IRFL20090 Folklife & Ethnology

Academic Year 2023/2024

This course explores the tangible manifestations of tradition through a broad range of material culture in Ireland and beyond, including vernacular architecture, furniture, traditional crafts and technologies, foodways and clothing. The creation, application, transmission and transformation of vernacular forms of material expression in time and space reveal as much about our present as they do our past. Together we will listen to the stories these everyday objects have to tell us by highlighting their power in narrating the lives of those who create and utilise them. From a recipe that gathers family and friends around the kitchen table to the lone creations of unknown street artists on centuries-old cityscapes, each object demonstrates individual agency and collective aesthetics in the innovation and adaptation of vernacular material culture. The impacts of family and social structure and the effects of the global economy on local lifeways are met with these vernacular lifeways’ ability to provide tested and resilient strategies in our contemporary lives.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module, the student will be able to:
1. Define various forms of vernacular material culture in Ireland and their international counterparts;
2. Contextualise the creation of material objects as tangible traditions whose forms and functions are transmitted and transformed across time and space;
3. Develop ethnographic methods in documenting material culture in its various forms;
4. Engage in ethnographic collections within both museums and archives in documenting material culture in Ireland and internationally;
5. Describe traditional lifeways in the cycles of farming and communal subsistence, and identify the principal forms and regional characteristics of vernacular architecture in Ireland;
6. Research, compose and communicate material object biographies, and present a biography for a particular traditional object, drawing on primary and secondary research materials.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching in the module is geared towards the promotion of a spirit of enquiry among students and towards encouraging them to develop a reflective approach to their studies. Teaching is carried out in lectures and, when staff resources allow, in small-group tutorials. 
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
Assignment: Research assignment Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 1200 word essay Week 6 n/a Graded No


Examination: Open-book take-home examination Coursework (End of Trimester) Yes Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

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