Praise for the Programme

UCC’s Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture is the first university course with a dedicated focus on Irish Food. It not only celebrates Irish food but also the people and events that have shaped its development. The skills and expertise you will gain on this course will be invaluable on both a personal and professional level. I have no doubt that with the knowledge gained you will rethink Irish food culture in all sorts of critical and creative ways. I recommend this inspired new course to all those who have an interest in Irish food, work in the food industry and care about the future of Irish food in these particularly challenging times.

Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School

Examining the culinary history and culture of Ireland gives students an aleph through which they can see and understand how food, agriculture, artisanship, cooking and the arts of distilling and brewing lie behind the significant changes in the country’s history. Dynamic and progressive food cultures, from the Pays Basque to the wine cultures of California and Bordeaux, have been birthed thanks to dynamic academic cultures that have explored the past and future potential of those cultures. Because of its multi-disciplinary approach, the UCC Postgraduate Diploma will play a significant role in how students will actively shape the future food culture of the country, in particular by allowing them to understand and utilise traditions which can and will play an enormous part in developing Ireland’s food culture.

Dr John McKenna & Dr Sally McKenna, Authors, Ireland The Best, McKennas’ Guides and Extreme Greens: Understanding Seaweed

I’m thrilled to learn of the UCC’s postgraduate diploma in Irish Food Culture. Covering the entire cycle of food in Ireland—from production to consumption—and featuring historical and cultural perspectives as well as current discussions of environmental sustainability, the program will allow students will understand the complexities of Irish food culture—how history, culture, colonization, global trade and commerce, religion, politics, the landscape, the ocean, combine to create the complex, unique, fascinating contemporary landscape of Irish food. No doubt, graduates of this program will have the knowledge and skills to become players in the thriving Irish food economy.

Amy Bentley, Professor of Food Studies, New York University

Irish food has changed so much over the last 20 years, both in terms of our produce and how we are cooking it. But contemporary attitude needs historical grounding in order that we grow our food culture further. The Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture, is the first university course with a dedicated Irish focus of food. It is vital that we take stock and probe how we got here and what it means to the future of food on this Island. I look forward to what this course will offer and feel it will contribute greatly to the development of Irish Food Culture.

Jp McMahon, Culinary Director EAT Galway, Symposium Director Food on the Edge

UCC Adult courses

Irish Food Culture - PG Dip

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Irish Food Culture

  • Code


  • College

    Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

  • Duration

    2 years

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications

    PG Dip

  • NFQ Level

    Level 9

  • NFQ Award Title

    Postgraduate Diploma (major award)

  • Fees

    €3,000 per academic year. With 20% funding from Taste4Success, Skillnet, students pay €2,400 per academic year. See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    17th September 2021

  • Next Intake

    September 2021

  • Venue


  • Start Date

    21st September 2021

Course Outline

Interest in food and culinary matters is at an all-time high as Ireland develops a more considered relationship with Irish food culture. The Irish food industry is booming, food and culinary tourism is thriving, while a buoyant and creative community of small-scale food producers, chefs, writers and influencers bring creative diversity to the ways in which we engage with food. Yet despite these developments, there has been no corresponding academic programme of study that examines the complexities, the intricacies, and the fascinating elements in the development and evolution of Irish food culture. The Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture is designed to redress this imbalance. It is the first university programme of study that has a dedicated focus on Irish food and culinary culture. It examines food and culinary systems of the past and the present from the perspectives of production, processing, preservation, preparation and consumption. It will guide students through popular discourses such as farm to fork, ocean to plate, factory to plate, exploring what these mean in the present day and what they meant in the past. It will also explore concepts like identity, tradition, gender, memory, and ethics and discuss how these apply to the study of food. Areas of study include food and culinary history, food and folklore, food and creative practice, food and literature, nutrition and health, food and the environment, sustainability, food policy, the contemporary Irish food system and research methods in foodways. This course offers candidates a unique opportunity to study Irish food culture in a holistic matter. It will enable students to distinguish between food facts and food myths and it will foster from candidates a respect and a love for research in the area of Irish food studies.  So, for example, students might gain a more meaningful understanding of our plate of lovely Irish figs.  

Course Practicalities

The Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture is an exciting and original programme of study. It is the first university course that takes a transdisciplinary approach to exploring Irish food culture. UCC has a long and proud tradition of excellence in food research and student-focused teaching, and this course brings together a stellar team of academics, who are well-respected and well-established in their fields of study. Students will be exposed to the results of their original and cutting-edge research, to critical and original thinking in Irish food studies, and to innovative teaching approaches. This is a rare opportunity to study with acclaimed academics, to be inspired by their expertise and to be guided by them in developing creative and critical approaches to applying your skills and knowledge of Ireland’s food culture to career development and innovation. And, as this is the only course of its kind in Ireland, successful candidates will be able to engage with authority and integrity with developments and discussions of Irish food culture, thereby giving them competitive advantage in career/employment markets.

Year I
FL6804 An Introduction to Irish Food Studies  
GG6802 The Irish Food System and Food Policy 
HI6801 Irish Food and Culinary History
DR6801 Food and Creative Practice

Year II
Food, Festival and Folklore
PS6801 Food, the Environment and Sustainability
NT6801 Introduction to the Principles of Nutrition
FL6803 Research Methods in Foodways

The programme will run one evening per week over two academic years with students attending a three-hour lecture from mid-September to May, with 1 Saturday (full-day) workshop per semester. Students are also required to undertake approx. 12 hours of self-directed study each week. Four guided fieldtrips will be taken during the programme (year I: two full-day fieldtrips (Saturday or Sunday).Year II: two full-day fieldtrips (Saturday or Sunday). (The course fee does not include the costs associated with fieldtrips, i.e. travel costs and, if applicable, venue admissions.) This programme is assessed through a variety of continuous assessment methods including essays, reflective portfolios of learning, a multimedia fieldtrip report, scientific poster, individual and group presentations, case studies and an individual research project, and one in-class examination.

Who teaches this course?

Lecturing staff are drawn from across University colleges and include but are not confined to:

  • Dr Marie-Annick Desplanques, Department of Folklore and Ethnology
  • Professor Jools Gilson, School of Music and Theatre
  • Ms Tara Kenny, Department of Geography
  • Dr Eoin Lettice, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr. Alice Lucey, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences
  • Dr Stiofán Ó Cadhla, Rionn an Bhéaldoidis/Department of Folklore and Ethnology
  • Dr Clíona O’Carroll, Rionn an Bhéaldoidis/Department of Folklore and Ethnology
  • Dr Ciarán Ó Gealbháin, Rionn an Bhéaldoidis/Department of Folklore and Ethnology
  • Ms Regina Sexton, Adult Continuing Education and School of History

The programme will also welcome a range of guest speakers and lecturers from the academy and industry.

Why Choose This Course

It is knowledge that can be grafted on to work immediately. Even more, the learning, critical thinking and writing skills will be skillsets to carry into the future.

Ruth Healy

Postgraduate student, 2019-2021

Find Out More

Skills and Careers Information

On successful completion of the programme, candidates will have developed high level and proficient skills in research, critical and creative thinking and reflective practice. These transferable skills will have direct application to careers in food-related business and professions, such as food marketing and PR; food and culinary tourism (at local and national levels); consumer research; food advocacy; innovation and creativity in food-event design, such as food festivals, food tours/trials and food exhibitions, food education, and continued/further research in academia.


NFQ Level 8 qualification in any discipline (Honours Degree or Higher Diploma). Desirable, though not compulsory, areas of prior study include the humanities and social sciences, food science, food marketing and food business. *

* Candidates without an NFQ level 8 award are eligible to apply, subject to the approval of the programme Academic Director, if s/he can demonstrate at least three years of professional experience in a related field – examples include (but are not restricted to) food marketing, food business, food and culinary tourism, food event management and food production (conventional and artisan/speciality).

English Language Requirement: All applicants whose first language is not English should have attained IELTS Level 6.5 or the equivalent TOEFL score with no individual section lower than 6.0.

Fees and Costs

€3,000 per academic year. With 20% funding from Taste4Success, Skillnet, students pay €2,400 per academic year. On registration, students pay half fee of €1,200. The remainder is paid in the second course semester and once the programme begins you will receive further information.

For further information on fees and financial supports please click here.


How Do I Apply

Delivery Mode For Academic Year 2021/22

Following consultation with our students and programme teams, there will be a blended online approach for this programme for the 2021/22 academic year. This approach will allow for the multiple other personal and professional commitments that adult learners often have to manage alongside their studies.

