UCD Open Learning

A flexible way of studying part-time at UCD | Applications close January 22nd 2021

Open Learning means you can fit university around your life. Whether you're looking to progress your career, or you've just finished school and wondering if university is for you, Open Learning fits around your schedule and gives you all the benefits of being a full-time student, without the full-time commitment.

Open Learning allows you to select the modules you wish to study, set the pace of your study, and whether you undertake the module assessment. It also can lead to undergraduate degree entry in UCD if you are taking the Certificate in Open Learning (30 credits) or if you are a Mature Student you can take one module (5 credits) in lieu of MSAP exam. 

Open Learning is for you if you:

  • Need a more flexible study schedule
  • Don’t yet qualify for entry to an undergraduate degree
  • Want to get a feel for academic life before starting a full degree
  • Are interested in one or more of the module topics available and want to learn more from experts in that field

Pre-registration and enrollment for Spring Trimester (January - May) closes on Friday 22 January at 5pm. Pre-registration and enrollment for September 2021 will open in early August 2021.

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With over 300 modules (courses) to choose from as an Open Learner, there is something to suit everyone's interest. All of the modules are at undergraduate level, so it’s a chance to join classes with full-time degree students while learning at your own pace.

There are no entry requirements for Open Learners - Anyone is welcome to sign-up for a module. You can take as few or as many modules as you want, whatever best suits your own schedule, but we recommend three per semester at most.

As an Open Learner, you are a fully registered UCD student, will have a student card, and have access to all of the facilities and supports available to other UCD students.

Most modules can be taken either for audit (€375 per module) or for credit (€500 per module). Audited modules are purely for interest or to get a taste of university classes and do not involve any form of assessment, so there's no need to worry about exams. Credited modules involve completing any of the assessments required for those modules, such as essays, presentations or end of semester exams.

Accumulating Open Learning Credits

Open Learners who successfully complete a credit module will be awarded 5 credits.

  • 5 credits can be used by mature students (23 years and older) in place of the MSAP exam when applying for a place on relevant undergraduate degree programmes at UCD through the Mature Years Entry Pathway.
  • 30 credits (6 modules) can be used to obtain an NFQ Level 7 Certificate in Open Learning, which can then be used for entry to selected UCD undergraduate degree programmes.
  • 60 credits (12 modules) can be used to obtain a Diploma in Open Learning.

Open Learners who successfully complete 30 credits (6 modules) will be awarded an NFQ Level 7 Certificate in Open Learning and can progress to the following degree programmes:

Pathway to Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

An Open Learning Certificate can be used to apply for a limited number of places through the CAO for progression onto one of the following undergraduate degree programmes at UCD, provided that you achieve a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.6 or higher:

* Please note that an Open Learning Certificate does not currently offer progression onto BSc Psychology (DN720), but may be an option through the MSAP alternative (see below).

** (For entry to Law you must also be at least 23 on 1 January prior to entry, and your Certificate must include at least 20 credits of modules from the School of Law. There is a limit of 5 places for Open Learners progressing onto DN600 each year)

Pathway to Science

This is a pilot progression pathway and places are limited. Please note, this pathway is now closed for the 2020-21 academic year.

Students on this pathway must achieve a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.08, pass 6 modules, including the required maths module. Where there are more qualified applicants (i.e students with a GPA greater than 3.08) than there are places, the allocation will be made by highest GPAs.

MSAP Alternative

If you are a mature student (23+) and intend to apply to UCD on the basis of the Mature Years Entry Pathway, you can choose to take any Open Learning module for credit instead of taking the MSAP exam. For more information on the Mature Years Entry Pathway to various undergraduate degree programmes at UCD, please see the dedicated UCD Registry webpage.

To get started, you need to first complete and submit an online pre-registration form: 

Pre-Register Now

What do I do once I am pre-registered and how do I select my modules?

  • After your pre-registration has been approved, you'll receive an official offer of a place on the programme.
  • Once you've accepted your offer, you will receive an email telling you when you can select your modules and confirm your attendance.
  • You'll then be able to log onto your UCD student account (SISWeb), to select and register for your modules, agree to UCD’s terms and conditions, and to confirm your contact details.

Which modules can I take through Open Learning?

You can browse all of the modules offered to Open Learners in at UCD both on our website and in the Open Learning brochure.

Further information on selecting modules is available through UCD Registry.

When will my classes begin?

Spring Trimester classes begin the week of January 18th (view key dates). Your individual timetable will be available on your online student account (SISWeb).

Where will my classes take place?

The vast majority of classses will take place online, but some components (such as labs) will be on-campus. You should ensure that you are familiar with how the class will be taught before completing your registration.


The fee for Open Learning is €375 per audit module or €500 per credit module. (How to pay fees at UCD). Please note that a small number of modules are 10 credits, which will incur a higher fee. 

Scholarship and Financial Support

You may be eligible to apply for a PATH Open Learning Scholarship. Further information and eligibility criteria are outlined on the PATH Open Learning Scholarship webpage. Please note: Applications for Spring Trimester 2020-21 will open on 16 December 2020 and will close on 11 January 2021. 

Alternatively, support may also be available to you through the Sanctuary Programme or the Part-Time Student Support Fund.

We have a dedicated team who support the Open Learning programme:

  • Jenny - jennifer.doyle@ucd.ie
    Dr Jenny Doyle is Project Manager in UCD Access and Lifelong Learning. Jenny can offer you direction and support in all aspects of our part-time programme. She supports Open Learning students from pre-entry to when you exit with your degree offer. If you’re interested in progressing to a degree programme, please get in touch with Jenny.
  • Gillian, Fergal, Irina and Paolo are members of our Operations Team and they can also help you with your queries. Get in touch with us by emailing all@ucd.ie

To stay fully up to date about our Open Learning programme you can join our mailing list.

You can also view a list of our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to most questions.

View Modules

Pre-Register Now


Open Learning Brochure 2020-21PDF|3.48 MB