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Irish Writing Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Dublin, Ireland




• Clear interest and commitment

• Demonstrated preparedness/maturity

• Minimum 3.0 GPA (flexible depending on specific circumstances)

• Good academic and disciplinary standing

• Completion of at least one semester of college-level study at the time the program begins

• Faculty approval

• Participation in orientation programming

Application Due:

• Late February

Program Cost:

Check the 'Costs' section under the Application tab.

Gerard Manley Hopkins writing desk, Newman House, Dublin

Gerard Manley Hopkins writing desk
Newman House, Dublin

The Irish Writing Program is a rigorous creative writing program requiring some talent, but most importantly, commitment and discipline. Its goal is to help aspiring writers become better at their craft. University of Iowa students and non-UI students are welcome to apply to the program.

Academic Program

Participants in the Irish Writing Program enroll in two required courses:

Dublin Writing Workshop- CNW:3644

This course is taught by a University of Iowa faculty member. Credit for this course can be applied to the University of Iowa’s Non-Fiction & Creative Writing area of the English major, and the Writing in Context focused elective for the Certificate in Writing.

A syllabus for the Summer 2018 session is provided below.

A syllabus for the Summer 2019 session will be available by early Spring 2019.

Course Description

The workshops meet three times a week for the duration of the program. In addition to having their work critiqued in class, students will receive written analyses of class work. Emphasis is placed on how to read closely and how to get (and give) the best constructive criticism. Students will bring work-in-progress with them and also write new material during the program.

Students write assignments of varying lengths, both short (about one page) and long (about fifteen pages). Students must follow the page-length guidelines closely. In all, students produce about one hundred pages of new work during the writing program. Workshop schedules are organized to ensure that this is an easy goal to achieve.

Because student work is at the heart of the workshop, writing assignments are obligatory. Students must deliver assignments on time. Late work is not accepted.

Doorway, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Photo by Jim Tade
Doorway, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Literature and Culture of the 20th Century- ENGL:3520

This course is made up of three components, each taught by Irish faculty. Credit for this course can be applied to the UI’s Transnational & Post-Colonial area of the English major.

The content of each component covered by this course varies by session. Syllabi for the components taught during the Summer 2018 session are provided below.

Syllabi for the Summer 2019 session will be available by early Spring 2019.

Course Description

An appreciation of Irish literature and culture is inextricably bound to a familiarity with Irish history. This interdisciplinary course will examine Irish literature, drama, visual arts, cinema, music, history, and culture. It will introduce students to a variety of Irish writers, ranging from the modernist authors, Joyce and Yeats, to contemporary poetry, prose, and drama.

The 20th century saw Ireland emerge as a free State in 1922, achieve the status of Republic in 1948, and join the EEC in 1970. Partition in 1926 resulted in Northern Ireland remaining part of Britain, including within its borders a sizeable nationalist minority. These political developments with their ensuing periods of violence created different conditions for writing north and south of the border. Over the last thirty years, the modernization of the Irish economy has led to conflict between church and state over national morality, and this conflict has led to a pronounced urban/rural divide, and a general feeling among women that the state has not always operated in their best interests. These political and social changes have given rise to rich, experimental works of literature that challenge the fundamental concepts of selfhood and identity along national, gender, and religious lines.

Irish theatre has emerged from specific cultural, social, and political contexts since the early part of this century when the Abbey Theatre housed J.M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World and Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock. Both of these plays provided the impetus and the extraordinary dramaturgical templates for most of the Irish playwrights that followed them. Irish theatre has never evaded the politics of nation. The emergence, relative stagnation, and the most recent advances of the Southern Irish State and the tensions and politics of the Northern Irish Troubles combine to make Irish theatre practices internationally respected.

Sample reading list (from a previous program- this will vary according to the tastes and interests of the instructors):

  • John Banville. The Book of Evidence.
  • Oona Frawley (ed.). New Dubliners.
  • Ciaran Carson. Prose & poetry selections.
  • Various writers. Poetry & conflict in Northern Ireland.
  • James Joyce. Dubliners.
  • William B. Yeats. Selected Poems.
  • John M. Synge. The Playboy of the Western World.
  • Martin McDonagh. The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
  • Mark O'Rowe. Howie the Rookie.
  • Frank McGuinness. Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.
  • Tom Murphy. A Whistle in the Dark.
  • Brian Friel. Translations.

Program Director

Blaine Greteman is a professor of English and the Director of the General Education Literature program at the University of Iowa. Before joining the faculty at Iowa he was stationed in London as a writer for TIME magazine, and he continues to write for popular publications including Slate, The New Republic, and The Week, on topics that have ranged from the Congolese civil war, to Iraqi exiles in England, to Gene Wilder’s super-fans. He has also written numerous scholarly articles and a book, The Poetics and Politics of Youth in Milton’s England (Cambridge, 20113).

Greteman was awarded a Stanford Humanities Fellowship to work on his most current book project, Networking English Print, and has received other honors that include a Rhodes Scholarship and being named a Dean’s Scholar by the Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Transcripts and Grading

Participants are awarded a University of Iowa transcript, and are graded using US letter grades.

Each course provides 3 semester hours (sh) or credit, for a total of 6 sh for the summer session.

Applying credit toward a UI degree

Unless UI Study Abroad has an approval on file for the courses you take abroad to be applied toward a specific major, minor, certificate, or general education requirement, you will receive general elective credit for your course.

If you plan to apply the credit you receive for your program course to a major, minor, certificate, or general education requirement, contact Cory Petersen at for details on the process. 

Cultural Activities

Harbor at Portmagee, Co. Kerry

Photo by Jim Tade
Harbor at Portmagee, Co. Kerry

A welcome meal and farewell dinner will be provided as part of the course fee, and the program allows for a variety of opportunities to get acquainted with Dublin and its environs. Excursions are typically offered as part of the course work.

Students can plan to have 2-3 weekends free to get to know the city and the rest of Ireland. During their free time, participants are free to travel outside of Dublin and its suburbs.

Dublin serves as the perfect hub for travel around Ireland and the rest of Western Europe. Day tour options include: an introductory tour of the capital city focusing on important areas of cultural and historic interest, tours of the James Joyce Museum, the Joyce Tower in nearby Sandycove, and the Book of Kells at the Trinity College Library. Longer weekend trips to Western Ireland, Galway, Belfast, London, Edinburgh, and many other regional cities are possible- or even farther if you’re feeling adventurous!

Program Dates

Program dates vary by session. Dates for future sessions are expected to be similar to previous sessions, and will be finalized be early spring.

Dates for the Summer 2018 session were: May 31, 2018 - July 14, 2018.

For More Information

Bray Head, Co. Kerry

Bray Head, Co. Kerry

Cory Petersen
Sr. Advisor & Program Coordinator
Study Abroad | International Program
1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

Tel: +319-335-0353
Fax: +319-335-0343

University College Dublin

The Irish Writing Program takes place on the University College Dublin (UCD) campus in the Belfield section of Dublin, where students are housed and classes are taught.

UCD was founded in 1854 as a place of higher learning which allowed Catholics to attend. It was originally located in the city center, but due to its popularity and rapid growth, UCD relocated to its current large campus about 2.5 miles south of central Dublin. UCD is a comprehensive university and, at 25,000 students, is Ireland's largest. The campus is nicely landscaped and there are numerous playing fields. Notable UCD students include Gerard Manley Hopkins and James Joyce.


Dublin is a vibrant, European capital city of historical and cultural importance. From its many theaters to its beautiful parks to its friendly, cozy pubs, Dublin is an excellent place to be educated and entertained.


Grafton Street busker, Dublin

Grafton Street busker, Dublin

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean. The country of Ireland (properly referred to as the Republic of Ireland) shares the island with Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is an independent country that is a member of the European Union. Northern Ireland is the name of the other country on Ireland, and is a member of the United Kingdom along with Scotland, Wales, and England.

Ireland is a nation of about 550,000 people. Ireland’s friendly population, gorgeous natural environment, unique culture, and rich history make it a fantastic place to study. Ireland’s contribution to literature written in English and indeed other languages is immense, and so the country is an ideal destination for students who want to make the exploration of literature and language the focus of their time abroad.

Cultural Resources


Ireland’s official tourism page on Instagram
The James Joyce Center
Dublin Writers Museum
IES Dublin Center
The Gate Theatre
The Abbey Theatre
The Gaiety Theatre
The Samuel Beckett Theatre
Dublin Castle
National Museum of Archeology & History
National Gallery of Ireland
Dublin city website and information gateway
The Irish Times
Trinity College Dublin

Irish History & Culture links

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
Historical Walking Tours of Dublin
The 1916 Rebellion
Kilmainham Goal
Irish Culture & Customs
Irish Culture Guide
The Irish Language
The Irish Traditional Music Archive

Travel sites

Lonely Planet: Ireland
Rick Steves' Ireland
Discover Ireland

Cork classroom with high ceiling, 8 rows of seats, portraits on wall

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

The common room area in a Roebuck Hall apartment

The common room

Students are housed in fully-furnished, en-suite single rooms in the UCD residence halls, sharing a kitchen and living area. Bed linens, kitchen equipment, and dishes will be provided, but students will need to provide their own towels. The accommodations include wireless internet service and paid washing machines. Students are expected to keep their apartments clean and in the order they were during move-in. Any damage will be assessed at the end of the program.

Accommodations are provided for the duration of the program only. It is not possible to get into the apartments before the official start of the program. Students wishing to arrive a few days early may request recommendations for economical hotels and hostels in Dublin.

Kitchen with a view

Kitchen and dining area


The exterior of Roebuck Hall

The exterior of Roebuck Hall

UI Study Abroad will designate a suggested group flight by early spring. Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Dublin with guidance from UI Study Abroad and are advised to take part in this suggested itinerary.

The cost of travel is not included in the course fee.

Those who participate in the suggested flight will be met at the Dublin airport by program staff and transported by shuttle to the program site. Alternative arrangements for transportation from the airport to the program site for students who do not participate in the suggested flight can be made with guidance from UI Study Abroad.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from UI Study Abroad.

Local Transportation

Dublin has an excellent public transportation system comprised of buses and a light rail. A transportation pass for each student is included in the program fee. Dublin's modern, international airport provides a hub to all major European capital cities.


The Irish Writing Program is open to students of all majors who fulfill the following requirements:

  • Clear interest and commitment: This program is open to students of all academic backgrounds. Students must demonstrate a clear academic or personal interest in the program’s subject matter and a commitment to engage responsibly in coursework abroad.
  • Demonstrated preparedness and maturity: Students must demonstrate preparedness to take on the heightened responsibilities associated with international study and travel. Students must demonstrate a commitment to behave responsibly abroad while respecting cultural differences. Students are expected to obey both local laws and program directives conveyed to participants before and during the program. The University of Iowa Code of Student Life applies to all program participants while abroad.
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA: Students must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA to participate in this program. Applications from students who have a GPA below 3.0 may be considered for the program, but will be interviewed by the faculty director in order to make a final acceptance decision.
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing: Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa, or at another US college or university where the applicant is enrolled in a degree program. Students placed on either academic or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad on a University of Iowa program. Academic and disciplinary history will also be considered when determining whether a student is prepared to represent the University of Iowa as part of this program.
  • Completion of at least one semester of college-level study: First-year student applicants should be prepared to provide at least two academic references when submitting their application materials.
  • Approval By faculty director and UI Study Abroad: Applications will be reviewed by the program’s faculty director, and students will be accepted based on their eligibility, a review of a writing sample, a grade report, an academic recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
  • Attendance at mandatory orientation programming: Students must attend all in-person and online pre-departure orientation programming.

In addition to the requirements above, preference is given to applicants who:

  • Have completed at least two prior semesters of college-level study: Preference is given to students who have already completed at least two semesters of college-level study at the time they submit their application.

Participants who are enrolled at institutions other than the University of Iowa

Students who attend institutions other than the University of Iowa must also contact their home school study abroad office to review any additional study abroad requirements.


Students will be responsible for paying many of their program costs through their University of Iowa U-Bill, while other costs will be out-of-pocket costs paid by the student directly to vendors before and after going abroad. Refer to the cost sheets below for details on the costs associated with this program.

The cost sheets outline the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. They include fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

Costs for future sessions are usually similar to the current session, however students can expect a modest increase in overall costs each session. Final cost sheets for future sessions are typically available early in the semester before the session begins.

Cost Sheets

The following cost sheets apply to the Summer 2018 session.

PDFCost Sheet- Irish Writing Program- Summer 2018- UI Students

PDFCost Sheet- Irish Writing Program- Summer 2018- Non-UI Students

Cost sheets for the Summer 2019 session will be available by mid-spring 2019.

Calculating Fees

The cost sheets are based on the fees described below:

Cost sheets do not include the following optional costs:

Personal Travel Costs

Costs for personal travel are not included in the cost estimates provided on the cost sheet. If you plan to travel outside of your host city or country during or after your study abroad program, you will need to budget for additional funds to cover the cost of your personal travel.

The cost of personal travel depends entirely on each student’s individual travel plans and spending habits. Estimates for personal travel costs provided by past students on this program vary significantly from $1,500 to as much as $9,000 or more per session.

