Irish Studies BA (Hons)

Key information


Irish Studies

Due to the impact of COVID-19 we're changing how the course is delivered.

This degree offers students a unique opportunity to study the history, politics, culture, literature, and language of Ireland. The interdisciplinary nature of the course provides students with a broad grounding in the Humanities and Social Sciences, equipping graduates with a diverse and versatile skills set suitable for a wide-range of careers.

You will explore Irish identity and society from a number of perspectives including the historical, the linguistic, the political, the literary and the ethnographic. You will then have the opportunity to develop expertise in your chosen area of study through the range of modules available in your second and third year. The programme maximises flexibility, offering you the chance to select approved modules from across the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Programme in detail

The role of Ireland as an emerging independent nation, as well as part of a broader matrix of British and global history is explored. Its outstanding contribution to English literature in writers such as Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Bowen, McGahern, Heaney, and Edna O’Brien feature as part of this absorbing degree. Students can undertake in-depth study of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ and explore the lessons which can be drawn from the region’s peace process for divided societies around the world. Students will also have the option of studying the Irish language, with modules catering to beginners as well as those who may already have a background in the language.

Please note: In Year One students are required to take 30 credits of optional modules outside Irish Studies. These may include Ancient History, Archaeology, Egyptology, or modules focusing on History, Latin America, or political science. You may also choose modules from other subjects.

Fieldwork opportunities

Students will have an opportunity in year one to undertake a three-day fieldtrip to the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. The fieldtrip provides immersive training through walking tours of the city (Dublin or Belfast), visits to sites of historical and contemporary importance, and engagement with local community groups or elected representatives.

Study as part of joint-honours at 50:50 Choosing this subject as a combined degree

You will receive a general grounding in all aspects of Irish Studies.

You will explore Irish identity and society from a number of perspectives including the historical, the linguistic, the literary and its material culture. You then have the opportunity to choose modules in order to specialise in a specific area.

Department Key Facts

Number of first year students

389 students took Irish Studies modules in the academic year 2018-19.

Department resources

For many years the Institute has been the recipient of bequests and donations of books and archive material, to the extent we now have one of the most important collections of Irish Studies sources.

Our collection is named after Brendan MacLua, founder of the Irish Post, and includes a complete hardbound run of the newspaper, and related materials from 1963 onwards.

Research performance

The mission of the Institute is to be the UK’s main centre for multidisciplinary research into Ireland and its world-wide relations.
Specific interdisciplinary areas of research strength include:
- Northern Ireland/Ulster
- Political Inclusion and Exclusion in Ireland
- Religion and identity in Ireland and its Diaspora
- History of the Irish Literary Revival

Why this subject?

Study in a department with world-leading research in an internationally recognised institution

The Institute of Irish Studies was recognised in 2007 by the Irish government with a multi-million pound endowment to celebrate its achievement in contributing to the development of greater understanding between the two countries.

Be part of an important, influential and internationally recognised institute

We are a National Centre of Excellence in Britain for the study of Ireland, and our programmes cover a wide range of topics from Irish politics and history to its literature and culture.

Learn in a friendly and supportive environment recognised for its high levels of student satisfaction

All academic staff are widely published and internationally respected for their scholarship, this learning then feeds into our teaching so that students are at the cutting edge of research in a variety of intellectual fields.

Benefit from access to renowned speakers

While you are studying with us you’ll also be able to access the extensive programme of events that are held at the Institute, with regular high calibre speakers presenting, including former Taoiseach of Ireland Enda Kerry, veteran BBC news correspondent Orla Guerin, the late David Ervine and the current Irish President Michael D Higgins