Postgrad Options 2021: Spotlight on courses around the country

A selection of popular postgraduate courses in universities, colleges and institutes of technology

University College Dublin

MSc (Agr) Environmental Resource Management

Environmental destruction and pandemics are linked. Deforestation, habitat loss, climate and intensive farming all bring humans into contact with animals that they may not otherwise come into contact with, and give pathogens a chance to find new hosts.

UCD’s MSc Environmental Resource Management is a full-time, one-year course aimed at those who want to undertake advanced studies in environmental sciences. There’s a particular emphasis on global issues around agriculture and other land-use systems, with core modules including ecological modelling, biodiversity and ecosystem services, data analysis for biologists and geographic information systems, among others.


Optional modules include wildlife conservation, environmental assessment, environmental law and policy and a particularly timely option which looks at the interactions between pathogens, hosts and their environment.

Individual and group work assignments are part of the assessment, with a focus on developing teamwork, leadership and individual skills, while a minor thesis allows students to focus on a subject area of personal interest.

Graduates have gone on to roles in environmental consultancy and advisory, environmental engineering and regulatory authorities, as well as into policy and research in the private and public sector across government agencies, local authorities, county councils and others.

Applicants must have a minimum second class honours degree in a related subject, although mature candidates may be accepted on the basis of relevant experience.

EU fees: €8,875

Dublin City University

MSc in Astrophysics and Relativity

There are few more exciting – or existential – questions than the workings of the universe, and this one-year full-time or two-year part-time masters, now in its second year, is preparing a new generation in the eternal search for answers.

The course is jointly run by DCU’s school of mathematical sciences and the school of physical sciences and led by researchers from the Centre for Astrophysics and Relativity (CfAR).

There are three major strands to the programme: general relativity, astrophysics and computational and data analysis skills. Students also choose whether to specialise in general relativity or astrophysics.

General relativity students look at astrophysical and fundamental physical properties of black holes, the generation of gravitational waves by the collision of black holes, and the science behind their detection by ground and space-based observatories.

Astrophysics specialists look at galaxies, exoplanets – and whether they may answer one of the greatest questions: is there life on other planets? – and high-energy astrophysics, as well as the study of observation techniques.

In the second semester, students learn about cosmology including the origins and evolution of the universe. All students undertake a supervised project which will help develop research, technical writing and scientific communication skills.

The data focus will open doors to careers in any organisation involved in data analysis, particularly ICT, engineering, banking and finance. Graduates may also go on to further academic research.

Applicants should have a minimum 2.1 level eight degree in physics, astrophysics, maths or a related field.

Full-time EU fees: €5,500

Trinity College Dublin

MSc in Smart and Sustainable Cities

The pandemic will change cities forever. We’re not all heading back to the office; for many, home working – for some or all of the week – is part of life forever. Online shopping has already seen off some formerly dominant bricks-and-mortar retailers. And the phasing out of fossil fuels in response to the climate emergency will require new modes of transport and a reimagining of public spaces. So how can we reimagine our cities?

This new and very timely one-year, full-time course at Trinity takes a novel approach to the study of smart and sustainable urbanism.

This is the first MSc developed from the research-based expertise of scholars in “Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies” (E3) – a project currently underway at Trinity involving the schools of computer science and statistics, engineering and natural science.

The course will provide students with an in-depth understanding of smart and sustainable cities using engineering and computer science to analyse the functions and applications of smart technologies, the tools of urban geography and computer science to analyse the functions and applications of smart technology, and insights from ecology to explore the environmental impact of smart-city projects as well as wider transformations of contemporary cities.

This is a transdisciplinary masters programme which will be of interest to a wide range of students from different backgrounds but, in particular, may be suitable to engineering, computer science, geography, economics, sociology or related fields.

Admission is competitive and applicants must have a 2.1 level eight degree or higher.

EU fees: €7,332

Kings Inns

Legal profession

Kings Inns is one of the oldest providers of education in Ireland, having educated barristers since 1541. The college runs a number of legal postgrad courses that will be of interest to budding barristers, as well as running a range of specialist professional development courses, offered online and/or part-time.

