Picking your way through business course jungle

So you want to study business? There’s a huge range of courses to choose from, from certificates to degrees to postgrads and MBAs, at universities, institutes of technology and private colleges. Here’s a selection of what’s on offer

Business study comes with a health warning: the search for the right course can be more labour intensive than the course itself. There are hundreds of offerings, and since business lends itself to coupling with almost any other discipline you can think of – art, food, horses, geography, Japanese – there are more variations than in most subject areas.

The first decision you need to make is what level you want to study at and how much time can you give. In this regard, the breadth of options is a bonus because you should be able to find a course that fits in with your own schedule, whether it’s two mornings a week for a year or four years of full-time research.

The digital space is the most active at the moment, with many new courses coming on stream that offer the chance to operate confidently in online business and marketing. However, most general business and commerce courses also offer modules in this area, so examine the course content closely before making a decision.

The best first stop is qualifax.ie for information on the range of courses available, but the most comprehensive details are always on the individual institutions’ websites. Most universities, institutes of technology and private colleges (such as Griffith College, Independent Colleges, IBAT), and organisations such as Irish Management Institute, run business courses.


Another blooming corner of the business landscape is the area of entrepreneurship and innovation. Many of the courses in the selective highlights below feature modules on business start-ups and developing or managing early enterprises. If setting up a business is one of your goals, make sure that the course you choose has well developed tuition in this area, with personnel that have experience in innovation. Work placement and real world assignments are very important to those about to start a business.

Basic Business
LEVELS 5 and 6

All the local colleges of further education offer business studies in some guise, so if you're coming to business or to third- level education for the first time, that's a good place to start. Most Level 5 and 6 courses ladder to a higher qualification if you want to keep going, so investigate the options for further study. Level 5 and 6 courses are often structured to suit people in employment or those with family.

Pre-university Business
Dunboyne College of
Further Education

One year, full time
Ideal entry-level qualification in business, and a chance to study sales and marketing and progress to work or third level. Subjects include marketing, applied economics, business administration, business law, word processing, business law and accounting (manual and computerised), subject to availability and demand. There is a Fetac Level 6 Cert available in the subject too.

Business for Mature Students Institute of Technology, Cork
Two years, full time (mornings)
This course aims to provide a broad business education with opportunities to specialise. A variety of topics, with the option to progress to Level 7.

This qualification will equip mature students with the skills for opportunities in areas such as accounting, marketing, computing, banking and insurance. With family-friendly timetabling, usually 9am - 2pm Monday to Friday, the course will appeal to parents.

Business Studies
Senior College, Dú
n Laoghaire
Two years, full time

Featuring finance, marketing, human resources and management, this course is examined through continuous assessment, incorporating assignments and exams. With one further year of study, graduates can progress to a Level 8 honours business studies degree.

Ballyfermot College of Further Education
Two years, full time

Broad-based business diploma emphasising the development of personal and technical for a career in business. Subjects include accounting, management, marketing, business law, human resources, enterprise development, e-business and business ethics. Can be used to progress onto degree courses in higher level institutions including IT Tallaght and NCI.

Business and Computers/ Enterprise
iste Dhú laigh College of Further Education
Two years, full time

The course aims to prepare students for a job in business or start their own enterprise. Further studies are also an option. In first year, students can achieve a full Fetac Level 5 Award, progressing to Level 6 in the second year. Business administration, communications, work placement, spreadsheets, customer serv ices and payroll are all covered in the first year. Year two features subjects including entrepreneurial studies and marketing management.

Art and Business
Drogheda Institute of Further Education
One year, full time; two years part time

DIFE’s Art & Design Portfolio Preparation Course was set up by Simon Rainsford at DIFE in 1991 and, since then, 80 per cent of graduates go directly on to third - level colleges of art & design. Students have the option to plan their studies over two years. For those with an interest in art, craft or design as a business, this course introduces students to professional practice, working in a studio environment and following a self-directed tutor-led programme of study. Subjects include drawing, 3D design, printmaking, sculpture, exhibition organisation and exhibition techniques.

Advanced Certificate in Administration and Information Technology for Business
Cavan Institute
One year, full time

Prepares students for employment in the business, finance and ICT sector. Designed for those who wish to gain advanced skills in office administration, IT skills, payroll and book-keeping techniques. A wide range of computer packages are taught, as well as front office skills, banking and insurance studies, word processing, spreadsheet methods, payroll, book-keeping and communications; work experience is included.

Accounting and Finance
with IT
Limerick College of Further
One year, full time

This programme offers participants experience with computerised accounting systems. Successful programme participants can progress to Advance Accounting and Finance with IT QQI/Fetac Level 6. Subjects include accounting, applied economics, business administration skills, taxation and business law.

Higher Certificate in Business
Waterford Institute of
Two years, part time

Designed to provide participants with exposure to a wide range of business skills, the Higher Certificate in Business may be regarded as a terminal qualification or as a stepping stone for students towards more advanced studies in BBS (Honours) courses or professional qualifications. Subjects include management, mathematics, organisational behaviour, marketing, statistics, ICT skills and macroeconomics.

Higher Certificates

Level 7 is just one step below an honours degree and is a useful option for those who want to step up their qualification without embarking on a three- or four-year degree programme. Level 7 programmes can usually be converted quite readily to full honours degrees.

Athlone Institute of
One year, full time

This qualification builds on the Higher Certificate in Business (Level 6) course. Focus is on the role and functions of a modern business enterprise and includes high level general and specialised knowledge related to how industrial and commercial organisations function and critical exploration of the key elements of effective business management. Subjects include managerial finance, business information systems, business law, enterprise development, company law. Students also have the choice to study subjects such as taxation, retail planning and design, logistics and HR.

International Business
Institute of Technology
Three years, full time

In addition to covering business and management modules, this programme also offers modules in office administration, sales support, IT systems, IT support and web design. Main subjects covered include economics, business administration, French, German or Spanish and European studies. Th ere are also modules on international selling and sales management to prepare students for working in the export market or abroad.

Business Administration
Institute of Technology, Sligo
One year, full time

Aimed at graduates of a higher certificate in business and /or information technology, this course has a strong emphasis on information technology. Focus is on developing key managerial competencies in project and people management. A work placement that begins at Easter and runs for a number of months is central . Students can avail of an opportunity to study abroad for the semester through the Erasmus Programme. Subjects include business computer applications, selling, professional business documentation, people management, accounting and payroll software, economics and French, Spanish or German.

Business and Technology
Dundalk Institute of Technol
o gy
Three years, full time

A very comprehensive programme designed to help students acquire a combination of business education and IT skills as well as research and communication skills, creativity for innovation, management studies, cloud-based collaboration, image editing and design and marketing. Electives include global tourism, intercultural studies, Spanish, Chinese and French. Web development and PR also offered.

Business Marketing
Letterkenny Institute of
Three years, full time

A general business focus for the first two years. Second year also provides the opportunity for studying abroad in Europe or the US (Boston) for one semester. The third year of the programme focuses on advanced competencies in marketing. The final year develops personal and professional employment skills with a choice of three applied learning options. Subjects offered include business organisation and management, information technology, enterprise development, sociology, French, German, Spanish, TEFL, Irish and accounting.

BA (Ordinary) in Business
Griffith College Dublin
Three years, full time

A platform for students who wish to pursue further studies or move straight into the workplace. The broad scope of the course means that students gain an understanding of the many aspects of the world of business, allowing for specialisation. Core subjects include communications and customer care, introduction to business management, business computing, fundamentals of accounting, small business development, maths for business decisions.


For those used to the old system, Level 8 is equal to the degree that most school leavers embark upon and takes three or four years to complete. The landscape has changed somewhat, however, with more flexibility at this level and with many more mature students taking up programmes that lead to Level 8 qualifications. Part-time, accelerated and top-up options are now available for those seeking to combine work and study.

Bachelor of Business Studies
Two years, part time (Level 7/
Diploma awarded after year 1)

Delivered part time and using distance learning models, this programme is designed for mature students with work experience who wish to return to education for an undergraduate programme while working full-time. Diploma Level (Stage 1) features subjects such as fundamentals of management, organisational behaviour, law, accounting and finance. Those progressing to Stage 2 (Level 8) will learn about business strategy, project management, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business. At degree level there an option for a project in a self-selected area of business and management practice.

Business (Hon s) Part Time
Cork Institute of Technology
One year and one semester, part time

A programme designed to provide a balanced education through a critical study of business subjects including strategic management, financial management, business ethics, business marketing, workforce diversity, international HRM.

BA in Global Business
Dublin City University
Four years, full time

The BA in Global Business degree combines a broad understanding of business with intercultural experience and paid work placements. Students can immerse themselves in the social, cultural and academic life of another country and gain two qualifications, awarded by DCU and the International Partnership of Business Schools Network, as well as studying business to a high level. Subjects include economics, law, marketing, digital innovation and European integration. Electives include French, German, Spanish, Chinese and English.

Institute of Technology, Carlow
Four years, part time

Aimed at those seeking to combine study with work or other commitments, this programme provides students with a broad skill base covering the basics in core business subjects, as a foundation for more detailed studies specialising in management. The graduate will be qualified to join a management team in industry, banking, public service, financial services and service industries. Subjects include financial accounting, quantitative techniques, economics, business psychology and human resource management .

Business with Irish
Waterford Institute of
Four years , full time

Covers a broad range of business skills and an examination of the financial and economic environment in which firms operate. The first two years of the course introduce students to a range of business disciplines, with specialisation later in the programme. Modules are examined either by continuous assessment or final exam. Students can specialise in years three and four in marketing, accounting, economics and finance, management or human resource management.

Dublin Business School
One year, full time; 16 months, part time

For full-time students, the programme is structured over two semesters with an optional four months’ work experience from June to September. Subjects include management and strategy, marketing, business information systems, the regulatory environment, the economic environment and e-business. Part-time students typically attend lectures on two evenings per week and occasional weekend workshops.

Business, Economics and
Social Sciences (BESS)
Trinity College Dublin
Four years, full time

One of the most popular courses on the Trinity College roster, the BESS programme is designed for students who wish to blend business study with subjects from the social sciences . The programme offers students a broad based education in business, economics, political science and sociology combined with the opportunity to specialise to a high level in a chosen subject or area. All students follow a common first year with modules in economics, management, political science, sociology, mathematics/statistics and either law or a language. Students can specialise in a smaller number of subjects in second year, and in third year can opt to study abroad.

BSc Hons Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship
University College Cork

Four years, full time

A wide ranging programme for those hoping to be leaders in Ireland’s growing agrifood business. Subjects include accounting, economic analysis for food business, communications in food business, foundations of food chemistry, introduction to food science and technology, business law, mathematics for business, microbiology, applied nutrition and consumer behaviour.

Business and Law
University College Dublin
Four years, full time

The new UCD Sutherland School of Law is the setting for this degree combining business and law. Students may undertake a placement in a law firm or non-governmental organisation and/or conduct public interest research. Subjects include fundamentals of law by studying modules in constitutional law and contract law. Also covered are numeracy and financial literacy skills . Assessment is through a combination of end-of-semester examinations, essays and group work projects. Students may specialise in either business or law in fourth year.

Business with French
University of Coleraine
Three/four years
, full time
The French language component of the Coleraine programme is offered at both ab-initio (beginners/near beginners level) and post A Level/Leaving Certificate. It's not just French: business at Coleraine may be taken as a major subject with either a minor business specialism (accounting; marketing; retail studies) or a range of non-business minor specialisms across the campus. Business subjects include accounting, marketing, human resource management, organisational studies, e-commerce, e-services, innovation, finance, entrepreneurship and research skills. Specialist business-related minors include computing, education, environmental science, geography, media studies, international development, Spanish and psychology.

Computer Science and Business
Trinity College Dublin
Four years, full time

Prepares students for careers in computer science and/or business, as well as positioning them for postgraduate study and research in either of these fields. Students engage with a range of computer science and a range of business subjects. The programme is structured to allow students to fulfil some of the requirements for professional accreditation in areas such as accountancy and computer engineering. Subjects include computer science, math s, business and management problem-solving skills.

NUI Maynooth
Three years, full time

Focus is on the development of expertise required to manage new businesses and established companies. Key business skills in areas such as design and creativity, product development, intellectual property, business planning, negotiation and venture capital fund-raising. Communication and analysis are also emphasised, along with practice-oriented projects and work placement. There is an option to convert the BBS to a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) by extending the degree to four years.

BSc Business and Management
Dublin Institute of Technology
Four years, full time

Covering core business and management disciplines in the first two years and allowing for specialisation in years three and four. Students take eight core modules in year one and seven core modules plus one optional module (either EU Framework or Mathematics for Finance & Economics) in year two . Specialisation electives include accounting, enterprise, human resource management, finance, marketing and supply chain management.

Postgrad Business
LEVEL 9/10

If you’re a graduate, all the institutes of technology, universities and private colleges offer postgraduate business courses full and part time, and there’s more choice in the MBA portfolio than ever before. If you haven’t got a background in business, look out for Level 9 conversion courses such as the one-year MA in business management at university to redirect your qualification.

MSc in Management (Digital Marketing)
Dublin City University
One year, full time

The DCU MSc in Management (Digital Marketing), offered on both a full-time and part-time basis, is designed to develop critical thinking and understanding of the digital eco-system, instilling a logical approach to a rapidly changing industry. Lectures, self-assessment exercises, seminars, workshops and a wide range of practical assignments combine to develop a dynamic mix of digital marketing skills, so graduates can pursue careers in international tech companies, or apply specialist knowledge to any entrepreneurial idea or start-up.

MSc Strategy and Innovation
NUI Maynooth
One year, full time; two years, part time

Designed for applicants holding honours undergraduate degrees in business and/or management disciplines. Applications from managers with significant work experience holding degrees in non-business disciplines are also encouraged. The programme focuses on advanced high level exploration of key areas in strategy management and innovation management, with modules in leadership, technology and finance. There is continuous assessment rather than terminal exams.

MSc in Finance & Information Systems
Joint Programme UL / NUI

This course aims to provide candidates with a comprehensive financial markets and information systems education through exposure to quantitative finance, tools and techniques for financial software development. This is a joint programme between the Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick and the J E Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUIG, developed to meet the up skilling and re training needs of specific sectors of the regional economy (business, financial services, ICT ).

Business Management
Uni versity of Limerick
One year, full time

Specifically designed for non-business graduates to develop an understanding of major business disciplines and pursue a business career. Provides a grounding in management principles, systems and techniques in a variety of organisational settings and contexts. Subjects include economics for business, management principles, information management, organisational behaviour and marketing management.

Executive MBA
University College Cork
Two years, part time

Graduates are expected to acquire a broad understanding of all the important functions of an organisation: accounting, finance, strategy, human resources, IT, marketing and operations. This programme is designed for working executives looking to move to upper management levels.

The Smurfit MBA
University College Dublin
One year, full time

One of the most popular MBA programmes in the country, the MBA at the Smurfit School is 50 years old and consequently boasts a 3,500-str ong international alumni network. Subjects include financial reporting, corporate finance, competitive strategy, organisational behaviour, human resources, investment management and doing business in emerging markets.

MBS Retail Management
Dublin Institute of Technology
One year, full time; two years, part time

Aimed at existing managers in retail or service companies who already have an honours business degree or equivalent and would like to deepen their understanding of retailing and broaden their perspective on management. The part-time version runs in the afternoon and early evening one day a week, with full-week modules in late January and late May. The full-time option is better-suited to recent honours graduates in business, commerce or economics who wish to position themselves for a management career in the retail sector or an organisation supplying the retail sector with goods or services. The programme has a multinational focus .

Business – Research
University College Dublin
Four years, full time; six years, part time

This Level 10 PhD is a four-year structured programme with coursework in research methods, discipline specific courses and generic skills and training. It is aimed at graduates with an academic background in business who intend to pursue a career in academia, business education, research, consultancy or related professions. The programme is centred on the preparation of a research thesis to publishable/ peer-reviewed standard. Taught courses include research methodology, advanced disciplinary knowledge, and personal and professional competencies, teaching and communication skills.

For comprehensive listings search “business” on qualifax.ie, or visit the website of your chosen college or university and search courses .