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MA | Postgraduate Taught

Irish Studies

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
no restriction
Please note, the start date of this course may have changed. Check for latest updates.
  • Overview

    Irish Studies is a broad field of area studies utilising a range of disciplines to explore holistically the history, culture and society of the island of Ireland and its global relationships.

    The modules available reflect the range of Irish Studies expertise across the university, and are designed to enable students to undertake research across a wide range of themes in and approaches to Irish Studies, to obtain research methods training in one or more disciplines, and to prepare to write a major dissertation in their chosen field of specialisation.

    The aims of the programme are:
    • To enable graduates to undertake interdisciplinary postgraduate studies in Irish Studies and gain various benefits:
    • An advanced appreciation of the value of interdisciplinarity in Irish Studies.
    • An advanced understanding and experience of relevant research methods and skills.
    • An advanced appreciation of the value of academic approaches to some issues of historical and cultural debate and of contemporary public concern in Ireland.
    • A deepened knowledge of specific themes in Irish Studies reflecting the student’s personal interests and research agenda.

    Irish Studies highlights

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    Student Experience

    • The Institute of Irish Studies is the oldest centre for Irish Studies research in the world (founded in 1965), and has strong links with Irish Studies centres and programmes in Ireland, the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada and Australasia.
    • The MA in Irish Studies at Queen’s provides students with an unrivalled opportunity to examine Ireland in its global contexts. With options from Literature, History, Politics, Anthropology, and Sociology. The MA allows students to pursue challenging cross-disciplinary themes such as heritage and identities, language and arts, peace and conflict, reflecting the rich cultural legacy of Ireland across the world. Students will explore the possibilities and opportunities in interdisciplinary work in one of the world’s leading centres of Irish Studies research.
    • Based in Belfast, we have unrivalled access to the people that were part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
    • The Institute supports a series of weekly research seminars and a number of annual research events in Irish Studies.

    Brexit Advice

    Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

  • Course content

    Course Structure


    Core ModulesAll students take the following core module:
    IRS7011: ‘Belfast: Place, Identity and Memory in a Contested City’ offers a unique introduction to Irish Studies through the study of Belfast - Ireland's second city and the capital of Northern Ireland – its history, culture and society, and relationship to the rest of the island and the wider world.


    Student must choose at least ONE research methods course from the list below:
    ANT7007 – Advanced Anthropological Methods - Spring Semester
    ENG7163 - Literary Research Methods - Autumn Semester
    HAP7001 – Approaches and Debates in Research Design – Autumn Semester
    MHY7020 – Becoming an Historian – Autumn Semester
    SOC9012 – Approaches to Social Research – Autumn Semester.
    Course DetailsThe MA is arranged into a number of core and optional modules (courses).
    Detailed Programme InformationFor detailed programme information please see the Irish Studies Gateway:
    IRS7010 - Irish Studies Dissertation (triple weighted) - a 15,000 word piece of original research supervised by a specialist member of staff
    Elective ModulesStudents choose FOUR optional modules, under guidance from the Programme Director, from a list of those relevant to Irish Studies from across the faculty. These currently include:

    ANT7008 – Advanced Anthropological Perspectives– Autumn Semester
    ANT7053 - MA Specialisation (Anthropology of Ireland) – Spring Semester
    ENG7261 – Reading Historically: The Irish Novel in the 20th Century - Spring Semester
    ENG7305 - Irish Poetry - Spring Semester
    FLM7012 - Political Conflict and Form in Cinema – Autumn Semester
    MHY7011 - Individually Negotiated Topic in History - Autumn Semester
    MHY7025 - Presenting Sources - Spring Semester
    MHY7035 - Theory in History - Spring Semester
    MHY7077 - Public History Internship (with placement in a museum/heritage centre in Northern Ireland) - Spring Semester
    MHY7081 - Topics in Irish History - Spring Semester
    MHY7090 - Pathways Through History - Autumn Semester
    PAI7021 - The Politics of Northern Ireland - Autumn Semester
    PAI7022 - Politics of the Republic of Ireland - Spring Semester
    PAI7027 - Conflict Intervention – Spring Semester
    PAI7028 - Violence, Terrorism and Security - Autumn Semester
    SOC9062 - Conflict & Change in Northern Ireland AND SOC9069 – University Research and Civil Society– Spring Semester

    Modules from other programmes may be selected with the approval of the programme director.

    Some options may require that particular methods courses be taken or the student to have a particular academic background. The dissertation may be supervised by Institute staff or, subject to the agreement of the Head of School, by members of co-operating academic departments.

    For detailed programme information please see the Irish Studies Gateway:
    Part-time StudentsPart-Time Students
    Part-time students complete three taught modules in Year 1, three taught modules in Year 2, and submit their dissertation by May of Year 3.

    People teaching you

    Professor Peter Gray

    Peter Gray is Director of the Institute of Irish Studies. He took his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Cambridge before holding research fellowships at the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s, and at Downing College, Cambridge. He taught Irish and British history at the University of Southampton 1996-2005, before returning to Belfast to take up the position of Professor of Modern Irish History. In 2004 Professor Gray was the Burns Library Visiting Professor in Irish Studies at Boston College, Massachusetts, and was Fredrik and Catherine Eaton Visiting Fellow at the University of New Brunswick in 2015. He was chair of the Royal Irish Academy’s National Committee for Historical Sciences 2007-10, and was Head of the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s in 2010-15. He is a member and former president of the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies. He was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2013. Email: webpage:

    Teaching Times

    Dependant on modules picked

    Career Prospects

    Students of the Institute of Irish Studies go on to pursue careers not only as scholars, but also in a wide range of occupations, including the media, in the heritage sector, public administration and in business.

    Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

    Professional Opportunities
    Our students have found employment in the media, in the heritage sector and tourism, in business and in university administration, particularly in study abroad services.

    Learning and Teaching


    Learning and Teaching

    Morning, afternoon and evening classes


    Taught modules are usually assessed by a combination of written assignments and class participation. Students who have reached a pass in these will submit a dissertation (not exceeding 15,000 words).

    Assessment and Feedback are continuous throughout the course of study.

    A combination of written assignments and class participation. Students who have reached a pass in these will submit a dissertation.

    Written language assignments

    Creative practice

    Dissertation (not exceeding 15,000 words) or practice as research project, which will include a critical reflection of approximately 3,500 words

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject with evidence of study of Ireland, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

    Applicants who hold a 2.2 Honours degree in a relevant subject with evidence of study of Ireland or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University, who can also demonstrate relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    Applicants may be required to submit a piece of written work in support of their application.

    The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit for more information.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) £6,140
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £6,900
    Other (non-UK) EU £6,140
    International £16,900

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2020-21. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Irish Studies costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus