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Irish Studies: Identities & Representations

The theme of ‘identities and representations’ unifies UCC’s MA in Irish Studies. The course investigates how Ireland’s complex past speaks to its present and to possible futures. The course uses an unparalleled range of disciplinary perspectives within a framework of relevant theories and methodologies. The result is a distinctive and compelling intellectual experience.

In this course:
core modules explore over a thousand years of Irish history and culture

carefully selected case studies will deepen your knowledge of Irish studies and develop your research interests

study tours to spectacular sites and landscapes are a central part of the learning experience

you will investigate the possible futures of Ireland and its diaspora in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent, and globalised world

contributing disciplines include English, history, Irish, sociology, music, geography, archaeology, folklore, government, politics and art history

Unique Aspects of the Course.
Our definition of Irish studies is broad and inclusive. In addition to world-class tuition on modern Irish literature and history, you will approach Irish studies from a range of other perspectives. You learn how Ireland, an island at Europe’s far western edge, played a crucial role in the formation of Western civilisation, and how continuing emigration in the modern era has ensured that Irish cultures and identities are a dynamic global phenomenon. The theme of identities and representations which runs through the course is a vital one, not just in Irish studies but in the humanities and social sciences generally.

Entry requirements

You will have normally an honours primary degree at 2.1 level or the equivalent, though applications from graduates whose primary degree is at 2.2 level will be considered. For North American students a cumulative GPA of 3.2 is normally expected. Applications will be considered from graduates of all disciplines, but priority will be given to those with a degree in arts/humanities/social sciences subjects.

If English is not your first language, you will be required to sit either an IELTS test or a recognised equivalent test. The minimum requirement is an IELTS score of 6.5. Further information on English Language Requirements can be found at

You will also be asked to complete a short personal statement outlining your academic background and interests and your reasons for applying for the course. You will also be asked to submit the names and contact details of two academic referees. All applications must be approved by the course’s Board of Studies.

If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please see course webpage (link below) to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.


1 Year Full Time

Number of credits


Careers or further progression

We have designed this course as a stepping stone to further study, and to a wide range of career opportunities. The course gives you the essential transferable skills valued by employers in the private and public sectors, including critical thinking and analysis, communications expertise, cultural awareness and global engagement.

Further enquiries

E: Dr. Kevin Murray
P: + 353 21 4903192
W: Website

Subjects taught

Students take 90 credits as follows:

IR6012: Identities and Representations: modern Ireland (15 credits)
Opening with a critical introduction to theories and methods in Irish studies, this seminar-based module looks at the theme of ‘identities and representations’ in Ireland post 1800. Case studies include the legacy of the Famine and of emigration, diaspora identities, selected writings of Yeats, Joyce and contemporary authors, formations of gender and class, and the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger.

IR6011: Identities and Representations: medieval and early modern Ireland (10 credits)
Seminar-based case studies look at how identities were negotiated during this formative period. Beginning with the complex identity of St Patrick, we progress onto the beginnings of Irish literary culture and the Golden Age of Irish art, examine Viking and Anglo-Norman identities, and interrogate representations of the Irish by early modern writers such as Edmund Spenser.

IR6013: Irish Studies Fieldwork (5 credits)
Participants explore in the field how Irish identities have been shaped by literature, art, music, landscapes, and material culture. There are several field trips including an overnight study tour of west Kerry.

IR6015 Irish Studies Research: Skills, Methods and Strategies (5 credits)
This collaborative module equips MA students with the skills necessary for the development and implementation of research through the acquisition of a range of skills, methods and strategies. It is designed to prepare students to present academic research in a variety of forms to a professional standard.

Elective Modules (15 credits):
We help you choose 15 credits (1-3 modules) from one of the following three streams, each containing about ten modules:
• Medieval Ireland
• Modern Ireland: culture, conflict and diaspora
• Modern Ireland: literature, music, art and film

IR6010: Dissertation (40 credits)
Working with the course coordinator, you choose the topic for this 15–20,000-word dissertation.
If you take this course you will have a critical understanding of key debates in the field of Irish studies. You will be able to analyse the complex processes through which identities are formed and transformed, with particular reference to Ireland and people with Irish links elsewhere. You will also be able to use advanced critical, theoretical, and methodological approaches in presenting your research.


Course Practicalities.
Lectures in UCC take place from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm, for a maximum of 15 hours per week. .
The two seminar-based core modules (IR6011 and IR6012) run in parallel throughout the first semester. These involve a weekly two-hour seminar and associated reading. The IR6012 seminars continue in the second semester. IR6013 consists of a programme of field studies including cultural events, two day-trips and an overnight study tour. The elective module(s) allow you to focus on the area of Irish studies that interests you most, and which you wish to investigate further in your dissertation. Dissertation topics are developed in consultation with the course coordinator and prospective supervisor.

Assessment method

Assessment varies according to module and may include essays, projects, seminar presentations and written examinations. For example, the seminar-based core modules (IR6011 andIR6012) are assessed by essays and a seminar presentation, while the fieldwork module (IR6013) is assessed by a fieldwork project. The single most important item of assessment is the 15–20,000-word dissertation (IR6014).

Application date

Applications for 2017-18 intake are now open.

While UCC operates a rounds system for Postgraduate Taught courses (detailed below) we would advise you to apply as soon as possible.

Deadline for receipt of Applications: Offers will be made:

For all completed applications received by January 16th 2017 Offers will be made by January 30th 2017

For all completed applications received by March 1st 2017 Offers will be made by March 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by May 1st 2017 Offers will be made by May 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by July 3rd 2017 Offers will be made by July 17th 2017

Late applications may be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for any courses that have remaining capacity for places.

Non-EU Applicants:

Please visit the following page for further information for Non EU applicants

Course fee

2017/2018 Irish/EU Fee: €6,000

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: 11 September 2017

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!