Questions of Ulster, 1885 to the present module (HY32010)

Learn about the use and abuse of history in the province of Ulster

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Module code


In this module you learn about the way public history and historical information is used and abused in contemporary everyday-life in the Irish province of Ulster on both sides of the border dividing Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. You will learn about the recent history of Ulster, beginning with the constitutional crisis which erupted following the passing of the Third Home Rule Bill in 1912. The origins and function of partition, and the reasons why the Northern Ireland conflict emerged in the late 1960s. You will learn about the way history is used in contemporary political debates.

What you will learn

In this module you will:

  • study the history of Ulster from 1885 to the present
  • learn how the present informs our understanding of the past
  • examine how public history is used in contemporary divided societies
  • look at Ulster in different geographical and historical contexts
  • learn how contested histories shape people's identities 
  • study the historical context of contemporary events and issues like parading and policing
  • look at legacy issues like collusion between state agencies and paramilitaries as historical problems

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • explore the ways in which history is employed for political purpose
  • identify weaknesses, voids and omissions in the historiography (i.e. what histories have not been written)
  • consider the nature of political and social change in the period
  • reflect upon the Irish experience of revolution in the context of Europe and the First World War
  • question whether or not what happened in Ireland was a revolution in comparative context
  • explore the nature of the British Constitution in Ireland and its failure
  • examine Irish nationalism and unionism in a pivotal decade of development and state formation

Assignments / assessment

  • essay 2,500 words (50%) 
  • group presentation (15%)
  • Ulster diary (35%)

This module has no final examination.

Teaching methods / timetable

  • one weekly three-hour seminar


This module is available on following courses: