Prospective Students

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities/Diploma in Arts (PAC Code: DC341)


Fact File

Type of degree: Part-time/Modular
Contact: Oscail Office

Understanding the Course:

The DCU Bachelor of Arts in Humanities is a Level 8 (on the national framework of qualifications), honours degree programme. Students undertaking this degree choose between studying a selection of modules in History, Literature, Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology.

Once registered students are provided with access to a suite of learning materials and are supported academically through a variety of means such as: tutorials and/or workshops, which may be face to face or virtual, using the most current, online, 'live' classroom technology (our study centres are located in Dublin City University, NUI Galway, and University College Cork); a virtual learning environment called Moodle; email etc. In addition to this students have access to a number of support services and help lines that are used by students to find answers to questions and resolve any issues or problems they are having. We know that you may have some fears or anxiety about starting, or returning to, third-level education. We want you to know that those fears are perfectly normal and that we wish to aid you in settling into the programme in order that you can pursue your educational goals.

In each module students will be given several opportunities to demonstrate their learning throughout the academic year. The form that these take depends on the aspect of the module under examination, as well as the learning outcomes for that module. For example students may demonstrate their learning through essays, case studies, group work, contributions to online forums and discussions, multiple choice questionnaires and learning journals.

No previous qualifications are required for our undergraduate programmes if you are over 23 years of age. Students under 23 years on 1st January of the forthcoming academic year must meet the normal entry requirements of the University, as appropriate to the programme.

IT Equipment and Skills required:

You should have regular access to a computer (with Microsoft Office), a broadband Internet connection, a printer and a basic headset and (optionally) a webcam. Specifically, you will need access to Microsoft Word, Excel and Access.

You should also be familiar with using email, browsing the Web, and using word processing packages.

You can find detailed information on the IT skills and equipment required for this programme under the section 'Technology Requirements'.

About You:

Whether you are interested in pursuing a career in a Humanities discipline, for example Literature or Sociology, or are seeking a broad-based undergraduate education the DCU Bachelor of Arts (Honours - Level 8) in Humanities provides you with the means to achieve your goals. The Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities has been designed specifically to appeal to a variety of student needs and interests. This degree programme's strength lies in its flexibility, in terms of time, place and pace. Students can choose to explore a wide breath of Humanities subject areas, while also specialising in at least one of the subject areas they find most intellectually rewarding. By choosing to enrol on the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities you will set yourself on the same path as the thousands of people who have successfully graduated from this programme since it was first accredited in 1993. This Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities programme offers you the attractive opportunity to obtain a DCU undergraduate degree through online education, which is more open and flexible than if you registered for a full-time, or part-time, campus-based programme.

Course Structure:

As a student on this degree programme you may choose to study from a range of modules in the following five Humanities subject areas:

  • History
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Each of these subject areas is presented as a suite of six modules (see below for further details), which cover different aspects of that subject, for example Social and Organisational Psychology in Psychology or The Renaissance in Literature. To complete the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities you need to complete twelve modules, with at least five modules in one subject area. Students may elect to exit with a Diploma in Arts on completion of eight modules.

Each module is awarded 15 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credit points. These points are accumulated towards your award of degree. 180 ECTS credit points are required for the BA (Hons) and 120 ECTS credit points are required for the Diploma in Arts.

How Long does it take to Complete the Course?:

The modular structure of the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities programme gives great choice and flexibility in the workload you can undertake each year. You can take from one to four modules per year. It is possible to complete your Degree in a minimum of three years, however, this would be a "full-time" studying commitment. The Diploma can be completed in a minimum of two years with a similar commitment. The greater the number of modules successfully completed each year, the quicker you obtain your degree. The number of modules you undertake each year will depend on your individual circumstances. If you are returning to study after a long absence, and/or you are in full-time employment it is recommended that you should not take more than two modules in your first year.

