LAW40760 NGOs: Law, Governance and Social Change

Academic Year 2023/2024

This seminar is a clinical legal module. It examines the law relating to non-governmental organisations, non-profit organisations and charities. Using Ireland as a case-study, the seminar explores the political, social and legal context in which NGOs operate in Ireland, neighbouring jurisdictions and internationally. Why do we turn to government or the market for some services and yet choose non-profits for others?

Drawing on the experiences of other common law countries, the seminar maps regulatory trends in charity law and considers whether the space for civil society is shrinking or enlarging.

Following the life cycle of a charitable organization from establishment to operation and ultimate dissolution the module examines broadly:-- the legal frameworks within which NGOs operate and are regulated;-- the legal rights and obligations of directors, trustees, officers and members of NGOs; and -- Legal and tax implications related to charitable giving, advocacy, lobbying, political and commercial activities of tax-exempt NGOs. Consideration is given to current international debates on issues ranging from the introduction of national and international counter-terrorism measures and varying approaches of countries towards rights of freedom of assembly and association.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of this module: Students should have acquired knowledge and understanding of the key legal principles and rules involved in the law of charities and other civil society organisations in Ireland. This understanding will be reinforced by a clinical engagement with an Irish charity with students partnering with a registered Irish charity for the duration of the module. In particular,

• Students will have acquired knowledge and understanding of the key legal principles and rules involved in the law of charities and other civil society organisations in Ireland and actively demonstrated their application to their adopted charities in their clinical projects.
• Students should be able to critically compare and contrast different approaches to charity regulation in light of the comparator countries considered.
• Students should be able to make a clear and informative individual presentation to an audience of peers on aspects of charity law and to contribute actively to team activities.
• Students should be able to engage with contemporary legal and political debates about charities and other civil society organisations and be able to provide, orally and in writing, clear commentary and evaluation of the treatment of these issues in media sources.
• Students should feel confident in volunteering to serve on the boards of NGOs, charities and voluntary organisations or to better assist in their civil society networks post completion of the module.

Indicative Module Content:

Introduction to the framework of NGO regulation
Why Charity? Market, State and non-profit boundaries and relations
Defining Mission
Form or Substance: Choosing a legal vehicle to establish an NGO
The Statutory Regulation of Charities in Ireland
Funding Good Work: Who funds what and why?
Financial Accounting Regulation – Looking at the Books
Civic Space under threat: Rights, regression and repression
Governance and Fiduciary Duties – The Stakeholder Debate

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning


Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module adopts a number of approaches to teaching and learning to reflect the variation of student learning styles and in order to deepen postgraduate learning in a clinical seminar setting. Students work in teams with an adopted charity for their field work experience to prepare a governance review report to present to the charity. Students work individually in the preparation and submission of weekly summaries of key articles tied to one of the core areas of the module. Students benefit from continuous assessment in their ongoing submission of 'Show & Tell' media pieces and personal reflections, which are shared with all students and thus aid peer learning. Assessment of Show & Tell is a combination of both student peer feedback and module coordinator feedback. Students also benefit from group learning in their clinical project with their adopted charity. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
POL41680 - NGOs: Law, Governance & Social

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Additional Reading Summary. Each week, students share via the Discussion Board a summary of their assigned additional reading. This provides a rich resource and aide memoire for all students. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Group Project: Adopted Charity Report Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Portfolio: Show & Tell comprises a number of graded exercises in Weeks 2, 4 and 7 and in the two weeks of guest expert lectures. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
Repeat (CFP) Within Three Semesters
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students 'Show and Tell' posts via Peer Scholar receive peer feedback. Module Coordinator offers moderated feedback which is shared on a class wide basis so that all learn from the experiences of the individual where additional issues arise. Feedback is given to adopted charity teams throughout the semester as they engage with their adopted charity. This feedback takes place both in class and as part of weekly consultation hours made available to students to discuss issues arising and in the Week 8 Report Draft Review. Individual feedback is provided on the charity reports at the end of the examination period to allow students to correct legal inaccuracies or to follow up on important issues and to revise their reports accordingly prior to sharing them with their adopted charities. Students may seek individual feedback by arranging an appointment with the module coordinator post examination results release.

Name Role
Sergey Katsuba Tutor
Benedetta Lobina Tutor