Diploma Programmes

The School of Education offers a range of professional diploma programmes.

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The Graduate Diploma in Inclusive and Special Education one-year course empowers teachers at Primary, Special and Second level, to be effective and reflective practitioners who can work with a diversity of students in the most inclusive environment. Through research-informed lectures and site visits, it enhances and develops participants’ awareness of new approaches in the definition, assessment, provision, education and support of persons with additional / special educational needs, whether in mainstream or special educational settings. Primary and post-primary teachers from mainstream schools, special schools and other education providers who are in a full-time, recognised LS/RT position are eligible to apply.

The Graduate Diploma in Inclusive and Special Education will run from September 2021 to May 2022 and incorporates block release from school/centre amounting to a total of eight weeks, four Saturdays of collaborative workshops and seminars and ongoing supervised work in the participant’s own school/centre.

Please note that there are two pathways for entry to this programme; DES funded Applicants and Self-Financed Applicants. Details of both pathways are outlined below.

1. DES Funded Applicants

UCD have a limited number of Department of Education and Skills (DES) funded places on this programme annually where DES-funded substitution cover is provided for the eight week block release time.

Applicants for the Department of Education and Skills (DES) funding must complete the UCD Application Form. Applicants are strongly advised to read this year’s DES circular (Circular No 0009/2021) prior to submitting the UCD  Application Form. The circular (released on February  11th, 2021) contains details on eligibility set out by the DES and other important information. Prior to submitting the UCD Application form, please also ensure that your principal and your Board of Management Chairperson are familiar with the DES circular governing these courses (especially in relation to eligibility).

Applicants must complete the UCD Application Form electronically and email it to UCD (educationenquiries@ucd.ie) on or before 5pm on March 11th, 2021.

Postal applications to UCD will not be accepted.

UCD applications for DES funding on this course is via the above process, please do not edit the circular document and send it to UCD as this will be deemed an invalid application.


2. Self-Financing Applicants

A number of places on the course are reserved for self-financing teachers. Application is currently open to those who are self-financing (ie paying their own course fees and are not being subsidised by the DES). These self-financing applicants can apply online via www.ucd.ie/apply. Fee information for self-financing students is available on our fees webpage.  Applications for self financing applicants will remain open until all places have been filled, early application is advised. Please only apply to the course via www.ucd.ie/apply if you are a self-financing applicant. DES funded applicants must follow the application instructions in the above paragraph.


Students who obtain a 2.1 honours grade in the Graduate Diploma in Inclusive and Special Education have the option to apply to the part-time one-year Masters in Inclusive Education which focuses on research skills.

Further queries on the Graduate Diploma in Inclusive and Special Education and the Masters in Inclusive Education can be directed to educationenquiries@ucd.ie


The Professional Diploma in Education Studies programme is aimed at students who have an interest in deepening their knowledge of education matters and professionals working in areas related to education.  The programme encourages students to engage broadly with education sciences and professional development.  Students can select from a broad range of interdisciplinary subjects or develop their own strand within the diploma, such as focusing on the area of Mental Health and Wellbeing.  


  • Students must complete 30 credits from a wide range of modules on offer in the School. The programme enables students to engage broadly with education sciences and professional development or to develop their own strand within the diploma, such as Mental Health and Wellbeing.
  • On successful completion of the programme, students will have gained sufficient grounding in the theories and issues in the education world and have engaged with concepts, principles, and values from a wide range of academic genres and disciplines
  • Students will critically assess certain key theoretical, policy, and practical approaches to education as informed by the cognate disciplines of education and prevailing influences on educational practice.


Course details are available here


The Professional Diploma in Education (Leadership) deploys a broad concept of leadership that can be applied to teachers at different stages of their career within schools as organisations.

The Professional Diploma in Educational Leadership (PDEL) is aimed at primary and post-primary teachers in the Irish education system. Applicants must hold an honours degree at undergraduate level (or equivalent) from a higher education institution, a recognised teaching qualification and must have a minimum of three years’ teaching experience in either the primary or post-primary sector.

Programme participants will be  motivated to move into a leadership position as well as to challenge the way they think about their work in a variety of ways. The concept of leadership employed is broad and can be applied to teachers at different stages of their career within schools as organisations. The programme draws on a wide-ranging international literature to focus on contemporary policy, practice and leadership challenges.

The programme includes some face-to-face sessions (typically on Saturdays to accommodate travel and attendance from all corners of the country). Our experience is that the combination of on campus days and online teaching and learning provide a dynamic and transformative learning experience for all students.The programme is intended to provide a dynamic and transformative learning experience for all students. We are committed to developing our students’ critical voice through reading, discussion, peer learning, presentations and critical review. These participative learning experiences have been tried and tested by us and ensure that high quality learning outcomes are achieved.

All applications for the September 2020 intake must be fully submitted by Friday, 14th July 2020 (subject to change).


Course details are available here


The Postgraduate Diploma in Middle Leadership (PDML) is a one year, part-time blended programme designed for teachers seeking to develop their professional knowledge and skills, to enhance their leadership capacity. The programme is aimed specifically at those aspiring towards or already occupying middle leadership positions in primary and post-primary schools.

While much of the programme is delivered using the online platform, a key feature of the programme are the on campus sessions. These sessions happen approximately three times per semester and allow for face-to-face collaboration, networking and assessment opportunities that promote the sharing of learning in a professional community.

The programme modules draw on a broad international literature and focus on contemporary policy, practice and leadership challenges. They are intended for those who are passionate about leading research-informed, practice-focused improvement and, through the programme’s assessment opportunities, participants will be supported to lead and reflect on sustainable transformations in their school contexts.

Pursuing the PDML will enable you to invest in your professional learning while simultaneously advancing your career, as well as contribute to renewal and transformation in the education system.

Upon programme completion, graduates of the PDML will also have the opportunity to continue on a pathway to pursue a Master of Educational Leadership.

Course Features

  • Excellence in blended programme teaching and supervision
  • Understand key policies, trends and developments with respect to school leadership internationally and nationally
  • Enrich practice through an informed, critical, reflective and collaborative approach to learning
  • Reflect on, identify and pursue topics of particular interest and of relevance to personal growth through dynamic approaches to assessment
  • Connect with a professional network in a collegial environment
  • Build capacities to engage purposefully in school evaluation, review and renewal

Course details

The PDML was designed to reflect the importance of middle leadership and to support the professional growth of those aspiring to and occupying middle leadership positions in the Irish education system. Its design is internationally aware but locally relevant. The PDML explores the purpose, practices and potential of middle leaders in schools and the education system. The programme provides opportunities for participants to consider the development of leadership capacity in themselves and others, as well as how educational reforms might be sustainably mobilized from the middle.

Course Structure


  • Contemporary Issues for School Leaders
  • School Leadership for Quality Teaching and Learning


  • The Realities of Leading from the Middle

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the educational leadership programmes occupy a range of school and system leadership positions including:

  • AP1 and AP2 leadership  
  • Programme coordinators
  • Deputy principalship
  • Principalship
  • Support services, including the PDST and JCT 
  • State Examinations Commission
  • Academic teaching and research

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the PDML must hold an honours degree at undergraduate level (or equivalent) from a higher education institution, a recognised teaching qualification and have a minimum of three years’ teaching experience in either the primary or post-primary sector.

For more information about this programme please contact educationenquiries@ucd.ie


Programme brochure available here

Course detailes are aviliable here