UCC International Office courses

Early Start Semester in Irish Archaeology

Course Fact File
DurationThree-week pre-session course running from mid August to early September. Following completion, students continue with the regular Autumn semester.
Teaching ModeFull-time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.
NFQ LevelN/A
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateApplications close in early June

Course Outline

The Early Start in Irish Archaeology provides students with a unique perspective on Ireland’s culture, history, and landscapes. It is equally suited to anthropology majors and students with no previous experience of archaeology or anthropology. Through illustrated lectures, class discussion, and field trips to spectacular monuments, students gain an understanding of the broad sweep of Ireland’s history from the colonisation of the island after the last Ice Age to the birth of the modern era in the seventeenth century. We pay particular attention to key themes and subjects with contemporary resonance, including:

  • ongoing debates about ‘the origins of the Irish’, increasingly informed by ancient DNA
  • the rich archaeological evidence for interactions between locals and incomers during the Viking Age
  • the impact of climate change on societies in ancient Ireland
  • and the globally important art produced in Ireland, both during the Stone Age and in the early medieval period (e.g., the Tara brooch and the Book of Kells)

Field Trips

About half of the contact time is in the form of field trips designed to give students as diverse an experience of Ireland as possible. The sites visited range from fascinating local ruins off the beaten tourist trails to internationally famous archaeological complexes. In addition to several trips around Cork and neighbouring counties, we explore Dublin, Galway, and the stunning limestone landscapes of the Burren and the Aran Islands. Here, soil erosion, some of it due to human intervention, has exposed the bedrock to dramatic effect, and the stone has been used to construct iconic monuments such as the magnificent cliff-edge fort of Dún Aonghasa.


Additional Teaching Mode Information

Lectures; seminars/field trips

Course Practicalities

The Early Start in Irish Archaeology runs for three weeks in late August to early September. Lectures are held in the mornings on days when no field trip is scheduled. Assessment is in the form of two projects based in part on first-hand observations by students about the many sites visited. When the semester starts students begin other modules with their Irish counterparts.

Why Choose This Course

A wonderful introduction to Ireland's culture, history and landscapes...

Tomás Ó Carragáin

Director, Early Start in Archaeology

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The field trips were amazing because you're able to bring to life what we learned in the classroom

Brianna Knoll

Student, University of Iowa

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The Early Start in Irish Archaeology:

  •  is a wonderful introduction to Ireland’s culture, history and landscapes
  •  incorporates field trips to an unparalleled range of sites from fascinating local ruins to major complexes of international importance
  •  gives students with no previous experience of archaeology the chance to study this exciting subject in a country with an outstanding archaeological heritage
  •  provides anthropology and archaeology students with an engaging and challenging overview of Irish archaeology
  •  considers aspects of Irish art and architecture and explores the role of buildings, monuments, and artefacts in the formation of Irish identities.

Skills and Careers Information

Students who take this course gain a new understanding of how people in the past, and indeed the present, use material culture (monuments and artefacts) to express social status, ideology, identity, and gender. Some students choose to build upon what they have learned by taking other archaeology and anthropology modules when the semester begins.


The minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement for admission to the programme is normally 3.0 out of 4.0

Fees and Costs

Please refer to our section 'What will it cost?' on our  Visiting Student Website

Early Start Fee 2024: €1,400

Minor additional costs may be incurred for snacks or meals on field trip(s).

How To Apply

For further information, please see the Visiting Student Website


For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact