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History of Family - MA

Course Details


Duration: 1 Year Full-Time OR 2 Years Part-Time

Award: Masters

Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Course Type: Taught Professional/Flexible

Fees: For Information on Fees, see section below.


Dr Ciara Breathnach
353 061 213166

Brief Description

The central purpose of the MA in the History of the Family is to combine the strengths of two traditions: that of the independent researcher into family history and that of established disciplines in history particularly the well developed sub discipline of the history of the family. The objective is a history that is fully contextualised, culturally significant and academically grounded.

This course is also available fully online.  For more information - 

The central purpose of the MA in the History of the Family is to combine the strengths of two traditions: that of the independent researcher into family history and that of established disciplines in history particularly the well developed sub discipline of the history of the family. The objective is a history that is fully contextualised, culturally significant and academically grounded.

Students who sign up for this course seek to obtain formal training in the methodologies and concepts of history of family.  They enjoy the course because it allows them to develop key academic skills while being supported in their quest for intellectual and moral autonomy. A key attraction of the course is the wide range of themes that are covered in each of the modules, and the feeling of community that undertaking research as part of a class engenders.

Over the course of the year students will master the art of academic writing and develop advanced research skills through in-class training and via field trips to libraries and archives conducted in both semesters.  By the end of the course successful students will have acquired the necessary skills to present historical research to a publication standard, and to conduct historical research at a doctoral level.

The students

Students come from a range of backgrounds; some come directly from studying towards an undergraduate degree in History or associated disciplines, others come to it after a break from formal study; often they have an interest in genealogy or family history research but want to build on this in an academic context. This diverse range of students makes for an engaging classroom where everyone’s experience is valued, and everyone has something to contribute.

The online course attracts students who are based in Ireland but unable to attend on campus, as well as overseas students who are interested in history of family within an Irish context and would like to benefit from studying at an Irish university.

Online students are invited to attend on-campus orientation if they wish, and many overseas students decide to arrange some time in Ireland during the year in order to conduct research, though this is not a requirement of the course. During this time they are welcome to attend the classes on-campus.

The course

The course is unique in that it is delivered in both in a classroom and online context.  Students who study online will also interact with colleagues that are based in Limerick, via audio- or video-conference during in-class lectures which provides and enriched experience for everyone..

All students have access to Sulis, the University of Limerick’s virtual learning platform, which provides easy access to lecture materials and other resources, as well as interaction with other students. Students are assessed by regular weekly assignments and end of term essays.

Online students are able to engage with lectures in real-time through audio- or video-conferencing software, or to listen back to lectures via podcasts. Dissertation supervision is conducted via Skype and email.

For further information on the MA programme and to hear from graduates of the programme, watch the latest History of Family webinar here

Autumn Semester Spring Semester Summer Semester
Core Modules
  • HI6041 Introduction to the history of the family (9 credits)
  • HI6101 MA research methodology (3 credits)

Electives (choose two)

  • HI6061 Linking families to communities (9 credits)
  • HI6191 Graduate seminar in Irish cultural history (online) (9 credits)
  • HI6121 Art and Power in the Age of the Tudors and Stuarts (9 ECTS)
  • HI6162: University & Society, 1500-1789 (9 ECTS)
  • HI6212 The evolution of the Irish town, 1609-1960 (9 ECTS)

(Total of 30 ECTS)

Core Modules
  • HI6002 History research seminar (9 credits)
  • HI6082 Dissertation 1 (9 credits)
  • HI6122 Dissertation writing in history of family (3 credits)

 Electives (choose one)

  • HI6062 People on the move: studying migration (9 credits)
  • HI6192 Irish diaspora: a social and cultural history (9 credits)

(Total of 30 ECTS)

Core Module
  • HI6003 Dissertation 2 (no less than 15,000 words, no more than 21,000) (30 credits)

(Total of 30 ECTS)

Content of modules can be found by using the search option on the book of modules.  

Part time programme content:
Students wishing to take the programme on a part-time basis over two years will complete the dissertation in year two of the programme.

Applicants should have a primary degree with at least second-class honours, in a relevant discipline such as history, archaeology, geography, or Irish Studies (Primary degree: Level 8 - National Qualifications Authority of Ireland).

Applicants with approved equivalent qualifications who have substantial experience in the History of Family (such as appropriate publications) or relevant professional experience may also be considered for admission.
Essential: Students must be computer literate and have access to broadband internet.

What to Upload with your Application

  • Qualification transcripts and/or certificates (including certified English translations if applicable) 
  • English language qualification(s) (if English is not your first language) 
  • A copy of your birth certificate


English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of either prior successful completion of a degree qualification taught through the medium of English or meet one of the criteria below (no longer than two years prior to application)

Acceptable English Language qualifications include the following:

  • Matriculation examinations from European countries where English is presented as a subject and an acceptable level is achieved
  • Irish Leaving Certificate English –Ordinary Level Grade D or above
  • TOEFL – 580 (paper based) or 90 (internet based)
  • IELTS – Minimum score of 6.5* with no less than 6 in any one component.
  • English Test for English and Academic Purposes (ETAPP) – Grade C1
  • GCE ‘O’ level English Language/GCSE English Language – Grade C or above
  • Cambridge Assessment English –Certificate of Proficiency in English - Grade C / Certificate in Advanced English Grade B
  • GCE Examination Boards – Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations – Grade C / Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate – School Certificate Pass 1-6 / University of London Entrance and School Examinations Council – School Certificate Pass 1-6

Results in examinations other than those listed above may also be accepted as meeting our English language requirements. Contact the International Education Division for advice.

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For information on funding and scholarships please click here.

Career Prospects

This programme will equip students with the necessary skills for careers in the heritage, archival or library sectors as well as careers in higher education and teaching in primary and post-primary schools.



Una Costello, Graduate MA History of Family and founder of The MA in History of Family gave me the research skills and academic knowledge of Irish social history to allow me to set up my genealogy business. The course gave me the confidence to progress my interest in genealogy to providing a genealogy service to others; therefore, the MA in History of Family was instrumental in my decision to set up my business.