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Liberal Arts

Entry year
Academic Year 2025/26
Entry requirements
4 years (Full-time)
UCAS code

Liberal Arts at Queen's is a unique, exciting and challenging programme that allows students to immerse themselves in subjects that are vital to understanding our twenty-first- century world. Through innovative disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary study, students explore a range of contemporary issues within a programme which allows them the flexibility to pursue a discipline specialism or broader, thematic interests that are cross-disciplinary in nature.

Taking advantage of the internationally-renown expertise across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, students explore different ways of approaching research, and consider various tools or sources that can be used to answer the pressing questions of their world in innovative ways. This might be through their discipline-specific training, or through blending the research approaches from multiple subjects to consider things in a new way. .

A Liberal Arts student is curious about the world and about different ways of thinking. With our study abroad and work placement opportunities, in addition to Masters-level teaching in fourth year, this degree is built with flexibility and future success in mind.

Liberal Arts at Queen's builds on the strengths of the multiple disciplines of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty.

Liberal Arts highlights

Global Opportunities

Students on the M.Liberal Arts programme benefit from a broad range of study-abroad and international placement opportunities, e.g. in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. The Year/Semester Abroad is a significant learning and employability enhancement opportunity. This feature of our degree programme gives students the opportunity for personal development, and further develops communication skills and intercultural awareness. The challenges of living abroad come to be a unique (and unforgettable) stage in their own personal development.

Industry Links

We regularly consult and develop links with a large number of employers including, for example, BBC Northern Ireland, Ulster Television, and the Lyric Theatre. Given that Belfast is a regional capital with devolved powers, we encourage students to undertake placements in the high profile political and related institutions on our doorstep - for example in the Department of Justice, Equality Commission, Police Ombudsman's Office, the North/South Ministerial Council. The University also works closely with a number of arts sector institutions and partners including the Ulster Museum, Titanic Belfast, the Linen Hall Library, and the Arts Council.

World Class Facilities

Student benefit from research-led teaching and access to a range of world-class facilities, depending on their pathway.

Internationally Renowned Experts

In Politics, Professor David Phinnemore is an expert on EU Treaty reform and EU enlargement, which led to his secondment as an advisor to the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The fallout of the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK positions Professor Phinnemore at the centre of ongoing debates about 'Brexit' and its impact on the EU, Northern Ireland, and UK relations.

Student Experience

From Personal Tutors to peer mentoring, we work closely with students to ensure they are supported at every stage of their degree. Due to the core module at each Liberal Arts stage, our students tend to be closely-knit and know their Liberal Arts lecturers well. This ensures that, while they embark on different pathways in various Schools and subjects, they always have an academic contact to support their university career.

With Degree-Plus, students have the opportunity to burnish their academic achievements with employment-facing placements and projects.

A thriving cultural scene organised by our undergraduate and postgraduate communities, from the English Society and Poetry Proper to the Lifeboat and the Yellow Nib, makes studying at Queen's a unique proposition.

Students can work with our visiting Fulbright Scholars, leading US academics who spend a semester at Queen's each year; and, through the Heaney Centre, world-renowned and award-winning creative practitioners in the fields of poetry, prose and scriptwriting join us each year as Fellows of the Centre.

Global Opportunities

Students on a M.Liberal Arts languages pathway study or work abroad for 8 months or more in their third year. Students in Languages at Queen’s have specialised classes to prepare them for the Year Abroad and members of Language staff act as Year Abroad Officers. In addition to the benefits for oral competence, the residence provides a unique opportunity for immersion in the culture of their chosen country.
Students not on a languages pathway study abroad for the second semester of their third year.

Career Development

Students are offered opportunities to develop substantive knowledge and research skills through collaboration with Northern Ireland’s vibrant civil and community sector, through field trips, guest lectures, workshops, placements, research collaborations and volunteering opportunities.

Internationally Renowned Experts

On this programme you will be taught by academics who are internationally renowned experts at the top of their respective fields.

The Liberal Arts modules bring together academic expertise with industry leaders to really dig into how the knowledge built up on the programme can have ‘real world’ impacts.

As students on an undergraduate Masters, we encourage students to get involved in the multiple research centres which are pushing new boundaries at Queen’s. These include:
• The Centre for Sustainability, Equality, and Climate Action
• The Centre for Public History
• The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
• The Institute of Irish Studies
• The Institute of Cognition and Culture

Career Development

In second year, students take a ‘Careers Placement’ module, working closely with QUB’s Careers Service experts in advance of their work placement.

