MPhil in Public History and Cultural Heritage @ Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Modern-Irish-HistoryTrinity College Dublin’s taught Masters course in Public History and Cultural Heritage has been specifically designed to offer something new to both Irish and international students who are interested in working with history and heritage in the real world. The course has been designed to act as a bridge between Humanities disciplines in the university, and the professional and creative concerns of cultural institutions (the research libraries, galleries, museums and archives), both in Ireland and beyond.

The course provides students with a rigorous grounding in public history and prepares high-calibre graduates in a unique and thorough fashion for the management of cultural heritage. We define ‘public history’ and ‘cultural heritage’ broadly. The course involves analysis of cultural memory, its construction, reception and loss; and study of the public status and consumption of history in modern society. Political issues surrounding public commemoration and ‘sites of memory’ are examined and the role of museums, galleries and the media in shaping public perceptions of the past is considered. The course also surveys the more concrete questions involved in the conservation, presentation and communication of the physical heritage of past cultures, particularly where interpretation and meaning are contested.

The course, established in 2011 has welcomed a variety of international students, including those from the US.  This year we have three US students who have come from varied backgrounds and have enriched the course immeasurably. The main selling points of the course for international students are:

1. The three-month internship in one of our collaborating institutions, such as the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, Hugh Lane Gallery, National Gallery of Ireland, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and Glasnevin Trust. These are some of the largest tourist and cultural attractions in the state.

2. The relative affordability of the fees, and the fact that the graduate programme can be completed in one year full-time.

3. The Practitioner Workshop series in the second term. So far our invited speakers have included the sculptor Rowan Gillespie, the director Neil Jordan, film and radio commissioners, narrative architects, UK museum directors etc. This gives our students the opportunity to meet some of the leaders in the fields that interest them on a personal basis.

4. The international blend of students. So far we have had students from as far away as China and Cyprus, and we are keen to maintain this blend in the coming years, believing that it enhances the course for everyone.

In a variety of modules, students are trained in the analysis and the presentation of their research findings. They are also introduced to the methodological challenges of advanced study and research at postgraduate level. The course includes a compulsory core module, entitled ‘Remembering, Reminding and Forgetting: Public History, Cultural Heritage and the Shaping of the Past’, which runs across both terms. A suite of term- long electives is available on substantive themes. A three- month internship, located in one of our collaborating institutions, runs throughout the second term. Practitioner workshops are held in the second term and provide an opportunity for national and international ‘public historians’ to discuss their work with the class. In any given year this may include novelists, artists, museum directors, or heritage and tourism policymakers. The course concludes with the production of a dissertation or major project, individually supervised by a member of staff.

The Department of History, Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College, founded in 1592, has an unusually long, successful and innovative record in the academic study of history.    The recent QS World University Rankings revealed that Trinity College Dublin’s History Department was rated 33rd best in the world. The Department of History has over twenty full-time academics, along with several post-doctoral fellows, a substantial body of postgraduate research students, and a thriving group of graduate students following taught M. Phil courses. Consistently rated as ‘excellent’ in external reviews, the Department enjoys an international research profile in a several areas, most notably in the history of Ireland from the Middle Ages to the present day. In addition to its expertise in Irish history, the Department also includes specialists in European history, especially in France and Germany, and in non-European history.

For further information please contact Prof. Ciaran O’Neill, Department of History, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland; Email:; Website:

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


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