Study History at UCD

For the 2016/2017 academic year the UCD School of History has again made places on a number of its courses available to the public through the Open Learning programme.

UCD Open Learning

Open Learning gives adult learners the opportunity to study a range of undergraduate modules at UCD. There are no entry requirements and these courses are open to everyone. Learners can take any combination of modules for interest only (audit) or complete the course assessments (credit).

UCD School of History has Open Learning places available across a wide range of courses for the 2016/2017 academic year. See below for more information, links and interviews with Open Learning module coordinators.

Please note that UCD also offers Lifelong Learning courses in history in partnership with the National Library of Ireland. Click here for more information on Lifelong Learning at the NLI.

Semester 1 (September 2016)

Semester 2 (January 2017)

Those who register for Open Learning modules will receive a UCD student card and have access to all UCD facilities including the James Joyce Library. For registration and fee details go to www.ucd.ie/all, call 01 7167123 or email: adult.education@ucd.ie

Semester 1 Modules (beginning 12 September, 2016)


HIS10310 – Ireland’s English Centuries (Audit Credit)

In 1460 Ireland was a patchwork of lordships including an English Pale, by 1800 the country was poised to enter a United Kingdom with England and Scotland. In 1460, all Irish people shared the common religion of Western Europe, by 1800 three groups – Catholics, Protestants and Dissenters dominated. In 1460, only a tiny number did not speak Irish, by 1800 English was spoken by well over half the population. During these 340 years Ireland experienced massive transfers of land-holding, invasions, bitter civil war and a huge expansion of population. This module explains the complex blend of identities, allegiances and social changes that shaped the past and continue to shape the Irish present.

HIS10070 – The Making of Modern Europe: 1500-2000 (Audit / Credit)

This module offers a sweeping introduction to some of the momentous changes which have taken place in Europe over the past five hundred years. It explores some of the major landmarks in Europe’s social, political, and economic development: the development of European Empires, religious change, witchcraft, the industrial revolution, democratic change, war in the modern world, the Cold War and socio-cultural change since 1945. There will be one lecture every week which will introduce students to these themes, but the heart of the course lies in the seminars. Here, students will be encouraged to challenge interpretations of the past, to debate ideas and to draw on primary evidence.

HIS20460 - Islam and Christianity (Audit / Credit)

The first part of this module will examine how Muhammad’s revolutionary new message gave rise to a vibrant culture that changed the east and west forever. Who was Mohammad and what was his message? Why was Islam so successful? How did it transform the ancient world? It will then go on to assess the expansion of Islam and its impact on the early middle ages up to c.750 CE. The second part of the module will consider the continuation of the Arab conquests in the Mediterranean and southern Europe between the 8th and 10th centuries CE and the Christian recovery of territory in the 11th century, beginning with the Berber landings in southern Spain in 711 and ending with the construction of the cathedral of Pisa in 1064. Throughout the module relations between the two faith communities will be studied through texts. Students will have the opportunity to read a selection of primary sources including key religious works such as the Qur’an, Arab and Christian narrative histories of the period, legal and constitutional texts, literature, letters and epigraphy.

HIS21120 – Northern Ireland, 1920-2010: from partition to Paisley (Audit / Credit)

This course will chart the history of Northern Ireland from its foundation through state building, war, civil rights, sectarian conflict, and the peace process. Relative to its size, Northern Ireland is arguably the most studied and analysed place on earth in the twentieth century. Partition is by no means a phenomenon unique to Ireland. Germany, India, Korea, and Sudan are among the most prominent examples of a phenomenon that has been a major component of the twentieth century world. The Northern Irish troubles witnessed the deaths of 3,636 people between 1966 and 1999. That conflict has had been a defining moment in the modern histories of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Britain. In being a resolved conflict, the solution arrived at in 1998 has become a template for peace processes the world over. 1998 initiated a peace process rather than concluding a peace settlement. That peace has been at times unstable, fragile, and imperfect. This course will progress past the Good Friday Agreement, examining the history of near contemporary Northern Ireland to examine how power sharing, decommissioning, and cultural demobilisation have shaped a new polity, asking what changed and what stayed the same.

Semester 2 Modules (beginning 23 January, 2017)


HIS10080 – Rome to Renaissance  (Audit / Credit)

This module provides an introduction to European history during the middle ages, from the fall of Rome in the fifth century to the Renaissance of the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The middle ages, once dismissed as a time of stagnation and superstition, is now regarded as an exciting period of ferment, innovation and creativity. The social, political and cultural foundations of modern Europe were established in the middle ages, and the modern era cannot be understood without an awareness of this formative millennium. But equally, the study of the middle ages often means encountering the strange and unfamiliar, and this too is an essential part of being a historian. This course will study the period by focusing on a range of significant events which illustrate some of the most important developments of the period. These include the sack of Rome by barbarians, the influence of the Irish on the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the trial of Joan of Arc, and Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of America. By the end of the semester not only will you have a grounding in medieval history, society and civilisation, but you will have experience of dealing directly with historical evidence, and evaluating and interpreting it in order to reach conclusions about events and people from the past

HIS31150 - The Third Reich (HIS31150) (Audit / Credit)

The course provides an overview of some of the most important aspects of the history of the Third Reich, covering political, cultural, social and military history. The module will provide insights into one of the darkest, most disturbing and most formative eras of European history. The module aims to discuss different interpretations of how the Third Reich came into being, the reasons for its ‘success’ and eventual failure. Particular attention will be paid to racial theories, the Holocaust and the attempted ethnic unweaving of Europe during World War II.

HIS21080 – British Empire, 1495-1945 (Audit / Credit)

This module will investigate the origins and evolution of the British empire, from the early adventurers’ journeys of exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to the zenith of British dominion over large areas of the globe in the early twentieth century. Throughout the module, emphasis will be placed on themes such as exploration, trade, slavery, war, humanitarianism, and culture and cultural exchange in relation to the emergence and expansion of the empire. Issues regarding the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised and the centre and periphery will be explored, along with examination of the various ways in which the empire was represented through media such as print, art, cartography, and music.

HIS10320 – From Union to Bailout: Imagining Ireland, 1800 – Present (Audit / Credit)

This course takes students through two centuries of modern Irish history, examining key events, themes and milestones from the Act of Union between Britain and Ireland in 1800 to the collapse of the Irish economy in the early twenty-first century. It covers political, social, economic and cultural dimensions of Irish history during tumultuous times, the experience of Anglo-Irish relations, Catholic emancipation, famine, the evolution of Irish nationalism and unionism, the land war, the revolutionary upheavals of the early twentieth century, the impact of partition, the quest for sovereignty in the Free State, the experience of life in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and continuity and change in the latter part of the twentieth century.

HIS20950 – Early Modern Europe, 1450-1800 (Audit / Credit)

Western Civilization in the present day has its roots in the re-discovery of Classical Civilization and Humanism and in the discovery of new continents during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The impact of these forces of change shaped the progress and development of the West in the following centuries. The chronological span of three hundred and fifty years from 1450 to 1800 witnessed a most concentrated and consistent flourishing of intellectual, scientific and creative progress and dramatic change not only in Europe, but through overseas discovery and expansion, worldwide. This Early Modern Period was the first truly global age in which the words ‘Europe’, ‘European’ and ‘Civilization’ acquired new and immense significance. Through studying the experiences of two major European powers of the early modern period: the Dutch Republic and France. This module examines that crucial period in world history in which the cultural, political, economic, social, intellectual, scientific and strategic foundations of our present world were established. It focuses upon the great events and movements of the period that shaped human development such as Renaissance Humanism, Religious, Cultural and Social Reformations, Exploration, Discovery, Scientific Development, Baroque Art & NeoClassicism and the rise of Political Absolutism, Modern Military and Diplomatic Strategy and the emergence of the modern power-state, of the nation-state, of overseas dominions, and of supra-national institutions.

HIS21100 – Celtic Dawn to Celtic Tiger: A History of Ireland: Culture and Society (Audit / Credit)

History has shaped modern Irish life in ways that are many and complex. This course opens with an exploration of Irish culture and society in a new millennium. What is it about Ireland that is unique? And what is it, instead, that is part of a shared human experience that transcends borders, whether political or geographic? The course examines how millennia of history have shaped life on the island from the arrival of the first humans, through the Irish experience within the British Empire, and on to a partitioned island which is organized into two states: Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The course will also assess how Ireland has been shaped by emigration, by Famine, and by media, among other forces. Woven through the course will be an appraisal of continuity and change in political, social, economic and cultural dimensions of Irish history.