The M.Phil. course in Public History and Cultural Heritage is designed to provide students with a rigorous grounding in public history and to prepare high-calibre graduates in a unique and thorough fashion for the management of cultural heritage. We define 'public history' and 'cultural heritage' broadly. The course involves analysis of cultural memory, its construction, reception and loss; and study of the public status and consumption of history in modern society. Political issues surrounding public commemoration and 'sites of memory' are examined and the role of museums, galleries and the media in shaping public perceptions of the past is considered. The course also surveys the more concrete questions involved in the conservation, presentation and communication of the physical heritage of past cultures, particularly where interpretation and meaning are contested.
The course is taught in collaboration with the leading cultural institutions located in Dublin and several organisations offer internships to students. In recent years participating bodies have included Dublin City Gallery; Dublin City Library and Archive; Glasnevin Trust; Hugh Lane Gallery; The Little Museum of Dublin; Marsh's Library; the National Gallery of Ireland; the National Library of Ireland; the National Museum of Ireland; and St Patrick's Cathedral.
In a variety of modules, students are trained in the analysis and the presentation of their research findings. They are also introduced to the methodological challenges of advanced study and research at postgraduate level. The course comprises a core module, entitled Remembering, Reminding and Forgetting: Public History, Cultural Heritage and the Shaping of the Past, which runs across both terms. A suite of term-long electives is available on substantive themes. A three-month internship, located in one of our collaborating institutions, runs throughout the second term. Practitioner workshops are also held in the second term and provide an opportunity for national and international 'public historians' to discuss their work with the class. In any given year this may include novelists, artists, museum directors, or heritage and tourism policymakers. The course concludes with the production of a dissertation or major project, individually supervised by an member of staff.