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European studies

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


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

What is European studies?

At Trinity College European studies is a broad-ranging, fully integrated multidisciplinary programme which encompasses the history, culture, languages and politics of European nations. It studies the European past in order to understand the present, and examines contemporary Europe in all its complexity on a continent-wide basis.

Is this the right course for you?

If you enjoy studying languages and have an interest in history, politics and the workings of contemporary society you will enjoy this course. European studies is explicitly designed for students with a broad intellectual appetite and who are interested in a range of disciplinary approaches.

Course overview

You will study two out of six European languages: French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian or Spanish (Italian, Polish, Spanish and Russian can be studied from beginner level). Both languages are studied equally in the first two years, after which one becomes your major, and the other your minor language. Language learning is embedded in the study of the society and culture of the countries in which the language is spoken and language study is designed to meet the needs of students specialising in the social and political sciences. Literature can be studied in the final year.

As well as languages you will study the European past and present through three disciplines - history, history of ideas and social sciences (politics, economics and sociology). The history of ideas teaches the evolution of European thought and culture from the Renaissance to the present and is the compulsory core component in the first, second and fourth years.

Course content

In first year all components are compulsory. From the second year onwards the history of ideas, or cultural history, is compulsory and you will be able to choose other modules from the disciplines that interest you most, and so tailor the degree to your specific strengths and interests.

The Freshman years

Junior Freshman (first) year

There are approximately 22 hours of classes per week.

Languages 1 and 2:

Grammar and structures of the languages, written and spoken expression and comprehension

Introduction to the history of ideas

Introduction to the evolution of European thought and culture in the 20th century, and to the techniques of analysing texts in their historical context.

This module examines the intellectual and cultural climate in Europe before and after the two World Wars.

Europe, c. 1500-1700: Power and belief

Examines the political, social and cultural history of sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe.

Introduction to social science

This module offers students an introduction to the significant issues in the three main fields of social science: politics, economics and sociology.

The first section of the course introduces key debates in sociology about European social structure.

The second section provides an introduction to main issues in political science of significance to students of European politics.

The third section builds on the first two sections by paying attention to issues surrounding the economics of the EU.

Senior Freshman (second) year

There are approximately 22 hours of classes per week.

Languages 1 and 2:

Grammar and structures of the languages, written and spoken expression and comprehension

Culture and politics in Europe 1700-1815

Studies the emergence and development of modern society and culture since the Enlightenment. The core of the course concerns itself with political culture by analysing the political ideologies created from, and in opposition to, the French Revolution.

The making of Modernity 1750-1820

Introduces students to key concepts of modernity as they constituted themselves during the saddle epoch around 1800. It covers the main philosophical and cultural trends in the European Enlightenment and Romanticism and elucidates how cultural and aesthetic discourses interact with politics and society.

It follows and builds on the History module ‘Culture and Politics in Europe 1700-1815’.

Select one of:

  • History of Continental Europe since 1870

Social, economic and political history are given equal emphasis in this course, which concentrates on Germany, France and Russia, as well as looking at Italy and Spain.

  • Comparative politics

This module is an introduction to the study of comparative politics. We will be studying both developing and developed countries, democratic and authoritarian regimes as well as countries that are in the midst of political and economic transitions.

  • International relations

This module is an introduction to the positive, descriptive study of international relations. This module looks at differing theoretical approaches to international relations and a selection of topics in historical and contemporary politics, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the European Union, and international environmental and human rights regimes.

  • European societies

This module examines different forms of social inequality in Western Europe, the divisions of class, region, gender, ethnicity and life cycle. It considers the extent to which the European Union involves a European social model of social cohesion - a particularly European way of countering the divisions of a market society. The course uses case studies from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK.

Intermediate economics* The module takes both a macroeconomic and microeconomic approach. The module covers consumer theory (indifference curves and budget constraints); producer theory (isoquant curves and isocost lines); market structure (perfect competition; monopoly; monopolistic competition and oligopoly); game theory; factor markets (in perfectly competitive and imperfectly competitive settings) and general equilibrium.

* Students who wish to take this course must seek permission from the Head of the Department of Economics during the Trinity (third) Term of their Junior Freshman (first) year, before declaring their Senior Freshman (second year) subject choice.

Junior Sophister (third) year

The Junior Sophister year is spent at a university abroad studying through the language you choose as your major language and this is an integral part of the course. Exchanges have been established with history and political science departments in universities in France (Paris, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Bordeaux), Germany (Hamburg, Tubingen, Freiburg, Vienna), Italy (Pavia, Siena, Florence), Poland (Krakow), Russia (Moscow) and Spain (Seville, Salamanca, Alcala, Oviedo, Zaragoza). The year abroad may entail additional expenses for students but support funding under the European Union's Erasmus scheme partially offsets this additional expense (with the exception of Russia, where the Erasmus scheme does not apply).

Senior Sophister (fourth) year

In the Senior Sophister year, language work focuses predominantly on your major language. Coursework for your minor language concentrates mainly on comprehension and textual analysis. The core course in your final year is a history of ideas course: Modernity and society: ideas and culture in Europe since 1850. Additionally, you will choose one or two options from a wide range of modules from history, political science, sociology, and a number of culture and literature options from the language departments. Students who so wish are encouraged to write a ten thousand word dissertation (replacing one of the options) on a subject of their own choice under the supervision of a member of staff.


Written, oral and aural exams are combined with continuous assessment, essays and end-of-year examinations.

Career opportunities

Recent graduates are employed in international organisations both in Ireland and abroad, in the EU, in the civil service and the diplomatic corps, in business, finance and marketing. Other popular career paths are in law, consultancy, teaching (in Ireland and abroad), translating and interpreting, journalism and tourism. Many students go on to do postgraduate courses, often with a more applied, specialised focus or specifically relating to Europe.


Did you know?

Trinity is ranked 42nd in the world for Modern languages (by the QS World University Rankings 2014).


Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1808


Specific Entry Requirements

Applicants must present with at least one European language (other than English and Irish) in the Leaving Certificate (or equivalent).

If candidates are presenting one language (other than English or Irish), they must attain a grade of HB3 or higher

If candidates are presenting two or more languages, they must attain at least the following grades:

Leaving CertificateHC in two of French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Polish, Russian, Spanish
HC1 If presenting French or German
HC2 If presenting Spanish and taking Spanish as a non-beginner
HC3 If presenting any other language
Advanced GCE (A-Level)Grade B in one language other than English or Irish
Grade C in two languages other than English or Irish (as listed above)

Students study two languages from French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish.

Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish are available from beginner level. No student may study more than one language as a beginner.

Other EU examination systemsSee