Advanced diplomas are aimed at legal professionals who want to brush up on emerging or specialised areas, including social media and media law; medical law; quasi-judicial decision-making; data protection law; planning and environmental law; public procurement law; immigration and asylum law; and dlí-chleachtadh trí Ghaeilge (legal practice through Irish).

Fees range from €800 for the Irish course, to €2,250 for most other courses and €4,500 for a smaller number.

Its most well-known postgrad course is the degree of barrister-at-law, offered on a one-year or two-year part-time basis. Students acquire the skills, knowledge and values to become a member of the Bar, with the interactive programme designed as a bridge between academic study and the practicalities of working as a barrister.

Barrister-at-law students learn about civil and criminal practice and procedure; legal skills including advocacy, drafting and legal research; and ethics, professional responsibility and practice management. Students also participate in mock trials and choose a specialised study area.

Entrance is through an exam where students must display a knowledge of contract law, criminal law, Irish constitutional law, law of torts and law of evidence, and the entrance exam fee is €600.The cost of the course is €12,560 whether taken over one year or split over two.

Maynooth University

MLitt Anthropology

Most of us are familiar with taught masters and doctoral (PhD) degrees but the masters of literature (MLitt) degree, which is offered for different subjects in various disciplines across different higher education institutions, often gets overlooked.

MLitts are research-based degrees which can, in some respects, be considered as shorter PhDs. Focused on a research question, they offer candidates the chance to undertake independent, original scholarship under the supervision of an experienced academic.

One of the options available at Maynooth is the two-year full-time or three-year part-time MLitt in anthropology which, like all MLitt programmes, helps students to develop research skills and pursue their own research interests.

Maynooth is the only third-level institution in Ireland offering an anthropology course, which focuses on human culture and behaviour across human history and geography.

All research degrees at Maynooth require students to take a minimum of 10 credit courses with pass or fail modules; these are chosen in consultation with your thesis supervisor.

Anthropologists have an understanding of cultural diversity and graduates have gone on to work in a variety of careers including health, education, product design, business, arts, media, NGOs and more.

Applicants should have a minimum 2.1 degree (normally in anthropology) and a proposal for an original research topic that is accepted by the anthropology department.

EU fees: €6,500 per year

Queen’s University Belfast

Planning and urban design

Queen’s University Belfast regularly works with city councils across the island of Ireland on planning and design, and two of its courses may be of interest to graduates looking at a more affordable option than Dublin.

First up, the MSc City Planning and Design is a one-year, full-time course aimed at those with planning-related undergraduate degrees such as architecture or geography. The programme brings together city planners with those who develop and interpret planning policy and is driven by practice.

Students study green infrastructure, the future of urban housing, health in future cities and much more. Graduates develop planning research, urban analysis and design skills and will have the skills to work in Ireland or abroad.

The second course, the MSc in Planning and Development, can be studied over one year full-time or two years part-time. Students gain a broad knowledge of planning and carry out a dissertation – either a work-based project, work for a client organisation or work on a commissioned brief. They learn how to apply techniques such as geographic information systems (GIS), design software and statistical analysis to solve problems and create new solutions for the built environment.

Modules include planning skills and ethics, environmental planning and governance, and property development.

For both courses, applicants should have a minimum 2.2 honours degree.

Fees for Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland applicants: £6,450 (approx €7,400 at time of writing)

Both courses allow students to exit with a postgraduate certificate.

University of Limerick

MSc in Machine Learning for Finance

Artificial intelligence and machine learning is bringing major change to the workplace. While it may make some jobs obsolete, it will also require new skillsets including people to engineer, design and create software and machines as well as to programme and interpret them. Finance is one industry that is expected to become mass adopters of AI in the near future.

The MSc in Machine Learning at UL is an interdisciplinary programme combining applied, practical financial theory with an advanced skillset from computer science. It’s a part-time, fully online programme – the first of its kind in Ireland – and it combines the expertise of the finance postgraduate offerings from UL’s Kemmy Business School with the knowledge and expertise of the lecturers in the MSc in Artificial Intelligence.

The programme is suitable for those working in financial services, professional services and data analysis roles. Modules include data analytics, capital markets and corporate finance, machine learning applications and risk, ethics, governance and artificial intelligence. Students also undertake a project and dissertation.

