Liberal Arts at St Mary's

Liberal Arts at St Mary’s

Read the Guardian Report and the Times Higher Education Article on St Mary’s Liberal Arts degree.


In support of Government policy to increase provision in Higher Education, St Mary's offers a BA (Hons) degree in Liberal Arts. This innovative degree offers a combination of focused study in one discipline, and broad interdisciplinary development which is the key feature of a Liberal Arts education. It will provide students with a breadth of knowledge that comes from learning how the modern world works and from developing the skills to succeed in new and challenging situations. It is designed to promote the growth of the whole person and to encourage the development of positive values, personal integrity, and a sense of responsibility to the needs of society. Our BA graduates will go into many walks of life and carry the values, standards and excellence that we have nurtured since the establishment of St Mary's in 1900, to the benefit of themselves and the many diverse groups that they will work with.

What is a Liberal Arts degree? 

By definition, a degree in Liberal Arts is a high-quality, multidisciplinary degree. It does not try to prepare you for a specific discipline or profession as with degrees in teaching, law, medicine, engineering and so forth. It is an education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition towards lifelong learning and an acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of our ideas and actions. Liberal Arts degrees are particularly well established in the USA. The Association of American Colleges and Universities defines a truly Liberal education as one which "prepares people to live responsible, productive and creative lives in a dramatically changing world".

The BA (Hons) Liberal Arts degree has a number of distinctive features:

  • a multi-disciplinary study of the person, as an individual and as a member of society, from economic, political and ethical perspectives
  • an economic and cultural exploration of Ireland in its European and global context
  • opportunities to experience the world of work through study visits and placements with businesses, organisations and community enterprises
  • opportunities to develop the key skills of communication as well as career and personal development
  • a careers service that is fully integrated into the learning and teaching programme.

At St Mary’s we are very conscious of our mission to promote economic as well as social development so the BA (Liberal Arts) has a particular focus on preparation for the world of work. We believe that the degree programme prepares the citizens of tomorrow, the leaders in business and across society, and is particularly relevant in Ireland, north and south, at this time.


What does a Liberal Arts degree enable me to do?

Liberal Arts graduates from St Mary’s have been successful in gaining places on a wide range of post-graduate study programmes, and in gaining employment in a varied range of professions including:

  • Accountant
  • Bank trainee manager
  • Business Development Manager
  • Community Education Officer
  • Equal Opportunities Officer
  • Financial Services Advisor
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Irish Language Broadcaster
  • Marketing and Events Coordinator
  • Police Officer
  • PR and Marketing Manager
  • Priest
  • Professional Copywriter
  • Sports Development Officer
  • Teacher

A degree of Queen's University Belfast

The BA (Liberal Arts) has been developed in collaboration and partnership with Queen's University Belfast. Liberal Arts students at St Mary’s are registered students of the University and have access to the University's learning resources such as the library and computing facilities. They are also entitled to use the University's Students Union.

Structure and Content of the Degree

The BA (Liberal Arts) is a three year, full time honours degree organised in three linked elements. All students will take the modules in elements one and two and will choose a subject in element three.


Element 1: Human Development Studies
Element 2: International Studies
Element 3: Subject Study (chosen from: Business Studies, English, Irish, History, Physical Education, Religious Studies)