Course Overview

The MA in Old and Middle Irish is designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in the Irish language and the literature of the period c. 600–c.1200. It is aimed at those who already have a good basic knowledge of Irish (Medieval or Modern) or another Celtic language and, in exceptional circumstances, at those who have an appropriate other background to undertake the study of Old and Middle Irish from the beginning. 

Staff help to identify thesis topics which may lend themselves to eventual publication. While teaching is through English, (to accommodate students from different backgrounds), the use of Irish is actively supported, and the University’s bilingual
campus is of special benefit to all students of Irish, of whatever period.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.

Who Teaches this Course

  • Dr Graham Isaac, BA, PhD
  • An tOllamh Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, BA, MA, PhD
  • Dr Clodagh Downey, BA, MA, PhD 

Requirements and Assessment

Assessment takes three forms: written examinations, essays, and a minor thesis. Essays are completed during Semester One and Two. Written examinations are held at the end of both semesters. The minor dissertation is completed by the end of the summer.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

NQAI Level 8 degree or equivalent, Second Class Honours or equivalent. IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time
2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2016

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

You are advised to apply early, which may result in an early offer; see the offer round dates

Next start date

September 2016

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting




PAC code

GYA33 full-time
GYA34 part-time

Course Outline

The programme is simultaneously available on a full-time and a part-time basis. In both cases, 60 of the total 90 credits (ECTS) are allocated to taught modules, and the remaining 30 to the minor thesis.

Full-time students follow a prescribed taught course for two semesters (from September to April approximately), following which they complete a dissertation of ca. 15,000 words over the summer. They attend approximately eight lectures each week in both semesters.

The programme offers modules in the following:

  • Grammar of Old and Middle Irish
  • Literary History 600–1200
  • Close reading of medieval Irish texts
  • History, scholarship and culture in medieval Ireland
  • Comparative Celtic linguistics 

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates have found employment in teaching and academic research, publishing and the print and electronic media, and have developed careers in the interpretation and management of culture and heritage. The programme provides an excellent foundation for higher research programmes (MLitt and PhD) in many fields of Irish language and Celtic Studies of the medieval, the early modern and the contemporary period. The skills acquired are also highly relevant for research in medieval Irish history and archaeology.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,015 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Tuition

€5,791 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Non EU

€13,250 p.a. 2015/16

M.A. EU Full time programme:  €6,015;  M.A. EU part time programme:  €3,065 p.a.
Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.

Find out More

What Our Students Say


Laura Álvarez García |    

I became interested in Old Irish while a student of Classical Philology at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and after finishing my degree I knew I wanted to pursue my studies in Ireland. NUIG was among my first options, and choosing it has proved to be a great decision. The MA programme allows for very fast progress and keeps the student excited with continuous challenges. The learning of grammar is combined with close reading of medieval Irish texts in the original, and the picture is completed with modules on literary history and comparative Celtic linguistics. The staff are always giving their best. Their high professionalism and attentiveness are highly motivating for the student. Their close interaction with other departments further enrich the learning environment. The friendliness of the other postgraduates, their willingness to exchange ideas and their interesting research projects also contribute to a completely fulfilling experience.

Christine Neer |    

My academic interest in medieval Irish manuscript materials began almost a decade ago. An MA on modern Irish women nationalist writers which I completed in 2008 is what inspired me to study the Irish language. Unfortunately, few universities in the USA offer early-Irish language courses. After teaching for several years, I was thrilled to be offered a place on NUIG’s Old and Middle Irish MA program. Spending a year with Old Irish was intense, but also intensely rewarding: I am part of an energetic and supportive group of scholars here, and I also feel equipped to research and translate the primary sources I am now studying for my PhD in Old and Middle Irish.