UCC Postgraduate courses

Beginnings of Irish Christianity (The)

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Beginnings of Irish Christianity (The)

  • Code


  • College

    Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

  • Duration

    1 Year Full-time; 2 Years Part-time

  • Teaching Mode

    Full-time, Part-Time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.

  • Qualifications


  • EU Fees

    €6,130; €3,130 (Year 1 Part-time); €3,130 (Year 2 Part-time)
    See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Non-EU Fees


  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates should normally hold a Second Class Honours Grade I in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent in a relevant discipline. See Requirements for full details.

  • Start Date

    Not on offer 2023/2024

Course Outline

This programme provides students with a comprehensive introduction to the religious culture and spirituality of early medieval Ireland, from the conversion to Christianity down to the end of the twelfth century. The new religion transformed Ireland in fundamental ways but was also able to accommodate many aspects of indigenous tradition which retained their importance for Irish Christians. Besides exploring these developments, and the impact which Irish Christianity had on the rest of Europe, students will engage in the close study of various genres of religious literature, and can also begin the study of early Irish and of Latin. The writing of a dissertation, under the supervision of a member of staff, will develop and refine research skills. The programme provides an overview of the subject area which is unrivalled in its inclusiveness and diversity; field trips are an optional part of the programme, enabling students to encounter the physical remains of this fascinating culture.

The programme consists mainly of Celtic Civilisation modules, together with designated modules in Archaeology, History, Folklore and Latin. Students will examine the coming of Christianity to Ireland, the often complex and subtle ways in which the new religion established itself within the framework of indigenous culture, and the influence which a Gaelic ecclesiastical diaspora had on the growth of the Church in medieval Europe as a whole. Irish religious culture will also be explored through the lens of such key areas as the cult of the saints, and tales of supernatural voyages and visions. A student’s particular interests are served not only by the wide range of modules on offer but also through research on a special topic; and for more direct engagement with the primary sources, instruction in early Irish and in Latin is available. The field-trip module is an optional part of the programme (participation in which entails additional costs) with visits to early Christian sites in Ireland, grounding literary study in encounters with what physically survives of a distant world. Students will put what they have learned to use, and hone their research and writing skills, by producing a Masters thesis.

For full details on the modules, please see the College Calendar.

For the full-time one-year option, you are required to choose modules to the value of 60 credits. Most modules have a value of 10 credits and involve weekly classes for the duration of the academic year (24 weeks); some of the electives, however, are worth 5 or 15 credits, and the optional field trip has a value of 15 credits. Depending on options, a full-time student will have a minimum of 5 classes per week (though many will also contain weekly assignments). For one-on-one supervised studies, and for the 30-credit dissertation, students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis.

Additional Teaching Mode Information

The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years.


Further details on modules can be found in our Book of Modules. Any modules listed are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar

You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

Course Practicalities

The programme may be studied full time (over 12 months) or part-time (over 24 months). Attendance at taught modules (approximately 100-125 lecture hours) is compulsory. In areas of supervised study, supervisors for the relevant modules will be organised by the teaching staff of the Department. The thesis topic and supervisor will be chosen by the student in consultation with members of staff.

The taught modules are assessed by continuous assessment and/or by end-of-year examinations. In the supervised-study modules, assessment is by essay/project; in the research presentation, public delivery to an academic audience is also assessed. Full details and regulations governing Examinations for each programme will be contained in the Marks and Standards Book and for each module in the Book of Modules

The Masters in The Beginnings of Irish Christianity is coordinated and principally taught by members of the Department of Early and Medieval Irish, with participation by the staff of the Departments of Archaeology, Classics, Folklore and History.

Academic Staff in the Department of Early and Medieval Irish:

Academic Staff in other Departments:

Why Choose This Course

This programme explores the religious experience of the first European people beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire to become Christian. It is unique in the comprehensiveness of its approach, with modules dealing with literature, history and archaeology, together with language courses to enable students to get closer to the original texts while a field trip will bring direct encounters with the surviving remains of early Christian Ireland. The writing of a Masters dissertation is an invaluable opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge, as well as research and writing skills, with one-on-one supervision by internationally recognised experts in the field.

Skills and Careers Information

An MA degree in The Beginnings of Irish Christianity, besides preparing a student for further study in the field of Celtic Studies, can also provide an additional qualification and a mark of distinction for students pursuing advanced degrees in such fields as Classics, English, History or Medieval Studies. It is also a useful qualification for pursuing careers in the heritage, local history and broadcasting sectors; and it would be of interest to those working in the fields of religious education and pastoral care within the Christian Churches.


Candidates should normally hold a Second Class Honours Grade I in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent in a relevant discipline. 

Candidates who hold a Second Class Honours Grade II in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) will also be considered under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) subject to the approval of the programme selection committee.

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.

English Language Requirements

Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Please visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

The EU fee for this course is €6,130; €3,130 (Year 1 Part-time); €3,130 (Year 2 Part-time).

The Non-EU fee for this course is €19,700.


If your course required a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

EU student fee payment 

Fees for EU students are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration in August and the second in January.

International student fee payment 

International Students can pay in two equal instalments once they have paid the appropriate deposit. The initial payment is due on registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

You can pay by Credit/Debit card online or by credit transfer.


If you have any questions on fee payment please contact the Fees Office.

How Do I Apply

1. Check Dates: Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

  • For Irish and EU applicants we operate a rounds system and you can check the rounds closing dates here.
  • Note that not all our programmes are subject to the rounds system so check the opening and closing dates for your specific programme in the fact file boxes above.

2. Gather Documents: Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply Online: Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

  • Please detail your research interest(s)

  • Please add the name and email address of 2 referees.

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact