Masters Programmes

‌The UCD School of Education delivers a wide range of taught programmes at graduate level. Our programmes are intended to bring students to a level of knowledge and understanding where they can confidently begin to study modern research literature and can prepare to embark on a research project of their own (under supervision). 

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The MA in Education degree course provides graduates who have academic, professional or personal interests in education with an opportunity to pursue these through study and research at postgraduate level.

  • The programme offers a number of elective modules in Educational Sciences and Professional Development.
  • Students are exposed to a range of research skills and techniques which enable them to engage with, and produce, high quality educational research

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The Masters in Education (Leadership) is a designated stream in the existing Master in Education programme aimed at those who have already successfully completed the online/ blended Professional Diploma in Education Studies (Leadership). Prospective students will carry their 30-credits from the Diploma into the Masters Programme and complete the remaining 60 credits.

Both the PDES and the Masters (year 2) deploy a broad concept of leadership that can be applied to teachers at different stages of their career within schools as organizations. Each of the programmes will include 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. We are committed to developing our students’ critical voice through reading, discussion, peer learning, presentations and critical review. Furthermore, these participative learning experiences will ensure that high quality learning outcomes are achieved.


  1. Leading a Learning Organization (10 credits).  This module examines the role of school leaders in organisational development with respect to two main areas of inquiry (i) leading and managing structures and systems and (ii) leading and managing staff. Key perspectives underpinning this module are the concept of the school as a learning organisation and the idea of schools as professional learning communities as a framework to support school development.
  2. Qualitative Research Methods (10 credits). This module will explore different qualitative research methods, including research interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis, visual analysis and ethnography. At the same time, it will reflect upon theoretical and intellectual issues relating to the practice of doing qualitative research. The module will address key issues, debates and controversies relevant for the way we design and evaluate qualitative studies, while also addressing issues about how such studies are intended to function vis a vis the reader.
  3. Quantitative Research Methods  (10 credits). This module provides an introduction to quantitative research techniques with a view to participants’ having a clear understanding of the key concepts that relate to quantitative inquiry. This module aims to develop a critical appreciation of the key methods including the generation and interpretation of descriptive and inferential statistics, such as cross-tabulations and chi-square. The evaluation of existing research instruments and the development and design of new questionnaires are discussed, as are the conceptual and contextual factors determining the meaning and value of quantitative data.
  4. Research Thesis (30 credits).  Completion of a minor thesis of 15, 000 - 20,000 words on a leadership related topic forms the final programme requirement. This will be undertaken under supervision, and will seek to bring together all elements of your learning but with a particular focus on leadership within your school or cluster with the intention of gaining new insights and understanding as well as seeking to impact the quality of teaching, learning and leading in your own and other’s schools.

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The MA in Educational Psychology (MAEP) Course is a professional training course, designed to prepare students to work as educational psychologists. The course is full-time and is conducted over two academic years, carrying a total of 120 ECTS credits (60 credits for Year 1 and 60 credits for Year 2), leading to the award of the MA in Educational Psychology. The course is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). It involves attendance at lectures and tutorials, engagement in supervised professional practice and the completion of a research project. 

Course Code                         W334/W335

Major Code Duration

2 years, Full-time

Closing date of Entry

Tuesday 7th February 2017


Sarah Walshe;


Dr William Kinsella


Professional training in Educational Psychology is generally available at two levels, Master's level and Professional Doctorate level, and both options are available at UCD School of Education. The MA in Educational Psychology is the standard professional qualification in many jurisdictions. However, within the Irish context, the professional placement experience available within the MA in Educational Psychology programme is unlikely to enable graduates to avail of the full range of available career options post-qualification, such as in Irish healthcare settings. The MA in Educational Psychology programme is, therefore, more likely to be applicable to international applicants rather than Irish applicants. 

The MA in Educational Psychology (MAEP) Course is a professional training course, designed to prepare students to work as educational psychologists. The course is full-time and is conducted over two academic years, carrying a total of 120 ECTS credits (60 credits for Year 1 and 60 credits for Year 2), leading to the award of the MA in Educational Psychology.  The course is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). It involves attendance at lectures and tutorials, engagement in supervised professional practice and the completion of a research project.

Learning Outcomes

The course aims to provide trainee educational psychologists with the theoretical framework and the practical experience necessary to work as professional psychologists within a variety of educational contexts. 