Applicants should have at least a 2.2 undergraduate degree in a related discipline such as business,computing, economics, engineering, finance, maths, science or technology, although those with relevant maths and computing elements may also be considered.

EU fees: €7,627 per year.

Applicants who are sponsored by their employer may be eligible for co-funding from the ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet (see for more information).

University College Cork

MSc in Cooperative and Social Enterprise

Are we in late-stage capitalism? What might a different model look like? Cooperatives have always been at the forefront of showing a different way, with the business owned and controlled by its members and operating for their benefit. Indeed, the growth of the credit union movement suggests it is a model that is increasingly appealing for many.

This new and innovative part-time course is fully online and can be taken over one year or two and is aimed at people who want to pursue a professional or voluntary role in the area of cooperative or social enterprise.

The programme aims to equip people for management or senior roles in cooperatives or social enterprises, with modules including governance, education and marketing for cooperatives and social enterprises. Students also undertake a 15-30,000 word dissertation in cooperative and social enterprise. There are no end-of-year written exams, with students assessed by continuous assessment.

The course was developed by ICOS Skillnet, the learning and development division of the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society, in conjunction with the UCC Business School and the Institute of Cooperative Studies.

Applicants should have either a 2.2 honours degree or at least five years practical, professional or scholarly experience in the cooperative and social enterprise field.

EU fees: €6,130 for the one-year part-time course or €3,130 per year if spread across two years.

NUI Galway

MSc/ HDip Healthcare Simulation and Patient Safety

There’s never been a greater awareness of patient safety than during this pandemic, and this timely and innovative course at NUI Galway is in response to a growing need for advanced simulation-based training.

This fully online programme is designed to work around the needs of healthcare providers and educators, with a strong focus on teaching technical and non-technical clinical skills.

Using manikin-based simulation with input from a multidisciplinary team of nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and doctors, students learn how to work in a team to manage sick patients.

Students who complete the diploma will learn how to use simulation in their own practice to deliver better and safer healthcare, while those who finish out the masters programme will learn how simulation can be used for research.

NUI Galway has extensive experience in the delivery of simulation, which has been used for many years to educate and prepare students for clinical practice, and a new simulation facility is due to open at the university later this year to support clinical learning.

Applicants to this course should have a level eight degree and be interested in simulation.

EU fees: The diploma fee is €5,400 and the masters fee is €8,100.

Royal College of Surgeons Ireland

Professional Diploma in Clinical Leadership

Leadership is a word often associated with business, but it’s equally important in science. This interdisciplinary programme is designed to foster collaborative learning and leadership skills for multidisciplinary healthcare professionals.

Drawing on advances in positive psychology and positive organisational scholarship, the course blends online content with on-site sessions and interactive webinars over nine months. Webinars last for an hour and workshops run for between 2.5-3 hours, with live sessions recorded.

Modules include leading people and managing resources in the clinical context, understanding and managing oneself, and leading change and quality improvement in health services.

Graduates will be able to analyse the roles of members in a clinical team, apply and effectively manage a performance management system and, among other skills, analyse and discuss clinical leadership and management models in a healthcare setting.

All applicants should have a degree and be working in the healthcare sector, ideally in a clinical setting, although prior learning may also be recognised.

EU fees: €5,750

Munster Technological University

MA in Global Business Practice

The Munster Technological University, a merger between the Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology Tralee, came into being on January 1st.

MTU will continue to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses at both its Cork and Tralee sites, but one of the newer courses is the MA in Global Business Practice which aims to help graduates develop their international business skills and also includes an international placement.

The course is aimed at those with business degrees and will be relevant to small, medium and large companies who trade internationally or who have workers in different countries.

Students on the programme will learn about operations management, supply chain and logistics, procurement, and strategy and innovation. In the final stage of the programme, students will have a chance to apply what they have learned through a business placement either abroad or in Ireland.

Graduates will emerge with a deeper understanding of international business and a deeper knowledge of business development, importing and exporting, international selling, innovation and more. They will be a good fit for roles working in Irish exporting firms and multinational companies, including supply chain specialist, project manager, business planning, international selling, business analysts and more.

Applicants should have a minimum 2.2 honours degree and provide a personal statement.

EU fees: €5,500.

Technological University of Dublin

MA Art and Environment

The pandemic has shut down galleries, theatres and other outlets for artists but people still need art, and artists are finding new and innovative ways to connect with audiences.

Last December, seven students on TU Dublin’s MA Art and Environment course, all located in different parts of Ireland, were sent Oculus Rift 2 virtual reality headsets. The following week, they met in a virtual classroom to develop a close reading of the first chapter of Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation (1990). Following on from this reading, each student developed an artistic response in the form of a virtual installation.

This experiment quickly grew into a critical virtual programme which aims to use virtual teaching environments to support arts education and virtual arts practice during this time of social isolation. Central to these teaching environments was a virtual model of the west Cork archipelago where the course is created.

This is just one of the innovations taking place at TU Dublin’s MA Art and Environment. Delivered across multiple sites over 12 months, the full-time course was developed in collaboration with Uillinn (the West Cork Arts Centre) and the Sherkin Island Development Society (SIDs). The course examines the relationship of contemporary arts with ecological, spatial, political and economic environments and is designed to give students a historical understanding of environmental art informed by diverse geographic contexts and artistic research practices.

As their final project, students undertake an environmental intervention that demonstrates a comprehension of the methodologies and divergent practice of contemporary art practice.

EU fees: €5,500.

* For more on the digital archipelago see

Waterford Institute of Technology

Higher Diploma in Arts in Television and Media Production

We’ve all been watching a lot of TV over the past year – what else is there to do? – but with production on many shows in hiatus, there’s a huge pent-up demand for fresh content. WIT’s Higher Diploma in Arts in Television and Media Production, has been preparing new media talent since 2006.

This eight-month course, developed in partnership with Udarás na Gaeltachta, is aimed at students who want to develop their skills while working and is designed to provide students with the skills they need to enter the TV, film and audiovisual industries.

Students have an opportunity to work in a live production environment and, by the end, will have directed or edited their own TV programme. Because there’s a demand for bilingual directors, producers and editors, the course is taught through Irish and English.

Applicants should have a level seven degree or equivalent and a level of competency in spoken Irish.

EU fees: €3,000.

Limerick Institute of Technology

Masters in Digitalisation of Manufacturing

The higher education sector – particularly technological universities and institutes of technology – is adept at responding to the needs of industry, and this new practice-based professional award is for experienced employees in advanced manufacturing facilities, particularly medical technology.

The programme is mostly online with 18 onsite days a year, structured into two bootcamps and four optional workshops.

Students cover essential elements of the digitalisation of manufacturing including data design and visualisation, manufacturing automation and robotics, integrated database systems and more. Students will also conduct an applied research project. The course develops teamwork, research, project management and communication skills.

The time investment is estimated at about 15 per cent of a learner’s working commitment over two years, meaning employer and management support is vital.

Fees: Designed in collaboration with the Irish Medtech Skillnet and contracting organisation the Irish Medtech Association, the course costs €3,750 per year for Irish Medtech Skillnet members living and working in Ireland, and €5,000 per year for non-members living and working in Ireland.

IT Sligo

Social care during and after the pandemic

IT Sligo’s suite of postgraduate social science courses is informed by the experiences and needs of those on the frontline, and aim to help build resilience among social care leaders during – and long after – the pandemic.

IT Sligo’s Masters in Social Work has become the first to be approved by CORU in the institute of technology sector in Ireland.

Dr Breda McTaggart, head of IT Sligo’s department of social sciences: “We talk about frontline workers like doctors and nurses but social care workers are also frontline workers who provide vital support,” she says. “They work with young people and the disabled, they care for the elderly, work in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities; they work with those who may be experiencing some challenges in their lives.

“There is a shortfall of these professionals which is why we are expanding our course to enable more people to build a career in this deeply rewarding caring profession.

“A social care worker’s role is very different to that of a social worker. Social care work assesses the needs of each individual and responds in a way that is individual to the person using appropriate strategies. There is a huge demand for this skillset.

The MA in Leadership and Advocacy in the Early Years, the MA in Social Care and Social Justice, and the MA in Social Work are among the postgrad courses responding to needs of professionals in this fast-changing and challenging profession.

