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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of terms

This glossary provides definitions of terms that are used on the Access and Lifelong Learning website and throughout University College Dublin. Further terms can be found on the UCD Jargon Buster webpage.

- A -

Access Courses

The UCD University Access Programme, which includes both Access to Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Law (AHSSL) and Access to Science, Engineering, Agricultural Science and Medicine (SEAM) courses, aim to equip mature students with the skills and confidence required to take the next step to a Third Level course in UCD. These courses are designed to help mature students, who may not have the necessary formal qualifications necessary to gain entry to certain courses in UCD, equip themselves with the skills and confidence required to take the next step to a Third Level course in UCD.

Age-Friendly University

UCD is a designated Age-Friendly University, as part of the AFU Global Network. Learn more about the AFU principles.


The acronym used for "Access and Lifelong Learning"

ALL Team

The team of about 20 full-time staff members who work in UCD Access & Lifelong Learning, assisted by a large group of exceptional student Access Leaders.

Audit Module

When you take a module for audit through Open Learning, you attend the module for your interest only and will not do any of the assessments, such as essays or exams.

- C -

Campus Accessibility

Campus Accessibility refers to the creation of a campus that can be used by everybody, irrespective of ability or disability.

Core Module 

A module that you must do as part of your programme. You will usually be pre-registered to these modules. The UCD Course Search will show you the core modules for your programme.

Cothrom na Féinne

Cothrom na Féinne is UCD's Irish language motto and refers to fairness and equality. It is also the name given to a programme of scholarships that are administered through Access & Lifelong Learning.


This is the value given to a module. For example: A 5-credit module will require 100 to 125 hours of work. This includes lectures/ seminars, self-directed study and assessment.

Credit Module

When you take a module for credit through Open Learning, you attend the module and complete all assessments required for successful completion of the module. On successful completion of the module, you will earn 5 credits.

Cultural Partners

UCD Access & Lifelong Learning has, as part of the Lifelong Learning Programme, a number of external "cultural partners", where Lifelong Learning courses are held. View a list of these cultural partners.

- D -


DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places at reduced points to school leavers who as a result of having a disability have experienced additional educational challenges in second-level education. For further information, please click on the following link (opens in a new window)http://accesscollege.ie/

- E -

Elective Module

These are modules you can choose from any subject areas across UCD.

- F -

Future You

Future You is a college mentoring programme for 5th Year school pupils in schools (linked to UCD Access and Lifelong Learning) who aspire to go on to third-level study.

- G -

Grade Point

Each grade has a number associated with it, called a grade point. This is used to combine grades in all your modules and calculate an average score.

- H -


HEAR (Higher Education Access Route) is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places at reduced points and extra college supports to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are resident in the Republic of Ireland. For further information, please click on the following link (opens in a new window)http://accesscollege.ie/

- L -

Laboratory, Practicals and Fieldwork

These are opportunities for you to do the practical work related to your course and to put into practice the knowledge and techniques you learn in your lectures, e.g. carrying out chemistry experiments or visiting historic sites.


The level of a module is an indication of the level of difficulty of the learning outcomes and the material covered, and broadly indicates the stage in your academic career when you are likely to attempt the module. Levels range from 0-5 with 0 being the most basic level. Generally, levels 1-3 are taken by undergraduate students.

Lifelong Learning Programme

The UCD Lifelong Learning Programme is a collection of part-time, specific interest courses that are participative, engaging and facilitated by experts in their field. They are not for credit, but purely for the joy of learning.

- M -


While your programme shows what degree you’re studying, such as a BSc, your major will show what subject area your degree is in, such as Zoology.

Mature Student

A mature student in UCD is anyone who is at least 23 years of age on 1 January of the proposed year of entry. 

Module Coordinator

The Module Coordinator is responsible for the design, delivery and assessment of a module and acts as the principal examiner for that module. The Course Search will tell you who the coordinator of a module is.


MSAP (Mature Students Admission Pathway) is a test designed to assess a range of competencies considered important for success in tertiary study. The purpose is to assess your ability to understand and analyse material you will be given, to think critically about issues and to organise and express your thoughts in a logical and effective way.

- N -


The NUI or National University of Ireland is made up of a number of universities and colleges in Ireland. One of these universities is UCD. Each university or college operates individually, for all essential purposes, except that the degrees and diplomas are awarded by the National University of Ireland.