Getting Started on your Humanities Programme:

The first module in each subject area aids students to become accustomed to studying at third level and to that specific subject area. These modules are designed to:

  • Introduce students to the specific subject area and get them started on their journey of acquiring knowledge about that subject.
  • Facilitate students in developing study skills necessary to succeed in the subject (e.g. essay writing, sourcing and recording information, structuring assignments), and at third level in general.
  • Introduce students to the wide range of resources that are made available to students, for that subject.
  • Facilitate students in their acquisition of skills in using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to enhance their learning in that subject.
  • Enable students to demonstrate their achievement of the necessary skills and knowledge through a range of different types of assessment tasks, for examples essays, reports and/or learning portfolios.

Programme Subject Areas:

The History subject stream equips students with a wide range of skills and techniques upon which historical research and writings are based. Students will engage in the critical examination of historians' works, and the evaluation of primary sources, and will acquire the conceptual tools with which our view of the past is shaped. The modules provide perspectives on major themes in Irish and European political, economic, social, and cultural history from the close of the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

His1: History Foundation Module - Part 1 surveys the Reformation period in Europe. Part 2 investigates Europe in the age of enlightenment and revolution from the Ancien Regime to the French Revolution. This module also equips students with the study skills necessary to succeed at third level.

His2: Europe and a Wider World - This module analyses developments in Europe from the revolutions of 1848 to the break up of Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and the emergence of Europe and the European idea.

His3: Land, Politics and Society in Ireland 1800-1922 - This module provides an in-depth analysis of the interaction of political, economic and social forces in nineteenth century Ireland culminating in the signing of the Anglo Irish Treaty.

His4: Politics, Culture and Society in Independent Ireland - This module chronicles the economic, social and cultural history of the independent Irish state and Northern Ireland in the twentieth century.

His5: Women in Irish and European Society: 1780-1915 - This module considers the history of women's role in both the private as well as the public sphere and examines the experience of women 'on the margins'. Students on this module complete a research essay instead of a final examination.

His6: Researching Local History: People, Place and Time - This module equips students with skills and techniques in local history research. Students produce a piece of original research on a topic in local history. Students attend two one-day mandatory workshops as part of this module.

The Literature subject stream equips students with the skills and techniques to discriminate between literature and other forms of writing and representation, taking account of contemporary perspectives in criticism and theory, including feminism, historicism and post-modernism. Irish, British, American, and other literature in English will be evaluated in terms of their contribution to cultural formation. Students will encounter competing ideas about writing and literature, within different historical and national frameworks.

Lit1: Literature Foundation Module - This module introduces students to the concept of genre through in-depth analysis of key texts: stage and film versions of drama; poetry and fiction. In addition to this the module equips students with the study skills needed to progress successfully at third level. This module also equips students with the study skills necessary to succeed at third level.

Lit2: Literatures of the Twentieth Century - This module introduces students to critical approaches to key modernist, feminist and post-colonial texts by Irish, American and British authors as well as works in translation.

Lit3: Literatures of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries - Students will encounter Jacobean drama, the rise of the novel as well as forms of prose written between 1600 and 1800. Attention is given to lesser-known writings by women in this period.

Lit4: The Renaissance - Renaissance poetry, Shakespearean drama, as well as writing in Ireland in the 1500s are placed in the historical and political context of Renaissance Britain and Ireland.

Lit5: 19th Century: Romanticism to Victorianism - Starting with the work of writers inspired by the revolutionary fervour of the late eighteenth century this module concludes with the texts which emerged from the industrial revolution in the Victorian era.

Lit6: Literatures of the Late Twentieth Century - Contemporary themes, including modernism and post-modernism in the Irish and international context are analysed in the context of key texts drawn from poetry, drama, fiction and film. Students on this module complete a dissertation instead of a final examination.

The Philosophy subject stream equips students with an understanding of the themes and traditions of philosophy, as well as the capacity to think critically for themselves. Students will encounter the work of major philosophers in seeking to answer such questions as: What is the difference between truth and illusion? What is the nature of human life? Does God exist? What indeed, is it for anything to exist at all? How should one live? What are the basic principles which govern our moral, political and social lives?

