University College Cork

These intensive three-week pre-session courses begin before the start of the fall semester. This structure allows you to comfortably settle into your new surroundings before the academic year begins, and earn 5 U.S. credits toward your total course load. You can select one of the five courses below.


Early Start in Irish Archaeology

This program provides visiting students with a unique perspective on Ireland’s culture, history and landscapes. Through illustrated lectures, class discussion, and field- trips to spectacular archaeological monuments, students gain an understanding of the broad sweep of Ireland’s history from the initial settlement of the island after the last Ice Age, to the birth of the modern era in the seventeenth century AD.

The course is designed to suit both archaeology/anthropology majors and students with no previous experience of these subjects. Field-trips are a crucial part of the learning experience. As well as a range of sites in the Cork region, we explore Dublin city and its hinterland, Galway city and the stunning limestone landscapes of the Burren and the Aran Islands.

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 artifacts in the formation of Irish identities. 

Early Start in Irish Folklore and Tradition

This program offers an opportunity for students to begin the study of everyday life in Ireland, in all of its rich diversity and vast range of cultural expressions. Folklore, like its synonym popular culture, makes a study of everyday life, and represents the folkloric expressions of both past and present alike. It studies life from the bottom up, looking at how people lived their day-to-day lives – their houses, technologies, stories, rituals, beliefs, religion and cosmological understandings. The course incorporates field-trip(s) whenever possible or practicable. A field-trip may last from one day to several days.

Students will explore key aspects of the study of folklore including:

  • Oral Literature
  • Narrative and Story
  • Popular Religion
  • Belief
  • Healing
  • Festivals
  • Popular Material Culture

Irish Folklore is an academic subject in only two departments in Ireland that teach and research in it, and the Department of Folklore at UCC is the leading one of these. The discipline itself is unique in making everyday life, traditions, beliefs and popular behavior the actual focus of its attention. No other discipline can provide the insight or the perspective on Irish life and traditions that Folklore does. This Early Start program provides a genuine opportunity to experience aspects of Irish life from within a genuine ethnographic and historical point of view.  

Early Start in Irish History and Modern Ireland

The Early Start Semester in History and Modern Ireland provides the visiting student with a stimulating introduction to the major issues in the modern history and politics of Ireland. The core module of the course is The Challenge of Democracy in Twentieth Century Ireland. This module examines a number of key periods characterized by intense debate on Irish nationality and the forms of social, economic and political structures most appropriate to an independent, democratic Irish state. Field trips to West Cork and an overnight stay Dublin are included in the course. Particular attention is devoted to:

  • The crisis of Government in Ireland between 1912 and 1922, with particular reference to Home Rule, the 1916 Rising, and Michael Collins and the War of Independence, Irish-America, nationalism and partition.
  • The outbreak of the Civil War in the South and intense communal unrest in Northern Ireland.
  • The outbreak of ‘the Troubles’ in the late 1960s, and their impact upon social and political life north and south of the border.
  • The origins and development of the ‘Peace Process’ in the 1990s, with specific reference to the role of successive US administrations. 

Early Start in Literatures in Ireland

This course facilitates an exploration of modern Irish literature, the cultural contexts out of which it arose and the landscapes that inspired it. It focuses on the works of W. B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Elizabeth Bowen. Classroom teaching is supplemented with field trips that are designed to give an insight into the worlds in which these renowned authors lived and worked.

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. Day-trips include one to County Galway, in the west of Ireland, to see W. B. Yeats’s tower, Thoor Ballylee, and Coole Park, the site of the home of Augusta Gregory.

On an overnight visit to Dublin we will visit National Library of Ireland exhibitions on Seamus Heaney and W. B. Yeats, see the portraits at the National Gallery of Ireland and the Hugh Lane Gallery, and visit the Abbey Theatre, which W.B. Yeats and Augusta Gregory helped to found.

The Early Start in Literatures in Ireland:

  • is a comprehensive introduction to Ireland’s literature, culture, and urban and rural landscapes
  • incorporates field-trips to a range of sites associated with great Irish writers
  • gives students with no previous experience of Irish writing and culture the chance to study this subject in a country with an outstanding literary heritage
  • provides liberal arts students with an engaging and challenging overview of Irish literature
  • considers different aspects of Irish literature, and the role of the landscape in the creation of the literary masterpieces of Yeats, Heaney and Bowen.

Early Start in Irish Traditional Music

The Early Start Semester in Musics in Ireland is an introductory course that is suitable for students from all backgrounds, fields and disciplines. To date, students from a wide range of areas have successfully participated on the course. These include students who major in subject-areas such as anthropology, sociology, history, women’s studies, cultural studies, science, art, film studies, technology and music.The course facilitates students to engage in a wide range of topics relating to Irish music and culture through a combination of lectures, workshops and field-trips.

Students learn not only about music in Ireland but also about culture and society in general. Active music-making classes play a significant part of the month long program. Students are given the opportunity to engage in group workshops in Irish traditional music, song and dance. They have the opportunity to learn tin-whistle and bodhrán at introductory levels from visiting musicians. All of these are suitable and accessible for students who have had no prior experience. Live music is an integral element of the course. Students attend many live music concerts in Cork city and its surrounding areas.The Early Start Semester in Musics in Ireland provides students with multiple opportunities for social engagement in their learning experience. Field-trips and workshops add enjoyable live music experiences and facilitate the enhancement of communication skills and cultural awareness.