Gaelic Literature

Course Outline
This programme aims to provide the student with a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of Gaelic literature. It treats of sources (manuscripts), literary texts from the Early Christian period to the modern, and emphasises the sense of place – local and international – that informs the historicity of Gaelic literature studies. It creates links over time between authors such as Colum Cille and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Gofraidh Fionn and Seán Ó Ríordáin, and presents, as a single narrative, a view of Gaelic literature as organic, redefining and reinventing itself as each historic challenge is encountered and overcome. Delivered through English (using texts in translation) by acknowledged experts in the fields of Gaelic language and literature, this co-ordinated, panoramic approach to the study of Gaelic literature over time will address and develop the various themes and influences that feed into and inform this literature, including mythology, spiritualism, historic events, landscape and diasporic studies.

This programme is delivered online and in English. It aims to provide the student with a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of Gaelic literature. It incorporates a strong historic and cultural perspective in order to ensure that a sense of context is present at all times. The cultivation, study and transmission of Gaelic literature from early-Christian to modern times will be presented as a continuous narrative across the various components of the programme. A highlight of the cross-module approach inherent in this course is the exposure of the student to the primary sources for Gaelic literature, especially manuscript sources in Ireland and abroad. Having established the linguistic and palaeographical foundation of practically all pre-20th-century Gaelic literature, the programme will proceed to address and develop the various themes and influences that feed into and inform this literature, including mythology, spiritualism, landscape and diasporic studies. The treatment of the development of Gaelic Ireland as an international entity, and the panoramic approach to the study of Gaelic literature over time, are innovative features of this programme.

Modules to the value of 60 credits will be selected from a choice of seven, of which two are compulsory. The production of a thirty-credit dissertation is also a requirement. These modules cover all aspects of Gaelic literature from the first appearance of poetry in the margins of Latin manuscripts in the ninth century, to an exploration of the sense of place in the work of Irish authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Lectures will be recorded, and both they and ancillary lecture material (notes, slides, bibliographies etc.) will be made available via Blackboard, the online teaching platform used by University College Cork. In addition to the asynchronous elements of the programme, progress will be monitored and assignments will be discussed in real-time consultations which will take place using Skype or other platforms.

Why Choose This Course
This is the only online course offering a comprehensive programme in Gaelic literature from early times to the present, delivered by recognised academic experts in the field. All the subjects dealt with in the different modules are placed in their historic context. For instance, the module on Women's Poetry in Gaelic Society references poetry and song through its historic phases in tandem with contemporary material.

Placement or Study Abroad Information
Upon successful completion of the MA in Gaelic Literature a student may elect to pursue further study to doctoral level. If such study is to be undertaken at UCC, students may choose to spend time abroad as part of their programme. Students with this qualification will also be in a position to apply for scholarships to study for further degrees at overseas universities.

Course Practicalities
A series of short introductory lectures will serve to give the students a road-map of the objectives and content of the programme, including information on what will be expected of students and on how the course is to be run. Students must have constant access to internet-delivering technology in order to attend this course.

The programme will be conducted over 12 months and will incorporate the delivery of online reading material and reading lists, and online discussion topics and reaction-pieces, to be addressed individually and also collectively in online discussion groups. Weekly pre-recorded lectures will be delivered, and real-time meetings will be convened at intervals to be determined by the class and teachers. The dissertation topic will be chosen by the student in consultation with either the course co-ordinator or the individual lecturer or both. As registered students of University College Cork, students of this programme will have access to all Library facilities, databases etc., as well as student email accounts.

Entry requirements

Applications will be considered from graduates of all disciplines. Successful applicants will normally have an honours primary degree at Second Honours Grade 1 level (or the equivalent).

Candidates who hold a primary degree at Second Class Honours Grade 2 level will also be considered, based on the information provided in a supplementary statement and/or interview acceptable to the Department selection committee.

For North American students a cumulative GPA of 3.2 is normally expected.

Applicants must complete a short personal statment outlining their academic background and interests and reasons for applying to the programme.

Technical expertise
As most of this course will be delivered online, it is understood that students will have constant access to internet-delivering technology. Elementary computer literacy will be required of the students. Technical guidance and support provided by UCC will be available to the students at all times.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university approved English language requirements available at

International/non-EU applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above.

For more information please contact the International Office.

Assessment Info

Continuous assessment based on assignments such as discussion papers and reaction-pieces. There will also be the possibility for group-assignments based on the online forum described above, and making maximum use of existing online facilities such as Blackboard.

End-of-module essays based on texts and text-critical material addressed in the course.

The submission of a 30-credit dissertation.

Subjects taught

Students take 90 credits.
Part I
Core Modules:
• GA6012 The social and cultural history of the Irish language, 1200-2000 (10 Credits)
• GA6013 The transmission and interpretation of Gaelic literature (10 Credits)

Elective Modules:
• GA6010 Beginners Irish Language (10 Credits)
• GA6014 The Phases of Gaelic literature (10 Credits)
• GA6015 Gaelic Ireland, 1600-2000 A.D: the International Dimension (10 Credits)
• GA6016 Placenames and Sense of Place in Gaelic Literature (10 Credits)
• GA6032 Women's Poetry in Gaelic Society (10 credits)

Part II
• GA6019 Dissertation in Gaelic Literature (30 credits)

Part-time option
Students taking the part-time option complete 60 credits of taught core modules in Year 1. In Year 2 they complete the 30 credit dissertation module.


90 Credits


CKD13: 1 year Full-time
CKD14: 2 years Part-time

This programme will be taught online.

Enrolment dates

Start Date: 7 September 2020

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
Equipped with an MA in Gaelic Literature, a student will be well positioned to pursue further postgraduate work in Celtic studies, and opportunities will also present for academic work in other medieval or modern literatures. Students will be enabled to expand their area of interest, expertise and research into other disciplines such as Scottish Studies, Anglo-Irish Studies, Irish-American Studies, or European Literature. Transferrable skills acquired during this programme will include those of an analytic and text-critical nature, while palaeographical emphases will find obvious resonances in codicological and art-historical disciplines. In addition, the MA in Gaelic literature is an ideal qualification for those wishing to pursue careers in sectors such as heritage, local history, broadcasting and media.

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  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

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