Students will: 

  • Critically examine the discipline of Educational Psychology and the varying roles and responsibilities of educational psychologists.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main theories of Child Development, including: neuropsychological, cognitive, motor, perceptual, social and emotional, linguistic and numerical development in the context of explaining human functioning and dysfunctioning in a variety of contexts.
  • Examine a range of disabilities/special educational needs in relation to aetiology, assessment and diagnosis, as well as the main educational and therapeutic interventions used to support persons with disabilities/special educational needs.
  • Become familiar with models of curriculum development, with particular emphasis on curriculum modification for students with special educational needs.
  • Examine the discourse, assumptions, policy and legislation underpinning educational provision for students with disabilities/special educational needs, with particular emphasis on inclusive education.
  • Critically examine perceived models of best practice in relation to the organisation of provision for students with disabilities and special educational needs with a particular emphasis on an inclusive whole-school approach to such organisation.
  • Explore a range of issues in the Sociology of Education, such as intelligence, disability, ethnicity, gender and social disadvantage, from a sociological and a social psychological perspective. 
  • Gain an understanding of schools as systems, of school cultures and of systems theory in the context of organisational psychology.
  • Become familiar with the main approaches to counselling and develop basic counselling and communication skills.
  • Acquire the skills to formulate and evaluate holistic individualised education programmes, relating to care, education and behaviour.
  • Become thoroughly proficient in the administration of key tests of cognitive ability, school attainment and social, emotional and behavioural functioning and become aware of the issues involved in administering such tests to persons of various ages, presenting with a variety of disabilities/special educational needs and from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Become fully aware of the main issues involved in the conducting of psychological assessments and the production of reports of such assessments, including; informed consent, information gathering and the communication of results.
  • Become competent in interpreting psychological profiles, in writing clear, coherent and relevant reports and in formulating appropriate recommendations.
  • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the ethical and professional issues involved in the practice of Educational Psychology.
  • Be able to evaluate resarch undertaken in the fields of Education and Educational Psychology, acquire reserach skills and engage in substantive research, wit the aim of producing a research paper in publishable format. 


Modules Delivered on the MAEP Course

Year One

  • Inclusion and Equality in Education
  • Child Development Theory Applied to Practice
  • Psychology Practice 1
  • Foundation Disciplines in Educational Psychology 
  • Psychology Practice 2
  • Research Methods

Year Two

  • Child Development: Assessment and Interventions
  • Psychology Practice 3
  • Psychology Practice 4
  • Research Project


Assessment Procedures

There is a variety of assessment procedures employed on the course including; a debate, essay-based assignments, research assignments, class presentations, reserach assignments, completion of professional placement portfolios, supervised professional practise in schools and in psychological services, and the completion of a research project which is presented in publishable journal article format.

Entry Requirements

The MA in Educational Psychology Course is open to graduates who, prior to application, hold a first or second class honours degree in Psychology or a qualification in Psychology that is deemed to be equivalent, and who meet the requirements for Graduate Basis for Registration with the Psychological Society of Ireland or equivalent. An applicant cannot be considered for entry to the course unless the results of his or her Psychology degree/diploma are confirmed and available. Applicants must also have at least two years professional experience, excluding placement experience gained as part of acquiring professional qualifications. Periods of continuous professional experience of less than three months full-time employment will not be considered as counting towards this two years minimum requirement.

Short-listing of applicants for interview normally occurs. In judging applicants’ suitability, account will be taken of academic qualifications, professional experience, research ability and interpersonal skills, as well as communication and presentation skills. Consideration of overall personal suitability for the role of educational psychologist and the quality of references are also integral elements of the selection process.

Successful applicants will have to go through a Garda clearance procedure prior to final acceptance on to the course. Professional conduct on the course is governed at all times by the Code of Ethics of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).




The PME at the School of Education, University College Dublin is a two-year, full-time Level 9 programme which is creative, innovative and a leading model in teacher education internationally. Consecutive in nature, it is a progressive, developmental model which pays systematic attention to: dispositions, values and beliefs regarding professionalism as public service and commitment to social justice with confidence, competence and appropriate expertise, both disciplinary and pedagogical. The programme combines the positive features of the concurrent and consecutive models, with an emphasis on integration and professional coherence. A key element of the PME is practice-oriented enquiry which is both rigorous and systematic, and one which builds relevant and sustainable synergies between theory and practice.

Applications to the PME are made via the Postgraduate Applications Centre, Applications for 2017 are now closed.  

