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 2022/2023.

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 2022 / 2023 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 School of History at UCD is the perfect environment for anyone who has a love of history.

The modules – all taught by experts in their field who bring their new research to the classroom – create for everyone the opportunity to explore the past. Sometimes this can mean looking afresh at what might appear to be familiar subjects and on other occasions it means investigating entirely new areas of study. It is this willingness to embrace new ideas and new approaches that defines the School of History.

The Open Learning modules at UCD School of History for 2022 / 2023 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 on 01 716 7123 or email 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 2022/2023 are:

Autumn Trimester (September to May)

Spring Trimester (January to May)


A History of the Spanish Inquisition, from the 15th to the 19th Centuries

This course examines the history of the Inquisition in Spain and Spanish America from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. It looks at the origins of the Inquisition and its original mission to show and persecute Catholic heretics of Jewish or Islamic origin, and its interactions with politics, religion and society in 16th-century Spain. It also examines the evolving role of the Inquisition that incorporated wider concerns such as Protestantism in Spain, blasphemy and witchcraft. Other themes in this lecture series will include censorship, freemasonry, bigamy, the role of the Inquisition in America, torture and prosecution, and the auto-da-fé, among others.

Tutor: Dr Edward Collins

Location: Mounttown Community Facility

Start date: 22 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.

*There will be a free taster lecture for this course on 18 August at 2pm. Sign up here.


Understanding the Historical Context of the Chester Beatty Japanese Collection

The Chester Beatty Library holds one of the world’s most important collections of Asian artworks, ancient and rare texts, illuminated manuscripts and books, and particularly, it is home to a highly significant and invaluable collection of centuries old Japanalia. This proposed course of lectures is designed to provide an understanding of the socio-economic, political, diplomatic, and cultural historical contexts in which the aforementioned artworks and books were created in Japan during the Azuchi-Momoyama, Tokugawa-Edo, the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods.

Tutor: Prof Declan Downey

Location: Online

Start date: 28 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


Referendum on a Presidency? A History of American Midterm Elections

This course aims to explore the history of American midterm elections with a specific focus on how a midterm election can function as a referendum on a president and his policies. The course will draw on examples from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, amongst them the midterm election of 1858 which preceded the election of Lincoln as president. We will also examine the midterm elections of 1938, 1966, 2002 and 2018 held as America experienced periods of significant change. As well as looking at them in a historical context we will highlight several key seats/electoral districts in the 2022 elections and follow them on a weekly basis. We will consider how the results of the 2022 election could change the remaining years of Biden’s first term in office.

Tutor: Dr Sarah Feehan

Location: Online

Start date: 26 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


The Print Revolution in Europe, 1450-1750

This course begins with the invention of print by moveable type around the year 1450 and traces the influence of this “”Print Revolution” upon the people and nations of Europe over three centuries. It examines the changes brought about by the spread of print across the continent: increasing literacy, a culture of argument and disputation, and the rise of men (and some women) who could aspire to earn their living by writing. It will examine different types of books and printing, including science books, cookery books, novels and newspapers. It will ask what part books and printing played in the great transformations of this period, beginning with the Reformation and ending with the Enlightenment.

A unique feature of the course is that each week we will examine rare original books from the collections of Marsh’s Library which illustrate the themes of that week’s class.

Tutor: Dr Jason McElligott

Location: Marsh’s Library

Start date: 28 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.


Women in the Medieval World: Patrons, Reformers and Commanders.

Everything that we know about the Middle Ages is written by men who were mainly monks or priests. In this course we will look beyond the written sources to the reality of medieval women. We will consider the famous and not so famous: Elanore of Aquitaine and Sybil, Queen of Jerusalem as well as Máel Muire, daughter of the king of Scotland and wife of two Irish overkings. We will look at the contribution of women to architecture, economics and religious reform movements.

The role of women as builders of castles, and founders of settlements is often minimised or ignored. We will examine the part played by Aoife de Clare, wife of Strongbow, in the defence of her lands in Wales as well as the role of her daughter Isabella de Clare in the founding of the town of New Ross and the creation of the settlements that gave the town its economic power.

The medieval period is noted for the creation of beautiful objects and buildings many of which had female sponsors. We will examine the story of these objects and buildings to present an alternative picture of their patrons to that painted by the sources. Medieval women are traditionally seen in relation to men; in this course we will step away from that view.

Tutor: Dr Linda Doran

Location: Online

Start date: 22 September

Fee: €185.

Book your place here.

*There will be a free taster lecture for this course on 19 August at 11 am. Sign up here.


The Price of Freedom: America at War

This course will focus on America’s involvement in conflict since World War I. It will examine America’s motivation for becoming involved in various conflicts over the course of the twentieth century and will consider whether America becomes involved in such conflicts to defend its freedom and interests around the globe or has it, as it has claimed, a greater goal of defending the freedom of others too. The way in which America conducted itself during the conflicts under examination will also be considered. It will also discuss how American involvement was viewed by other nations, both those also involved in the conflict, and those who remained neutral.

Tutor: Dr Sarah Feehan

Location: Belfield

Start date: 23 January

Fee: €185.

Booking will open soon.


People in Action: Volunteers and Paramilitaries in Revolutionary Ireland

Volunteerism and paramilitary activity in Ireland from 1912-24 enveloped the whole country. Encompassing men and women from both sides of the political divide, the militarisation of Irish society saw hundreds of thousands of people involved in a variety of volunteer or paramilitary organisations. Taking a thematic approach, this course will examine Ireland’s revolutionary period through the lens of movements such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Volunteers, National Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, and Irish Republican Army, as well as the unionist aligned Ulster Volunteer Force.

Tutor: Dr Shane Browne

Location: Belfield

Start date: 31 January

Fee: €185.

Booking will open soon.


St. Patrick, Bringer of Christianity to Ireland – fake news?

In 431, Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine to the Irish believing in Christ. How does the story of Patrick fit into the fact that there were already Christians in Ireland before the traditional date of his arrival? In this course we will uncover the story of how, for the first time, a bishop came to be sent to a Christian community outside the Roman world – a seismic moment in the history of Christianity and how this extraordinary event was overtaken by the story of the conversion of the Irish by Patrick. What was the background to this amazing reinvention of history and how was it achieved? We will look at the story, real and mythological, of early missionaries to Ireland, Patrick included. We will consider the impact on Irish society of this new way of viewing the world, bringing with it a new language, laws and membership of an international organisation.

Tutor: Dr Linda Doran

Location: Online

Start date: 31 January

Fee: €185.

Booking will open soon.


Mussolini’s Italy

The course prompts a reflection on the conditions behind the establishment of the Ventennio, a twenty-year dictatorship which continues to shape Italian history. The main themes under scrutiny are the growing appeal of authoritarianism in the inter-war years, Mussolini’s charismatic leadership, the myth of Romanità, a pseudo-mythology which linked the regime to the heyday of the Roman Empire, and the demonisation of internal and external enemies, along with the belief in the necessity of a war to re-establish Italy as a world power.

Tutor: Dr Chiara Tedaldi

Location: Online

Start date: 2 March

Fee: €185.

Booking will open soon.


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