Visit University of Galway's Courses Page for information on how to apply, entry requirements and assessment.

The MA in Culture and Colonialism is a multi-disciplinary taught programme aimed at graduates from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. The MA explores literature, politics and culture from Ireland to India, from Africa to the Middle East. Students analyse imperial ascendancies, race and racial theories, nationalist movements, postcolonial experiences, the rise of neo- colonial thought, multiculturalism and interculturalism, and the implications of globalisation and development for the modern world. Students benefit from the legacy of an MA programme established in 1994; the programme has continuously re-invented itself in changing ideological climates while maintaining its primary goal: to offer a critical education in the cultural discourses of power. Students have the option to complete this MA programme either through one year of full-time or two years of part-time study.


MA in Culture and Colonialism graduates have gone on to careers in development work, NGOs, law, university lecturing, publishing, media, journalism, community work, teaching (primary and secondary), film-making, advertising, and the Civil Service. The programme has a particularly strong record in research training: a high proportion of its students have proceeded to doctoral programmes in Ireland, Britain and North America, with many of them winning prestigious funding awards. 


Students take six modules (60 ECTS) in addition to a (non-assessed) research training seminar, and produce a 15,000-word dissertation (30 ECTS) on a research topic of their choice. The course is offered EITHER as a full-time degree taken over a twelve-month period from September, OR as a part-time degree taken over a twenty-four month period. The year is divided into two teaching semesters (September to December and January to April), with the summer devoted to completing the dissertation. Modules available vary from year to year: the following list is provisional:

Central Modules

EN541 Colonialism in 20th-Century Cultural Theory (10 ECTS)
This module focuses on issues of identity, political agency and representation. It offers an introduction to twentieth-century theorisations of colonialism and neo-colonialism, especially in relation to cultural production, and their implications for twenty-first century socio-political thought. The distinctive position of Ireland in relation to postcolonial theory is considered, together with other national and international contexts. Some of the theorists discussed include Fanon, Said, Spivak and Ahmad.

SP544 Decolonization and Neo-Colonialism: The Politics of 'Development' (10 ECTS)
The phenomena of development and underdevelopment in those lands that have experienced colonial rule have been theorised in two broadly contrasting ways in social science: the modernisation perspective, which derives from the northern hemisphere by and large, and a series of counter-perspectives (such as structuralism, dependency, neo-Marxism and world systems theory), whose exponents hail from the southern hemisphere in the main.  The module also considers the issue of how much light modernisation and counter-perspectives can shed on the Irish experience of development and underdevelopment.

HI546 Studies in the History of Colonialism and Imperialism (10 ECTS)
This module introduces students to some of the key thinkers and concepts in the writing of British imperial history. The work of scholars such as J. A. Hobson, Ronald Robinson and Jack Gallagher, Peter Cain and Tony Hopkins, Chris Bayly, Alan Lester and John Darwin will be discussed. Concepts such as finance imperialism, informal empire, the official mind, gentlemanly capitalism, colonial knowledge, imperial networks, and bridgeheads will be examined from a critical perspective. Full use of on-line journals and other e-resources will be encouraged. Students will be asked to read key texts, undertake wider reading and research to help put these key texts in context, comment on their readings, and present their own ideas as the basis for class discussion and debate. Course assessments will be linked closely to the core texts studied.

Research Seminar (compulsory but not examined)
This module provides a training in research, analysis and writing techniques appropriate to the programme, as well as individual consultations on the formulation of dissertation topics. The seminar will take place throughout the year.

Option Modules (two to be chosen)

EN547 Literature and Colonialism (10 ECTS)
This module considers the relationship between literary modes and aesthetics and political power. It analyses literature connected to the British Empire and its former colonies, discussing English, Irish, Indian and African writers in relation to colonial power structures, nationalist movements and postcolonial developments. Genres covered include imperial adventure fiction, travel writing, late-Victorian urban Gothic, modernist and post-modernist fiction and poetry, postcolonial writing, and the twenty-first century multicultural novel.

EC535 Political Economy, Colonialism and Globalization (aka “How to Argue with an Economist”) (10 ECTS)
The aim of the module will be to identify the fundamental concepts of globalization by analysing the various ideologies, systems and structures that underpin the progression of global capitalism through the ages. Underlying philosophical theories will be linked with political, legal sociological and economic ideals that are often the driving forces behind these processes.

EN573 Travel Literature (10 ECTS)
The genre of travel writing includes a vast array of literary forms from journals to letters, ambassadorial reports, captivity narratives, historical descriptions, ethnographies, and natural histories. The appearance of such accounts explodes in the early modern period in an era of expanded travel for purposes of trade, education, exploration, and colonial settlement. This module looks at a range of documents from different historical moments to track the development of this important genre, including the emergence of travel writing by women.

EN549 Cinema and Colonialism (10 ECTS)
This module considers the relationships between colonialism and the theory and practice of cinema.  Seminars may address the following themes: the Hollywood genres of the ‘Western’ and the ‘Vietnam movie’; postcolonial theories of cinema; Cuban cinema; cinema of anti-colonial revolution; neocolonialism and Irish cinema; African cinema; gender, colonialism and cinema; and Western representations of imperialism.


Most taught modules consist of 11-12 two-hour small-group seminars; they are usually assessed primarily through the submission of written assignments. The dissertation topic is determined in consultation with the programme staff, with submission in mid-August of the academic year. 


The number of places on the course is limited. We are looking for students with a good honours degree in the Arts or Social Sciences – normally at least a Second Class Honours degree, or for US students a GPA of 3.2  – in one or more of the following subjects: history, literature, sociology, politics, cultural studies, or economics. Interested candidates with similar or equivalent qualifications are also encouraged to apply.