Key Principles Of The PME Programme

The programme is built on the following commitments to:

  • Cultivate a lifelong disposition towards professional growth and renewal that is informed by:
  • a broadly interpreted and inclusive understanding of evidence-informed practice;
  • Imbue all elements of the programme with a critically reflexive yet constructive disposition;
  • Advocate for education as a public good and for commitment to that ‘calling’ to be a teacher as a pledge to being a public intellectual through civic engagement and professional renewal;
  • Pursue, through that activism, the highest professional standards, underpinned by a commitment to one’s own professional renewal and a spirit of lifelong learning;
  • Demonstrate an on-going commitment to the teaching profession by means of a variety of partnerships within individuals, schools, their communities and managements, professional agencies—local, national and international—a ‘web of commitments’;
  • Advocate through one’s own professional engagement the notion of teacher-researcher within a community of scholars, both national and international, to build systematically and more coherently the knowledge-base of teaching, learning and leading.

Programme Design Principles: 

Linkage between the different components of the programme in Education is fundamental in order to bridge the gap between sound knowledge of educational theory and the development of professional competency as a teacher. As such the programme design principles include:

  • Explicit connections between carefully planned module content, coursework and school placement;
  • The scaffolding of student development as pedagogues --‐ ensuring a praxis orientation to student teachers’ work, understood as phronesis;
  • The sustained and critical exploration of diversity across and between all modules;
  • The design and support of school placement to ensure that it occurs within the context of a collaborative professional community which draws on the strengths of the school, the students and the university;
  • An explicit emphasis on quality pedagogy which facilitates the development of content specific pedagogy which is firmly based on good evidence with solid theoretical foundations;
  • Active and diverse pedagogies which scaffold and enhance student reflection and which lead to conceptual change amongst students in relation to what constitutes and contributes to high quality teaching and learning;
Programme Aims: 

The core aims of the PME programme are to:

  • Graduate highly educated Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) who are/ becoming excellent professionals, who are confident and self--‐ assured; committed to their subject pedagogy and to the teaching profession, and who are engaged in on-going professional renewal and development;
  • Develop expertise (subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge) coupled with a deep understanding of the principles of teaching, learning and assessment;
  • Cultivate a disposition which combines passion with purpose, empathy and understanding with cognitive challenge, resilience and hardiness;
  • Encourage students to invest continuously in their own learning and those of their pupils and colleagues through scholarship, research and capacity built in a collegial and collaborative manner;
  • Over time, through in—school mentoring, induction and collaboration enable graduates to become leaders in their specialisms and to enable them to recognise their leadership role in being ambassadors for their disciplines;
  • Cultivate a deep understanding of the formative role of assessment in learning and exhibit the capacity to deploy a range of assessment strategies which enable learners to build their understanding of key concepts in a principled manner;
  • Recognise the significance of reflection in the development of expertise and innovative practice thus providing curriculum leadership within their disciplines, schools and the wider educational community;
  • Combine respect, understanding and empathy in their professional disposition which is cognisant of diversity, inclusion and the consequent necessity for differentiation, discretion and professional judgment in building trust, promoting equity and justice amongst peers, students, parents and the wider public;
  • Enable student teachers to recognise that being and becoming a professional is a continuous journey characterised by a judicious mix of confidence and uncertainty, capacity to make sophisticated professional judgments in the interest of learners, whilst remaining open to possible alternatives, being committed to the benefits of professional community while being sufficiently self-critical to avoid “group think”;
  • Seek at all times to be mindful of professional responsibilities to learners, community and the profession while being principled and vigilant in the promotion and upholding of the highest professional standards.


Year One
  • Pedagogical Approaches and Portfolio (sem 1 & 2, 5 credits)
  • Philosophy of Education (sem 2, 5 credits)
  • Psychology for T & L (sem 1 5 credits)
  • Students, Schools & Society (sem 2, 5 credits)
  • Curriculum and Assessment (sem 1, 5 credits)
  • Educating Ireland (sem 1, 5 credits)
  • Special Methods 1 & 2 (sem 1 & 2, 5 credits each)
  • Professional Placement (sem 1 & 2, 20 credits)
Year Two
  • Research Methods, (semesters 1 & 2, 10 credits)
  • Subject Pedagogy 1 (semester 1, 5 credits)
  • Subject Pedagogy 2 (semester 1, 5 credits)
  • Seminars, weekly (semesters 1 & 2)
  • Tutorials, weekly (semesters 1 & 2)
  • Meetings with professional dissertation supervisor (semester 2)
  • Block Placement

Assessment is a combination of written assignments, reflective practice logs, e-portfolios, poster presentations and oral presentations. School placement is also assessed over the course of both years, by at least two university personnel each year. Typically students can expect at least four visits per year in their school placement. Students must pass the school placement aspect of the programme in Year One in order to progress onto Year Two.