The Sixth Galway Conference on Colonialism, June 24-26, 2010
MA in Culture & Colonialism


The MA in Culture and Colonialism is a multi-disciplinary taught Masters of Arts programme, offered by the College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies, NUI, Galway. It is designed for graduates from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. It was established to further an understanding of the meanings of 'colonialism', 'imperialism', 'post-colonialism', and 'neo-colonialism' across a range of disciplines. We encourage students to view colonialism in the widest possible contexts, in both historical and contemporary forms. 

Our teaching staff over the years has been drawn from the departments of English, History, Political Science and Sociology, Economics, Spanish, French, German, and Classics, and is supplemented by numerous guest lecturers, including  members of the course Advisory Board.

A large proportion of graduates of the MA in Culture and Colonialism have proceeded to doctoral programmes in Ireland, Britain and North America. Many of them  have been successful in winning doctoral scholarships from the Irish Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.Other graduates have taken up careers in teaching, law, community work, journalism, film-making and in NGOs.

Programme Advisory Board:
Hilary Beckles (U of the West Indies), Jean Franco (Columbia U), Luke Gibbons (Notre Dame U), Barbara Harlow (U of Texas, Austin), Declan Kiberd (UCD), David Lloyd (Scripps College), Charles Orser (Illinois State U), Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Columbia U).


The course is a full-time degree taken over a twelve-month period (September to September). The year is divided into two teaching semesters (September to December and January to May), while the summer period is devoted to completing a minor dissertation.

The taught programme comprises five compulsory courses (one of which is not examined), plus two option courses, and occasional lectures by distinguished visiting speakers. Most courses consist of 12 two-hour seminars. The list of available courses varies from year to year: the following list is provisional.

         Compulsory Courses:

EN541  Colonialism in 20th-Century Cultural Theory
An introduction to twentieth-century theorisations of colonialism and neo-colonialism, especially in relation to cultural production.  The course focuses on issues of identity, political agency and representation. Ireland’s relation to postcolonial theory is also considered.  Some of the theorists discussed include Fanon, Said, Spivak and Ahmad.

EN597 Approaches to the Study of Culture and Colonialism
Approaches to the Study of Culture and Colonialism will help students to consider in a more systematic fashion the variety of disciplinary approaches that can be adopted to address the key concerns of the course. A series of lectures and seminar discussions will be convened by academics from some or all of the following disciplines: English, History, Sociology and Political Science, Geography, French, Spanish, and Economics. Students will be introduced to a range of key texts and critical methodologies and will be expected to write a 2,500 word essay as well as keep a detailed weekly learning journal.

SP544  Decolonization and Neo-Colonialism: The Politics of 'Development'
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 course also considers the issue of how much light modernisation and counter-perspectives can shed on the Irish experience of development and underdevelopment.

Research Seminar (compulsory but not examined)
This course provides a basic introduction to research techniques appropriate to the programme, and provides assistance in developing each student’s dissertation. This occasional seminar will take place throughout the year.

HI546  Studies in the History of Colonialism and Imperialism 1
This course 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.

Option Courses (two to be chosen):

EN547  Literature and Colonialism
Students will develop an in-depth  knowledge and understanding of literature relating to the British Empire and its former colonies. The course will analyse literature in relation to colonial power structures and consider the relationship between political power and literary representation. Students will read a wide range of postcolonial literary theory and learn both to apply these theories and to consider them critically. By the end of the course, students will be encouraged to consider how ideas concerning literary representation relate to present-day debates about representation and power in a modern globalised world.

[FA555] EC535: Globalization
The aim of the course 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.

HI540  Gender and Colonialism
This course will explore the interaction between gender and colonial/postcolonial issues, drawing on a variety of theoretical models and a variety of social, political and literary contexts.  Some of the areas to be studied include the relations among feminism, politics, and nationalism; the effects of race and gender in colonised societies, and gender and literature in colonial and post-colonial societies.

EN549  Cinema and Colonialism
This course 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.

NG541  Cultúr agus Coilíneachas: An Coilíneachas agus Domhan na Gaeilge
Déanfaidh an cúrsa seo iniúchadh ar dhearcadh phobal na Gaeilge in Éirinn ar an gconcas mar fheictear é sa litríocht ón 17ú haois i leith.  Léifear agus pléifear trí mhodh seimineáir saothair i dtréimhsí mar seo thíos: Seathrún Céitinn agus filíocht an 17ú haois; filí éagsúla ón 18ú agus 19ú haois; scríbhinní mhuintir an Náisiúin; Athbheochan dheireadh an 19ú agus thús an 20ú haois.  Ina theannta sin, déanfar iniúchadh ar imeachtaí cultúrtha agus teanga san aois seo in Éirinn faoi sholas na díospóireachta faoin meon iarchoilíneach.


Each course is examined by an end-of-semester examination and/or essay.  Course marks may also be awarded for assignments done during the semester.  The combined course marks comprise 60% of the overall mark for the degree.


Each student must complete a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words on a topic to be determined in consultation with the programme staff and to be submitted in mid-August.  The dissertation accounts for 40% of the overall degree mark.


The current programme director is Dr Muireann O'Cinneide, Department of English, NUI, Galway. The teaching staff (which varies from year to year) includes the following:

  • Dr Gearóid Denvir (Scoil na Gaeilge): Cultúr agus Coilíneachas
  • Dr Louis de Paor (Scoil na Gaeilge): Colonialism in Cultural Theory
  • Dr Su-Ming Khoo (Department of Political Science and Sociology): Decolonization and Neo-Colonialism
  • Dr Terry McDonough(Department of Economics): Political Economy and Colonization
  • Dr Lionel Pilkington (Department of English): Approaches to Culture and Colonialism
  • Dr Simon Potter (Department of History): History of Colonialism and Imperialism
  • Dr Sean Ryder (Department of English): Approaches to Culture and Colonialism
  • Dr Tony Varley (Department of Political Science and Sociology): Decolonization and Neo-Colonialism
  • Dr Muireann O'Cinneide (Department of English): Literature and Colonialism
  • Dr Fiona Bateman (Moore Institute): Cinema and Colonialism


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.

Applications should be made on-line via the PAC website.


Fees for students from European Union (EU) countries are €6,540 for the session 2009-2010. Fees for non-EU students are €12,500*: please contact the Fees Office for more information.

*Subject to ratification

Please note: fees are correct at the time of online publication, but are subject to change (E&EO); non-E.U. fees must be paid in full prior to registration.


Further information about the MA in Culture and Colonialism programme may be obtained from:

Dr Muireann O'Cinneide,
Programme Director Department of English,
National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Tel.: 353 (0)91 495388
Fax.: 353 (0)91 524102