Course Overview

The MA in Irish Theatre History & Archives offers a hands-on approach to the study of Irish theatre history as a living process. We move from the nineteenth-century plays of Oscar Wilde and the early Abbey plays of W.B. Yeats and Sean O’Casey, to the towering genius of Samuel Beckett in mid-century, and on to major contemporary dramatists such as Brian Friel, Marina Carr and Enda Walsh. Finally, this programme considers the growing role of interdisciplinary arts practice, dance, and collaborative theatre-making approaches including devising in the contemporary Irish theatre today.

As a students on this course, you have unprecedented access to one of the world’s greatest Irish theatre archives— working with the treasures of the Abbey and Gate Theatre Digital Archives, as well as the papers of Thomas Kilroy, Druid Theatre, the Lyric Players’ Theatre, and many more. These archives include hundreds of videos of performances and original promptbooks, as well as correspondence between major authors, drafts of plays, set and costume designs, and much more.

With classes taught by world-leading scholars, this course offers you the opportunity to work in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, the major international centre for research on Irish theatre and performance, and to gain access to hands-on work experience in either archive maintenance and acquisition and/or literary management for the theatre.

Why choose this course?

This course blends academic study and research with the opportunity to gain practical work experience through a placement that may include working in the university’s theatre archives or in the area of literary management or dramaturgy. 

The course is ideally suited to anyone with an interest in Irish theatre history. It develops skills in research and archiving and will thus be of special value to anyone interested in pursuing PhD research on Irish theatre. Yet it is also well suited to people with a general interest in Irish drama who simply wish to develop their knowledge further. 

The course also involves attendance at theatres in Galway and Dublin. Students also benefit from the university’s partnerships with Irish theatre companies, notably the Abbey, the Gate, and Druid. 

Scholarships Available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

  • Professor Patrick Lonergan
  • Dr Charlotte McIvor
  • Dr Miriam Haughton
  • Thomas Conway, Druid Director-in-Residence
  • Professor Lionel Pilkington

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

The programme is intended for graduates with at least a university arts degree (minimum standard H2.2 or GPA 3.0). Applicants who do not meet the minimum entry requirements may be admitted via a qualifying exam if they have relevant professional experience, or be admitted to the PDip. Students who do not meet the honours degree requirement but have a Level 7 degree (Merit 2) may be admitted to the PDip course with the possibility of progressing to the MA if they receive a minimum of 60% in their course work. Students will be accepted on the basis of the degree result, a writing sample (5–6 pages)—which can be an academic essay, creative writing piece, or theatre reviews—a personal statement outlining suitability for and interest in the programme, and names and contact details of two references.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2021

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

Please refer to the review/closing date website.

NFQ level


Mode of study

ECTS weighting




Course code


Course Outline

All students will take core modules in Irish theatre history and archival research. Students can then choose optional modules in playwriting, performance, dramaturgy, theatre business, applied theatre and more. 

At the end of the year, all students will complete a minor dissertation under the supervision of a member of staff. This original research project will be supervised by our team of world-leading experts in Irish theatre and performance.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Students on this course will be well prepared to pursue further research on Irish theatre history, or to seek a career in archiving (or other related library services) and/or literary management and dramaturgy for the theatre. The course also offers all the benefits of an MA degree, providing students with transferable skills in such areas as research, writing, group work, archiving, and so on.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,716 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Tuition

€6,576 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Student levy

€140 p.a. 2021/22

Fees: Non EU

€16,216 p.a. 2021/22

Please note:  The fee payable by EU students is listed under "Fees: EU".  This field is the sum of the student levy + tuition.  Fees are payable each year and are subject to change year-on year.

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €3,500 towards your full-time tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay full-time TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €140.

Find out More

For more information about the course, please contact:

Dr Miriam Haughton
Director of Postgraduate Studies in Drama, Theatre and Performance
T: +353 91 494 485

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  • Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2021

    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2021 PDF (11.3MB)