HIS10410 Elections, parliaments, and state formation

Academic Year 2023/2024

Elections: theory and practice considers political developments on the island of Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations, 1918 and 1922. Using an in-depth case study of the island of Ireland between the General Election of 1918 and the formation of new administrations (Northern Ireland, 1921, and the Irish Free State, 1922), the course considers electoral systems, developments in democracy, comparative state formation, and legislative frameworks.

The course takes an in-depth look at the general elections of 1918 and 1921 in Ireland. The 1918 general election was the only one in Irish political history to be held on an all-island basis and in which (some) women ad all men aged over twenty-one could vote. The 1921 election is notable for the fact that no contests were held in the South whereas it established a system of one-party rule in Northern Ireland that persisted until 1972. A second focal point of the course is the Anglo-Irish Treaty which will be examined from multiple angles including how it was received by the three parliaments in Dublin, London, and Belfast.

Taking a North-South as well as an East-West (British-Irish) approach, this module examines key concepts in political science through a historical exploration of a formative phase in the history of modern Ireland and Britain. Upon completion of the modules, students should have an in-depth understanding of the historical foundations for Ireland’s two polities, North and South and should also have an appreciation for how historical and political science approaches differ and how they can complement each other.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
• Critically analyse different parliamentary models and political systems
• Compare different parliamentary systems both structurally and in terms of party politics
• Have a working knowledge of the mechanisms of elections under both first past the post and proportional representation systems
• Have an understanding of the nature of written constitutions, their scope and operation.
• Appreciate the nature of international treaties and negotiations in the context of revolution, political violence, and separatist movements
• Develop skills of textual analysis including (a) an ability to analyse secondary literature and (b) an introductory knowledge of primary source document analysis
• Evaluate conflicting interpretations of history

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: Introduction and course outline

Week 2: Voting and results: the 1918 General Election

Week 3: Legislative frameworks: state formation and establishing new parliaments

Week 4: Two state solution, the 1921 Irish General Elections


[mid-term assignment due Friday 05/11/21]

Week 6: The Anglo-Irish Treaty I: negotiation and contents

Week 7: Constitutions compared: 1919 Republic, 1920 Government of Ireland Act and 1922 Free State Constitution

Week 8: The Anglo-Irish Treaty II: Debating the Treaty between Dublin, London, Belfast

Week 9: Concluding on two Irelands: State formation and boundary definition

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines large-group and small-group teaching, through a weekly lecture and seminar. Weekly lectures provide overviews of weekly topics, with focus upon key historical and political concepts, debates and events.
Key to this module is its interdisciplinary focus. Content will focus on the differing approaches to topics via history and political science methodologies.
Weekly seminars focus on small-group active / task-based learning using both secondary and primary sources related to the
weekly topic covered in the lecture. Autonomous learning is nurtured through required preparatory reading each week, and a formative and summative written assignment. Key research, writing and citation skills are explicitly incorporated into
seminar work and are assessed and advanced from the formative to the summative assignments. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 1,000 words essay due in week 6

Essay questions and further details will be provided in-class and the module handbook
Week 6 n/a Graded No


Examination: 2 hour essay based sit down examination. 2 sections, answer 1 question from Section A and 1 from Section B. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Participation grade Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the mid-term Essay Assignment is given in writing on the returned hard-copy/electronic copy. Feedback on the final examination will be given by appointment in one-to-one meetings following release of results. It is the student's responsibility to book a feedback session for final results feedback.

Name Role
Ms Laura Brennan Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: Weeks 2-12 Mon 11:00 - 12:50
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: Weeks 2-12 Mon 13:00 - 13:50
Seminar Offering 2 Week(s) - Autumn: Weeks 2-12 Mon 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 5 Week(s) - Autumn: Weeks 2-12 Mon 16:00 - 16:50