MA (Old & Middle Irish) [full-time or part-time]

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

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.

Key facts

Entry requirements

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

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

Next start date: September 2016

ECTS weighting: 90

Average intake: 15

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

Mode of study: Taught

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 

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.

Find out more

PAC code

GYA33 full-time
GYA34 part-time

Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,015 p.a. 2015/16
 - Tuition: €5,791 p.a. 2015/16
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2015/16
Non-EU (Total): €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.

Current students

Laura Garcia

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.'



Former student

Christine Neer

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.'