Single Honours History

Welcome to Single Honours History.  You have made an excellent and well-informed decision.  As a single honours student you are now part of a committed community of students that have chosen to focus on history above all other subjects.  The pages below offer some practical information likely to be of help to you during your studies.  However, if you would like to discuss any aspect of single honours history, then please feel to contact DrJennifer Wellington.

Dr Jennifer Wellington
Single Major Coordinator

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Programme Description

Single Honours History - colloquially known as 'Mode One' or 'Pure History' - offers outstanding students the opportunity to concentrate their studies entirely in this discipline. The teaching on this programme reflects our commitment to repay your devotion to history.  We place a strong emphasis on small-group classes, and on nurturing individual research projects.  Given the nature of the degree, you will have much more contact with the academic staff than those on a joint-honour programme.   A very high proportion of Single Honours History students continue onto graduate study.

Students may enter the Single Honours History BA either directly on entry into UCD or by transferring at the end of first year.


Advantages of Single Honours History

  •   Greater opportunities for specialisation
  •   Some courses open exclusively to (and designed for) single honours students.  See the syllabus below for more information
  •   Small class sizes with optimum staff-student ratio
  •   Dedicated seminars for single honours students in larger history survey modules
  •   A close group identity
  •   Access to special teaching initiatives
  •   Opportunity to go on a residential study visit
  •   Research training, and preparation for further graduate-level work if this is a route you wish to take



Single Honours History Syllabus


Level 1


Semester 1:


Making History (HIS 10230) Dr Edward Coleman

This module will follow a single theme across a long chronological time span (encompassing Medieval, Early Modern and Modern history) and will focus on interpretation and debate. This approach will enable students to gain an understanding of historical continuities and discontinuities, an awareness of the importance of periodization and an appreciation of how and why historians specializing in different periods pose both similar and different research questions. The theme for the current year is the history of the city.


Semester 2:


Introduction to Cultural History (HIS 10330) Dr Jennifer Wellington

What can we learn about the past by studying culture? How did people in the past understand and engage with the world about them? How did they imagine themselves and their lives? How did they express themselves? This course offers an introduction to the approaches and sources used in cultural history. Over the course of the semester, we will examine a range of events in European history from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries through the lens of different types of cultural expression. These will include jokes, folk tales, monuments, architecture, literature, artworks, music, the popular press, pamphlets, cartoons, film, and photography.



Level 2


Semester 1


Using Archives (HIS 21090) Dr David Kerr

This module aims at providing students with a core understanding of how archives work and how they can be best utilised. Staff-led seminars will seek to provide students with a sense of archives, libraries and online sources relating to a wide range of areas in history from Early Modern History to American History. Students will also be informed of the latest archival developments in relation to digitisation of certain archival holdings and online archival sources on tours of UCD Archives and other archives in the Dublin area.


Themes in Contemporary British History (HIS 32420) Dr Jennifer Wellington



Semester 2


Marathon: Introduction to Primary Sources (HIS 20250) Professor Diarmaid Ferriter

This is a directed reading module designed to introduce Single Subject Major students to the reading and evaluation of primary source material. It seeks to train students to avoid anachronistic interpretation and to place the sources in their proper historical context. The topic for each year will be determined by the head of school.


Student Research Seminar (HIS 20530) Dr Edward Coleman

This module is designed to provide Single Subject Major History students with the opportunity of studying a selection of topics in medieval and modern history in depth. It is also provides training in presentation skills and the communication of historical and historiographical information and analysis. The topics studied will derive from other Level 2 history modues taken in the first and second semesters and will revolve around issues of historical controversy and debate. Students will design and contribute to a series of group presentations on the topics and will also submit an essay on a topic of their choosing at the end of the semester.



Level 3


Semester 1:


Research Skills (HIS 30550) Dr Marc Caball

The first objective of this module is to prepare students to write a dissertation. The second, related, objective is to deepen research skills and introduce students to certain methods used by researchers in History. Although every dissertation topic requires specialist knowledge and particular source materials, all dissertations have features in common. Every student needs to identify a topic, and then focus that topic so that it is coherent and workable. Likewise, every student needs to identify and analyse primary source materials, work with secondary literature, and develop a methodology. In this module, students will begin this process by working as a group. Much of the semester will involve an in-depth examination of how other scholarly historians work as a way of developing students' skills in scholarly practice. Most weeks students will be required to read the work of others, and to comment on it in class, in writing and verbally.


