Return to the search form Return to your search results

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

• Sophomore, Junior, or Senior standing at the time of application

• Attendance at orientation programming

Application Due:


Program Cost:

Click 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, and especially 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.

The program has two components: writing workshops, and an interdisciplinary Irish literature & culture course. It offers six semester hours of credit. Grades are issued by the University of Iowa on a University of Iowa transcript.

The creative writing workshop converts to CNW:3644 (Dublin Writing Workshop) and applies to the Non-Fiction & Creative Writing area of the University of Iowa English major and the Writing in Context focused elective for the Certificate in Writing. The literature & drama course converts to ENGL:3520 (Literature & Culture of the 20th Century) and fulfills the Transnational & Post-Colonial area of the English major.

Academic Program

Classroom of James Joyce, Newman House, Dublin

Classroom of James Joyce
Newman House, Dublin

Writing workshops are held three times a week. Writing workshop hours may be increased to facilitate workload. The interdisciplinary literature and culture course also meets three times a week. Classes and workshops are held Monday - Thursday (no classes are held on Fridays).

Participants are awarded U.S. letter grades on a University of Iowa transcript, and the courses may not be taken on a pass/non-pass basis. Participants receive one grade for the writing workshops, worth 3 semester hours of credit, and one grade for the Irish literature & culture module, also worth 3 s.h. Assessment for the Irish literature & culture module will consist of class participation, 2 midterm papers, and 2 final papers. Assessment for the writing workshops is continuous and consists of class participation, completion of assignments, student-teacher conferences, and effort and development during the course of the summer.

Program Director

Phillip H. Round is the John C. Gerber Chair in English at the University of Iowa. He has written three books, including The Impossible Land: Story and Place in California’s Imperial Valley (New Mexico, 2008), a non-fiction account of his southwest desert homeland. More recently, Professor Round was awarded the James Russell Lowell Prize for Removable Type, a study of American Indian books and writing in the nineteenth century. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book—literary or linguistic study, critical edition, or critical biography—written by one of the 30,000 members of the association. Round is the 42nd recipient of the award and the first ever faculty member from the University of Iowa to be so honored.

In addition to numerous scholarly articles, Professor Round is a regular reviewer for Public Books, a curated online literary journal. He is also the author of the blog The Repatriation Files, a forum dedicated to issues of Native American cultural sovereignty.

Professor Round has been awarded two Fulbrights (Portugal 1996 and Spain 2009) and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013.

Writing Workshops

The workshops meet three times a week for six weeks and are taught by Irish writers. 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' work will be sent to the Academic Director for evaluation at the time they apply to the Irish Writing Program. 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.

Irish Literature & Culture

Doorway, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

Photo by Jim Tade
Doorway, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

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 dramatic 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.

Cultural Activities

Harbor at Portmagee, Co. Kerry

Photo by Jim Tade
Harbor at Portmagee, Co. Kerry

Several tours are planned and are included in the program fee. Day tours may 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. A weekend excursion is also included in the program fee. Transportation, 2 nights lodging, entrance fees, and a group dinner are covered. In the past, the group has traveled to Western Ireland or to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

During the program, participants are allowed to travel outside of Dublin and its suburbs. However, the program strongly suggests that no more than 2-3 weekends of travel are taken. More travel may hinder a participant's work and performance in the program.

Program Dates

Dates for the Summer 2017 session will be finalized in mid-spring 2017, and are expected to be similar to the dates from the Summer 2016 session.

The 2016 Irish Writing Program were as follows: June 2, 2016 - July 16, 2016 (vacate apartments and return to U.S. or independent travel in Ireland/Europe) .

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

The Irish Writing Program takes place on the University College Dublin campus in the Belfield section of Dublin, where students are housed and where the 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 central Dublin. UCD is a comprehensive university and, at 25,000 students, it is Ireland's largest university. 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. “Ireland” is one of two countries that are located on the Irish isle. The Republic of Ireland is the proper name for “Ireland,” 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 has a very rich past, and is known for its friendly population. Its contribution to literature written in English and indeed other languages is immense.

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 kitchen and living areas. 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 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

Travel Arrangements

The exterior of Roebuck Hall

The exterior of Roebuck Hall

Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Dublin, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. A list of travel agencies and internet resources will be provided. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee.

Participants are expected to arrive on the morning of the start date of the program and will be met at the Dublin airport by staff from our program and from the UCD international office, who will be at the airport until noon. For those students who arrive/depart Dublin independently of the group flight and are unable to take the arranged shuttle, we will provide information about alternative ways to get to campus at the beginning of the program and to get to the airport at the end.

Local Transportation

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


Required and Preferred Selection Criteria

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. 
  • 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 responsibility 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 at minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA to participate in this program. Applications from students who have a G.P.A. below a 3.0 may be considered for the program, but will be interviewed by the faculty director by telephone prior to acceptance.
  • 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 the London Performance Study program.
  • Completion of at least one semester of college level study prior to the start of the program - First-year student applicants should be prepared to provide at least two academic references when submitting their application materials.
  • Approval By Faculty Director- Applications will be reviewed by the program’s faculty director, and students will be accepted based on their review of a writing sample, an academic recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
  • Attendance at mandatory orientation programming- Students must attend all pre-departure orientation programing.

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

  • Have completed at least two prior semesters of college-level study- Students who have already completed at least two semesters of college-level study at the time of submitting their application are preferred.

How to Apply

You can find the application for this program on our website by clicking here. Non-UI students cannot apply through our online system; those students should request a PDF application from

The deadline for completed applications is expected to be mid-March 2017.

Applicants must submit a writing sample between 10 and 20 double-spaced pages. This sample can be fiction or literary nonfiction. You may also combine genres and submit multiple pieces that add up to the minimum of 10 pages. Please do not send more than 20 pages. As poetry and plays are not writing styles taught on the program, all writing samples should be in prose form.

Along with the writing sample, a statement of purpose essay of approximately 300 words is required. Students will need to submit an academic reference form which will be provided once the online application is completed (non-UI applicants: This form is included in the application PDF).

UI students should upload their supplementary materials via the online application. Non-UI students should mail these to the study abroad office.


The program fees for the Summer 2017 session will be finalized in spring 2017. The 2017 fees are expected to be similar to the fees for Summer 2016.

For Summer 2016, the course fee was $5,700. The fee included all academic and administrative expenses, housing, a Dublin bus pass, on-site orientation, a welcome dinner, program-related transportation expenses in Ireland, cultural visits, entrance fees for museums and theater outings, a speaker series, a weekend excursion, and a farewell dinner.

The course fee is charged to the students’ University of Iowa Ubill shortly before the program begins.

The following items are not included in the course fee:

Costs charged to the Ubill

  • Application fee ($50 Charged at the time of application.)
  • Study Abroad Administrative Fee ($551 See the Study Abroad Administrative Fees section below for more information) Charged at the same time as the course fee.)
  • CISI health insurance (approx. $30) charged approx. 3 weeks prior to departure)

Costs charged separately from the Ubill

  • Round trip airfare from Cedar Rapids (approximately $1600) Paid by student directly to travel agent or airline- by mid-April)
  • Food (approx. $1000) paid by student at their discretion while abroad. )
  • Passport (approx. $135) paid by student prior to departure- by April.)
  • Immigration fees (approx. $325) paid by student in arrival in Ireland.)
  • Medical Exam/Immunizations (variable, but typically $200)< Paid by student prior to departure- by mid-May)
  • Personal expenses (approx. $1000+) paid by student at their discretion while abroad)

Study Abroad Administrative Fees

University of Iowa study abroad administrative fees are included for all participants. They are based on tuition set by the Iowa Board of Regents. Please check the Costs of Study Abroad page for more information on these administrative fees.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Please note the amounts listed below apply to the 2016 session of the Irish Writing program. These fees may change during future sessions.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
March 22- 30, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 10%
March 31- April 12, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 25%
April 13- May 2, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 50%
After May 3, 2016 Administrative fee: $400
Portion of program fee: 100%

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Students may be able to use financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) to cover some of the costs of this program. Take a look at the Financial Aid section of the Study Abroad web site for information on applying your aid package to study abroad, and speak with the Office of Student Financial Aid to find out what might be available to you.

Students from outside of the University of Iowa should contact their home school study abroad office for information on financial aid options.

