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Understanding Ireland:
The Trinity Smart-Start Programme

The Trinity Smart-Start Programme is a week-long programme designed specifically for new international undergraduate students. The programme begins one week before Freshers’ Week and it provides the perfect introduction to the academic and social life of your new university and the country you will call home for the duration of your degree.

What will I be studying?

If you are an international (non-EU) student embarking on an undergraduate career at Trinity College Dublin, then an exciting part of the journey that lies ahead is discovering a new country with a unique academic, cultural and social environment. Understanding Ireland immerses you in the rich world of Irish history, art, literature and film. You will learn about Trinity College, the city of Dublin and Ireland’s unique cultural heritage.

At the core of this programme is a lecture series—College, City and Country—consisting of three interlinked multi-disciplinary strands. Students receive lectures in each of the three strands, as follows:

  1. Trinity and its Treasures: An exploration of Trinity’s history, its architecture and the treasures of the Old Library, especially the Book of Kells.
  2. Dublin through the Ages: An exploration of Dublin’s history from Viking town to modern city
  3. Ireland and the Irish: An exploration of what it means to be Irish as expressed in art, literature and film

What is included?

In addition to its core lecture series—College, City and Country—the Smart-Start Programme includes a tour of Trinity’s historic city-centre campus, an introduction to our library services, and seminars that will give you a head-start in understanding how to get the most out of your Trinity education.

You will also go on field trips to sites of major cultural and historical importance both in Dublin and outside the city, such as the medieval monastic site at Glendalough.

What our students say

‘Understanding Ireland was a wonderful way to begin my education at Trinity. Not only did I get a chance to learn about the unique history and culture of Ireland, but I was also able to talk to other students coming from similar backgrounds. The programme furthered my confidence in my decision to study at Trinity.’
- Keelin Shaughnessy, 2014 first-year student from the US


All non-EU full-degree undergraduate students entering Trinity for the first time are eligible to attend.


Participation in the Trinity Smart-Start Programme incurs an additional cost of €400.


Applications for 2021 have now closed.


Trinity College Dublin offers accommodation to all incoming non-EU students at Trinity Hall, an official residence for Trinity students. Trinity Hall is an apartment-style complex outside the main Trinity campus, which has many recreational facilities including TV lounges, a quiet reading space, games areas, group-use facilities and a music practice room. There is internet access in every room and 24-hour security on the complex. Most importantly, there is a vibrant sense of community in Trinity Hall, making it an ideal place for striking up new friendships and settling into Dublin life. Trinity Hall accommodation comprises a variety of single and twin bedrooms with private (called "en-suite") or shared bathrooms within an apartment setting.

You must apply for accommodation separately after accepting your offer of admission to the College.

For more information and to book accommodation, visit the Trinity accommodation website.


Monday 13 September – Friday 17 September 2021

Further information

Academic Director: Professor Patrick Walsh

Programme Coordinator: Dr Patricia Stapleton

For general enquiries and further information, please contact the Understanding Ireland coordinator. A full prospectus, including the module handbook and sample teaching and learning materials, is available in hard and soft copy on request.

Telephone: 00 353 1 896 8589
The Trinity Smart-Start Programme brochure is available online here.