World Class Facilities

The School of Arts, English and Languages is one of the largest and best equipped institutions in the UK working in the field of music and sound. Students have access to state-of-the-art audio resources including two dedicated computer suites, ten sound studios an equipment loan store and the world’s first Sonic Laboratory – a unique performance space capable of three-dimensional sound projection, all housed in the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC). Our Music Building was built at the same time as the main Queen's Lanyon Building. It was originally the Students' Union and Canteen.
We have the beautiful Harty Room concert hall, The Old McMordie Hall teaching room, a large Lecture Room, smaller teaching rooms, a basement full of practice rooms, 2 recording studios and social spaces for students to meet.

For students interested in Drama and the performing arts, a lot of teaching happens in the Brian Friel Theatre, one of the best-equipped theatres in Belfast with a 120-seat studio theatre, rehearsal room, dressing rooms, green room and workshop. These are all housed in the Drama and Film Centre which also includes the Queen’s Film Theatre.

The McClay Library holds extensive collections relating to all subjects offered on the M.Liberal Arts programme, including History and Politics, Philosophy, Sociology, and English. Queen’s has built up a superb collection of books, manuscripts and periodicals over the past 160 years. It brings together wide-ranging library, computing and media services in a single location as well as offering study facilities suitable for quiet study and group work.

Student Experience

With Degree-Plus, students have the opportunity to burnish their academic achievements with employment- facing placements and projects.

A thriving cultural scene organised by our undergraduate and postgraduate communities, including the newly-organised (by our students) Liberal Arts Society. The wider cultural scene, including the Lifeboat and the Yellow Nib, makes studying at Queen's a unique proposition. Due to the multi-/interdisciplinary nature of their studies, Liberal Arts students have the opportunity to engage with it all!

Course Structure

Stage 1

Students take six modules: Understanding Now; one interdisciplinary module; two modules from their pathway; and a further two optional modules. The list of optional modules is subject to relevant A-Level or equivalent prerequisites (e.g. for language and music modules). However, students are free to choose from a range of interdisciplinary and pathway modules as well as other modules offered on single honours programmes in the Faculty. Please note that the precise modules offered as options may vary from year to year.

At the end of Level 1, students nominate their pathway. The pathways include: Anthropology and Paleoecology, Archaeology, Drama, Economics, English, Geography, French, Film, History, International Studies, Irish, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Portuguese, Sociology, Spanish, as well as thematic pathways such as Migration, Sustainability, Irish Studies, American Studies, Gender, Decolonisation.

Stage 2

In their second year students take: Uses of the Past; one interdisciplinary module; three modules from their pathway; and a further optional module. In addition they will take a Placement preparation module ahead of the Stage 3 Placement module.

Stage 3

Students take: Arts and Humanities in Contemporary Society; the Placement module; and one module from their pathway in Semester 1. Semester 2 is spent studying abroad at one of our international university partners. Please note that the precise modules offered as options may vary from year to year and may be subject to prerequisites.

For students on a language pathway, the whole of third year will be spent abroad on a study or work placement.

Stage 4

Students take: Incorrigibly Plural; the Dissertation module; and a minimum of one module in their pathway with two further modules either from their pathway or from optional modules. The pathway and optional modules will be drawn from the taught modules offered on the relevant MA programme(s). Students on a language pathway will take relevant language and cultural context modules..

Please note that the precise modules offered as options may vary from year to year and may be subject to prerequisites.

People teaching you

Lecturer; Subject Lead for Liberal Arts

Arts, English & Languages
Dr Cooper is a social and cultural historian of Ireland and the Irish diaspora, with a particular interest in gender, religion, and urban space. Sophie takes an interdisciplinary approach to her research - bringing together material culture, urban studies approaches, and histories of emotion – so really enjoys having the opportunity to work with colleagues from across different disciplines!

Professor in American Literature; Faculty Lead Liberal Arts

Arts, English & Languages
Professor McGowan is Professor in American Literature with research and teaching interests in twentieth-century American poetry, contemporary American fiction, as well as in film (e.g. American Hitchcock). He also has wider interests in revolutionary America, the American nineteenth century, westerns, and American narratives of addiction and alcohol control. In the field of poetry, his teaching and research focuses on Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, the Middle Generation poets, and Mark Doty. Philip is President (2016-2024) of the European Association for American Studies (; @eaas_eu) and has been a member of the Executive Board of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society (; @FSFSociety) since 2005

Contact Teaching Hours

Large Group Teaching

6 (hours maximum)
2-3 at Stage 1; 3-4 at Stage 2; 3-6 at Stage 3; 2-3 at Stage 4

Personal Study

15 (hours maximum)

Small Group Teaching/Personal Tutorial

3 (hours maximum)
2-3 at Stage 1; 2-3 at Stage 2; 2-3 at Stage 3; 2-3 at Stage 4

Medium Group Teaching

6 (hours maximum)
3-5 at Stage 1; 3-4 at Stage 2; 4-6 at Stage 3; 3-5 at Stage 4

Learning and Teaching

At Queen's, students work in an ambitious learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable students to achieve their full academic potential.
On the Liberal Arts degree we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world-class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners. Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:

  • E-learning:

    Information associated with lectures and assignments is often communicated via a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Queen's Online. A range of e-learning experiences are also embedded in the degree, for example, through: interactive group workshops in a flexible learning space; IT and statistics modules;podcasts and interactive web-based learning activities; opportunities to use IT programmes associated with design in practicals and project-based work etc.

  • Lectures:

    Introduce basic information about new topics as a starting point for further self-directed private study/reading. Lectures also provide opportunities to ask questions, gain some feedback and advice on assessments (normally delivered in large groups to all year group peers).

  • Personal tutors:

    All undergraduates are allocated a Personal Tutor who meets with them on several occasions during the year to support their academic development.

  • Self-directed study:

    This is an essential part of life as a Queen's student when important private reading, engagement with e-learning resources, reflection on feedback to date and assignment research and preparation work is carried out.

  • Seminars/tutorials:

    Significant amounts of teaching are carried out in small groups (typically 10-20 students). These provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic staff who have specialist knowledge of the topic, to ask questions of them and to assess their own progress and understanding with the support of peers. You should also expect to make presentations and other contributions to these groups.

  • Supervised projects:

    In final year, the year-long double weighted Dissertation module requires you to carry out a significant piece of research on a topic that you have chosen. You will receive support from a supervisor who will guide you in terms of how to carry out your research and will provide feedback to you on at least 2 occasions during the write-up stage.


Details of assessments associated with this course are outlined below:

  • Assessments are designed to evidence your engagement with the learning objectives of each module, which will be advertised in advance of module selection. Modules are assessed variously through project work, individual and/or group presentations, as well as more traditional written essays and assignments.
    The way in which students are assessed will vary according to the learning objectives of each module. Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook provided to all students during their first year induction. Assessments can include assessed presentations, group projects, and "learning logs" based on weekly reading.


As students progress through their degree at Queen's they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work.
Once you have reviewed your feedback, you will be encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of your work. Feedback is a key component in a student's continual, self-reflective learning on this degree programme.
Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:

  • Feedback provided via formal written comments and marks relating to work that you, as an individual or as part of a group, may have submitted.
  • Face to face comment. This may include occasions when you make use of the lecturers' advertised "Feedback and Guidance hours" to help you address a specific query.
  • Placement employer comments or references.
  • Online or emailed comment.
  • General comments or question and answer opportunities at the end of a lecture, or during a seminar or tutorial.
  • Peer and group feedback on core Liberal Arts modules where the learning experience is developmental, shared and supportive.
  • Pre-submission advice regarding the standards you should aim for and common pitfalls to avoid. In some instances, this may be provided in the form of model answers or exemplars that you can review in your own time.
  • Feedback and outcomes from practical classes.
  • Comment and guidance provided by staff from specialist support services such as Careers, Employability and Skills or the Learning Development Service.




The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2023/24). Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

  • Year 1

    Core Modules

    Understanding Now (20 credits)

    Optional Modules

    Screen Technologies (20 credits)
    World Politics (20 credits)
    French 1 (40 credits)
    Spanish 1 (40 credits)
    Gaeilge 1 (40 credits)
    Celtic Mythology (20 credits)
    Digital Society (20 credits)
    Statistical Methods (20 credits)
    Audio Mixing I (10 credits)
    Rethinking Society (20 credits)
    Contemporary Europe (20 credits)
    Exploring History 1 (20 credits)
    Exploring History 2 (20 credits)
    Portuguese 1 (40 credits)
    Music in History (20 credits)
    Crime and Society (20 credits)
    Introductory Logic (20 credits)
    Solo Performance 1 (20 credits)
  • Year 2

    Core Modules

    Uses of the Past (20 credits)

    Optional Modules

    French 2 (40 credits)
    Radio Drama (20 credits)
    Fame (20 credits)
    Language and Power (20 credits)
    Irish Literature (20 credits)
    American Politics (20 credits)
    Shakespeare and Co (20 credits)
    Crime and the Media (20 credits)
    World Cinema (20 credits)
    French Noir (20 credits)
    Spanish 2 (40 credits)
    Crime and Society (20 credits)
    Acting Shakespeare (20 credits)
    Kings and Warriors (20 credits)
    Dramaturgy (20 credits)
    Uniting Kingdoms (20 credits)
    Gaeilge 2 (40 credits)
    Solo Performance 2 (20 credits)
    Educational Drama (20 credits)
    Protecting Paradise (20 credits)
    Classical Analysis (20 credits)
    Game Theory (20 credits)
    Music Psychology (20 credits)
    Moral Theories (20 credits)
    Studying Politics (20 credits)
    Improvisation (20 credits)