From September to December, all courses will be delivered online where students will attend live virtual classes which will incorporate (as much as possible) opportunities for engagement and interactivity with lecturers and fellow students.

From January to June, we will endeavour to provide opportunities for in-class workshops and lectures where relevant. Please note that if some campus-based activity does resume, it will not be compulsory for students to attend face-to-face classes. Provisions will be made to facilitate all students’ ability to complete their studies regardless of the approach taken (online, blended, face-to-face).  

Applicants need to be aware of the IT student checklist below before applying:

  • You will need access to a laptop or desktop computer running a modern supported operating system with all software updates.
  • Some of UCC’s services (e.g. the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment) link to an external site and also have mobile apps for iOS and Android Devices that you may wish to use as part of your studies.  However, we recommend using your desktop web browser for submission of assessments.
  • You should always use the most current version of your preferred browser. In general, we recommend the Chrome Web browser (Important Note: Internet Explorer will not work with Canvas).
  • We recommend a reliable broadband connection with at least 2Mbps or more.
  • You will require an Office suite of software (Microsoft Office or equivalent) and a PDF reader. You should always use the latest version of this software.  All UCC students will have access to Office 365 which includes software such as Word/Excel/Powerpoint etc. once registered.

Should you have any queries on this, please contact Programme Coordinator Regina Sexton at

During your online application you will be required to upload the following documents:

  • Application Statement
  • Birth Cert or Passport
  • Passport Photograph 
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • English Language Test Report [if applicable]
  • Transcripts [if applicable]

NOTE: Once you have selected your course your application saves automatically.  If you don't complete your application in one session you can access your draft application in the "My Applications" section of the UCC360 application portal. The My Applications section will also keep you updated on the status of your application.

Year 1 Modules

  • DR6801: Food and Creative Practice (5 credits)
    This module introduces students to the travels of food as literal fact and metaphor across a range of creative practices - literature, film, visual art and performance. It asks what meanings food traditionally has, especially in relation to gender and sexuality, and how such meanings are reinforced, transgressed or otherwise re-worked in each literary / film / visual / performance example. Students will be introduced to theoretical texts which support and elaborate this discussion. This is an inter-disciplinary seminar which closely examines the relationship between genre / discipline and meaning.
  • HI6801: Irish Food and Culinary History (10 credits)
    This module will examine key themes and concepts in Irish food and culinary history. It will analyse how determinants such as environment, climate, and settlement history, and the degree to which urbanization, technological innovations, religion, and social and economic history impacted on the development of Irish food and culinary culture.

Year 2 Modules

  • FL6802: Food, festival and folklore (5 credits)
    Folklore, food, ritual behaviour and expressions in Ireland and Europe from Early Modern to modern period. The main focus is on key aspects such as rituals, celebrations and other significant events in the lifecycle (wakes, weddings) as well as in the annual cycle (festivals, patterns, pilgrimages, fairs). It will discuss various examples and locate food in an ethnographic and popular culture context. Deeper and broader understanding of time in human life and culture expressions.
  • FL6803: Research Methods in Foodways (10 credits)
    As with any cultural process that is embedded in everyday life, food culture can be investigated using a range of methodological approaches. This module presents a range of modes of qualitative enquiry, such as ethnographic interviewing, use of cultural archives, material culture documentation that can be used to document and interpret foodways contexts, and that can generate rich resources for the representation of these foodways and their significance to a broader audience.
  • NT6801: Introduction to the Principles of Nutrition (5 credits)
    Introduction to nutrition. Food composition, macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins; water, minerals and vitamins. Changing nutritional needs through the life cycle from infancy to old age.
    Nutrition and public health: Dietary recommendations. Energy requirements, energy balance, overweight and obesity.
    Diet and chronic disease, type II diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis. Food allergies and intolerance. Functional foods.
  • PS6801: Food, the Environment and Sustainability (10 credits)
    The scientific method. Understanding data and drawing conclusions. The history of science in agriculture. Scientific innovation in agriculture and food production e.g. plant biotechnology, green revolution. The food-environment dilemma. UN Sustainability Goals and Ireland. Climate change and agriculture: Ireland's response and responsibilities. Crop diseases: from feast to famine; chemical versus biological control. What is sustainability and how does it relate to agriculture and food? Interpreting and communicating scientific results and role in public perception of food systems (organic and conventional).

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact