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Research Workshop: Primary Sources and Culture during the Irish Revolution


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


This course is based on my own ongoing research into all aspects of the Irish Revolution 1913-1923, and aims at helping students to better read, understand, and use primary sources in their own work. In 1913 a Unionist and Nationalist militia was formed in response to the intention of the British Government to introduce home rule for Ireland. This led to a militarisation of the conflict over the political future of Ireland. Unionist who opposed home rule managed to postpone the introduction of home rule till after World War One, which caused nationalist to radicalise. Leading to a rebellion in 1916, a successful election campaign in December 1918 and the proclamation of an Irish Republic in January 1919. This was followed by an armed conflict in the shape of a guerrilla campaign by the nationalist militia now called the Irish Republican Army. This led to a treaty signed in 1921, in which southern Ireland became a dominion and Northern Ireland was created as a separate entity within the United Kingdom. A majority of the IRA who opposed this treaty then fought an unsuccessful civil war, which ended in 1923.
It has often been said that this conflict is the best documented revolution ever having taken place. Two particular bodies of online sources are the witness statements of 1,500 IRA members who reflected on their participation in this revolution, and the digitalised local and national newspapers of this period. By trying to recreate aspects of the conflict we will explore how these sources can be used and what the difficulties of using them presents to us.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
  2. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  3. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
  4. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
  5. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
  6. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
  7. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;
  8. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;
    -in the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities: political practices, symbols and perceptions, nationalism, and national identities in a cultural and societal context from 1800;
  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following;
    -in the specialisation Politics, Culture and National Identities: international comparison and transfer; the analysis of the specific perspectives of secondary studies; a cultural-historical approach of politics and a political-historical approach of culture.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Workshop

The student:

  1. knows how to close-read, analyse and critically reflect on the use of different kinds of primary sources, and use them effectively and creatively in the practice of historical research.
  2. has acquired the ability to use a more complex corpus of sources, and/or the ability to set up and carry out original research which raises new questions, pioneers new approaches and/or and points to new directions for future research.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Workshop (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written final report (3000 words, based on research in, discussion of, or reflection on primary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-14 (ResMA also: 10)

  • Three assignments
    measured learning objectives: 1-8, 14

  • Participation in class and online:
    measured learning objectives: 1-2, 8-9. 11-14


Written final report: 60%
Small assignments and participation: 40%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written final report must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Reading list

Will be announced through Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.