School of Irish, Celtic Studies, and Folklore at University College Dublin’s courses examine how Ireland’s identity has changed and what key factors contributed to this.

How has Ireland and Irish identity changed over time, and what are the key factors which have contributed to the process? These are some of the questions about Irish society and culture that we explore in the BA and MA courses in Irish Studies here in the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore, University College Dublin. Students are introduced to a wide range of sources and resources, issues and debates relating to the many-faceted experiences of the people who have lived in Ireland from the earliest times to the present.

Comparative perspectives also enhance our worldwide research on subjects such as the many causes of Irish migration, the types of people who migrated, the shared or divergent experiences of the migrants in different places and times, the material remains of diaspora, the impact of migrations on host populations and cultures, and relationships between diasporic communities and Ireland.

Irish Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines the variety and diversity of Irish history, society, cultural practice, language, and literature,  encompassing the complex processes through which Ireland and Irish identities have been constructed. It asks a series of provocative and stimulating questions about ideas of Ireland and Irishness, such as how can we understand the ways in which place, history, culture, and society have shaped Ireland, past and present? How do processes of emigration and immigration impact on Irish culture, society and identity? What influence have identity categories such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, language, and class had on Irish culture, society and identities?

University College Dublin campus.

University College Dublin campus.

The BA Irish Studies program is aimed at national and international students with an interest in literary origins and contemporary literature and media, film and popular tradition, the arts, Irish heritage, history and language in a global context. Students participate in fieldwork and are made aware of archival sources as part of their learning. Teaching is carried out in lectures, in small-group tutorials, and in seminar-style participatory classes. Public seminars and lectures also form an integral part of course provision. Assessments take the form of written examinations, MCQs, individual research projects, journal-keeping, in-semester essays and oral presentations.

MA in Irish Studies students participate in two interdisciplinary Irish Studies modules which serve as the core of the program. These provide the small-group teaching and personalized supervision that students need at a graduate level and introduce them to the relevant resources at their disposal. As well as written assignments, an emphasis is also placed on peer interaction, presentations, and discussions, and students are encouraged to pursue research-driven learning.

Further modules are then chosen from a wide range offered and according to students’ individual interests where possible. Academics from a diverse range of disciplines participate in and deliver these courses.  One can either deepen one's knowledge of an already touched upon subject area or explore new avenues of interest, availing of UCD's unrivaled concentration of expertise and resources in many fields. Being centrally located in Ireland’s capital city of Dublin also naturally provides students with easy access to many of Ireland’s key cultural institutions, including the National Folklore Collection, which is housed at UCD and has been inscribed into the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. This allows students easy access for meeting fellow-researchers, exchanging ideas, and establishing networks within and across disciplinary and geographical boundaries.

A view of Dublin city over looking the River Liffey.

A view of Dublin city over looking the River Liffey.

The School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore also offers an MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology with modules on a wide range of topics including research theories, the study of oral narrative, traditional music and song, fieldwork and archival methods, social tradition, popular belief systems, material culture, and Irish and European ethnology. This MA also offers students a choice of modules in related subject areas, such as Irish language, Archaeology, Cultural Policy, Creative Writing, and Ethnomusicology. The program includes training in original archival and fieldwork research and methods and access to the specialist library and archive holdings of the National Folklore Collection which is unique to the study of Folklore in University College Dublin.

 “The traditions of Ireland are the background of our history; they have helped in large measure to mould the Ireland of the past… We desire to see them known and honoured, for the Ireland of tomorrow will have need of them, finding in them a source of inspiration and pride.”

- J. H. Delargy, Honorary Director, Irish Folklore Commission (1942).

These undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities, along with others, can be explored at UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, and Folklore. If you are interested in taking any one of these courses please visit our School website at or email for more information.

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