SSJ10060 Inequality and Social Justice in Irish Society

Academic Year 2022/2023

Despite significant increases in income and wealth over the past two decades, Ireland is often described as one of the most deeply unequal societies within the European Union. Why has this happened? How do we explain the persistence of injustices in a relatively wealthy country like Ireland and how can we bring about change?

The aim of this course is to enable students to develop a critical understanding of inequalities in Irish society and to identify ways of addressing these. It will use a range of academic materials and sources from different disciplines, including online resources, to develop a critically informed orientation. The course will be taught through a series of lectures and seminars. The active participation of students will be encouraged through dialogue and discussion.

The course has three main objectives: 1) It will map inequalities in Ireland for different social groups to enable students to understand the scope and depth of injustices; 2) It will provide students with conceptual frameworks to enable them to analyse the roots of these inequalities; and 3) It will identify frameworks for action that will promote social justice and respect for all in Ireland.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this course students will have developed:
1. The ability to conceptualise the equality problems of Irish society within a coherent academic framework
2. The research and analytical skills for understanding how social injustices and inequalities can be understood and challenged
3. A sound knowledge of the research evidence on the levels and scope of inequality in Ireland
4. The ability to create, understand and interpret quantitative tables and charts on experiences of inequality
5. A recognition of the complexity of the equality/inequality issues facing Irish society and an understanding of the available policy responses to these challenges

Indicative Module Content:

The course will focus on four major types of inequalities and how each of these can be explained and addressed in Ireland: 1) Economic inequalities; 2) Cultural inequalities; 3) Political inequalities and 4) Affective inequalities.

To complement the above analysis the Course will explore the role of key institutions in the perpetuation of inequality and in creating a more equal society including the media, the educational system, and the health care system. It will also explore possible solutions to Inequality in Irish Society and pathways towards achieving these

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Learning is through lecture attendance, preparation for tutorials, participation in tutorials (3 in total), course reading, completion of assignments and self-directed learning. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

No prior learning required.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Inequality in Irish Society (EQUL10060)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Mid-Semester Assignment Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: End of Semester Exam 1 hour End of Trimester Exam n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
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?

Course Assignment Students will be provided with an individual feedback sheet which includes the assignment grade and some individual comments. These can be collected from the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice undergraduate office and the date/time when these are available will be circulated to students. A document will also be made available with some overall comments on the assignments. Draft grades will be available via SISWeb -My Indicative In-Semester Grades.

The majority of lectures will draw on the core texts listed below. References to the relevant chapter of these texts, plus other reading material, are listed by lecture topic in the course outline.

Core texts:

Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009) The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Penguin.

Baker, J., Lynch, K., Cantillon, S., and Walsh, J., (2009) Equality: From Theory to Action, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Atkinson, A.B. (2015) Inequality: What can be Done? Harvard University Press.

Central Statistics Office (CS0) Measuring Ireland’s Progress. Annual online

Social Justice Ireland (2019) Social Justice Matters 2019. Dublin: Social Justice Ireland.

TASC (2019) The State we are in: inequality in Ireland today.
Name Role
Dr Micheal Collins Lecturer / Co-Lecturer