Phil1: Philosophy Foundation Module - This module chronicles movements in philosophy from the pre-socratics to the moderns, as well as introducing the key methodological and conceptual tools and skills.

Phil2: Reading Philosophers - Students are introduced to the classical, medieval and modern traditions through intensive reading of selected texts by Plato, Aquinas and Kant.

Phil3: Philosophy of Values: Ethics and Aesthetics - Part 1 introduces students to the application of ethical principles in the context of modern problems. Part 2 places forms of art in an historical and aesthetic context.

Phil4: Language and Mind - Part 1 reviews developments in the philosophy of language in the twentieth century. Part 2 examines contemporary arguments concerning theories of mind, brain and science.

Phil5: Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics - Part 1 of this module examines philosophical justifications for religious beliefs and analyses the philosophy of religious experience. Part 2 of this module explores the philosophy of metaphysics.

Phil6: Contemporary Philosophy - Major themes in contemporary philosophy, both from the continental and Anglo Saxon traditions are examined through the work of key philosophers, including Hegel, Nietzsche, Habermas, Foucault, de Beauvoir, Kristeva, Irigaray, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Merleau Ponty, Levinas, Derrida and Ricouer. Students on this module complete a dissertation instead of a final examination.

The Psychology subject stream equips students who wish to specialise in Psychology with a solid foundation in the key concepts, language, and approach of the discipline and an appreciation of the nature of evidence and theory. Psychology is a progressive and modern field of study examining human behaviour and providing insights into, for example, social problems such as racism, prejudice and suicide.

BA graduates who have successfully completed six modules in Psychology may, when they graduate, apply to the British Psychological Society (BPS) for consideration of eligibility for Graduate Membership and the Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR). The BPS will consider their eligibility on an individual basis according to the criteria applicable at that time.

Psy1: Psychology Foundation Module - This module provides a foundation for the areas of psychology encountered in later modules: biological; cognitive; developmental; organisational; personality; social; research methods. This module also equips students with the study skills necessary to succeed at third level.

Psy2: Social and Organisational Psychology - Part 1 covers social cognition and perception, attitudes, behaviour, and motivation. Part 2 examines organisational, individual and group perspectives.

Psy3: Developmental and Educational Psychology - Part 1 focuses on the child developing within the individual, family and social contexts. Part 2 reviews behaviour, motivation, and learning readiness in the classroom context.

Psy4A: Cognitive and Physiological Psychology - Part 1 of this module covers attention, perception and memory, language, intelligence and problem solving, representations of knowledge, and neuropsychology. Part 2 introduces the neurological basis of mental illness, substance abuse and addiction.

Psy5B: Individual Differences - This module focuses on biological as well as psychometric aspects of personality differences.

Psy6A: Research Methods and Project - This module covers the research and statistical techniques required to complete an independent piece of research. Students are required to attend a mandatory introductory day and a mandatory Research Methods school for this module.

The Sociology stream provides students with the techniques and skills to analyse contemporary Irish and European society, in particular the issues and problems associated with its major social institutions such as family, economy, polity, education and religion, as well as the causes and direction of social change. Students will be encouraged to adopt a critical approach to explanations of contemporary social issues offered by sociologists arguing from different sociological perspectives.

Soc1: Sociology Foundation Module - This module introduces Sociology as a discipline and provides an overview of the main institutions, structures and processes affecting contemporary Irish society. This module also equips students with the study skills necessary to succeed at third level.

Soc2: The Changing Social Environment - This module considers the impact of globalisation on aspects of social life, the changing rural and urban context, and origins and traditions in European democratic culture.

Soc3A: Power, Social Order; Crime Deviance, Work and Employment - Parts 1 and 2 of this module offers theoretical perspectives on concepts of power, social order, social control and the agents of control. Part 3 examines aspects of crime and deviance. Part 4 covers issues on the sociology of work.

Soc4: Social Inequality and Intergroup Relations - This module considers evidence of and explanations for social, educational and gender inequality, as well as research on prejudice and racism in Ireland.

Soc5B: Language, Culture and Society - This module examines the relationship between language and ethnicity, and the links between popular culture, power and society. It includes a case study of Northern Ireland society.

Soc6B: Research Methods and Project - This module provides an overview of quantitative and qualitative methods used in sociological research. Students complete a thesis on an independent piece of research. Students are required to attend a mandatory introductory day and a mandatory Research Methods school for this module.

What BA in Humanities modules are running in 2012-2013:

All BA in Humanities modules will be running in 2012/13.

BA Structure

Please note that the programme is under constant review and there may be changes to the structure, content and presentation of the programme in future years.

Module Selection:

Before planning your pathway through the programme you should view the Guide to Module Selection of the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities.

View the subjects currently taught on this course (2013 - 2014)

Oscail - DCU Online Education provides students with:

  • Open and flexible access to higher education to a wider community of adult students;
  • Opportunities for individuals to enhance their career prospects;
  • Access to the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to promote participation in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres of society;
  • Open access to the wealth of cultures and traditions in Irish and global society;
  • Opportunities to proceed to further studies in their chosen area.

Career Prospects:

The Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities programme facilitates those interested in pursuing any kind of work that requires critical thinking skills, high quality written expression, and transferable skills such as organisation and time-management, and these skills and abilities are highly valued by employers.

The knowledge and skills you will develop are useful and valuable to have no matter what path you take once you successfully complete your DCU degree programme.

As it is a broad undergraduate degree, graduates from the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Humanities have gone on to a variety of postgraduate programmes and careers. For example, one student has gone on to complete postgraduate studies in Literature and is now a published author working in an Irish University and is a member of the programme board of the BA in Humanities, helping to shape the development of the degree. Similarly, several graduates of the programme have, in addition to their other work as third-level academics in other institutions, returned to Oscail to work as tutors, bringing their experience as online-learning students to that work.

Entry Requirements:

Applicants aged over 23 years on January 1st in the year of entry are eligible for admission to the programme and are automatically granted a place subject to submission of an application form and deposit.

Applicants under 23 years on January 1st in the year of entry must satisfy the normal minimum degree entry requirements of Dublin City University which are:
Irish Leaving Certificate: Grade C3 in two Higher Level Subjects and Grade D3 in four Ordinary or Higher Level subjects including Mathematics AND English or Irish.

In addition, applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

How to Apply:

Applications are currently closed but will open in late Spring 2014 for the 2014-2015 academic year intake.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Please see the list of Frequently Asked Questions we have prepared for all applicants.

You can also email us with any questions to: or telephone us directly on 01 700 5481 for further assistance.

Recognition of Prior Learning:

The BA programme allows for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). There are two types of exemptions offered, specific and non-specific.

Applicants can apply for a `Specific' exemption if they have covered the full content of a module Oscail offer, to successful completion, in another programme, at a similar award level.

Where applicants have completed studies in a subject area not covered in the Oscail programme, yet at a similar award level, they may apply for a `Non-specific' exemption. Non-specific exemptions simply reduce the number of foundation modules a student is required to complete in order to be eligible for the award of diploma/degree. They do not relate to any foundation module in particular.

Please note that a student may not present the same ECTS credits as qualification for more than one DCU award. Similarly, a student may not claim exemption for ECTS credits towards one award that have already been presented as qualification for another award elsewhere at a similar award level.

Please note that applicants will not obtain exemptions on the basis of work experience only.

A maximum exemption total of 60 credits (four modules, normally a maximum of two in each of the above categories) may be awarded to applicants with appropriate prior qualifications.

Please see the Exemption Form for more details.

Those interested in applying for exemptions should firstly apply for the BA programme. Exemption Application forms are available to all applicants upon request or you can download them from the Programme Forms section of our website.

Important Dates:

Study Period: Commences the last Monday in September to early May each year.

Closing Date for Applications: Applications normally close in late September of each year.

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