HIS31760 Irish Foreign Policy, 1919-73: A Place Among the Nations

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module explores the development of Irish foreign policy from the efforts of the First Dáil to gain international recognition of Irish independence to the year in which Ireland joined the EEC. The pursuit of sovereignty, the conduct of Anglo-Irish relations, and the decision to remain neutral during World War II are important parts of this story, but only parts. The module examines a variety of bilateral, and multilateral, relationships, especially Ireland’s membership of the League of Nations and the United Nations. The module raises questions such as: What did Irish policy-makers understand as ‘the national interest’ and how did they pursue it? How did Ireland come to ‘punch above its weight’ on the international stage? Was Irish foreign policy idealistic – and if so, what informed those ideals?

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should have:
- Developed an understanding of the international and national political, economic, military, social and intellectual forces that shaped Irish foreign policy in the twentieth century.
- Engaged with and evaluated the historiographical and critical debates surrounding foreign policy in this period.
- Critically analysed key primary and secondary sources.
- Engaged in group discussion of these sources and presented their conclusions.
- Developed their skills in written analysis.
- Undertaken self-directed research towards a final project.

Indicative Module Content:

This module will cover the following main areas: Week 1: Introduction: The parameters of Irish Foreign Policy; Week 2: The Dáil, the Treaty and the Origins of the Department of External Affairs; Week 3: The Quest for Sovereignty I: Cumann na nGaedheal; Week 4: The Quest for Sovereignty II: Fianna Fáil; Week 5: Neutrality and Wartime Diplomacy; Week 6: Cold Warriors? Ireland and the Post-War World; Week 7: Ireland at the United Nations; Week 8: Partition, Diplomacy and North-South Relations; Week 9: From Civil Rights to Sunningdale; Week 10: The Road to the EEC; Week 11: Conclusions.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group module which is taught through a one-hour weekly lecture and a two-hour seminar. The weekly lecture provides an overview of the weeks topic, examining historical events, trends and debates. The weekly seminar is focused on individual active/task-based learning by means of student presentations and class discussions and debate. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through a combined individual student presentation on primary and secondary sources and written essay and a semester-long 4,000 word research project. Autonomous learning is advanced through student presentations, student-led debate and discussion of set primary and secondary sources. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this 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
Presentation: A combined 10-15 minute seminar and 1,500 word written essay Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Contribution to seminars Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Project: 4,000 word research project Coursework (End of Trimester) 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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the combined 15-minute presentation/1,500 word essay will be given individually in person and on Brightspace. Written and oral feedback will be provided on an ongoing basis on preparatory plans and primary and secondary source bibliographies for the end-of-semester research project. Feedback on the end-of-semester research project will be given on Brightspace once grades have been published.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 09:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 15:00 - 15:50