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History and political science

B.A.; 4 years full-time; 24 places; 500

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.

Is this the right 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.

Why study History and Political Science at Trinity?

Trinity is 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.

What will you 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.

Among the specialist modules available in political science are:

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

History modules may include:

  • The Vikings, 790-1100
  • The Archaeology of Medieval Warfare, 1000-1300
  • Renaissance Florence, c.1347-1527
  • The Elizabethans and their World, 1550-1610
  • From Rebellion to Restoration: Confederate and Cromwellian Ireland
  • The French Revolution
  • Violence, Law and Order in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Ireland
  • Constitutional Nationalism vs. Republicanism: Ireland 1782-1916
  • Sub-Saharan Africa since 1875
  • Race and Ethnicity in American Thought since 1880
  • Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s
  • American Politics and Culture, 1939-1989
  • Ireland, Britain and America during the Cold War and Beyond, 1948-1998
  • The Troubles, 1968-1998

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).


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.

Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1651

Tel: +353 1 896 1020

Student Profile

Fionn McGorry

Being originally from Australia, when I was deciding whether to stay in Ireland, Trinity was the clear choice. With an unparalleled student life – I’ve participated a lot in the Philosophical Society – in the centre of the capital, Trinity was very convincing. The array of transferable skills learned from a History and Political Science degree have prepared me well for so many potential careers. I focused on Modern Irish History and Politics, and having access to a wealth of primary sources and world-leading experts means that Trinity is the centre of excellence in this field.

Course Options




4 years full-time

Points Required


Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is


Minimum entry points required are 500
More information on minimum entry points

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here


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.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

History and Political Science, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/FEB/2016

Non-EU Applicants

  • History and Political Science, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2016