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UCC International Office courses

Early Start Semester in Literature in Ireland & Creative Writing

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
NFQ LevelN/A
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateApplications close in early June

Course Outline

This course facilitates both an exploration of modern Irish literature and insights into the creative practices of some contemporary Irish writers. It focuses on the works of WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney and includes talks, Q&As, and workshops from several contemporary writers. Classroom teaching is supplemented with field trips that are designed to give an insight into the literary inheritances of modern Ireland and the nature of contemporary Irish writing.

  • Early Twentieth-Century Irish Poetry

In this section, we will read the poetry of William Butler Yeats. In particular, we will look closely at his monumental collection The Tower (1928), discussing how the Irish War of Independence, the foundation of the Irish Free State, and Yeats’s appointment as a senator all helped to shape this volume.

  • Late Twentieth-Century Irish Poetry

This section of the course will look at the work of Seamus Heaney, and in particular his landmark collection North (1975). We will examine his work in the context of the Northern Irish 'Troubles' (c. 1968-1998) and ask what made Heaney the most prominent English-language poet of his era.

Creative Writing

We will have guest workshops, lectures, and Q&As with contemporary writers, and explore the forms and ideas that inspire Irish writers who are working today.

Field Trips

Field trips are designed to complement the central texts on the course, and to introduce students to the Irish landscape, which plays such a major role in the country’s literature. Recently our students met with the acclaimed writer Doireann Ní Ghríofa at Kilcrea Abbey.


Course Practicalities

The Early Start programme runs for three weeks in late August/September, after which students join standard classes with their Irish counterparts. On days when no field trip is scheduled, the class meets in the morning for lectures and discussion.


Assessment is in the form of a groupwork presentation, a creative assignment and a written assignment on texts and themes discussed in class. 

Why Choose This Course

I enjoyed the Early Start Literature course. It was a great introduction to Irish Culture, and the field-trips we took proved to be some of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Emily Dunn

The Early Start in Literature in Ireland programme is a comprehensive introduction to Ireland’s literature, culture, and urban and rural landscapes.

We incorporate field trips to a range of sites associated with great Irish writers which gives those of your with no previous experience of Irish writing and culture the chance to study this subject in a country with an outstanding literary heritage.

Our aim is to provide liberal arts students with an engaging and challenging overview of Irish literature. We ask you to consider different aspects of Irish literature, and the role of the landscape in the creation of the literary works of Yeats, Heaney, and several contemporary writers.

Skills and Careers Information

If you take this course you will gain a new understanding of how Irish writers created fiction and poetry out of their experience of Irish life, culture, and landscape. Reading this literature brings us closer to Irish life and culture as seen through the eyes and imagination of our great writers.

Some participants in this course choose to build upon what they have learned by taking other modules in the School of English when the term begins. Some choose to take one or more modules in the area of Irish Studies offered by, for example, the Departments of History, IrishFolklore and Music as well as English.


The minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement for admission to the program 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