The Irish Revolution, 1912-23: Context (HIH3158)

StaffDr Gemma Clark - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesHIH3157 The Irish Revolution, 1912–23: Sources
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Ireland’s seemingly natural trajectory towards self-governance within the United Kingdom was halted, in 1912, by Ulster Unionists’ rejection of the British government’s Home Rule Bill. The consequent militarisation of Irish society – and the outbreak of global war in 1914 – provided opportunities for radical republicanism to overtake moderate nationalism as the driving force for change in Ireland. Through engagement with the lively field of Irish Revolutionary historiography, this module contextualizes the constitutional, (para)military and popular violent processes through which, by 1923, independence was established for the twenty-six southern counties (of the Irish Free State), whilst six Partitioned Ulster counties, comprising the new Northern Ireland state, remained under UK authority (as they do until this day). By exploring the historic roots of tensions within and between Britain and Ireland, you will address vital topics (such as religion, nationality, identity, radicalism, counter-insurgency) that have strong contemporary resonances.

The module aims to foster the broad research, analytical, interpretative and communication skills that can be usefully applied to future academic studies and in graduate jobs. It also encourages the development of discipline-specific skills, including sensitivity to historical controversy and robust awareness of the sectarian and political agendas that often beset the study of recent and on-going conflicts, in Ireland and elsewhere.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the different complex themes in the history of the Irish Revolution (1912–23)
  • 2. Make close specialist evaluation of the key developments in Ireland’s governance and society within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse the key developments within a particular historical environment
  • 4. Focus on and comprehend complex issues
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner
  • 6. Follow the complex reasoning inherent in the discourse of the period

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Carry out independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning
  • 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 9. Present complex arguments orally

Syllabus plan

The introductory sessions will provide a framework within which all students (regardless of their prior knowledge of Ireland/Irish history) can place their future work. These sessions are likely to cover Ireland and the Union; religion and society in nineteenth-century Ireland; the development of constitutional and violent movements for Irish independence.

Following the introductory sessions, the exact syllabus will vary from year to year, but topics are likely to include:

  • The Home Rule Party (and Home Rule Crisis)
  • Ulster Unionism and the militarization of Irish society
  • Radicalism and republicanism: Arthur Griffith, Sinn Féin and the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood; labour; women’s suffrage
  • World War I and Irish soldiers abroad
  • The Easter Rising
  • Aftermath of the Rising and the 1917 by-elections
  • Political imprisonment
  • The 1918 General Election and the alternative state (Dáil Éireann)
  • The War of Independence, 1919–21
  • The early IRA (Irish Republican Army)
  • The Anglo-Irish Treaty
  • Partition and borders
  • The Irish Civil War
  • Social revolution? The Irish Land Question since the Wyndham Act (1903)
  • Cultural revolution? Lives and beliefs of the ‘revolutionary generation’

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4422 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course1-6. 8Oral from tutor and fellow students

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written.
Essay253,000 words1-8Verbal and written.
Unseen exam502 questions in 2 hours1-8Verbal and written.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Two essaysTwo essays1-8Referral/deferral period
Unseen examUnseen exam1-8Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Roy Foster, Vivid faces: The revolutionary generation in Ireland, 1890–1923 (London: Allen Lane, 2014)

Ronan Fanning, Fatal path: British government and Irish Revolution, 1910–22 (London: Faber and Faber, 2013)

Peter Hart, The IRA at war, 1916–23 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Charles Townshend, Easter 1916: The Irish rebellion (London: Penguin, 2006)

Gemma Clark, Everyday violence in the Irish Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Conflict and Politics in Northern Ireland, University of Ulster:

Databases accessed through the Library website, including: Bibliography of British and Irish History; Dictionary of Irish Biography; First World War Online 

History Hub, UCD School of History and Archives; see especially the ten-part ‘Irish Revolution Podcast’:

International Encyclopaedia of the First World War; see especiallyRichard S. Grayson, ‘Ireland’:

RTE Archives, Exhibitions, ‘Easter Rising’: 

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

History, revolution, war, Ireland, Great Britain, violence, politics, nationalism