IRFL40110 Aspects of Ethnology

Academic Year 2023/2024

The course is a wide-ranging exploration of ethnological approaches to material culture as an expression of vernacular tradition. Its main focus is on nineteenth- and twentieth-century rural Ireland, covering aspects of vernacular architecture and furniture, traditional crafts and technologies, foodways and clothing. Students will be introduced to the wide range of primary and secondary sources available in archives, museum collections, printed and online sources. Theoretical frameworks discussed will include the concepts of antecedents, diffusion, and innovation in the shaping of tradition, the impact of family and social structure, and the effects of the global economy on local lifeways and subsistence strategies.

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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 what is meant by material culture and discuss different theoretical approaches to its study. 2. Discuss the role of museums and archives in documenting material culture in Ireland. 3. Describe the changes in traditional farming and foodways through the nineteenth and twentieth century. 4. Identify the principal forms and regional characteristics of rural dwellings in Ireland. 5. Define what is meant by a material object biography, and present an object biography of an item of traditional furniture, drawing on primary and secondary materials. 6. Discuss the role of conservative and innovative forces in the shaping of tradition. 7. Be familiar with and use a range of primary archival resources to research unsolved questions in material culture.

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. Assessment takes the form of two in-semester essays and a written examination. 
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
Examination: Final Guided-Writing Assessment Coursework (End of Trimester) Yes Graded No


Assignment: 1800 word assignment Week 6 n/a Graded No


Assignment: 1800 word assignment Week 11 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 in this module is centred around the in-semester continuous assessment components, enabling students to draw on feedback provided for the earlier in-semester component to improve their performance in the later component.

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 11:00 - 11:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 12:00 - 12:50