Among the considerations for the course directors are new remote work practices and how they can ensure services remain operational for vulnerable children, rebuilding a sector in crisis and responding to the increased pressure facing youth justice services, with IT Sligo’s social sciences department on the impact of Covid on social care and frontline workers.

The MA in Social Care and Social Justice, delivered online and onsite on a part-time basis over two years, involves six days of study over each semester on campus in addition to a weekly online lecture. Applicants should have a minimum 2.2 degree and, ideally, two years of professional practice experience.

EU fees: €7,200.

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

MSc in Strength and Conditioning

Staying healthy during the pandemic has been a challenge. With gyms closed and sports and training on hold, some have struggled to keep fit. Many of us simply miss the gym/ pool/sports. And for younger generations, in particular, being fit and healthy has become an integral part of life.

The past decade has seen a rise in career opportunities for sport and exercise scientists, movement specialists, youth coaches, health sector roles, national sporting associations and much more.

This 18-month course from GMIT aims to provide students with an evidence-based understanding of the science of strength and conditioning.

Students study coaching, metabolism, nutrition, physiology and psychology with modules including strength and conditioning, psychology, applied sport technology, research methods and exercise physiology, nutrition and human performance.

The course is recognised by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), which means that it prepares students for the NSCA certified personal trainer and NSCA strength and conditioning specialist certifications.

Graduate career opportunities include performance analysis; athlete development programmes; local authorities in roles such as local sports partnerships; schools, further education and colleges; national health assessment groups and much more.

EU fees: €6,500 for the 18 months.

National College of Ireland

MA in Educational Practice

Covid-19 has given us pause to reconsider the value of education. We’ve seen the impact of schools and colleges closing, and the dedication of the vast majority of teachers.

This course, ultimately, is about creating better, more informed learning professionals. Students develop a comprehensive knowledge of educational practice, teaching and learning; a reflective approach to practice; the ability to apply research-informed approaches to learning and teaching; and the skills to engage with educational research methodologies.

The programme aims to develop reflective, research-led practitioners, with modules including contemporary and enduring questions in education, technology enhanced learning and research with qualitative and quantitative methods.

Applicants should have a minimum 2.2 level eight degree and may need to be Garda vetted. Classes take place in the evenings and some Saturday mornings.

The award allows students to transfer to a level nine research degree or a PhD (level 10) doctoral study.

EU fees: €8,000 over two years

National College of Art and Design

MA/ MFA Art in the Contemporary World

David Bowie, Samuel Beckett, algorithms, radical publishing, experimental literature, urban mapping, and the politics of domestic space: all among the topics featured on NCAD’s MA or MFA Art in the Contemporary World course.

Available as a full- or part-time course, students examine contemporary art practices and their contexts, and features students from a variety of backgrounds including fine art, art history, literature, film studies, philosophy, architecture, communications or design. Students discuss and debate contemporary art theory and practice and have access to a wide range of resources including the National Irish Visual Arts Library

The course has developed strong relationships with the Goethe Institute including the curating of the Return Gallery, a recent project with artist Liam Gillick on the installation of a new work and an ongoing working relationship with author Sue Rainsford who will run a seminar and workshop on creative writing.

Graduates from the course have gone on to receive international awards and residencies, have taken up curatorial positions and are published in art magazines and prominent academic journals.

EU fees: Full-time fees for the MA are €6,400, while students who progress to the MFA year pay an additional €2,400.

Dublin Business School

Higher Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Aimed at graduates outside of counselling backgrounds, this conversion course will set students on the path to becoming accredited members of professional counselling and psychotherapy bodies.

Modules include psychotherapy, stress response, and counselling and psychotherapy skills, with students assessed through a range of methods. Classes take place on evenings and weekends and students participate in process group work one evening a week.

Applicants should have a minimum level eight qualification and are required to submit a statement outlining why they wish to pursue the course. The ideal candidate should have professional or voluntary experience in a role relating to counselling and psychotherapy.

The course is primarily an academic qualification but should enhance employment opportunities in primary care, voluntary, social care and educational settings, and may be of interest to those who want to bridge their undergraduate with further postgraduate study and can be an access point to the DBS MA in Psychotherapy, which should fulfil the current requirements of the four-year training expected by psychotherapy’s professional bodies.

EU fees: €4,250 per year (or €8,500 over the two years)