) feedback…

Study Skills for Pol Soc Essays Exam Strategy and Timing


Tips from the Politics and Society Chief Examiner Report 2018


DBQ Long Answer 2020


Paragraph Structure


Dealing with Counter-Arguments
Blank Revision Essay outline


TLDR – Recording your Pol Soc Reading

Keep Well – And Happy St Patrick’s Day…

JD (17/3/2020)

Key Thinker Notes

This page will evolve rapidly in the coming days, but thus far, see below links to upload the Key Thinker Notes. Please also scroll down for my “Introduction” sheets, that lay out some of the suggested essay titles (drawn from the subject specification), that students case use as a focal point for their study and exam preparation…

Thomas Hobbes John Locke
Robert Nozick Karl Marx
Paulo Freire Sylvia Walby
Fr Sean McDonagh Andre Gunder Frank
Vandana Shiva Kwame Anthony Appiah
Benedict Anderson Samuel Huntington
Kathleen Lynch Martha Nussbaum
Edward Said Thomas Hylland Erisken
Intro to Power and Decision Making Intro to Identity
Intro to Human Rights 1 Intro to Human Rights Bodies & Essays
Intro to Data, Communication, & Social Action Intro to Development
Intro to Media and Chomsky      &

Citizen Journalism

Intro to Writing

For some of the material in the Intro to Media and Chomsky I am most grateful to @northmonpolsoc. Thanks Jon!

Study Skills for Pol Soc Essays Exam Strategy and Timing
Tips from the Politics and Society Chief Examiner Report 2018 DBQ Long Answer 2020
Paragraph Structure Dealing with Counter-Arguments
Blank Revision Essay outline TLDR – Recording your Pol Soc Reading

Please bear in mind, that I’m ramping up this content as quickly as I can. If you look at the notes and feel that there are any errors that I should be aware of, please do let me know, and I’ll do my best to try and get them fixed and updated. But also bear in mind, I’m only one man, doing my best….

Don’t forget you can test your knowledge for each of these sets of notes by trying the self-correcting Key Thinker Quizzes. Remember, recall is a critical part of all learning!

If you fancy supporting the website with a small donation to help with the cost of the website into the future (and for the copious amounts of coffee needed to make these possible), I’d be most grateful…

Oh, and this disappeared from the site for some reason…? Useful Podcasts for Students and Teachers

Here it is as a ‘Google Doc’ that anyone can add to or edit. I don’t know how to re-format the tables in Google docs, so maybe some kind soul could help with that and save me untold heartache and help us all!  USEFUL PODCASTS GOOGLE DOC.

JD (13/3/2020)