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History and political science

B.A.; 24 places

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What is History and Political Science?

History is about people. Studying History means studying lives lived, and ideas thought and expressed in times and places often very different from our own. History embraces everything from the rise and fall of empires or the birth of new ideologies to the contrasting everyday lives of people in a whole range of settings, across time and across the globe. Studying History means developing critical skills, learning to express your ideas and arguments clearly, and becoming self-directed in your studies.

Political Science is the study of governments, public policies and political behaviours. Politics affects us all in our daily lives. It’s easy to think of issues that we all have opinions about. Should government tax the rich for greater equality? Should it introduce ‘green taxes’ in order to protect the environment? How high a priority should development aid be? Questions such as these, along with analyses of political systems, political behaviour, international relations and how democracy works, are at the heart of the study of political science.

History and Political Science: The course for you?

The History and Political Science course offers the opportunity to study two subjects with close affinities as part of a coherent structured programme. In the first three years of the programme, you will take both subjects on an equal basis. In the fourth year, you may choose to concentrate exclusively on either subject or to continue with both. The combination allows students to engage with problems past and present, national and international, using a range of approaches, but with an emphasis on self-directed study and the development of intellectual skills.

History and Political Science @ Trinity

Trinity was ranked as one of the world’s top 50 universities for the study both of History and of Political Science (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015).

Both departments offer a remarkably broad range of subject options for their size. The four-year programme allows students to lay firm foundations in both disciplines in the first two years. Wide-ranging modules cover medieval and modern history, Irish, European, American and global, as well as on historical methods and approaches. Political Science modules address such areas as comparative politics, international relations and the history of political thought. The final two years of the programme then allow students the chance to study several specialist modules in-depth.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

Recent graduates are pursuing careers in government and the public sector, media, accountancy and business to name a few. Some graduates each year progress to further study in areas as diverse as medicine, film production, graphic design and business, as well as areas more closely related to history and political science. Graduates of the departments work for such organisations as IBEC, the Irish Times, Bank of Ireland, Goldman Sachs, the Law Society of Ireland,
Oxfam, the American Chamber of Commerce, RTÉ, Google and Accenture. The diversity of careers reflects the wide array of skills amassed by students undertaking a degree in History and Political Science at Trinity.

Your degree and what you’ll study

The History programme combines the strength of a broad-based programme in the first two years, introducing all students to the sheer diversity of historical studies, with the freedom to explore areas of particular interest to individual students in the final two years. First and second year provide a range of modules in medieval and early modern Irish and European history (year one), modern Irish and modern European history, U.S. history and global history (year two), as well as a Doing History module on the methods used by historians, and participation in a history group project in year two.

In each of the first two years students take 3 Political Science modules. In year one these are: Introduction to Political Science; Introduction to Sociology; Introduction to Economic Policy. In year two these will be: History of Political Thought; International Relations; Comparative Politics.

Both the History and Political Science departments allow students to select modules in their third and fourth years which can enable them to concentrate on areas of particular interest to you. In History, modules will include some which involve intensive research and writing based on primary sources and others which are broader thematic and analytical modules and may have a particular focus on historiography – on how different historians have tried to understand a period or problem. Students taking only History in fourth year will also write a dissertation. Broad curriculum and language modules can also be taken.

Among the specialist modules available in political science are:


  • Introduction to Political Science
  • History of Political Thought
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Politics


  • Irish Politics
  • Contemporary Political Theories
  • Political Parties
  • Issues in Contemporary Politics
  • Democracy and Development
  • European Union Politics
  • Contemporary International Relations
  • African Politics
  • Political Violence 
  • Chinese Politics

History modules may include:


Most modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination performance.

Study abroad

Both the Political Science and History departments have arrangements allowing students to study abroad in another university for a semester or a full academic year. Participating in these opportunities is dependent upon the exchange fulfilling the course requirements of both departments. The Department of History has Erasmus exchange agreements with a wide range of European universities including the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), the Sorbonne (Paris), the University of Vienna and Charles University in Prague as well as an exchange agreement with the University of Tokyo. The Department of Political Science is a partner in Erasmus exchanges with the Institute d’ Études Politiques in Strasbourg and Paris, the University of Zurich, the University of Bologna and University of Mannheim. History and Political Science students can also arrange for a year abroad in other countries, notably the U.S.A., Australia and Canada, for example at the University of California, the University of Sydney or McGill University (Montreal).


Tel: +353 1 896 1020


Tel: +353 1 896 1651


What our graduates say

Neil Barrett, History and Political Science (2015)

“The course blends academic theory with real world examples and gives students a deep understanding of current affairs from their historical context to the present. My research and writing skills also improved immeasurably over the course of the degree course. I would not hesitate in advising any student interested in world affairs to apply for this challenging but rewarding course.”

What our current students say

Rachael Fitzsimons, 4th year History and Political Science, Dublin

“Studying History and Political Science has allowed me to cultivate strong research and analytical skills in order to gain a deeper understanding of current affairs at a local, national and global level. The mix of theoretical knowledge and its applicability to real world political developments makes the course a stimulating and engaging one relevant to almost every aspect of life.”

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Admission Requirements

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To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Non-EU Applicants

  • History and Political Science, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2018
  • Advanced Entry Applications

    Read the information about how to apply for Advanced Entry, then select the link below to apply.