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Understanding Ireland:
The Trinity Semester Start-Up Programme

Understanding Ireland offers international students the best possible foundation for settling into their time at Trinity. The programme is unique in providing both an orientation to life in Trinity and an academic introduction to understanding Irish culture—all before normal teaching begins.

What will I be studying?
Understanding Ireland immerses you in the rich world of Irish history and culture. There are three academic strands to the programme, which is taught through lectures and seminars:

  1. The Story of Ireland: From St Patrick to the Present Day
  2. Visualizing Ireland: Archaeology, Art and Architecture
  3. Representing Ireland: Ireland and the Irish in Drama, Literature and Film.

Excursions to national cultural institutions and historical landmarks are integral to the programme. Within Dublin, you will attend a performance at The Abbey Theatre (founded by W. B. Yeats in 1904) and visit Croke Park, headquarters of the Gaelic Athletics Association (GAA).  You will go on a field trip to a site of major historical importance outside the capital, such as the Hill of Tara (the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland) or the monastery of Glendalough, with its famous round tower.

+ Visiting and Exchange Students
- Visting and Exchange Students

Autumn Entry (5 ECTs): If you are a visiting or exchange student coming to Trinity for a year or a single semester, the three-week autumn programme is for you. The programme normally begins in the final week of August and covers the first one-sixth of your semester work commitment at Trinity (5 ECTs), with the remainder being covered by the other undergraduate courses you choose for that semester.
Spring Entry (not credit-bearing): If you are arriving in Trinity for the spring term, you have the option to take a week-long version of Understanding Ireland, which runs in the week before normal teaching begins in January. The week-long programme offers an overview of Irish history and culture through a combination of lectures and fieldtrips. This course is optional, carries an additional cost and does not qualify for credit.


Both the Autumn and Spring programmes incur an additional fee. For students participating in institutional exchanges, this cost will be additional to the fees charged by your home university. The fees are as follows:

  • Autumn Entry (5 ECTs): €1,720 (direct-entry visiting students) or €2,295 (institutional exchange students)
  • Spring Entry (not credit-bearing): €620 (direct-entry visiting students) or €670 (institutional exchange students)

Apply on the visiting student application form, found here.


+ Full-Degree Undergraduate Students
- Full-Degree Undergraduate Students

If you are international student coming to Trinity to study as a full-time undergraduate, then Understanding Ireland is the perfect introduction to the academic and social life of your new university. The programme normally begins in the final week of August. You will participate fully in all lectures and fieldtrips. In addition, tutorials will introduce you to the undergraduate teaching and learning environment of Trinity College Dublin.


Participation in Understanding Ireland incurs an additional fee, as follows:
€1720 tuition, accommodation additional (see Trinity Hall site for details)

Apply here


Who runs the programme?

Understanding Ireland is organized and taught by the academic staff of Trinity’s School of Histories and Humanities. The programme runs at the beginning each semester prior to the start of normal teaching. Full details of the academic content of the programme are available in the Understanding Ireland handbook.




Accommodation for students enrolled in Understanding Ireland is at Trinity Hall, an official residence of Trinity College Dublin. 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 music practice rooms. 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.
Take a virtual visit:

How do I apply for accommodation?
Students can apply for rooms online at the Accommodation Office website. A modern single en suite bedroom within an apartment costs approximately €22 per night. For more information, fee payment and for a virtual tour, go to the Trinity Accommodation website.



Understanding Ireland will run from a welcome event on Sunday 24 August 2014 to Friday 12 September 2014.

Further information

Academic Director: Professor Peter Crooks
Programme Coordinator: Dr Patricia Stapleton

For general enquiries and further information, please contact the Understanding Ireland coordinator:

Telephone: 00 353 1 896 8589

The Understanding Ireland brochure is available here.

Last updated 12 September 2016 Web Administrator (Email).