Costs charged to the U-Bill

  • Application fee (charged at the time of application, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
  • Course Fees- Includes host university tuition (charged shortly before departure)
  • Study Abroad Fees (charged shortly before departure)
  • CISI Health Insurance (charged shortly before departure)

Out-of-pocket costs (not charged to U-Bill)

  • Food (paid by student at their discretion while abroad)
  • Round trip airfare from Cedar Rapids (paid by student directly to travel agent or airline- approx. 6-8 weeks prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships are disbursed)
  • Local transportation (paid at student’s discretion while abroad)
  • Passport (paid by student prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships are disbursed)
  • Immigration fees (paid by student upon arrival in Ireland)
  • Medical exam/immunizations (paid by student as needed prior to departure, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
  • Personal expenses (paid by student at their discretion while abroad)
  • Cell phone (paid as needed while abroad)
  • Textbooks (paid as needed while abroad)
  • Personal travel expenses (paid as needed while abroad)

How to Apply

University of Iowa students

  • Meet with Cory Petersen to discuss your study abroad plans well ahead of the application deadline. Your application will not be approved until you've completed this step. You can set up an appointment by calling UI Study Abroad at 319-335-0353.
  • Meet with your academic advisor(s) to discuss how this program might fit your graduation plans, and to ensure that it meets your academic and personal goals.
  • If you and your academic advisor agree that this program is a good match for you, complete the UI Study Abroad application. Please note that the non-refundable $50 application fee will be charged to your U-Bill as part of this online application.
  • Submit the online application before the application deadline.
  • Shortly after submitting your application materials, you will be contacted by IES Abroad, our partner institution in Dublin, with additional materials that must be submitted directly to them.
  • The faculty director and your study abroad advisor will review your application materials and, if you meet the requirements for the program, you will be contacted with your acceptance status within several weeks.

Non-UI Students

  • Contact the study abroad office at your home university and ensure you follow all of the policies and procedures required for you to participate in this program.
  • Complete the PDFNon-UI Student Program Application and submit it to the University of Iowa before the application deadline.
  • Shortly after submitting your application materials, you will be contacted by IES Abroad, our partner institution in Dublin, with additional materials that must be submitted directly to them.
  • The faculty director and your study abroad advisor will review your application materials and, if you meet the requirements for the program, you will be contacted with your acceptance status within several weeks.



If you are accepted to the program, you will be asked to commit to participating in your program by submitting the University of Iowa Confirmation of Participation form by mid-March.

After you have formally confirmed your plans to participate, you will work both with UI Study Abroad and IES Abroad. Follow instructions from both. Later in the semester, your UI study abroad advisor will contact you regarding orientation sessions, registration, and other required UI procedures and documentation.

Application Deadline

Applications for the Summer 2019 session will be due by early Spring 2019.

Acceptance and Confirmation Materials

When you are officially accepted to the program, you will receive an email from UI Study Abroad providing you with your acceptance status, links to the final estimated costs, and a document that you will need to submit to formally commit to participating in the program.

These materials are typically available within 8 weeks before the end of the current semester.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

You can find information about options for funding your study abroad experience, including financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc, on UI Study Abroad’s Funding Website.


All program participants are required to complete immigration requirements to enter and study in Ireland. Contact your study abroad advisor for more information about completing the immigration requirements you will need to enter the country.

Note that permission to enter Ireland is provided by the Irish government based on that country's immigration requirements. Currently, Ireland's immigration requirements include considerations related to specific national origin, national heritage, criminal background status, and similar issues that can make it impossible to be permitted entrance to the country in some cases. Contact Cory Petersen at for more information.

It is also essential that you thoroughly review all of your immigration materials before you leave for your host country to ensure that they are absolutely complete and accurate. It is entirely your responsibility to ensure that all of your immigration documents are in order and fully accurate before you leave for your host country. If any of your immigration documents contain inaccurate information of any kind, contact Cory Petersen at immediately to discuss your options.

Do not apply for your visa or begin work your immigration requirements until you receive more information from UI Study Abroad.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.


US Citizens

If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students without a valid passport should apply for a new passport or a passport renewal as early as possible.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact Cory Petersen ( for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.

Predeparture Resources

UI Study Abroad offers a variety of general predeparture resources. Review the following materials, and feel free to pass them along to your family or other loved ones to help them understand more about your upcoming program.

These materials may be periodically updated to reflect new program information prior to departure- contact your study abroad advisor for more information.

Please note that your program provider and host institution may provide you with additional predeparture materials specific to your study abroad program. Also review those materials, share them with your family, and refer back to them if you have any questions.

Past participants share some of their favorite moments: