IRFL40160 The Life Cycle

Academic Year 2023/2024

Beliefs and practices concerning the life of the individual, termed `les rites de passage', consist of those rites which mark the individual's passage from one stage of life to the next; foremost among these are birth, marriage and death. These 'rites de passage' have been approached through a variety of theoretical frameworks, and are attested in folk traditions and ritual worldwide. Irish folk tradition includes a large body of material concerning these milestones in human life, richly documented in the archives of the National Folklore Collection at UCD. The module examines beliefs and customs associated with birth, marriage-related rites and rituals, and practices surrounding death, including the traditional wake and lament for the dead. The module situates these life-cycle traditions within an Irish and international context, and explores the relationship between the official life-cycle rituals of official religion and the vernacular rituals observed in popular tradition. The module stresses the evolving nature of vernacular ritual and acknowledges the emergence of new life-cycle ritual in contemporary culture.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, the student will be able to: 1. Define what is meant by 'Les rites de passage' and discuss associated rites and ceremonials. 2. Demonstrate familiarity with some of the most important theoretical approaches to the study of the life cycle. 3. Give an overview of the primary archival sources for the study of life-cycle ritual in Ireland and make use of archival material to analyse the form and function of Irish life-cycle traditions. 4. Evaluate the role of particular verbal and dramatic performances on major life-cycle occasions. 5. Locate Irish life-cycle traditions in a global context and assess them accordingly, drawing on key ethnological and anthropological frameworks. 6. Evaluate the relationship between the life-cycle rites observed by official religion and the customs and rites practiced in folk tradition. 7. Acknowledge the changing nature of life-cycle tradition and recognise new and emergent ritual in contemporary 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 classroom-based lectures. Assessment takes the form of in-semester assignments and an end-of-term 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
Assignment: 1400 word assignment Week 6 n/a Graded No


Examination: One 2-hour paper 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Assignment: 2800 word assignment Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer 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.

Name Role
Dr Tiber Falzett Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
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) - Autumn: All Weeks Fri 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 13:00 - 13:50