Lifelong Learning History Courses

Lifelong Learning offers all adult learners the opportunity to explore a subject of their choice without the pressure of an examination. The courses are participative, engaging and taught by experts in their field. Explore the history options available online this autumn.

Lifelong Learning

Crime fiction, fake news, the American presidency and animals in human history are just some of the options available from UCD School of History this autumn as part of UCD’s Lifelong Learning programme. The programme offers all adult learners the opportunity to explore a subject of their choice without the pressure of an examination. The courses are participative, engaging and taught by experts in their field. The autumn options, which will be delivered online, will start in October and November.


A Short History of Crime Fiction, 1860 – 1960

For as long as crime has existed people have been writing about it. But they only got around to making it all up a few hundred years ago. The first works of fiction identifiably situated in the crime genre began to appear in the late 18th century. But it wasn’t until the fleeting appearances of Edgar Allan Poe’s intellectual sleuth, Auguste Dupin, in the 1840s that the detective story began to emerge slowly from under the cloak of gothic fiction. Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, published in 1868, is generally recognised as the first bona fide detective novel. So, the genre has barely been with us for a century and a half.

This four-week course examines the origins and the development of crime fiction (mostly in the English language) since its late eighteenth century origins. The main focus will be on the one-hundred-year period from the publication of The Moonstone to the appearance of the startlingly different fictions of Patricia Highsmith. The course will incorporate the creation of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and the long shadow cast by Doyle until the second decade of the twentieth century, when Agatha Christie and the other (mostly female) writers of the so-called ‘Golden Age’ began to emerge. The course will also examine the history of the American ‘hard-boiled’ school of crime (Chandler, Hammett and Highsmith) of the mid-20th century, which produced memorable characters such as Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Tom Ripley.

Tutor: Dr Myles Dungan

Location: Online

Start date: 7 October

Book your place here.


The Modern American Presidency: From FDR to Trump

This course is a study of the American Presidency in the twentieth century from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Donald Trump including the 2020 presidential election. Taking a thematic approach, the course will examine the presidents and the challenges that they faced during their time in office. It will consider how each of the presidents dealt with major issues such as domestic and foreign policy, the economy, relations with other branches of government and relations with their own party. By taking a thematic approach we will be able to compare and contrast the presidents handling of various issues. While the course will touch on major events and policies in twentieth-century American history they will be viewed only in the context of the presidency. A third of the course will be dedicated to presidential elections. We will consider previous presidential election campaigns and their outcomes as well as looking forward to the 2020 presidential election. We will examine how elections campaigns were conducted by different presidents and how this impacted on the election result.

The course will examine how candidates decide on particular topics to stress during a campaign. As part of the course, we will highlight a number of key seats/electoral districts in the 2020 elections and follow them on a weekly basis. Finally, we will evaluate the modern presidency and how it evolved from the presidency of FDR to the 2020 presidential election. We will then endeavour to assess the challenges that face the newly elected president as they take office in 2021. The course does not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of American history or politics.

Tutor: Dr Sarah Feehan

Location: Online

Start date: 5 October

Book your place here.


Animals in Human History

This module examines the history of animals from early human civilisation to the present. Despite their crucial role in history, animals have not traditionally been portrayed as central actors. This module argues for the importance of animals in the history of human society & culture. It examines the evolution of human & animal relationships, the role of animals in agriculture & society, in war, conquest, & empire, in addition to the interconnected histories of human, animal & environmental health. It analyses the historical creation of the categories of ‘human’ & ‘animal’, its implications for medicine, science, & animal rights, as well as the construction of the category of ‘vermin’.

Tutor: Dr Edward Collins

Location: Online

Start date: 8 October

Book your place here.


From Bad News to Fake News: Media and Conflict 1880 – 2020

An exploration of the relationship between political journalism and establishment interests in the English-speaking world from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. This course will examine the extent to which journalism has been used in the service of powerful vested interests, or in ‘speaking truth to power’ on behalf of the vulnerable, the disenfranchised or the disillusioned. The course will begin by focusing on American ‘muckraking’ and British ‘new journalism’ of the late 1800s and how they created a template for the notable investigative ‘scoops’ of the 20th century, including the leaking of the Pentagon Papers and the exposure of the Watergate and thalidomide scandals. It will also examine the importance of the political cartoon, before assessing the successes and failures of journalism in the twenty-first century, contrasting, for example, the investigative achievements of Boston Globe Spotlight team as against the ‘white noise’ and outright lies of outlets like Info Wars.

Tutor: Dr Myles Dungan

Location: Online

Start date: 4 November

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