Study Abroad Awards

The Study Abroad office offers several scholarships and grants for Summer session programs. The awards listed below are available to University of Iowa students studying on the Irish Writing Program:

1- Need-Based grants (For students in good academic standing, and who current year FAFSA has been processed by UI Office of Student Financial Aid)

2- International Student Study Abroad Scholarship (See web page for details)

3- Diversity Ambassador Scholarship (see web page for details)

4- Iowa Abroad Scholarship (For Iowa resident students who began studying at the University of Iowa in Fall 2015 or later- see web page for details)

5- Stanley Merit-Based Scholarship (For UI undergraduates with a 3.33 GPA- see web page for details)

Other UI-affiliated awards

6- Other University of Iowa awards

7- Bijou Horizons - FilmScene (see web page for details)

Awards from organizations outside of the University of Iowa

(Note that when searching for financial aid from organizations outside of the University of Iowa, it's always best to be safe. Be sure to take a look at these tips to avoid scams before you apply!)

8- External Awards

9- NAFSA’s U.S. Study Abroad Scholarships and Grants List

10- IIE Passport's Study Abroad Funding page

11- U.S. Department of Labor's scholarship finder


13- Or try a Google search for 'study abroad scholarships'!

Finally, if you’re having trouble writing scholarship essays, you may want to contact the UI Writing Center for help!

If you have any questions about funding for this program, please contact Cory Petersen at Cory or call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 for an appointment (Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm).


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 online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON 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.

Vaccinations and Health/Safety

We will address many issues related to health and safety during the orientation sessions, but until then our general advice is that before you go abroad it is best to check with your doctor about any health concerns you have. Take a look at the Centers for Disease Control web site for Ireland-specific health information and visit either your doctor or the Travel Clinic at UI Student Health & Wellness for any vaccinations you might need.

Safety, too, is vital to your study abroad experience. While Ireland is generally a very safe place, unfortunately safety cannot be guaranteed anywhere. Take a look at the Health and Safety section of the Study Abroad website for some tips on staying safe abroad.

OSAC - Ireland: Information from the U.S. Department of State on safety and security abroad. Anyone can subscribe for the free OSAC newsletter to receive international safety news and updates via email.


U.S. Citizens

If you do not have a passport, please apply for one soon to ensure you receive it before the program begins. Students who are U.S. citizens can find more information about how to apply for or renew a passport on the U.S. Department of State’s web site.

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

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

Those with valid passports should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the U.S. from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid through this time then you will need to renew your passport before applying the visa you will need to enter the UK.

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

Non-U.S. Citizens

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


Program participants are required to have a visa to study in Ireland. Please contact your study abroad advisor for more information about acquiring the visa you need to enter the country.

Please note that visas are issued 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 acquire a visa prior to the start of the program in some cases. Please contact Cory Petersen at for more information.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

You can find more information about funding options by clicking on the Application tab above and scrolling to the Financial Aid & Scholarships section toward the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions about funding for this program, please contact Cory Petersen at or call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 for an appointment (Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 5:00pm).

Applying credit toward a UI degree

Unless Study Abroad has an approval on file before your departure 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 are hoping to apply the credit you receive for your program course to a major, minor, certificate, or general education requirement, please contact Cory Petersen at for details on the process. 

Health Insurance and Continuation of Care

As part of the this program, you will be enrolled in health insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI).  For more information about CISI, please visit our Health Insurance Information page.

If you have any current health issues that you might want to receive treatment for while you’re abroad, CISI can help refer you to doctors and develop a continuation of care plan.  If you would like to make arrangements for care while you’re abroad, please contact CISI using the contact information on the site above, or contact Cory Petersen at


Students will need to make their own travel arrangements to get to their program site- Study Abroad will not be arranging a group flight to your study abroad destination.

Do not purchase plane tickets until

  • 1) You have received an official offer of acceptance by your host university.
  • 2) You have finalized your housing arrangements abroad.
  • 3) You are aware of the semester start date and move-in date for your accommodations.

Students will receive contact information for any other program participants about six weeks prior to the start of their program so that they can coordinate travel plans.

If you need advice on making travel arrangements, please contact Cory Petersen at


In-person orientation sessions will be scheduled late in the semester prior to the start of your program in Ireland, usually in mid-November for the spring semester, and late-April for the Fall semester. Your study abroad advisor will be in touch with you about the specific dates shortly after you have been accepted into the program.


You will need to register for this program on MyUI prior to your departure for the UK. You will receive more information on the registration process from your Study Abroad advisor.

Information about Ireland, Cork, and the University College Cork

Resources and Cultural Information

A Page of Art From the Book of Kells

From the Book of Kells


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 web site and information gateway
The Irish Times on the web
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

Irish Websites, Books, and Films

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

Summer 2014 students on the Irish Writing Program share some of their favorite moments:

Photos from past participants: