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Re-Imagining UCD Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: new programmes and new opportunities

Posted on October 12, 2017

Associate Professor Marie Clarke

Dean of Undergraduate Studies, University College Dublin.


UCD is committed to providing an educational experience that is holistic, and one that will instil in students a desire to learn and create, to question and reason, to innovate and explore, and to contribute to society at all levels. Our educational values are underpinned by our commitment to the liberal education which reflect the principles of our founder John Henry Newman but in ways which are relevant to a globally connected world. The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences have a long and distinguished history in University College Dublin, they are the foundation stones on which UCD was built. 

Faculty and graduates in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences have made an outstanding contribution to Ireland, from the foundation of the Irish state and throughout its development as a modern country. Today our faculty in these areas are recognised globally through their publications, their research and citations. 

This is evidenced in the most recent 2017 QS international rankings where UCD is ranked among the top 100 in the world in nine and no 1 in Ireland in sixteen Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences subjects. The most recent First Destination Survey (2016) indicated that over 90% of our graduates from these areas were in employment or further study and the 2017 National Student Survey – Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) indicated that over 85% of students in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in UCD were very happy with their educational experience. 

While conscious of our achievements in these areas we remain cognisant of the demands faced by graduates in the national and international context as global citizens and the need to prepare our graduates to work in new and diverse employment contexts.  Following an extensive review our new degree programmes in Arts and Humanities and in Social Sciences have been designed to support our students in a structured way while continuing to facilitate choice, providing them with new opportunities to enhance their education and student experience.  

Arts and Humanities Programmes

UCD Arts and Humanities curricula are designed by internationally recognised scholars who bring their research excellence to their students through their teaching. UCD Arts and Humanities has the widest range of subject and options in Ireland with an unrivalled choice and three distinctive entry routes.  The Arts and Humanities are recognised as playing a central role in current and future educational, social, economic, and technological challenges.  Through the suite of programmes available, the UCD Arts and Humanities graduate will develop a creative mindset, critical thinking, excellent written and verbal communication, collaborative creativity and innovation, cross-cultural and multi-linguistic understanding, effective research techniques and content analysis, depth and breadth of historical knowledge, flexibility, and empathy.

The new four-year BA Humanities is an interdisciplinary, multi-subject pathway which provides coherence and depth to student learning within a carefully structured framework. There are nine BA Humanities pathways to choose from, which will offer both intensive training in particular disciplines and unique skill sets that are developed through bringing together subjects that speak to and relate closely to each other. The programmes are BA Celtic Studies, Art History & History; BA Classics, Art History & Archaeology; BA Classics, English & History; BA English Literature; BA English, European & World Literatures; BA English, Drama & Film; BA Languages, Linguistics & Cultures; BA Music, Film & Drama and BA English with Creative Writing. 

The four-year BA Modern Languages is designed for students who wish to study at least two languages, choosing from French, German, Italian and Spanish. This programme will enable students to develop a sophisticated degree of intercultural competence, and communicate fluently in a broad range of social and professional contexts.  The three-year BA two subject option provides students with unrivalled choice within this long-established and internationally recognised degree.

Social Science Programmes

UCD Social Science programmes are designed and taught by internationally recognised scholars providing students with a social science education which transforms their understanding of how societies function, how they are governed, how people work and live, how people communicate and how they learn. The four-year BSc in Social Science is a new, dynamic and innovative programme combining training in the use and analysis of quantitative data - social and economic statistics, with qualitative methods, such as interviews and focus groups.   

The programme offers enhanced opportunities for developing vital skills such as communication, teamwork and leadership and familiarity with other cultures through internship and study abroad opportunities. Students can choose from five options BSc Computational Social Science; BSc Economics, Mathematics & Statistics; BSc Landscapes and Society; BSc Philosophy, Politics & Economics and BSc Social Sciences Two subject combination in the following subjects: Archaeology, Economics, Geography, Information and Communication Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Social Justice and Sociology.

The BSc in Computational Social Science provides a unique combination of training in social science subjects, leveraging the power of big data, computer simulations and social networks to understand social phenomena and individual behaviour. This degree is at the forefront of these developments in Europe.

The BSc in Economics, Mathematics & Statistics allows students to explore these areas in depth while also understanding how they complement each other.  The BSc Landscapes and Society provides a unique interdisciplinary combination of natural and cultural perspectives on the formation, cultural significance and management of the landscape. 

The BSc Philosophy, Politics & Economics provides a broad and deep understanding of how international society works. In addition, the following social science programmes are offered over three years BSc Psychology and the BSc Economics.  The three year BSocSc Social Policy & Sociology is the standard qualification for those working in social services.  

New opportunities

At UCD we take a long-term perspective where we acknowledge that employability is a work in progress throughout one’s working life. We work with our students in ways that will support them to be successful in the future not just in securing employment but in establishing a career.   The four-year duration of these new degree programmes creates space for new pedagogical approaches, study abroad opportunities and internships. Our new programmes emphasise social constructivist pedagogies that stress participation, active learning and social interaction. 

UCD encourages all of its undergraduate students to experience a period of study abroad so that they can benefit from a transformational experience in a global context.  UCD has more than 400 exchange partners and students taking our new degree programmes in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences can avail of opportunities at some of the leading universities in Europe, Asia, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.   

Our students who experience different social and cultural settings develop a global mind-set that raises their intercultural awareness.  As UCD accounts for over 30% of international students in Ireland, our domestic students have endless possibilities to mix and learn with other students from 120 countries around the world.  Employers believe that international experience is important and look for many of the transversal skills that are enhanced through mobility, such as confidence, tolerance towards others, problem-solving and an openness or curiosity about taking on new challenges.

UCD has an extensive range of strategic partnerships with leading global companies. In 2017 UCD was named no. 1 in Ireland and no. 75 in the world for employability in the QS Graduate Employability rankings. The UCD Career Development Centre has worked closely with academic colleagues to enhance programmes through the provision of personal and professional development opportunities for students. In 2016/17 this included the delivery of 159 developmental workshops/seminars to over 7330 students. 

To recognise the value to the individual, university and the wider community of co-curricular engagement, and to acknowledge the personal development that UCD students gain through co-curricular activity, the CDC developed and launched two co-curricular skills awards – UCD Embark and UCD Advantage. These will be rolled out across the university in the 2017/18 academic year. 

The  Career Development Mentoring scheme which matches UCD Alumni to current students has been very successful.   Each year UCD Career Development Centre facilitatesengagement between UCD students and top national and international employers, through recruitment fairs.  In 2016/17 these fairs were attended by 5184 students and 211 employers. To enable students’ engage effectively with the graduate job market, one-to-one career coaching consultations are also delivered.

A core element of curricular change in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences programmes focussed on the introduction of internships. Employers want graduates who know how to think, how to analyse large amounts of data from different sources and can construct and write a coherent argument.  This leads to creative and innovative solutions to complex issues that employers grapple with on a daily basis. 

Through the provision of optional internship experiences on our four-year degree programmes in Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, students will have the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge in employment settings, enhance their confidence in a workplace context which will ease their future transition to professional life and demonstrate their skills, abilities and attitudes to future employers. Students will have the option of availing of internship opportunities in state bodies; charitable organizations; arts or cultural organizations; or industry partners. 


The reimagining of Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences programmes in UCD is student focussed.  These new programmes will develop in students a sense of self belief which will be nurtured in the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge, their pedagogical encounters and through new opportunities to travel and gain valuable internship experiences.  In UCD we support our students to believe that they can achieve their goals and the environment we create will allow for goal attainment so that they can be successful in their chosen careers, which will benefit themselves, the economy and the wider communities to which they belong.  

Discover UCD's Arts & Humanities Courses here

Discover UCD's Social Sciences Courses here.  



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