The MA History combines a thorough training in the craft of history with an exploration of the ways in which history is and has been interpreted by historians, politicans, the media, and others. Students may take the programme on a full-time (one year) or part-time (two year) basis.

See here for information on the Humanities MA scholarships. 

What do our students say about our MA programme?

 All students take two core modules: Sources and Resources [15 ECTS] and Historical Debates and Controversies: Studies in Historiography [15 ECTS]. ‌ These are taught by historians working in medieval, early modern and modern history.

Students take three optional modules [10 ECTS each] from the lists below.  While these address a variety of themes and issues, there is a particular emphasis on Transnational History, which studies the movement of people, ideas, and goods across national borders. The core modules on the programme also address questions relevant to this area.

Semester 1

Semester 2

Core Modules 

  • HI519 Sources and Resources
  • HI503 Historical Debates and Controversies

Core Modules

  • HI509 Dissertation

Options: ONE of the following:

  • Studies in Local History (Dr. John Cunningham)
  • Studies in the Histories of Imperialism and Colonialism (Dr Laurence Marley)

Options: TWO of the following:

  • HI580 Irish Contacts with Europe, 1770-1973 (Dr. Róisín Healy)
  • HI6100 NGOS and the making of the 20th century world (Dr Kevin O'Sullivan)
  • HI6062 People on the Move: Studying Migration
  • EN6121 Digital Archives and Heritage 

 We hope to be able to offer all the options listed above but cannot guarantee staff availability absolutely at this stage. All modules, apart from the last two, involve weekly seminars, generally two hours long.

How are these modules delivered?

Most of these are taught through weekly two-hour seminars with a strong emphasis on student participation in discussion.

People on the Move: Studying Migration may be taken on-line, in the classroom, or blended learning format. It is available also for MA students in the University of Limerick.

How are these assessed?

These modules are assessed by a range of coursework assignments, including essays, portfolios, projects and presentations.

Head of MA History

 Dr. John Cunningham, Room 404, Tower 1, Floor 2.




Sources and Resources HI519

This modules includes a work placement (optional). HI519 is a team-taught module which explores the ways in which historians have used a wide range of sources such as medieval charters and chronicles, estate rolls, memoirs, newspapers, government records, reports of commissions of inquiry and oral evidence. It considers questions such as the following: Who produced these sources? Why were they produced? In what context? Were they subject to censorship? Who was the target audience? What kind of research questions can we examine with such evidence?  What factors have affected the preservation of historical records? How can we study groups who have left few written records? What impact had developments such as mass literacy, television and the internet on the communication of knowledge and access to historical sources?

Historical Debates and Controversies: Studies in Historiography HI503

This team-taught module examines perceptions of History as a discipline and methodological approaches to different periods and themes. It looks at perceptions of the groups, issues, events and periods considered worthwhile subjects for historical investigation and explores the role of ideology in framing historical questions. It examines case themes such as the following  closely: Decolonisation and Development; Gender and History; Comparative History; Debating the First World War; Debating the Industrial Revolution; Key questions: why do historians disagree? Is “value-free History” possible? How important is empathy in historical investigations? Why do certain historical topics and come into and go out of fashion? What is the difference between modern history and journalism?  What challenges are involved in investigating conflict? Can historians make a contribution to public policy formulation?  Should they? How do historians approach commemorations?

Dissertation HI509

All students carry out original research and produce a dissertation of 15,000-20,000 words. Students may research an area of their choice as long as the project they envisage allows them demonstrate the competencies being tested and an appropriate supervisor in the area is available. For information on History staff research interests click here.




Studies in the History of Imperialism and Colonialism – Dr Laurence Marley HI546

At its height in the early twentieth century, the British empire was vast, diverse, powerful - and complex. And even though it had all but disappeared by the 1960s, it left an enduring legacy which is still the subject of much debate. This seminar offers an introduction to some of the key thinkers, concepts and debates in the writing of British imperial history. The historiography of empire has been concerned with questions such as: How were different classes and social groups in Britain influenced by empire, its commodities, and its racial diversity? Conversely, how far did empire transform colonial cultures, and to what extent were these cultures connected to a wider, global imperial culture? To what extent did imperialism survive the process of decolonisation? With a focus on developments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these and other questions will be explored through a critical examination of core texts in this field, and with reference to concepts such as finance imperialism, informal empire, gentlemanly capitalism, colonial knowledge and imperial networks and bridgeheads.

Studies in Local History – Dr John Cunningham HI160

This is a practical course in which participants will be enabled to ’do’ Irish local history for themselves. Students will learn how to locate, to interpret, and to contextualise a wide range of sources for Irish local history; they will become familiar with approaches that have been used in the study of Irish local history, and they will consider the applicability to local history of certain other approaches to historical writing, including ’history from below.’

HI580 Irish Contacts with Europe, 1770-1973 Dr Róisín Healy

This module addresses a neglected aspect of Ireland’s transnational past – its engagement with continental Europe after the extensive emigration that followed the early modern conquest of Ireland and before Ireland’s entry into the EEC in 1973. Students will evaluate the small, but growing, body of scholarship on Irish links with the continent and identify avenues for future research by means of analysis of primary sources, such as newspapers, travel accounts, diplomatic documents and memoirs. Key questions will include the movement of people to and from different parts of the continent, domestic responses to nationalist movements abroad, involvement in continental wars and diplomatic relations after independence.

HI6100: NGOs and the making of the Twentieth Century World– Dr Kevin O’Sullivan

In the twentieth century NGOs emerged as one of the key building blocks of the contemporary world. This module introduces the historiography, key concepts and methodologies in the study of transnational action. How did NGOs operate? How should we study them? What can they tell us about the growing inter-connectedness of the modern world? The second part of the module puts these concepts into practice through a series of focused case studies, from Amnesty International to the Anti-Apartheid Movement.


People on the Move: Studying Migration HI6102

This module introduces students to the dynamics of migration from gender, class and socio-economic perspectives. It uses the Irish experience of migration to explore its various stages, for instance the progression from seasonal to permanent and how new innovations developed from conventional patterns such as ‘chain’ and assisted migration. It is particularly concerned with how, often impoverished, people managed to negotiate passage to prosperous host communities. Students will examine and critically evaluate primary source material, including emigrant letters and diaries, newspapers, official papers, census records and other material. We will use a series of case studies to explore the experience of migration, integration and how the Irish reputation changed over time. This module, which is also available to MA students in the University of Limerick is available in a number of optional formats: weekly class-room seminar (in Limerick); on-line; or a blend of the two. 


EN6121 Digital Archives and Heritage

Postgraduate introduction to the theory and practice of digital scholarly editing and digital archiving. Students will gain hands-on experience creating digital editors and archives, and understand the theoretical and practical issues involved in the creation and use of these digital forms. The course will be co-taught with staff from the James Hardiman Library digitisation and archives units.


History Contact:

Dr John Cunningham
Tel: 00 353 91 495642