Academic Director: Dr. Méabh Ní Fhuartháin                             
Course Overview

The Irish Studies Summer School comprises an integrated introduction to Irish Studies incorporating elements from all the contributing disciplines, a series of interdisciplinary seminars focusing on key themes in Irish Studies such as Identity, Emigration, and Religion, and a broad range of elective courses as outlined below.

Teaching will be by means of lectures, seminars, dramatic performances, guided tours and informed contact with the music, language and people of Ireland. An interdisciplinary approach will be used within each module and between the modules of the Irish Studies Summer School.

Field trips are an integral part of the programme. All students participate on field trips to Dingle and the Aran Islands. Students of SS115 Representing Ireland – Literature & Film will visit Coole Park, Thoor Ballylee and Kilmacduagh. Students of SS116 The Archaeological Heritage of Ireland will visit sites in the Burren. Students of SS118 Introduction to Art in Ireland will visit the Book of Kells and the National Museum in Dublin.

Students will have access to the library, audio and visual facilities of the University. Assessment for those requiring credit will be carried out on a continuous basis.

You can view biographical material for the academic staff teaching on the Irish Studies Summer School here.

The Irish Studies Summer School course handbook will be made available in March for download at the bottom of this page. 

Course Modules

Students select two modules from the nine modules offered.

SS115 Representing Ireland - Literature and Film (3 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

Fiction, poetry, drama and film have all been used to represent ‘Ireland’ and ‘Irishness’. This course analyses the varied ways this has been done in English-language media. The course is structured around themes like the representation of ‘The West’, the contrast between city and country, the politics of theatre, gender identity, and the meaning of nationality. We examine works from writers like W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Augusta Gregory, J.M. Synge, Liam O’Flaherty, Brian Friel, Mary O’Malley and Patrick McCabe. We also view and discuss movies directed by American and Irish film-makers.

SS116 The Archaeological Heritage of Ireland – from the First Settlers to Medieval Castles (Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

Ireland’s archaeological heritage is one of the richest in western Europe. The development of prehistoric Irish societies can be seen in the megalithic tombs of the Neolithic, the wealth of bronze and gold in the succeeding Bronze Age, and in the great royal sites such as Tara and Navan of the Celtic Iron Age. This course charts the evidence for human societies in Ireland over ten millennia from the island’s initial colonization by small groups of hunter-gatherers through to the Medieval period. The archaeology of the entire island of Ireland will be covered with particular emphasis on the archaeology of the Burren, a remarkable upland area just south of Galway where archaeological remains of all periods are well preserved and visible.

NUI Galway is ideally positioned amongst some of Ireland’s most well-preserved archaeological landscapes and this course includes two trips to the nearby Burren region to visit some of the prehistoric and historic period sites which are highlighted in the lectures.

SS117 Irish History: Conflict, Identity and the Shaping of Modern Ireland
 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

This course offers a broad survey of Irish history with a principal focus on the modern centuries, beginning with the Tudor conquest of Ireland. By charting the history of Anglo-Irish relations through major political and military conflicts in the 17th and 18th centuries, special attention will be given to the British attempt to assimilate Ireland under the Act of Union from 1801. We will examine the mass social and political campaigns that emerged in the 17th century and the rise of the modern ideologies of Irish unionism and nationalism, including the influential Irish-American dimension of the latter, which took shape in the decades after the Great Famine (1845-50).

The course will also examine the undoing of the Union between Britain and Ireland in 1921, the nature of the partition agreement which underpinned the constitutional settlement at that time, and how sustained violent conflict in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s forced politicians and political leaders in these islands and beyond, to revisit the ‘Irish Question’.

SS118 Introduction to Art in Ireland: Exploring Ireland’s Vibrant Artistic Heritage from Prehistory to the ‘Golden Age’ of the 8th Century AD
 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

Ireland has a rich and vibrant artistic heritage, extending back to c. 3500 BC; this course traces the development of Irish art beginning with decorated megaliths and the exquisite corpus of Irish Bronze Age gold work, before turning its attention to the introduction of Celtic or La Tène art styles into Ireland around the 4th century BC. Following the Roman conquest of western Europe, the Classical roots of La Tène art re-emerge as a dominant element in Irish art of the first few centuries AD and continue, as a core element in the motif-book of early Christian art, into the 7th and 8th century.

An appreciation of style, symbolism and iconography in Early Christian art is integral to this module and treated in relation to the sublime artistic achievements of the ‘Golden Age’ of Irish art such as illuminated manuscripts, ecclesiastical metalwork such as the Ardagh Chalice and Irish high crosses. This course includes a trip to the National Museum and the Book of Kells Exhibit in Dublin.

SS119 Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction & Memoir (3 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits) 

This course will explore the writing of fiction and poetry from first steps to final polish. How do poems begin, what can we use as a starting point for our stories, how do we sustain a poem or a story to its proper conclusion. Through various reading and writing exercises this course will road test several experimental techniques which can be used to spark new work and ideas. The course will work towards having the student complete a significant piece of work to a high degree of finish.

