CSPE – overview / project notes

             An Overview of CSPE

Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) is a Junior Certificate course in active citizenship based on human rights and social responsibilities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are the two key documents which underpin this course.


Civic, Social and Political Education aims to develop active citizens with:

Mandela agus Ali

Mandela agus Ali

  • A sense of belonging. Students will only choose to become active participants in their communities if they feel a sense of attachment to them. Social inclusion and matters of identity and values are addressed in CSPE.
  • A capacity to gain access to information and structures relating to the society in which they live. Students need a basis of information and knowledge upon which they can consider action, and do so with confidence.
  • An ability and confidence to participate in democratic society. Practising citizenship is about taking meaningful action of some kind. To achieve this, the syllabus states that over the three-year duration of the course in Civic, Social and Political Education students should undertake at least two class/group/individual action projects.


CSPE is active, participatory class-work where the emphasis is on learning-by-doing.



What is citizenship about? What does it mean to be an active citizen? What is the core of citizenship? Which dimensions apply to me?

Human rights, freedoms and responsibilities
What are human rights? How are they applied in my society? How do we reconcile a conflict of human rights? How do the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child influence citizenship today?

How can I get involved? How can I influence change? How can I make a difference?

Sustainable development
How can I play a part in protecting the environment?

Democratic system
What does it mean? How does it work?

How do my actions as an individual affect others? What does it mean to live in an interdependent world? Do I understand the web of links that exist across communities and borders, and how an action that takes place in one area can have an effect on another?

Contemporary issues/current affairs
What are the topical issues/events now? How do they affect me and my community?


The central concept of the CSPE course is citizenship.


In exploring the concepts, units, themes, topics and issues in CSPE, students should have the opportunity to develop and practice the skills of active participatory citizenship, such as:

Identification/awareness skills:

  • reading and reviewing
  • gathering facts
  • asking questions
  • interviewing people
  • writing letters
  • making telephone calls
  • carrying out surveys

Analysis/evaluation skills:

  • Communication skills:

Action skills:

  • agreeing to take on an issue
  • identifying steps to be taken in tackling an issue

Concepts – Citizenship

Rights & Responsibilities:






Human Dignity:


Students will be encouraged to recognise values and develop positive attitudes in relation to themselves, other people, the environment and the wider world.


Care for the environment

Respect for human dignity

Concern for the common good

Openness to resolve conflict non-violently

Willingness to act responsibly

Practice of tolerance

Courage to defend a point of view

Willingness to change one’s opinions andattitudes in the light of discussionand evidence

Respect for the rule of law

Commitment to oppose prejudice, inequalityand social injustice.


The students must be given opportunities to become active citizens within their classroom, school, community and beyond. The emphasis within CSPE is on active learning methods.


Action projects have been designed to help students to develop the skills of active citizenship. The key word here is ACTION. An Action Project involves the following steps:

  • students investigate an issue as a class
  • students reflect collectively on what they might do in response to that issue students agree upon an action and carry it out, e.g. carry out a survey, organise a campaign, invite a guest speaker, organise a visit, publish a booklet, etc.
  • students evaluate their action and learning.


Student performance in CSPE is assessed and certificated as part of the Junior Certificate examination.

1. Submission of either a Report on an Action Project (RAP) 60%,
a Course-Work Assessment Book (CWAB) – 60%

2. An examination paper at the end of the third year of the course – 40%




Your Report will be in five parts:

1 – Title.    – 3 marks (1 page)

The title should give a clear idea of the action that has been taken. Include the key concept the project is related to and the main activity you undertook: e.g., ‘A questionnaire on people’s attitudes to asylum seekers in my area’.

2 – Introduction.   – 7 marks (1 page)

Give three reasons why you chose this particular Action Project. Explain which key concept the project is linked
to, and the class it arose from in CSPE.

3 – Activities.    – 40 marks (3

Page 1 (10 marks)
You should list and briefly & clearly
describe all the different activities done by the whole group.

Page 2
(15 marks)
Give a detailed account of ONE particular task which you started
and finished.

Page 3 (15 marks)
Identify the different skills which
you used in doing this task, giving a detailed account of at least two. The
skills areas are Identification, Analysis, Communication and Action.

4. Summary of Action Project.  – 20 marks (1 page)

In the
Summary, you should outline what sort of facts and information you found out
about the topic of the Project.

You can include a presentation like a
graph etc, from your Project.

Include the findings of ALL the
5. Conclusion.    – 20 marks (1 page)

The conclusion
should reflect your own views about the Action Project.

Give reasons
for arriving at this conclusion.

Make sure that your views reflect the
Human Rights and Social Responsibility dimensions of CSPE.

Explain how
what you have learned could change you for the future, particularly the way you
might act.


You should use the Project to practice the following


Skills which help you to
collect information
– Letter writing, telephone calls
– Using computers,
sending e-mail
– Surveying, asking questions,


Being able to use the
information you collect
– Collating, sorting
– Analysing
–  Evaluating


Practicing & developing the skills of
– Reflection
– Group participation, discussion,
– Designing, planning, presenting, publishing, reporting
– Role
play, acting, miming
– Listening


Being able to
do something about what you believe in
– Political skills, like voting,
decision making, debating, leadership
– Social skills, like hosting,
liaising, negotiating
– Other skills, like fundraising,


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