ARCH10050 Intro archaeology of Ireland

Academic Year 2023/2024

The spectacular archaeological heritage of Ireland indicates that people have been living on this island for at least 10,000 years. This module explores how Ireland's rich and diverse archaeological record of monuments, landscapes and objects tells the stories of those people and their ways of life from early hunter-gatherer times to the present. You will study the first settlement of the island, the establishment of farming and the building of monuments like Newgrange. We explore Ireland’s place in the 'Celtic world' and the lasting impacts of the introduction of Christianity, life and society in medieval times and the emergence of modern Ireland.

This is an accessible module aimed at students across the full range of disciplines and programmes in UCD. It will provide you with a clear understanding of Ireland’s past, the Irish landscape and key times of innovation and change.

The module is organized as follows: (a) One highly-illustrated lecture each week presenting the story of Ireland from the Mesolithic to the present; (b) special case studies in a second lecture slot each week; (c) fortnightly tutorials to complement and reinforce the lectures; and (d) specially selected readings and two projects which you will complete based upon fieldtrips to the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish National Heritage Park.

Fieldtrip accessibility and equipment:
Museum Visit: 10.30am -1pm Saturday 10th Feb 2024 (end of Week 3) with class, or self-directed (in your own time).
This is based in the ground floor of National Museum Ireland, Kildare St, which is fully accessible. Museum easily reachable by public transport. No special equipment or packed lunch needed.

Heritage Park: 9.00am - 4pm, Saturday, 2nd March 2024 (end of Week 6)
The park has level gravel paths throughout but ground may be wet, so heavy or waterproof footwear is advised. We will be outdoors in the park for 3-4 hours, so warm layered clothing including a hat and scarf and a waterproof jacket is advised. Hot drinks will be available for purchase on site but a packed lunch is required.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Having taken this module, you will be expected to:
1. Understand the chronological framework underpinning our knowledge of Ireland's past;
2. Be familiar with key Irish archaeological complexes, monuments, artefacts and landscapes
3. Be capable of critically evaluating pivotal times of special achievement and change in Ireland's past;
4. Have developed your writing, reading, critical thinking, verbal communication and study skills
5. Be able to summarise research, use other's research to support an argument and demonstrate an awareness that there can be many 'right' ways to answer a question

Indicative Module Content:

Wk 1: Introduction to the module & Introduction to reading the Irish past through objects, sites and landscapes
Wk 2: Palaeolithic & Mesolithic Ireland
Wk 3: Early Neolithic Ireland - the arrival of farming
Wk 4: Neolithic monuments & The landscape of the Céide Fields , Co. Mayo
Wk 5: Change & continuity in the earlier Bronze Age & Case study: Irish Rock Art
Wk 6: Defence & Prestige in the later Bronze Age? & Ireland's wetland landscapes
Wk 7: Iron Age Ireland: an enigmatic millennium & The royal landscape of Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon
Wk 8: Special lectures/learning activities focused on skills required to complete assessments
Wk 9: Christianity and early medieval Ireland & Case study: Early medieval dress, ornament & identity
Wk 10: Later medieval Ireland & Case study: Viking & medieval Dublin
Wk 11: Post-medieval and early modern Ireland
Wk 12: No classes - assignment preparation time

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Field Trip/External Visits




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures that include active/task-based learning.
Tutorials that include peer and group work.
Critical thinking & writing skills developed through final assessment (essay).

This module is blended, with face-to-face lectures and fieldtrips supported by face-2-face tutorials on campus.

Students are expected to conduct some learning activities independently in advance of particular lectures and tutorials to facilitate active learning activities in class

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

No prior learning in the area is required

Learning Exclusions:

No exclusions

Learning Recommendations:

No prior learning in the area is recommended, although overseas students might like to familarise themselves with the Irish landscape as a way of drawing maximum value from the module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Fortnightly online MCQ's (10 questions per test) based on lectures, readings or tutorials Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: Essay (2000 words) where you write & illustrate a critical evaluation of one of the archaeological reconstructions at the National Heritage Park based on completed workbook Week 11 n/a Graded No


Project: Museum Workbook (1200 words) requiring you to describe three artefacts in the National Museum and discuss their archaeological significance Week 5 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Online automated feedback: fortnightly on completion of each Multiple Choice Quiz Self-assessment activities: students complete self-assessment prior to submission of assignments in Weeks 5 & 11. Week 5 Project: written individual feedback & Group/class feedback provided 3 weeks after submission deadline. Students also peer review eachothers project post-assessment. Week 11 Essay: written individual feedback provided 3 weeks after submission deadline

CORE: Waddell, J. 2010. The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Revised edition. Bray: Wordwell.

Stanley, M., Swan, R. and O'Sullivan, A (eds). Stories of Ireland's Past: knowledge gained from NRA roads archaeology. Dublin: Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Aalen, F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M 2011. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape, Cork University Press

O'Toole, F. 2013. History of Ireland in 100 Objects, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy

Wallace, P. F. and Ó Floinn, R. (eds). 2002 Treasures of the National Museum of Ireland: Irish Antiquities. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan
Name Role
Mr Conor McDermott Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Tadhg O'Keeffe Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Rob Sands Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Jessica Smyth Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Graeme Warren Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Oliver Line Tutor
Ms Cara McDonnell Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Mon 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Mon 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Tues 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 5 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 6 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Wed 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 7 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Thurs 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 8 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31, 33 Fri 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 9 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 9 Week(s) - 33 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50