Classes will consist of a short writing exercise followed by a close reading of a classic text. In the workshop section, students can expect to have their work discussed at least twice by the class over the duration of the course. Feedback will be given by the tutor - two thirds of the way through the course, and upon receiving the final grade. The final portfolio of work will be graded on its imaginative skill and originality.

SS120 Gaelic Culture and Literature; From Cú Chulainn (Cuchulainn) to the Cultural Revival and Beyond
(3 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

Gaelic literature is the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe; this course introduces the student to early Gaelic narrative literature and gives insights into the culture(s) which created that literature. Students read and interpret a selection of texts in translation, including tales of Cú Chulainn and the Ulster Cycle, Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna and tales of the Otherworld, and develop skills in engaging critically with the literature.

The course explores Irish folklore and the oral storytelling tradition and examines the emergence and development of modern Gaelic literature from the period of the Cultural Revival in the late-nineteenth century. Through the reading of selections of Gaelic prose and poetry in translation, students gain insights into the rapid changes within Gaelic culture from the nineteenth century as represented in folklore and literature. A knowledge of Irish is not a prerequisite for the course; all classes are through English. Introductory classes in the Irish language will be provided to interested students.

SS121 Irish Society: Stasis and Change in the Ambiguous Republic
 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits) 

Irish society underwent a complex process of dramatic and relatively rapid social change over the twentieth century, propelling it from being a predominantly rural, Catholic, insular, and socially homogeneous society to become one of the ‘most globalized’ countries in the world, all within just a few short decades. In this module we explore, and explain, aspects of this process, and its effects on Irish society, mainly from a sociological perspective. Using the changing economy as a backdrop, we go on to explore transformations in key social institutions, such as religion, education, the family, the media, politics and power, and the changing role and position of women in Irish society.

No previous knowledge of either sociology or Irish society is required. It will, however, provide a very useful backdrop to the experience of being in Ireland, and offer valuable and critical insights into ‘Irish identity’, and the ambiguities of social change for a small country in a global society.

SS1154 Music, Emigration and Ireland
 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

This module will examine Irish music in the context of emigration from the eighteenth century to the twenty first century. In particular, the module will explore music and cultural practice as they evolved and responded to migrant contexts in North America and Britain. The reciprocal influences of Irish traditional practices and American folk and popular music will also be investigated and key developments such as the advent of music recording, the folk music revival, and Irish music on the American stage. Finally, emigrant music communities of the new millennium in Ireland will be examined.

Conceptual issues of authenticity and tradition will underscore much of the discussions and central questions such as what constitutes traditional performance and the transformative potential of dance and music will be explored and exemplified through a variety of performance platforms. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with performers and take sean-nós song and dance workshops, in addition to having an instrumental traditional music showcase as part of the programme.

SS1153 Economic Policy in Ireland
 Semester Credits/6 ECTS Credits)

This course is designed to provide students with the analytical and historical foundation for studying contemporary public policy issues in Ireland. It begins with a brief overview of how the Irish economy has evolved in the past 25 years and identifies and outlines a series of key public policy issues in areas such as health, housing, the environment, and social protection.  It proceeds to develop an economics framework for analysing these issues which covers the concepts of efficiency, equity, market failure, welfare state, and cost benefit analysis. This framework is then applied to the various public policy issues identified earlier in the course. The course will include a field trip to Dublin to meet key policy advisors and analysts.  Pre-requisite for this course is Principles of Micro economics.

Irish Language Classes

Introductory classes in the Irish language are provided for interested students as part of the Irish Studies programme.

Students enrol on two of the 9 module options available.

Each module is 3 Credits/6 ECT Credits.  Graduate Credit is also available. Special advisory sessions and an extended essay are offered to students wishing to obtain graduate credits.


Arrival and orientation:  Monday, 17 June, 2019 (classes commence Tuesday, 18 June, 2019) - departure Tuesday, 16 July, 2019

Tuition & Accommodation Costs

Tuition:  €2,150

€900 – Student Residences (without breakfast - single occupancy)


Applicants are normally required to be university graduates or have completed two full years at university or college level before being admitted to the course. Students should also have attained a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent).

Required documentation

  • A copy of your birth certificate or passport
  • A digital image/passport photo for your student identity card (headshot)
  • An official transcript of examination results

Applications open 5 November 2018 and close 19 April 2019.


Further Information

Programme Administrator
International Summer School Programme
NUI Galway
Tel: +353 91 495442
Fax: +353 91 525051




  • Ecology

    Ecology PDF (176KB)

  • Irish Studies Handbook

    Irish Studies Handbook PDF (2.4MB)

  • Irish Language Handbook

    Irish Language Handbook PDF (1.3MB)

  • Education in Ireland

    Education in Ireland PDF (2MB)