Open and Lifelong Learning History Courses

UCD offers a variety of study options and entry pathways, ranging from full-time degrees to short-term courses for pure interest. Lifelong Learning offers all adult learners the opportunity to explore a subject of their choice without the pressure of an examination. Open Learning is a flexible way of studying part-time at UCD. Explore your history options for 2021/2022.

UCD offers a variety of study options and entry pathways, ranging from full-time degrees to short-term courses for pure interest.

Open Learning is a flexible way of studying history part-time at UCD.

Lifelong Learning offers all adult learners the opportunity to explore history, and many other subjects of their choice, without the pressure of an examination.

For 2021/2022 UCD School of History has a range of course options available as part of the Open Learning and Lifelong Learning programmes.

Open Learning

Open Learning means you can fit university around your life. Whether you’re looking to progress your career, or you’ve just finished school and wondering if university is for you, Open Learning fits around your schedule and gives you all the benefits of being a full-time student, without the full-time commitment.

Open Learning allows you to select the modules you wish to study, set the pace of your study, and whether you undertake the module assessment.

The Open Learning modules at UCD School of History for 2021/2022 are as follows:

Autumn Trimester (September to December)

Spring Trimester (January to May)

Open Learning module offerings are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Details on how to register are here. You can also contact the UCD Access team for more information all@ucd.ie.


Lifelong Learning

UCD’s Lifelong Learning Programme is a series of specific interest courses that are participative, engaging, and facilitated by experts in their field.

The courses are open to all adult learners and provide a unique opportunity to explore a subject without examinations.

The Lifelong Learning options from UCD School of History for 2021/2022 are:

Autumn Trimester (September to May)

Spring Trimester (January to May)


A Global History of Latin America through Objects

This course examines the history of Latin America from the sixteenth century to the present through an alternative approach. The examination of objects and their place in the global history of trade, exchange, and transfer will be used to analyse the impact of Latin America and its objects on the history of the world. Objects including chocolate, silver, the body, ships, the horse, maps, and cochineal will form thematic lectures that outline wider global histories of food, medicine, slavery, and more.
The lecture series differs significantly from previous courses on the history of Latin America by organising each week thematically and by covering ideas and concepts that have not been examined in previous Latin American history classes at the National Library. Moreover, this new approach examines Latin American history from a global perspective, showing how several natural and man-made objects have connected the American continent to European, Asian, and African histories since the sixteenth century, such as the potato in 19th-century Ireland, American silver in the creation of a global trade system, and Asian, European and American animals in conquest, colonisation, and trade, among many other ideas.

Tutor: Dr Edward Collins

Location: Online

Start date: 23 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


A Short History of Deception: Espionage, Misdirection and Criminality Through the Ages

The art of deception has been an integral part of our human story, one where we want, but rarely get, all the sordid details. Even our myths (the Wooden Horse of Troy) abound with instances of inspired duplicity. The resourcefulness required to steal weighty secrets from your enemies (and sometimes from your friends) and the degree of ingenuity involved in laying false trails to bamboozle and misdirect—and to convince the world that you don’t exist—have often been the difference between success and failure in war, revolution, organised crime, and competitive chess (though we won’t be dealing with the latter). This close study of the wild goose chase and the double bluff will examine the chicanery with which Sir Francis Walsingham stabilised the Protestant revolution, how spies and informers always seemed to betray Irish rebellions (until Michael Collins), how Bletchley Park knew what the Germans were doing before they did, how the Mafia managed to fly under the radar for decades, and why the initials KGB still sound more awe-inspiring than the CIA.

Tutor: Dr Myles Dungan

Location: Online

Start date: 27 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


The Jim Crow Era in America: An Introduction

This course will give students an introduction the era of Jim Crow in America. Jim Crow laws were introduced to deny African Americans the right to vote, hold jobs, have access to education as well as other opportunities. We will examine why did Jim Crow emerge and persist from the late nineteenth century through to the mid twentieth century. We will begin by considering the Jim Crow laws from their roots immediately following the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. Jim Crow laws required the separation of white people and people of colour on all forms of public transportation and in schools. Over time the segregation expanded to include interaction and mixing in schools, cemeteries, parks, theatres, and restaurants. We will consider those who enforced and supported these laws but also those who fought for the rights of those subject to the Jim Crow laws. While it was a time of oppression for African Americans and those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced arrest, fines, jail sentences, violence and death it was also a time when many African Americans stepped forward to oppose the laws. This course will try to give an insight into the African American experience under the Jim Crow laws and how this experience changed and evolved from the late nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. We will also consider the impact of the Jim Crow era in America beyond its conclusion in the 1960s.

