This programme provides students with a comprehensive introduction to the religious culture and spirituality of early medieval Ireland, from the conversion to Christianity down to the end of the twelfth century. The new religion transformed Ireland in fundamental ways, but was also able to accommodate many aspects of indigenous tradition which retained their importance for Irish Christians. Besides exploring these developments, and the impact which Irish Christianity had on the rest of Europe, students will engage in the close study of various genres of religious literature, and can also begin the study of early Irish and of Latin. The writing of a dissertation, under the supervision of a member of staff, will develop and refine research skills. The programme provides an overview of the subject area which is unrivalled in its inclusiveness and diversity; field trips are an optional part of the programme, enabling students to encounter the physical remains of this fascinating culture.
The programme consists mainly of Celtic Civilisation modules, together with designated modules in Archaeology, History, Folklore and Latin. Students will examine the coming of Christianity to Ireland, the often complex and subtle ways in which the new religion established itself within the framework of indigenous culture, and the influence which a Gaelic ecclesiastical diaspora had on the growth of the Church in medieval Europe as a whole. Irish religious culture will also be explored through the lens of such key areas as the cult of the saints, and tales of supernatural voyages and visions. A student's particular interests are served not only by the wide range of modules on offer, but also through research on a special topic; and for a more direct engagement with the primary sources, instruction in early Irish and in Latin is available. The field-trip module is an optional part of the programme (participation in which entails additional costs) with visits to early Christian sites in Ireland, grounding literary study in encounters with what physically survives of a distant world. Students will put what they have learned to use, and hone their research and writing skills, by producing a Masters thesis.
For the full-time one-year option, you are required to choose modules to the value of 60 credits. Most modules have a value of 10 credits and involve weekly classes for the duration of the academic year (24 weeks); some of the electives however are worth 5 or 15 credits, and the optional field trip has a value of 15 credits. Depending on options, a full-time student will have a minimum of 5 classes per week (though many will also contain weekly assignments). For one-on-one supervised studies, and for the 30-credit dissertation, students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis.
The Masters in The Beginnings of Irish Christianity is coordinated, and principally taught, by members of the Department of Early and Medieval Irish, with participation by staff of the Departments of Archaeology, Classics, Folklore and History.
Why Choose This Course
This programme explores the religious experience of the first European people beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire to become Christian. It is unique in the comprehensiveness of its approach, with modules dealing with literature, history and archaeology, together with language courses to enable students to get closer to the original texts while a field trip will bring direct encounters with the surviving remains of early Christian Ireland. The writing of a Masters dissertation is an invaluable opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, as well as research and writing skills, with one-on-one supervision by internationally recognised experts in the field.