Themes in Contemporary British History (HIS 32420) Dr Jennifer Wellington



Semester 2:


Conference (HIS 31040) Dr Marc Caball

On this module students will organise a one-day conference to be held in the School of History.  The class will have collective responsibility for the planning, scheduling and publicity of the event. Each student will make a individual contribution consisting of a presentation which will be closely related to the subject of their dissertation. The presentations will be then be written up as essays, edited and published electronically.


Dissertation (HIS 30990)

The Dissertation is an exercise in independent historical research. Students are required to choose a topic for the Dissertation, identify key research questions, consult relevant primary and secondary sources, and present an analysis of their findings in a scholarly manner.

In Semester 1, the Research Skills course will provide guidance in how to identify and focus on a topic, locate and work with primary sources, and move from a research topic to a written analysis. The course will also provide advice on issues such as research methodology and scholarly conventions. Students should initiate contact with potential supervisors within the first two weeks of semester. By Week 3 at the latest, each student should have identified a coherent topic and a supervisor. Normally a student will have two formal meetings with the supervisor in each semester. During these meetings, the supervisor will provide guidance on the topic and on relevant primary and secondary material, as well as feedback on drafts. However, supervisors will not normally read more than 5,000 words of the draft Dissertation. Students may also consult other members of staff with relevant expertise.

School Support

Your progress and well-being are extremely important to us. If you encounter difficulties for any reason, it is important to make us aware of these as early as possible.  Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness but of self-confidence and strength.   


Co-ordinator of Single Honours History


The role of the Director of Undergraduate Studies is to keep oversight over the history aspect of your degree programme. If you would like to discuss your progress, if you are having difficulties or you would simply like to raise issues or provide suggestions please feel free to email me, Dr Edward Coleman, by email and we can arrange a time.


Module coordinator

The role of the module coordinator is to oversee all aspects of the module and please first refer any questions about a module to the relevant module coordinator. If for any reason you are having problems contacting or getting a response from a coordinator please feel free to contact


The School Office (Room K107)

E-mail:      Telephone: +353 (01) 716 8371/8375/8376

The School Office is an extremely important part of the School, it is the administrative hub of School activities. Open office hours are posted on the office door. The School Administrator (Ms Kate Breslin) will help with any questions regarding student administrative or organisational matters.

Unfortunately, most of us at some stage will suffer from illnesses that affect our ability to meet deadlines or fully achieve our potential. If you find yourself in health or other difficulties (e.g. bereavement; family problems) it is very important that you contact the School as soon as possible. The School of History and UCD generally have a variety of excellent support services for students who are in need (see other sections on this page).

It is important that you advise us of problems as early as possible; if at all possible, tell us in advance of the deadlines that you are concerned about. Please note that any issue relating to extenuating circumstances submitted to the School is dealt with in strictest confidence by staff.

Problems of various kinds may be taken into account in marking work, or considering whether or not a late penalty should apply for an essay. It is important that you speak to the tutor or module co-ordinator. They will ask you to:

  • Complete a school copy of an Request for late submission of coursework form in the School office during open office hours
  • Provide an original medical certificate or other supporting documentation in addition to the declaration. This will be placed on file, and may be taken into consideration in assessing your work.

If you miss an exam, or wish to have your extenuating circumstances taken into account when determining your final grade, you should refer to the Programme Office website.

As you move through your time at university each year will present new challenges and you will progress through stages. Modules are assigned to levels broadly equating to difficulty. During your stage 1 you will have mostly been taking level one modules. In stage 2 you will mostly be taking level 2 modules and in stage 3, level 3 modules. These stages and levels represent progressions in our expectations of you, your expectations of yourself, the extent to which the module will challenge you and the depth of knowledge that you will be expected to attain.

From Stage 1 to Stage 2

As you progress through your degree, you should be growing as a scholar and we will be expecting both your skill base and confidence to grow as well. By the time you reach Stage 2 you will already have been meeting deadlines, managing your schedule and producing university standard work. At Stage 2 we will expect you to understand how to put your work together, to reference other people’s ideas properly and to understand how to avoid problems such as plagiarism. If you feel any of this is still an issue please seek advice promptly (see support section above). There is no point in hiding from a problem and the sooner you get the basics sorted the easier the rest of your work will be.

From Stage 2 to Stage 3

Stage 2 to Stage 3 also provides the opportunity to mark a step up in expectations. We will be expecting an increased level of critical awareness and knowledge. At this stage you will mostly, if not entirely, be taking level 3 modules, when assessing these modules we consider additional criteria and in general you can expect them to be more challenging.


History Society

The is run by students, and we strongly encourage you to join, both for academic and social reasons. You may wish to browse their Facebook page for more information.