The course does not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of American history or politics.

Tutor: Dr Sarah Feehan

Location: Online

Start date: 27 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.

*There will be a free taster lecture for this course on 17 August at 2pm. Sign up here.


Ireland in the Medieval World 400-1050: Land, Power and Ritual

This course will narrate the story of Ireland’s emergence into history. The first image that we have of Ireland dates to 150 AD and allows us, for the first time, to see us as others saw us. We will look at archaeological, historical and literary evidence. The archaeology, much produced during the boom of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, has altered the understanding of how Irish medieval people interacted with their surroundings. The landscape, rural, urban, ecclesiastical, ceremonial and mythological will anchor our study. We will consider kingship, kings and kingdoms, religion and custom, the free and unfree, exiles and foreigners.

This was a period of profound change. A new religion was introduced bringing in its wake writing, a new language and membership of an international organisation. There are later the arrival of the Vikings brings the creation of towns, the introduction of currency and links into a wide and expanding trading network. In this period there was much change but there was also much continuity. Between these there is a tension, seen in the fusions of art motifs and styles. Some of the most beautiful object created in Western Europe come from Ireland in this period.

Tutor: Dr Linda Doran

Location: Online

Start date: 28 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.

*There will be a free taster lecture for this course on 17 August at 12pm. Sign up here.


Driving Change in America

Throughout the last hundred years in America there have been many important events and movements that have left their mark on the nation. From the Great Depression to Black Lives Matter, from the movement for women’s suffrage to the fight for LGBTQ rights, from the Civil Rights movement to the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement. This course will give students the opportunity to explore the impact these events and movements had on America but also to delve deeper and examine the people behind them. We will look at key figures in these events and examine their contribution to them by exploring their speeches and writings, assessing their contribution to the movement and the role they played in driving change in America. Students will be introduced to figures such as Carrie Chapman Catt, Ida B. Wells, Harry Hopkins, Joseph McCarthy, Harry Hay, Stokely Carmichael, Shirley Chisholm, Dolores Huerta, Marsha P. Johnson, Patrisse Cullors all of whom have contributed to changing America in the twentieth and twenty-first century. To understand their contribution, we will critically examine a selection of their speeches and writings and assess the impact they had on their movement and on the nation.

The course does not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of American history or politics.

Tutor: Dr Sarah Feehan

Location: Online

Start date: 31 January

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


Conversion to Christianity in Medieval Ireland

This course offers an introduction to the Christian conversion of the Irish that occurred from the third or fourth century onwards. The religious transformation of the Medieval West was a protracted and complicated process that lasted for centuries and saw the creation of new social, religious and political structures. Lying on the edge of the known world the Irish were never part of the Roman Empire but through increased contact were influenced by the changes that affected their neighbours. Christianity is arguably the most significant of these changes – it altered the Irish landscape and society and crucially affected Irish interactions with the outside world.

In this course you will be introduced to the most recent research on the topic, drawing from a rich body of primary source material from the archaeological and literary record. Throughout you will consider the malleable nature of conversion, Christianization and Christian acculturation, and develop an appreciation of the belief systems and structures through which the religion developed on the island. Starting in the pre-Christian period the course considers how the Irish were introduced to the new belief system, the role of missionaries such as Patrick and the various ways in which the earliest Irish Christians forged their new religious identity. The final week of the course involves a trip to the Treasures Room in the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare St., which displays some of the most valuable objects associated with this formative period in Irish history.

Tutor: Dr Elizabeth Dawson

Location: Online

Start date: 1 February

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


Click here for more information on the Lifelong Learning history courses.

For registration and fee details go to the UCD ALL website, call 01 7167123 or email: all@ucd.ie