One year Taught Masters Programme in the Study of Ireland’s Unique Art History @ Trinity College Dublin


Ireland is increasingly recognised for its strong history of visual art, from the Book of Kells and the grandeur of its Georgian architecture to modern and contemporary artists such as Jack Yeats and Francis Bacon.  Located in the heart of the capital city, close to national art collections, Trinity College is ideally placed for the study of Irish art history.

 The M.Phil. in Irish Art History offers a unique opportunity to study the art and architecture of Ireland. This well-established, popular and challenging course provides an intensive programme exploring key aspects of the history and analysis of Irish art from the pre-Christian period to the present day. 

 Ireland is becoming increasingly recognised for its visual art, from the earliest examples at megalithic sites that predate the pyramids, and richly decorated illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells displayed in Trinity College, to the grandeur of its Georgian architecture and, more recently, the challenging work of Modern and contemporary artists like Jack Yeats, brother of the poet, and Francis Bacon, born in Dublin over a century ago, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. 

 Located in the heart of the capital city, Trinity College is ideally placed for the study of Irish art history. In addition to the University’s own visual art collections which adorn the campus, together with its galleries dedicated to contemporary art, and to art and science, it is a short stroll to the national collections of art and artefacts of all periods, as well as to public monuments and sculpture, and to the Georgian squares.

 Easy access to the finest examples of Irish art and architecture ensure that much of the course involves direct engagement with the artworks in the museums and galleries, a vital and stimulating dimension to the study of art in its various contexts. Trinity is home also to an extensive library housing thousands of volumes and original manuscripts, thereby providing essential resources for academic achievement. An experienced and enthusiastic faculty, known for its expertise in Irish art, provides the ideal environment for students to fully engage in this programme.  The Department welcomes a range of international students each year, particularly those from North America.  Small class sizes, a collegial community and strong expertise serve to benefit students enormously.   The internationally regarded academics of the Department teach on the programme’s lecture series, together with invited experts on a range of themes and issues.  

 The course is designed both for graduates of art history and for those from other, cognate disciplines who wish to develop a specialisation in visual art.  While focused on Irish examples, these are explored within international and interdisciplinary contexts, in order to provide graduates with a range of transferable analytical and practical skills that can be applied within other cultural environments.

 The course structure has been tried and tested over a decade, and is unique in its array of modules designed specifically to enable students to enhance their practical, analytical and imaginative faculties. A survey course of Irish art from its earliest buildings to the present day provides a framework on which to build, while a special subject in, say, medieval manuscripts, or Modern and contemporary art, assists students to develop an in-depth knowledge of a particular phase of visual expression that interests them. Students are introduced to a range of ideas and theoretical perspectives to enable them to apply alternative methods of analysis and discover fresh approaches to how they think about objects and images, while selected technological skills training enables students to manipulate visual material in the digital age. A specialised module in curating art in theory and practice has proven particularly popular; it brings students into direct contact with gallery and museum professionals to gain first-hand appreciation of the possibilities and realities of the field.

 The course takes place over one calendar year and is therefore intensive and focused. While in many respects, the taught part of the course provides an end in itself, students are guided throughout in the skills of research and analysis in order to undertake a dissertation (20,000 words) on a subject of their choice.

 Students form part of the vibrant community of post-graduates and participate in the research culture of the department.  This masters degree takes place under the auspices of TRIARC, Trinity’s Irish Art Research Centre which falls within the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. Philanthropic funding has enabled the renovation of a unique old building in a secluded area of the campus – the Provost’s House Stables. This dedicated building provides desk-space in the original horse stalls, a classroom where once there were carriages, and a well-stocked visual archive and library in the former hay loft! Thus students have the advantage of up-to-date facilities in an award winning restoration of a sympathetic stone building, set in its own shady, cobbled courtyard – in the heart of a capital city!

On successful completion of the programme, our graduates have found their way into a range of relevant professional environments: many advance to PhD programmes, both in Trinity and other universities in Ireland and abroad; others have taken up highly successful careers in art galleries and museums, art archives and auction houses, and in art journalism and publication. 

Trinity College Dublin is Ireland’s leading and oldest university with a historic campus dating back to 1592. It is currently ranked 61st in the top 100 world universities by the QS World University Rankings 2013.   Trinity College builds on its four-hundred-year-old tradition of scholarship to confirm its position as one of the great universities of the world, providing a liberal environment where independence of thought is highly valued and where staff and students are nurtured as individuals and are encouraged to achieve their full potential.   As Ireland’s leading university, the pursuit of excellence through research and scholarship is at the heart of a Trinity education. Situated in the heart of Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, the university is a vibrant cosmopolitan community of students from every corner of the world.

For further information please contact Yvonne Scott, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.  Email:; Website:

 For more information about studying in Ireland please visit the Education in Ireland website


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