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Irish Studies (MA)

MA|Postgraduate Taught

Irish Studies

Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
30 (Full Time)
30 (Part Time)
This course is now closed to applications for September 2021. If you are interested in September 2022 entry, please register your interest.
  • 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

    World Class Facilities

    • Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • There are more than 70 teaching and research staff in the university who specialise in Irish Studies related subjects and who work closely with the Institute of Irish Studies.

    Student Experience

    • 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.
    • In the National Student Survey 2019 History obtained 91% for overall satisfaction.
    • • Queen’s is ranked 14th in the UK for research quality (Times and Sunday times Good University Guide 2020) • Queen’s is ranked in the top 75 universities in Europe for Teaching Excellent (Times Higher Education, 2019) • Queen’s is ranked 22nd in the world for international outlook (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020) • Queen’s is ranked in the top 140 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020) • Queen's is ranked 26th in the UK for graduate prospects (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020) • Queen’s currently has over 3,000 international students from 85 different countries. • Queen’s was ranked 2nd out of 199 universities worldwide for satisfaction with social facilities. • 11% of the Queen’s student population are international students
  • Course content

    Course Structure

    Our Irish Studies courses range from the poetry of Seamus Heaney to the politics of contested parades in today's Northern Ireland; from the literature of the Medieval sagas and the Gaelic Revival to the controversies around colonialism, the contemporary commemorations of the Easter Rising and the First World War and Ireland's post-Brexit place in the world.

    Follow your own interests by selecting your Option Modules from our Irish Studies and Research Methods course lists, including courses from English, History, Anthropology, Politics, Sociology, Irish, Archaeology and Creative Arts.

    Core ModulesAll students take the following core module:

    IRS7011: ‘Belfast: Place, Identity and Memory in a Contested City’ offers a unique interdisciplinary 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:
    DissertationIRS7010 - 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 Convenor, from a list of those relevant to Irish Studies from across the faculty. These currently include:

    Autumn Semester:
    ANT7008 – Advanced Anthropological Perspectives
    ENG7119 –Special Topic in Irish Writing
    ENG7119 –Special Topic in Irish Writing
    ENG7373 – Irish Women’s Writing
    MHY7011 - Individually Negotiated Topic in History
    MHY7035 - Theory in History
    MHY7090 - Pathways Through History
    PAI7022 - Politics of the Republic of Ireland
    PAI7028 - Violence, Terrorism and Security

    Spring Semester:
    IRS7012 - Kingship and Colonisation in Medieval Ireland: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
    ANT7023 – Anthropology of Conflict: Ireland and Beyond
    ENG7305 - Irish Poetry
    ENG7370 - A Space for Radical Openness? Writing for the Margins in Contemporary British and Irish Literature
    ENG7365 - Trauma and Memory in Contemporary Irish Literature
    MHY7025 - Presenting Sources
    MHY7077 - Public History Internship (with placement in a museum/heritage centre in Northern Ireland)
    MHY7081 - Topics in Irish History
    PAI7021 - The Politics of Northern Ireland
    PAI7027 - Conflict Intervention
    PAI7102 - Global Ireland
    SOC9062 - Conflict & Change in Northern Ireland AND another 10 CATS module offered by SSESW

    * Please note that this is an indication of the available elective modules in MA Irish Studies. There may be other modules available to take offered by other MA programmes, with the approval of the MA Convenor.
    In some years one or two of the listed modules may not be available (i.e. due to staff sabbaticals.).

    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.
    Part-time StudentsPart-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
    Programme Convenor

    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

    Skills students will learn throughout the MA Programme.

    Cognitive Skills

    Comprehension of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary issues raised in Irish Studies.
    Ability to question and critically examine cultural assumptions.
    Ability to analyse and criticise arguments in depth.
    Demonstrate skills in reflecting upon and clarifying personal values.
    Formulate and test hypotheses and interpretations.

    Subject Specific Skills

    An understanding of the broad interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary issues as they relate to the study of the identities and cultures of the peoples of Ireland and the Irish Diaspora.
    An ability to critically engage with research on a theoretical and methodological basis.
    An ability to understand, formulate and address through disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, historical, social, political and cultural aspects of Ireland and Diaspora.

    Transferable Skills

    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.


    Assessment is 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.
    Dissertation (not exceeding 15,000 words)

    Prizes and Awards

    • International Scholarships Information on scholarships for international students, is available at
    • The MA Irish Studies has an annual Mary McNeill Scholarship for applicants from North America, worth £3000. For details, see
  • 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.

    Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 12th August 2022 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

    International Students

    Our country pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country. Use the dropdown list below for 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.

    • 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) 1 £6,650
    Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,650
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £7,470
    EU Other 3 £18,200
    International £18,200

    1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

    2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements.

    3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2022-23, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. 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

    When to Apply

    The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

    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