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Single Honours

Single Major History

As a single honours student you are 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. 

Applications to transfer to stage 2 of single major history are now open.

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
E-mail: jennifer.wellington@ucd.ie

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

Stage 1



Level 2


Semester 1

Using Archives (HIS 21090) 

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) 

 Britain after 1945 experienced social upheaval at home and fundamental changes to its position in the world. This course examines recurring themes in contemporary British history, including: the establishment and decline of the welfare state; emigration, immigration, and decolonisation; peace, war, violence, and terrorism; changes in gender roles and social identities; race and nationalism; and Britain’s relationship with Europe. In exploring these topics, students will be exposed to a wide range of historical sources, and will read broadly in the historiography of contemporary Britain. Primary sources we will examine include political speeches, acts of Parliament, letters and diaries, television, comedy sketches, literature, film, and popular music.

Semester 2


Marathon: Introduction to Primary Sources (HIS 20250)

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) 

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) 

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 Environmental History () Dr Jennifer Keating



Semester 2:


Conference (HIS 31040) 

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

E-mail: jennifer.wellington@ucd.ie 

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 history@ucd.ie

The School Office (Room K107)

E-mail: history@ucd.ie      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.

Personal well-being and good health are central to academic achievement and over the course of your studies you may experience personal problems that may affect your academic work - perhaps an illness, a bereavement, loneliness, financial difficulties or relationship problems. While we would wish to support you as much as we can, and always feel free to talk us, there are issues that require certain professional supports and expertise. We can advise on where you might get most appropriate support if you wish. As a starting point the University provides a range of advice, support and resources to help students tackle such problems (these services are listed below) and you should consider availing of these if you require advice or assistance on any matter.  Please feel free to avail of these (see below) but always, if you are able, also let the School know if you are having difficulties. Remember the sooner an issue is identified and the appropriate people are made aware the more likely it is that it can be dealt with and we can help you.

UCD Student Advisers

Provide support to students throughout their university experience

UCD Chaplains

Provide both religious and pastoral care

UCD Student Health and Counselling Service

Provides on-campus medical, psychological and psychiatric care,

UCD Access Centre

Provides advice and support to students with disabilities, long term medical conditions or specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia)

UCD Student Support

Provides a wide range of practical supports and links

Student Union Welfare

The Student’s Union provide a wide range of help and support include welfare advice

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.

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.