- O -

Occupational Therapy Service

The Occupational Therapy Service is a student-centred, private and confidential service in which students work 1:1 with a qualified Occupational Therapist in order to develop the necessary academic, social and personal skills for fulfilling their role as a UCD student. The Occupational Therapy Service is available to students who are registered with UCD Access and Lifelong Learning who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, and/or physical/sensory difficulties. Occupational Therapy is a client-centred health profession, focused on the promotion of health & well-being by working collaboratively with people to enable them to participate in the activities or "occupations" of everyday life which they need and want to do in order to fulfill their valued roles.

Open Learning

Open Learning refers to a range of undergraduate modules available to anyone to take, without any formal entry requirements. 

Option module

A module that is part of your programme. You will be given a list of option modules to choose from when you register online. The Course Search will show you the option modules for your programme.


Each UCD degree programme has their own tailored orientation events which give new students important information about their specific degree programme and introduces them to their new classmates.


Outreach is an activity of providing services to any populations who might not otherwise have access to those services. A key component of outreach is that the groups providing it are not stationary, but mobile; in other words they are meeting those in need of outreach services at the locations where those in need are. In addition to delivering services, outreach has an educational role, raising the awareness of existing services.

- P -

Pathways to Education

UCD is committed to the objective of promoting ‘equality of access to higher education, irrespective of social class, age or disability’. To widen access to 3rd level, participating colleges have developed a range of pathways. These include pathways for QQI-FET applicants, HEAR applicants, DARE applicants, and Mature Students.

Peer Mentoring

The aim of the Peer Mentoring Programme is to provide peer support for Stage One students to assist them in their transition to university life.


This is your course of study, for example, BA Degree. Each programme will have a set number of stages and credits that you need to complete to get a University award (degree, diploma or certificate).

Programme Office

Each course (programme in UCD) is supported by a Programme Office. They are your first point of contact if you need academic advice or pastoral support. They are there to help you with any concern or query relating to your degree programme.

- Q -


Students with the relevant and appropriate QQI-FET (Level 5/6)* qualifications and components, with a minimum of distinctions in five modules, may be admitted on a competitive basis to certain UCD courses. QQI-FET AWARDS information.

- S -


A student will progress through an undergraduate programme in stages. An undergraduate stage is normally completed when a student has successfully accumulated 60, 90, 120 or 180 credits.

For full-time undergraduate students, a 60-credit stage will normally be completed in one academic year (two teaching semesters).  Part-time students may progress to Stage 2 after completing 60 credits over a number of teaching semesters.  Programme specifications will define the credit requirements of each stage.


SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) is a means-tested maintenance grant and is the main financial support available for eligible students attending full-time programmes at UCD. For further information and to find out if you are eligible for this grant, you can visit (opens in a new window)www.susi.ie

- T - 


The academic year is divided into trimesters. Undergraduate programmes have two trimesters - Trimester 1 runs from September to December and Trimester 2 runs from January to May. Within each semester you will have 15 weeks of teaching, revision week and exams.

- U -

Universal Access to Education

Universal Access to Education is the ability of all people to have equal opportunity in education, regardless of their social class, gender, ethnicity background or disability.

Universal Design

Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

University for All / UCD for All

University for All is an initiative to move the work of access and widening participation from the margins to the mainstream, using the principles of Universal Design. This initiative demonstrates that we are an open and welcoming university, and believe that higher education should be an option for all students

University of Sanctuary

In 2018, UCD was awarded "University of Sanctuary" designation. This is primarily through the provision of a scholarship scheme for students seeking asylum or who have been granted refugee/subsidiary protection status in Ireland, but who do not yet qualify for state support (such as HEA Free Fees or SUSI).

- V -


The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) (i.e. Brightspace), is an eLearning tool, specially designed for universities. It is used by lecturers to share course material with students and to post class announcements. It also includes other useful features such as virtual classrooms, discussion forums, surveys and much more. You can access it through UCD Connect.

- W -

Widening Participation Committee

A UCD committee made up of students and staff, whose job it is to oversee and monitor progress towards the achievement of the University’s objective of diversifying the student profile to reflect that of the general population. Learn more about the committee.