It may sometimes feel like Irish politics is exclusively dominated by outgoing, high-profile personalities, but there is also room in the political world for people who wish to work in a more behind-the-scenes capacity. A qualification in Political Science is perfect for anyone looking to get involved in any section of this area.

Thinking of studying Political Science?

The area of political research is one that offers a more low-key route into the field, as it can groom students for important advisory roles, which need not require a significant public profile. There are currently numerous postgraduate options in Ireland that can help prospective students to build a career in this area.

Postgraduate Courses Available

One notable option is the Integrated Doctorate (MPhil/PhD) offered by Trinity College’s Department Of Political Science. It is a four-year course that, for its first two years, contains modules and taught components (alongside thesis work). Students also have to complete a dissertation, which provides their main focus in the two subsequent years. The course generally paves the way for a career in either political research or academia.

There are several other colleges that offer postgraduate options in politics and political research. The University of Limerick’s Department Of Politics and Public Administration offers prospective students the opportunity to pursue postgraduate research, culminating in a written thesis. Like the Trinity programme, it also provides seminars that help students to hone their skills in other areas, such as Research Management and Academic Presenting.

Other Postgraduate Options

Of course, there are other political postgraduate options that are not so centred on a dissertation or thesis. UCD’s School of Politics and International Relations, for instance, offers a range of taught-module-based one-year courses in political topics (though the completion of a dissertation is also a programme requirement, in addition to the continuous assessment); MSc’s in Human Rights, International Relations and Nationalism and Ethno-Communal Conflict are available in this format.

Also, the Dublin Institute Of Technology offers a full-time one-year MA in Public Affairs and Political Communication, which offers a slightly different range of career options to the aforementioned courses. Upon completion of this programme, students will be qualified to ‘take up full-time employment as liaisons between private, public and not-for-profit organisations, and governmental or political persons and organisations’. They may also work as providers of communication services for people working in the world of politics, and some graduates can even embark on careers as consultants, offering public affairs services. Modules in this programme include Public Affairs, Political Marketing, Political Structures and Public Affairs Writing. Political postgraduates are a well-established and respected qualification, rather than a rising phenomenon.

Trends in Doctorate Programmes & Career Paths

When it comes to Postgraduate Courses in Political Studies, the methods for training PhD researchers have undergone something of a sea change in recent times. One new trend is the professionalisation of the training of PhD researchers. In the past, there was what is referred to as the “apprenticeship model”. These programmes are moving towards a system where there’s a more structured, taught component to courses.

With these significant recent developments in the area of political research instruction coming into effect, now may be the ideal time to pursue a postgraduate study option in this field. A career in politics does not necessarily entail the pursuit of votes; the wide array of courses currently available in Ireland ensures a rich variety of politically focused job possibilities.

The word “geography” comes from the Greek language and means “to describe or write about the earth”.   The study of geography encompasses many topics, including human society and its myriad interactions with the built and natural environment,  and physical phenomena such as earthquakes and the melting of the ice caps.

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Aside from being a fascinating subject there are many career opportunities available for students who have taken postgraduate qualifications in this discipline. Students may go on to pursue careers as teachers, researchers with government agencies or departments, consultants with private firms, aid workers in developing countries, planners,  local government officials or enter the field of academia. There are many postgraduate courses in geography in Ireland and usually it is not a prerequisite to have studied geography for primary degree, although a good result in your primary degree will usually be required.

Example of Courses Available

If you did not study geography at primary degree level you may have to demonstrate your aptitude for a postgraduate geography course, perhaps by acquiring professional experience in a field related to geography or perhaps if you can show how topics covered for your undergraduate degree may have a link to the discipline. Maynooth University offers MLitt and PhD programmes in geography. A research thesis conducted over two to three years full time or three to four years part-time constitutes the basis of the award. Other courses offered by Maynooth University in the field of geography include; MSc in Climate Change, MSc in GIS/Remote Sensing and MSc in Geocomputation.

UCD offers a taught MA in Geography. The course is made up of taught modules along with independent research. Topics covered include the history of geographic thought, physical geography, practical cartography and project management, to name but a few. A thesis of approximately 12, 000 to 15, 000 words is also required. The course is one year full-time. There are also research programmes available from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy at UCD, namely, the MSc in physical geography or the MLitt. in Human Geography.


For anyone wishing to study at postgraduate level, PhD study is another option and expressions of interest from students with ambitions to pursue research in the fields of civil society and governance, climatology, cultural geography, environmental economics, natural resource management, housing, political geography, quality of life, rural planning and development, transportation, urban geography, urban regeneration or urban and regional development are welcomed. PhD study typically takes three to four years full time.

Geography researchers are also supported by Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Research degrees to Masters and doctoral level are available across economic, urban and rural geography; historical and political geography and environmental geography. Trinity College Dublin’s Geography Department has several taught and research fourth level programmes. Taught programmes include; Masters in Environment and Development, Masters in Development Practice and MSc /PgDip. in Biodiversity and Conservation.   Successful PhD applicants will usually be provisionally entered onto the programme for the first year and subject to satisfactory progress, are confirmed on the register at the end of first year. University College Cork offers Higher Diplomas in Geography and also Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Various other taught and research Masters and PhD programmes are also offered by the university. NUI Galway also run several taught and research MA and PhD programmes.

Want to register for any of these programmes?

Log onto the individual institute’s websites for further information. In a world where geographical knowledge and experience are becoming increasingly important, completion of a fourth level geography programme is no doubt a valuable commodity. Geography is an interdisciplinary field that offers diverse career opportunities. Research your options well and decide on a programme that is most suited to your individual needs.

Studying music is seen by many as a life choice rather than a career move or educational conquest. Most postgraduate music courses available in Ireland assume that potential applicants are music graduates and the entry requirements of most programmes reflect this. In some cases, however, a degree in a suitable related subject will be sufficient or admittance can also be acquired on the grounds of a performance or interview, depending on the content of the course in question.

Which Music Postgrad is Right for You?

The number of options available and their diversity from one another is reflective of all possible musical tastes and talents. The range on offer is also evidence of the room for variation within music itself. The focus can be on performance, theory, technology, or composition. In the University of Limerick, there are five Master programmes, one of which is entitled MA in Community Music.   This is a one-year full-time course that provides the skills and knowledge needed to forge a career as a successful musician or music administrator in community organisations. The course itself intends to develop abilities to facilitate the expression of work and talent effectively in a wide range of circumstances. Great emphasis is placed on performance and interaction within the curriculum. Graduates from this course are not pub singers or that guy on Grafton Street that warbles out of tune constantly. They tend to direct themselves towards careers in schools, multicultural arts groups, or arts councils.

Alternatively, UL’s MA in Classical String Performance provides students with the most advanced classical tuition possible in violin, viola, cello and double bass. For the more theoretical types there is the MA in Ethnomusicology, which focuses on analysing the place music has in culture – using critical theory from contexts such as anthropology and gender studies. The MA in Music Therapy seeks to educate and prepare students for the profession of the same name. Typical graduate career paths would include using music skills in therapeutic work while working in special schools, nursing homes and helping those with intellectual disabilities. A more exotic choice might be the MA in Ritual Chant & Song, which concentrates on Western plainchant as well as the relevant Irish traditional songs.

Other Music Courses

Maynooth University is another university renowned for its provision of music education at postgraduate level. The continual growth and position of information technology in music production has been recognised by the college with the inclusion of an MA in Creative Music Technologies, which explores the music applications of technology. Anyone who prefers the library to the computer lab might be more interested in the MA in Musicology, which is very research based. Those with a fondness for the stage will enjoy the MA in Performance & Musicology, which strives to juxtapose performance and practice with the theories governing musicology. All participants take part in a public recital at the end of the course.

Taught music courses available at Trinity College Dublin follow a similar theme. The MA in Music & Music Technology is based largely on the relationship between music and technology, and how the latter can help or hinder the growth of the medium. Trinity also provides an alternative for those who prefer to research the history and role of music with the existence of the MPhil in Musicology & Music Theory, which is critical and analytical in looking at historical case studies and contemporary theory. This programme can be likened to the MA in Musicology on offer at UCD where there is also a strong emphasis placed on research, but the load is lessened with an annual field trip to cultural locations such as Paris or Vienna.

Research Options

As far as research options go music lovers are well provided for at Dundalk IT where opportunities are available in Traditional Irish Music, Music Technology, Composition and Performance. Focus areas include Music Modelling and Audio Circuit Design. A  good example of a research project is a study of the tradition and innovation in the vocal music of Arnold Schoenberg. A more technical based project, which is ongoing, is the development of an automated flowchart generator for C-sound audio.

Career Opportunities

Careers in music are as diverse as the courses available. The most obvious question that needs to be addressed is exactly where your interests lie: on the stage, in the recording studio or in a library? One common characteristic no matter what your personal calling is a need for flexibility. There is a wealth of opportunities out there for those willing and able to be versatile in their careers.

The typical career paths can be divided into the creative, performance, production/direction, and teaching arenas; yet there are many possible diversions and combinations within this rough estimation. Due to the budget cutbacks affecting primary and secondary schools the provision of music education at Junior and Leaving Certificate level is certain to suffer. This will invariably cause restrictions on the number of music teachers employed in both areas, meaning that one very certain career path for music graduates might now face upheaval.

Alternative Paths

However, one way to avoid employment issues and to supplement income is by taking advantage of the hugely popular and well-paid option of giving home lessons. Non-qualified teachers claiming to be highly skilled plague this market, and the need for those with the requisite qualifications and teaching ability is higher than ever. Perhaps the most important consideration to bear in mind when choosing a postgraduate in music is the passion you are sure to have for it. The chance to study your obsession at such a focused level is an exhilarating opportunity and well worth the sacrifice of time and money.

According to the Education for Person’s with Special Education Needs (SEN) Act 2004, students are to be educated as far as possible in an inclusive environment in mainstream classrooms. Students with special needs may be educated in ordinary classes in mainstream schools or in smaller classes in mainstream schools with a low teacher-to-pupil ratio – including one-to-one settings and, in some cases, ‘special schools’ that are dedicated to educating those with special needs. All such instances require trained professionals to deliver lessons in the most suitable way for the individual student’s specific needs.

Special Educational Needs Qualifications

Special Educational Needs teachers are essential for the provision of learning support to those experiencing difficulty with the standard curriculum. All teachers receive some training in special education needs while completing the Postgraduate Diploma in Education; however, given the fact that mainstream schools often have students with special needs, completing a postgraduate course in Special Education Needs would be of benefit to any teacher, but would be especially so for those wishing to work solely as special educational needs teachers.

The importance of Inclusion

The increase and encouragement of inclusive education has meant that the number of students with special needs in mainstream education has grown. Past studies have shown that students educated in mainstream inclusive classrooms ‘show academic gains in a number of areas including improved performance on standardised tests … grades, on-task behaviour and motivation to learn’ (National Centre for Education Restructuring and Inclusion, 1995).

Students with many different special needs come through the mainstream education system. Some of the students may have reading difficulties such as dyslexia, while others may have autism or other behavioural or emotional difficulties. In some instances students may have average, or above average, intelligence and simply need to be taught in a way that is appropriate to them, while in other instances this may not be the case. Taking a Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education Needs gives student teachers an insight into how they should go about teaching those with special needs in the most effective way. It is a certainty that all teachers will, at some point in their careers, come into contact with pupils with different needs. Continued professional development is therefore extremely important in order for them to adapt to such an eventuality.

Courses Available

There are many different postgraduate SEN courses offered at numerous institutions and universities across Ireland. These courses are normally aimed at qualified teachers already in employment. For instance, Grad Dip Inclusive and Special Education, which is a one-year full-time programme. Support is available from the Department of Education and Science for qualified teachers who hold or are eligible to hold permanent teaching positions. This funding by the Department of Education and Science is offered so that a teacher who wishes to develop expertise in special needs education can have the opportunity to do so. There are a number of fee-paying places also reserved for suitably qualified graduate teachers who are not eligible for Department of Education and Science support.

University College Dublin also offers an MEd in Inclusive Education, which is a two-year part-time programme. Again, the programme is designed for teachers or other professionals involved in the education or care of persons with special educational needs. Maynooth University, together with Froebel College, operate a one-year part-time Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education Needs. This programme is designed for teachers working with pupils with a range of special education needs in mainstream primary, secondary and special school settings, and is compatible with full-time employment.

Other options in the area include DCU’s Grad Dip in Inclusive Education, Learning Support and Special Education. The course is aimed at teachers who are employed in a position funded by the Department of Education and Science who provide learning support and resource teaching at primary, post-primary and other recognised educational services. Another viable programme is NUI Galway and St Angela’s College Sligo’s one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education. The course is delivered through a blend of online and face-to-face tutorials, along with supervised work in the teachers’ own schools or centres.

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Continuing professional development is essential for any teacher. Undertaking a postgraduate course in Special Education Needs will assist this professional development and help teachers and pupils alike to maximise their teaching and learning experience.

As we learn more about the impact of modern development and industry on the world around us, the need for better thought out environmental management becomes clear. With government and EU regulations and legislation increasing, businesses and organisations are increasingly requiring qualified people with environmental training. A number of third level and postgraduate courses have emerged to cater for this demand. Environmental studies and control is a relatively new discipline and requires the amalgamation of a variety of new and existing technical skills.


Each course you’ll apply for will differ with regards entry requirements. Generally, graduates with qualifications falling within the science and physical resources area are mostly welcome to submit applications. While candidates with relevant professional experience and qualifications might also be considered.

Courses Available

A post-secondary educational path in environmental studies has been available since the mid-seventies in Ireland; however, the plastic crisis and issues surrounding climate change has seen a surge in the number of programmes and specialties on offer. These include research and taught options, as well as full-time/part-time courses from level 8 through to Level 10.

Course modules can include Water Pollution Control, Air Pollution Control, Hazardous Waste Control, Noise and Vibration, Environmental Systems, Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Impact, Health and Safety Management, Law or Project Management. Also, you will most likely be required to submit a dissertation/thesis relating to your chosen subject area.

Why take a postgrad in Environmental Studies?

There are a lot of upsides if you’re considering postgraduate training in this field. While this professional arena is notoriously underpaid, if you work for the private sector there are plenty of fiscally beneficial roles out there. Also, a career focused on Environmental Science means you’ll have a rewarding job with your ultimate goal in supporting positive societal change. Plus, most jobs in this field will be both varied and interesting, and you will have plenty of opportunity to up-skill and travel.

Options for Progression

These postgraduate programmes are designed to provide graduates and technologists in industry and state bodies with useful and valuable technological and managerial skills – so those with postgraduate qualifications in environmental management and related areas shouldn’t be short of job options. Environmental management degree holders often work as specialists in public health, waste disposal, recycling, and pollution control.

Some environmental management experts work for government and regulatory authorities that investigate and prosecute companies that skirt environmental preservation regulations. A growing number of graduates actually work for companies that wish to prevent costly government actions by making sure they don’t break the rules. With concerns over pollution, global warming and corporate responsibility growing, and with EU and Irish government regulations becoming more stringent, environmental management looks set to continue as a growth area. One that is well worth considering for those interested in pursuing further study within the Agriculture, Environment, Food and Physical Resources sector.

It has not been an easy time for nurses in Ireland. With many of them forced to emigrate in order to secure get full-time employment, and those at home facing the imminent threat and ongoing discussion over cutbacks, it would be forgivable for there to be an air of hesitancy over entering the profession. However, for those currently employed as nurses, or those who have managed to acquire the required work experience, a postgraduate course can still exert a positive affect on career prospects.

Nurses can work in either the public or private healthcare sectors, but postgraduate education can also open doors in other arenas such as in childcare, healthcare sales and pharmaceuticals, to name but a few. In the current climate it is helpful to have relevant yet diverse skills and accreditation in areas such as paediatric nursing, midwifery and pubic health nursing. This can greatly add to a candidate’s employability and earning potential. An Bord Altranais, the regulatory body for nursing, continually recognises the absolute necessity of further education for advancing in the profession. The body’s primary duty is to promote high standards of professional education and any opportunities to develop, extend and strengthen the position of professional education.

Postgraduate Options Available

Most postgraduate options require that the candidate be a registered nurse and have requisite experience. One such specialist programme is the Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing, which is a one-year full-time course for which any nurse registered in one of the four divisions RNID (Intellectual Disability), RPN (Psychiatric), RGN (General) or RM (Midwifery) may apply. Available from Trinity College and DCU, it provides qualified nurses with the essential skills to enable them to meet the changing healthcare needs of children and families. Upon successful completion of the course it is possible to register as a Children’s Nurse (RCN).

Midwifery is an extremely popular option for registered nurses looking to expand upon their skill set.  Providers of the Higher Diploma in Midwifery include Trinity College, NUI Galway, UL, UCC and UCD. The programme offers a year-long full-time graduate diploma course that is aimed at providing registered nurses and midwives with the opportunity to develop their existing professional education, along with their evidence-based practice/research abilities, knowledge, skills, and attitudes in preparation for professional role enhancement within nursing/midwifery. Applicants should possess a primary degree and be on the appropriate register maintained by the NMBI.

Oncology Training

One of the growing areas of specialisation is Oncology (cancer care) nursing, which at NUIG is taught through a ‘blended learning approach’, whereby students first access lectures, reading material, activities and discussion online and then come to the university for two-day workshops on each module studied during the programme. The course can be taken over one year full time, or as a part time option over the course of two years.

Course Director Dr Maura Dowling describes cancer care as an area that has undergone ‘huge changes. . . and nurses are needed to implement these changes. Oncology nurses have to be scientifically minded to deal with the areas of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but they also need to be excellent communicators in order to treat cancer patients. The students who do best are those who relate theory to practice. Some of our students wouldn’t have a degree and would have entered the programme through completing a qualifier essay. But these students tend to have had many years of experience in cancer wards. They’ve seen it all, and we really value that’.

Qualifications Available

In most cases it is possible to progress to a Masters (MSc) once the higher/graduate diploma has been completed. The MSc prepares students for more advanced roles in leadership, as well as serving to improve their research skills by undertaking a dissertation in their chosen area of specialisation. Trinity College’s MSc in Gerontological Nursing, for example, seeks to answer the needs of an ageing society where proper care of the elderly must be prioritised. This two-year course (part time) is open to registered nurses who have attained both a degree and possess relevant professional experience. Students will receive instruction in the concepts and practice behind gerontological nursing and will develop an awareness of the ageing process. They will also study the ethics and laws that govern healthcare. In the second year, they will complete a dissertation of between 20, 000 and 25,000 words in length.

Why Choose Nursing Courses?

But, what are the benefits of pursuing an area of specialisation over a general nursing role? Generally speaking, it allows students to develop skills that are not taught in undergraduate programmes, and thus lead to an increased chance to finding work in a specialised field. Indeed, specialised skills, allied with an entrepreneurial spirit, can often lead to the creation of niche roles for patient needs that may yet have to be met.

If you are considering studying English at postgraduate level then there is no need for us to rhapsodise on its inherent, intangible virtues; the chances are you are already well aware of them.  

English Studies at Postgraduate Level

What does need to be said, however, is that the demands of studying English at postgraduate level are far greater than they are during the undergraduate stage. For one thing, students are expected to leaven their natural enthusiasm with scholarly equanimity, applying more independent, analytic and creative thought processes to their work. Moreover, as postgraduate degrees tend to be narrower in scope – and therefore far more in-depth in their treatment of topics – it is important that students opt for an area of study for which they have a genuine passion.

Range of courses

Fortunately, the subject range within English is broad, which means there should be something to accommodate all tastes. Perennial favourites include English (general), Creative Writing, Comparative Literature, and Drama and Theatre, all of which are run by a number of colleges as taught programmes. These generally follow a similar structure to undergraduate degrees in that they are delivered through class-based lectures and are assessed through a combination of essays (usually between 3, 000 to 5, 000 words in length) and exams.

Where they differ noticeably is in their teaching approach; for instance, classes are much smaller, meaning that the learning experience is a more intimate one with discussion playing a vital role in the development of students’ ideas. Such interactions often affect the shape of students’ theses topics, which represent another key component of postgraduate study. A dissertation accounts for a major portion of a student’s overall degree grade and acts as a barometer for assessing his/her ability to carry out independent research, as well as his/her capacity to critically engage with, organise and articulate research findings.


Taught programmes are normally full time and of a year’s duration (note that part-time courses usually extend to two years). Thanks to the variety of courses on offer, students may elect to refine their knowledge of Ireland’s literary heritage (e. g. UCC’s MA in Irish Writing – Theories and Traditions) or get to grips with broader international perspectives (e. g. Maynooth University’s MA in Postcolonial and World Literature); they may focus on literature in a more general sense (e. g. UCD’s Modernity, Literature and Culture) or on the history and development of a particular genre (e. g. MA in Children’s Literature – available from Trinity College Dublin, or as a two-year part-time option from St Patrick’s College Drumcondra).

While students are required to stay within the confines of their chosen field, they are also afforded the freedom to focus on more specific subject matter from the wide array of selected course texts. A big advantage of this format is the presence of seminars, which greatly assist postgraduate students by providing guidance, and by instilling discipline and motivation.


Those who feel that they are already in possession of such qualities may be interested in enrolling on a research programme. In order to obtain an MLitt research degree, a student must produce an original piece of research or criticism, which should be approximately 60, 000 words in length – the result of two years’ labour.

A PhD demands even greater academic rigour and self-motivation: the thesis at this level – which can be up to 100, 000 words long – must be a worthy addition to the collective body of knowledge on the particular topic in question. Anyone considering this option should be aware that it is an onerous undertaking, lasting for up to four years. However, students are not entirely alone in the endeavour, as a supervisor will be assigned to guide them, Virgil-like, through their research.

Career Progression

Employment opportunities for taught and research English postgraduates are diverse. Graduates (generally of research degrees) often take up academic positions, but other established career paths include journalism, research, publishing and marketing. The research skills honed and developed over the course of a programme are valued in any industry; and it will be apparent to a prospective employer that the student is capable, organised, motivated and, of course, an eloquent communicator.

On a final note, conversion courses allow those without a background in English, or those who do not have an honours degree, to study the subject at postgraduate level. The Higher Diploma in Arts at UCC (taken either as a one-year full-time or a two-year part-time option) covers important elements of undergraduate English degree programmes, thereby providing students with the foundational knowledge necessary for further study.

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Whether looking at taught, research or conversion programmes you can browse options for studying English at postgraduate level on

A large factor in the continued growth of the Irish economy has been the major developments in the flourishing science and technology-based industries. Ireland is a key global location for these industries. The ICT industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually. Meanwhile, Ireland is the largest MedTech employer in Europe; this sector employs over 25,000 people directly, and a further 25,000 are employed providing services to the sector.

The government is keen to encourage people to enter careers in the science and technology sectors. It has introduced a number of initiatives to achieve this goal, notably the Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (ICSTI) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), which are committed to providing the necessary structures and funding to educational institutions to ensure Ireland remains a global player in these areas. This means that career opportunities in the science and technology sectors show no sign of slowing down, which is good news for anyone considering the addition of a postgraduate qualification in a science, mathematics or technology discipline to their CV.

Entry Requirements

Most postgraduate courses in the science, mathematics and technology areas require at least a second-class honours primary degree for entry.  There are also postgraduate options available for graduates of other disciplines. Some of these postgraduate programmes function as conversion courses. Relevant professional experience can be useful to help secure a place on a postgraduate course. Students should also demonstrate an interest in their chosen area of research.

Courses Available

There is an array of postgraduate options on offer to the interested graduate pertaining to science, mathematics, and technology. Taught postgraduate courses are available in traditional core subjects such as maths, physics, chemistry and biology, as well as in topical areas of interest such as plasma technology and organic chemistry. Postgraduate courses that focus on different areas and subspecialties of biology and chemistry such as biotechnology and microbiology are also available. Other courses include earth sciences subjects such as geographical analysis.

The pharmaceutical sector is very strong in Ireland at the moment, and that is reflected in the number and scope of pharmacy-related postgraduate courses available at Irish universities. The different specialisations within the pharmaceuticals discipline include quality assurance, compounds analysis, and chemical process technology. Technology and telecommunications is also an important area of study at postgraduate level. Course options include communications systems theory and virtual realities.

Research Areas

Science and Technology offer the research student a wealth of research possibilities. Many third-level institutions have developed expertise in different areas, and there are dedicated research centres at colleges throughout the country. Prospective students may also be able to take advantage of scholarship and graduate-training opportunities through collaborations with locally based companies.

The subjects of pharmaceuticals, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, and biochemistry are very strong possibilities for postgraduate researchers at present. Many institutions have close links with the R&D departments of local and global organisations that fund research programmes at Irish universities. The earth sciences are also ripe with postgraduate research potential. Postgraduate researchers get the opportunity to look for ways to protect the earth in tremendously diverse areas such as aquatic ecology, atmospheric physics & climatology, and botany.

Much of the most cutting-edge telecommunications research in the world is emerging from Irish university and research institute laboratories. Possibilities for research include multimedia and telecommunications.

Career Paths

Careers based around science and technology have seen a massive boom in the last ten years or so, and jobs are plentiful. Multinational pharmaceutical, chemical, and biotechnology companies have been attracted to Ireland and recruitment in these areas show no sign of slowing down. Many colleges and universities have established links with industry and business, and many companies recruit straight from graduate programmes.

Jobs in education and research provide well-established career options. Also, as these specialised industries are expanding in Ireland, a corresponding demand for researchers, experienced scientists and technologists has arisen in academia. Other career paths include IT, business, agriculture & food, insurance, banking & finance, the environment, logistics, the civil service, conservation and many, many more.

The construction and engineering industries have been among the most significant contributors to the growth in the Irish economy in recent years through employment, export and output. These sectors have undergone a massive transformation and have played a huge part in transforming Ireland into an advanced nation at the cutting-edge of technological, engineering and manufacturing developments and change.

Construction and Engineering in Ireland

Ireland’s manufacturing industries have adapted well to globalisation. While Ireland accounts for just 1 percent of the EU’s population, it receives 25 percent of US investment in the manufacturing industry in Europe. The development of high-value, knowledge-intensive jobs in areas such as software, medical devices, engineering, food, and biotechnology have helped fuel the growth in our economy in recent years. With government investment pouring in to improve Ireland’s infrastructure, the construction industry is enjoying a period of unprecedented growth.

With new technologies and techniques constantly evolving in the engineering and construction industries, it is important that Ireland stays ahead by keeping up-to-date with changes and advances in these industries. It is, therefore, welcome news that there has been a parallel expansion in the number of postgraduate courses available in these subjects.

Entry Requirements

Most postgraduate courses in the construction and engineering fields require at least a second-class honours primary degree. Relevant professional experience can help. There are concerns within the construction and engineering sectors that not enough people are pursuing studies in the areas for the economy to continue its present rate of development. Therefore, attractive incentives and schemes are in place to persuade graduates to remain within these areas.

Courses Available

Postgraduate programmes are available in all of the traditional areas such as the various engineering, manufacturing and architectural disciplines, as well as in subjects like technology safety and ergonomics. Architecture is a prime area for postgraduate study. Course options range from specific professional practice areas to more general planning and landscape management disciplines.

Mechanical engineering and other physical manufacturing topics are traditionally a strong area of postgraduate specialisation and are no less important today. The biological and chemical engineering fields are also major areas for postgraduate study, bringing together the worlds of engineering and science. Course options include bioengineering, chemical engineering, and pharmaceutical manufacturing technology.

Computing and IT developments have also played a key role in the recent growth of the engineering and manufacturing sector – postgraduate programmes which reflect this include computer integrated manufacturing, computer-aided engineering product design, and engineering computation.

Research Areas

There is a wide range of subject options available to potential postgraduate research students of construction and engineering disciplines. Many third-level institutions have developed expertise in different areas, and there are dedicated research centres at colleges throughout the country. Prospective students may also be able to take advantage of scholarship and graduate-training opportunities through collaborations with locally based companies.

Architecture, planning and urban development are very important areas for postgraduate research. Postgraduate research opportunities also appear in the civil engineering and construction management areas as well as bioengineering and chemical engineering. Electronic and electrical engineering fields provide rich pickings for postgraduate researchers.

Irish third-level institutions host a wide range of postgraduate research in the areas of mechanical and materials engineering, as well as related manufacturing subjects. Potential projects can be drawn from the areas of aeronautical engineering, automation & control, materials science, and thermofluids. Industrial and computer design programmes also open up postgraduate research opportunities.

Career Paths

There is a diverse range of career paths possible for those with postgraduate qualifications in construction and engineering-related subjects. The construction industry is presently booming and there remain plenty of openings for qualified engineers of all specialities, quantity surveyors and architects. Graduates with postgraduate qualifications can move quickly into senior project management positions. There are also plenty of openings in bioengineering, chemical engineering and electronic and mechanical engineering.

Close links have been built up between university research departments and indigenous and multinational companies, which can aid the career prospects of those with postgraduate qualifications. There have been recent development in the environmental science, urban planning and conservation areas. Graduates in architecture and engineering areas can find employment in these areas with both public and private organisations. Education and research provide well-established career options.

Also, as the construction and engineering industries in Ireland become more specialised, a corresponding demand for researchers, experienced engineers and technologists has arisen in academia.

Postgraduate History courses require a greater degree of intellectual engagement than do their undergraduate precursors. This is because most programmes operate on the assumption that students are driven by a desire to deepen their historical knowledge as much as by the ambition to secure employment in a related field upon completing the course.

Why Study History?

Of course this is not to suggest that History courses are not of great practical utility – indeed, they encourage the development of numerous skills that are deemed to be invaluable by many employers: the ability to conduct complex independent research; to display well-developed powers of interpretation, deliberation, and critical analysis; and to articulate arguments and findings in a thorough and coherent way. There is also the sense of context and understanding that comes from studying the subject.

Moreover, much of the knowledge that a History course imparts can, in a sense, be converted into economic capital. After all, acknowledging our cultural and natural heritage is often the basis for future development, and preserving that heritage is essential not only so that we can establish a sense of personal and national context, but also because it acts as a major incentive for tourism in this country, which is an important source of employment here.

History Courses Available

One course that deals directly with the management of cultural heritage is Trinity College Dublin’s MPhil in Public History and Cultural Heritage (one-year full time, two years part-time). The programme examines the notion of ‘cultural heritage’: how it can be defined, shaped, and the policy consequences of its different definitions. The course is run in collaboration with several cultural institutions (i. e. libraries, museums, galleries) and so students will have the chance to undertake a short work placement with one of the participating bodies. While not strictly vocational in nature, the programme provides training in curatorial theory and in delivering web- and media-based projects in the field. Applicants should possess an upper-honours degree in a related subject (e. g. History, Philosophy, Language, Literature) or have relevant professional experience.

Maynooth University MA

Maynooth University’s Masters in European History (full time, one year) presents another interesting option. Students on this programme will examine the wider debates in European history and complete a minor research thesis in conjunction with taught modules. MA participants are also encouraged to collaborate with fellow postgraduates and departmental staff at social occasions, seminars, and conferences. There are limited opportunities for well-qualified candidates to act as a tutor in the undergraduate programme, enabling them to gain valuable teaching experience.

Other Options

More general History courses are available from colleges throughout the country (e. g. UCD, UCC, Mary Immaculate College etc. ), each with their own key areas of study. The revised MA in History at NUI Galway (one year full time), for instance, allows students to choose from among modules such Studies in Local History, Studies in Oral History and Conceptions of Wealth and Poverty in the Early Modern World; while module options on UL’s MA in History programme include History of the European Idea and American Foreign Relations.

Programmes dedicated to Medieval studies are provided by NUI Galway, UCD, Mary Immaculate College, Maynooth University and Trinity College. Latin and paleography (the ability to read and interpret ancient texts – two key skills for study of the Medieval and Renaissance ages) are normally included on such courses. Taught modules and research topics can vary hugely in a subject that spans from Iceland to the Crusader kingdoms of the Middle East, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginnings of Reformation. Many graduates of such courses go on to pursue MLitt or PhD degrees. However, completing a PhD is not a prerequisite for students interested in other careers such as archival, museum or heritage industry work, or traditional areas of graduate employment such as business, teaching and law.

Art History

The History of Art is very much a related area and an established discipline in its own right, with postgraduate courses available from UCD (one year full time), UL (one year full time) and UCC (one year full time or two years part-time). Students will examine works of art and architecture and explore their relationship with notions of identity. Potential careers for students include working in galleries, museums, academia, arts administration, as well as art journalism and managing art collections.

Archaeology is another branch of history that is well catered for at postgraduate level. Courses are available from UCD, NUI Galway, and UCC – with all three universities providing Higher Diploma entry for applicants without a primary degree in the subject. Courses include fieldwork and theoretical study as well as the option to choose from specialised modules such as Celtic Archaeology, ICT for Archaeologists and Art & Ritual in Prehistoric Europe. For those with a more advanced knowledge in the subject, there are taught and research master’s degrees available. Research courses allow students to investigate a highly specialised area (e. g. Bronze Age settlements in a particular geographic area), while taught masters provide the necessary professional skills (e. g. project management, GIS) for a career in archaeology.

Almost 50 per cent of all postgraduate students at Irish universities are studying part-time. This includes mature students, who decide to return to education at different stages of their careers, as well as students who have just graduated from their primary degree, and don’t want to commit to a further year studying full-time.

Part-time postgraduate study is so widespread because of the many other competing pressures on the time of people considering postgraduate study. Family commitments, work obligations and mortgage or rent payments can all mean that attending classes full time is not an option. Universities and colleges are well aware of this and offer a wide range of flexible and part-time options at postgraduate level.

Part-time taught and research postgraduate courses

Taught postgraduate courses generally take place in the evenings, and are spread over two years. Research courses can be even more flexible. Some research supervisors will give students the responsibility to design their own schedules. Many employers are willing to be flexible if their staff wish to improve their skills and qualifications by taking a postgraduate course. Some companies give extra time off, and others will even help pay course fees, if the subject is relevant and useful to their business.

Block release

Block release – where you attend full-time classes for a set number of weeks a couple of times a year – is another option. Distance and online learning are both increasingly popular. While part-time study is a very powerful and useful option, it is still important to keep in mind that committing to a college or university course is a big step, very different to a nightcourse in Mediterranean cookery or photography. It can be difficult to hit the books after a hard day at work, but you will have to do exactly that on a regular basis. You will need to dedicate a substantial amount of time to your studies to be successful, and this will inevitably eat into your leisure and personal time.

Part-Time Postgraduate Study: the Importance of Balance

Life doesn’t just stop while you are studying, and you will need the support of those close to you to make it work. It is usually a good idea to discuss your plans with your family and friends before embarking on a course of study. But achieving a postgrad qualification wouldn’t be worth doing if it were easy. Success on a part-time postgraduate course can require a good deal of determination and self-motivation. However with the support of the college, and the people around you, a part-time postgraduate course can work out just fine.

Click here to learn more about the financial supports available.

Find out about the different awards and qualifications here.

We’ve compiled some handy tips to help you balance your budget as a postgraduate student.

There is a wide variety of postgraduate qualifications available from Irish universities and other third-level institutions, each with potential pros and cons for different students. This section contains information on general entry requirements, typical course durations, and the modes of delivery and assessment for different kinds of qualification. Prospective students should bear in mind that it is possible to progress up the ladder to a PhD regardless of the level of entry.

Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas usually last for one academic year. They tend to be vocational in content, and can often act as conversion courses for those who have no prior knowledge of a subject matter. Certificates tend to be more intensive than diplomas, and students may move onto a diploma course after completing their certificate programme. Examples include the Higher Diploma in Education, the Postgraduate Certificate in Business Studies and the Higher Diploma in IT.

  • Entry – Primary degree or other undergraduate qualification. Some courses accept related work experience
  • Duration – One year full-time or two years part-time
  • Delivery – Mixture of taught classes and practical and project work
  • Assessment –  Mixture of exams and continuous assessment
  • Progression – Students can often transfer onto a Masters course upon completion of their graduate certificate.

Taught Masters Degrees

Taking a Masters degree involves studying an academic subject in depth. Students generally choose to take a Masters in an area related to their primary degree, although this is not always the case. There are a number of different types of Masters postgraduate award. The most common are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Sciences (MSc). Other qualifications available include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), the Master of Laws (LLM) and the Master of Engineering (ME).

  • Entry –  Undergraduate degree or transfer from postgraduate certificate or diploma programme
  • Duration –  One year full-time or two years part-time
  • Delivery – Lectures, seminars and tutorials throughout the year
  • Assessment –  Projects/papers during term-time, written (and in some cases oral) exams at certain times throughout the year, with a thesis generally submitted at the end of the course
  • Progression –  Normally the end of the road for taught classes, but students who attain good honours results can continue their studies through research to MPhil or PhD programmes.

Research Masters Degrees

For a research Masters programme, the student does not attend any classes or sit any exams; everything is geared toward the submission of a research project at the end of the course. A programme of study is devised in association with the students’ professor or supervisor, who provides guidance and advice during regular meetings. Students generally choose to take a Masters in an area related to their primary degree, although not always. There are a number of different types of postgraduate award. The most common are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Sciences (MSc), but other qualifications available include the Master of Literature (MLitt), the Master of Laws (LLM) and the Master of Engineering (ME).

  • Entry – Undergraduate degree
  • Duration –  Typically one or two years, depending on the research topic chosen and the motivation of the student
  • Delivery – Generally all research, but in some cases students may be required to attend classes
  • Assessment –  Research project submitted at the end of the course
  • Progression – On completion of a research Masters, students who receive a good honours result can apply to transfer onto an MPhil or PhD programme

Master of Philosophy

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is a special type of programme that can last longer than other Masters programmes – two years is the norm. The MPhil is usually research-based, although some do include taught elements, and it is pitched at a higher standard than MA or MSc awards. Students carry out supervised research in their chosen topic (which doesn’t have to be Philosophy) and produce a substantial thesis at the end of the course. MPhil students would typically intend to progress on to a PhD.

  • Entry – Good undergraduate or Masters degree
  • Duration – Typically two years
  • Delivery –  Mixture of taught and research or purely research
  • Assessment – Generally a research project, sometimes with an oral exam
  • Progression – MPhil students are typically planning to progress on to a PhD

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD is the highest academic degree awarded. Traditionally, it means that the candidate has reached a sufficient standard to be accepted into academia. The PhD is the most common type of doctorate, although there are others available – including the Doctor of Laws (LLD) and Doctor of Letters (DLitt). Most doctorates are completed by research and candidates are generally required to produce a substantial dissertation, which must make a definite contribution (however modest) to human knowledge. Many colleges require students to defend their work in front of a panel of experts, a process known as ‘viva voce’. Honourary doctorates, typically awarded to celebrities like Roy Keane or Bob Geldof, do not require this vigorous defence and do not carry the same weight of respect in academia.

  • Entry – Most PhD students will possess a good Masters degree. Progression from MPhil and research Masters programmes is common. Less usual, but not unheard of, is the progression of students moving straight from a Bachelors degree onto a PhD
  • Duration –  Depends on the topic chosen and the motivation of the student, but three to four years full-time or five to six years part-time is a typical duration
  • Delivery – Research
  • Assessment – Thesis and sometimes an oral exam
  • Progression –  Post-doctorate research

Important to note: These guidelines are indicative only. Course characteristics can vary from discipline to discipline and from institution to institution. The only way to be sure is to contact the individual school hosting the course.

Artists and musicians have long been among the most popular and respected members of Irish society. Ordinary people rely on artists and musicians to brighten up their lives. Art and music transcend boundaries on all levels – geographical, cultural, social, economic and political – and the artistic expression and musical creativity of a nation can have a direct impact on its social and political spheres.

Though it can be hard to break into the world of creative arts – and even harder to obtain a well-paid career in the industry – the pursuit to succeed can be just as rewarding for individuals in this area as the success itself. Thus, those who have the talent and are willing to put in the time and effort required should not give up on their dream. Many are called, but few are chosen. And those who are chosen usually go down in history. Taking a creative arts course at postgraduate level gives the student time and space to hone their skills, receive expert guidance and tuition, meet other like-minded artists, and open up opportunities that can lead to a creatively rewarding and fulfilling creative arts career.

Entry Requirements

Entry onto a postgraduate course in the creative arts field is usually reliant on the candidate already having an undergraduate degree in their chosen discipline. On very few occasions, an artist who can demonstrate an exceptional skill or proficiency might be accepted, but this does not happen often. Most courses will ask for a demonstration of your ability in advance – by submission of portfolio, by performance, or by interview. The standard required at postgraduate level is often very high, and competition for places on courses can be tough. References from previous lecturers are usually also required.

Courses Available

Postgraduate courses are available in all of the many and varied artistic disciplines. The different fine arts disciplines provide many options for postgraduate study – from ceramics to fashion design, design communication, and sculpture. More theoretical subjects such as art history and visual communication are also offered at various third-level institutions around the country. Music provides rich pickings for postgraduate students, with a large number of different specialities and options available – everything from composition to performance, Irish traditional and technology. Drama and dance courses are also on offer in specialised postgraduate departments.

Potential postgraduate writers also have a number of different options, such as journalism and creative writing. Students more interested in analysing the media can choose from disciplines like film & television or media studies. Creative postgraduates with the technical skills and interests can look to postgraduate opportunities which feature new media technology. Irish third-level institutions offer programmes from multimedia systems to TV & video production.

Research Areas

The creative arts offer the postgraduate research student many options. Individual students can undertake research projects in many facets of the different disciplines and add to the existing body of work already undertaken with their own personal stance. Some research programmes at postgraduate level in creative arts subjects can include a taught element, where students learn skills such as research methods, business or IT subjects, which will be useful for their particular research project and their future career prospects. Creative arts postgraduate research students are usually assessed by a final project, which is submitted at the end of the course. If the student is concentrating on the history or theory of their particular subject they may deliver a written thesis, while others may produce a performance or work of art as the culmination of their project.

Career Paths

Job prospects in the creative arts can be unpredictable and postgraduate courses do not serve as apprenticeships for career paths in the way that accountancy and IT courses do. However, they do give a solid grounding in the chosen subject, allowing the student to concentrate full-time on their art, writing or music. The university sector is always important for nurturing and developing creative talent. Taking a postgraduate course can keep you within a structure, such as moving onto a PhD and possibly even into teaching, which can help creative artists reach their full potential. Other ways of making money in the creative arts sector include royalties and advances from publishers, paid employment as freelance writers/artists, cash prizes from competitions, and bursaries from organisations.

Project management involves the planning, organisation and management of time, labour, budget and resources (employees, software, building materials, etc), in order to achieve a clearly defined goal (e. g. launching a new product, erecting a building). All project management programmes are part time and are typically aimed at current professionals with leadership responsibilities, or those who hope to move into such a role.

Project Management Courses

When it comes to course content. what you’ll be learning will be heavily geared towards the workplace. This discipline is closely associated with, and originally developed from, heavy industry and construction. Engineering, architects and quantity surveyors who are seeking to develop their project management skills are therefore well catered for, with three part time programmes are available from Waterford IT (MSc), DIT (MSc) and Trinity College (PDip). The DIT programme provides expertise in the all-round business skills (leadership, strategic management, etc) that would one expect from the world’s leading business qualification, as well as modules aimed specifically at construction project management. The other two programmes focus exclusively on project management in the construction sphere with modules on issues such as people management, IT, and the legal aspects of construction. Interested parties, who require the financial support of their employer toward fees, would be well advised to clearly identify the benefits to the company of your enrolling before approaching the boss.

Room for Expansion

Project management qualifications are a key requirement of construction managers. However recent years has seen the discipline, with its highly desirable traits of controlled budgets and effective outcomes, become more and more popular across other sectors of the economy. Project management has become a vital asset in the finance, Information Technology, manufacturing, and healthcare worlds. At the moment, each of these sectors is presently doing very well. A strong CV and training in this area means you will be highly employable when you graduate.

Is Project Management right for you?

Before blindly devoting a year (or two, or three) of your life to postgraduate studies in project management, there are a few things to consider. Certain personality traits and tendencies are of great benefit in this line of work – and some are not. As a project manager, you are responsible for the minutia of an entire project’s process. It will be your role to look at which skillsets are required for the project, and work within the constraints of a budget. You’ll be leading meetings and tracking the progress of every stage of the work. Troubleshooting is an integral part of the job; you’ll be dealing with issues and deadlines and should be able to handle pressure.

Timekeeping is also very important. A working knowledge of schedules is absolutely vital, especially when it comes to ensuring that the work is completed within the timeframe required. You have to, not only be good at dealing with people, but also maintain a forensic level degree of attention to detail. While a postgraduate course in project management will provide you will with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed in this field, you have to question if this is a role you will enjoy and excel in. Not everyone is suited to a job like this or the responsibility that goes along with it.

Career Progression

Because each project is different, the position of project manager varies on job to job. Many people find themselves in another field and project management is only one facet of their duties. For instance, you could be working in a tech company and overseeing the day to day running of staff as well as one focused project.

If you are interested in a career in project management, a postgraduate qualification is your first port of call. Depending on the type of and size of the project, there are a number of entry level job titles. Project Coordinator is generally an administrative position where you create and distribute reports to the project team, and work under management. You could be a Project Scheduler, which is a title that mostly only exists on big projects. You would use specialist software and input data / update files. Other roles include Project Administrator, where you might only work on one project; a Project Support Officer where you would be a direct assistant to a PM; a Project Planner; a Project Controller (mainly in construction and engineering) is slightly more senior and assists with administration; and a Document Controller is someone looks after the management of the paperwork in regards to a team.

Journalism is no longer the exclusive remit of print media, radio and TV; it has become a far more multidimensional discipline, incorporating a host of new elements – a fact that is clearly reflected by the widespread inclusion of a digital and social media dimension to most journalism courses.

The Internet has had a major effect on the ways in which information is circulated. The proliferation of websites, blogs and social media sites has come to represent a significant challenge to traditional media outlets, which have been forced to evolve in order to adapt and survive. This is because new media allows users a far greater level of immediacy and interactivity as they can access and respond to continuous streams of information through the use of laptops and other mobile devices. It is clear that engagement has become a hugely effective means of securing a wider readership.

Journalism Courses: Focus

This fact is well-recognised by many of the programme directors for postgraduate Journalism courses. Cork Institute of Technology’s MA in Journalism and New Media (one-year, full time), for example, puts great emphasis on the growing importance of digital and interactive media on the practice of journalism. Modules such as Photoshop, Website Design, Premiere Pro, FCPX and Digital Media Production are developed in line with advances in the media and communications industry.

Such flexibility not only enhances a graduate’s employability, but – as students are adept at switching between platforms – it also creates the option to work freelance in this transitioning industry. This is a route that is becoming increasingly common within the new media landscape as people use social media sites and online resources to upload news content and express their views and opinions. In fact, ‘citizen journalism’ (as it has been called) has become hugely important in international news coverage in locations where there are currently draconian media restrictions in place (e. g. Syria, China, Iran).

Shifting Trends

While such decentralisation is to be welcomed in certain respects, it has also been suggested as one of the principal causes of a ‘race to the bottom’ as established news organizations struggle to compete with the levels of immediacy and engagement offered by bloggers and other web-based news outlets (the ‘phone hacking’ scandal and the recent popularity of questionable sites such as Breitbart is be said to be evidence of this). An additional concern relates to bloggers’ and social media journalists’ lack of self-regulation or adherence to an entrenched code of ethics; indeed, much of this type of journalism remains essentially opinion-based, lacking both the impartiality and research of higher-quality reportage. ‘There’s no shortage of information available online but credibility and reliability of that information can be questionable, ’ says Gaffey. ‘The popularity of the websites of major news-gathering organisations suggests that people still rely on trained journalists to report and explain events. ’

Ethical Obligation

Creating awareness in students of a code of practice that is not only a legal obligation but also a means of safeguarding high standards is therefore one of the foremost concerns of all postgraduate programmes in Journalism. Training in ethics, context, research techniques, sub-editing, and media law is given as standard. Many colleges (such as ICD, DCU, and DIT) also provide internship opportunities within established media organisations in order to allow students to put what they have learned into practice. The acquisition of journalistic and academic skills is ensured through continuous assessment, which normally involves a combination of in-class exercises, tests, essays/articles, and a dissertation.

Entry Requirements

To gain admission to a Journalism course, applicants are generally required to have at least a second-class honours primary degree (in any subject – journalism, by its nature, encompasses a broad subject base). Some institutes also ask that candidates submit a short article, personal statement and/or attend for an interview.

Naturally, candidates are also expected to display an appropriately high level of self-motivation, writing ability and commitment – qualities that are integral for anyone hoping to make it as a professional reporter. For Gaffey, such focus is a distinguishing feature of those who choose to study the topic at postgraduate level: ‘People tend to come to postgraduate journalism with a definite idea of what they’d like to do in the media. They’ve had the chance to develop during their undergraduate courses or working lives and tend to have well-formed views and opinions – journalism gives them an outlet for that. When they go into the workplace, they’re fully prepared to be at the heart of the events that shape the world around us. ’


Do you see yourself as a modern day Don Draper? While the casual sexism and day drinking aren’t part and parcel of the job nowadays, this field remains an interesting and lucrative career choice. In fact, modern commercialism is fuelled by advertising, along with the psychological techniques which have been implemented in this area since the 1920s. Cleverly utilised, a campaign can change the way you think about a brand by tapping into your subconscious; it can appeal to your base desires or thought processes.

In a way, this is a form of propaganda. The man who invented what we now know deem to be the main advertising conventions even wrote a book with that exact title. In the 1928 text ‘Propaganda’, Edward L. Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

What is advertising?

People often confuse the term with marketing or branding, but these have separate definitions which refer to related areas of the process. Fundamentally, advertising is a consumer’s journey from burgeoning awareness of a brand to their final purchase. Imagine your target consumers as being on a scale. On one end, you have brand-loyal repeat customers; while at the other end of the spectrum, your potential customers haven’t even heard of you. Advertising is the funnel you use to move the potential customers from any stage of the scale towards purchase. Generally, it’s through that the bigger the investment, the harder it is to push customers towards purchase. There are lots of contradicting theories when it comes to the mechanics of how best to maneuver those consumers along; most postgraduate courses in advertising will take you through these the prevailing concepts and systems.

Advertising in a Technological Age

Thanks to the advent of technology, things have evolved dramatically in the past few years. Smartphones, tablets, and computers have changed the way in which we, as a society consume media. Bots, data processing and algorithms now make up a large part of the advertising world. Your online movements are always being tracked, and your digital behaviours and spending habits are all constantly being analysed to find out how to best sell products to you.

This has ushered in the era of inbound marketing; SEO rankings, AdWords campaigns, viral marketing, social media management and the newly recognised importance of a maintaining a strong online presence have replaced your standard TV spots or billboard campaigns to a large extent. While methods and practices within in the industry have developed alongside these shifting trends and technologies, at the end of the day, the fundamental aims remain the same. You are selling an idea, product or service and getting those customers to part with their cold hard cash – or the digital equivalent.

Areas of Advertising

No matter what area you end up working in, it’s important that you have a full and practical understanding of the various facets of marketing, advertising, sales and public relations. You’re not always going to be the person cultivating an idea and rolling it out; most likely you might, in fact, be a cog in a complex communications machine.

At present, the overarching disciplines of most postgraduate courses can be divided into two fields, creative and executive. As you move into your career, creatively, you might be developing ideas or content in a smaller agency, or be responsible for the content of a tweet in a global campaign. While on the executive side of things, you might be designing and implementing strategic economic policies, cold calling potential clients or crunching the numbers as to how to appeal to your base. They are very different but equally important disciplines.

Media plays an intrinsic role in the selling process as this is your conduit to convey ideas. Private newspapers, magazines and radio are funded mostly by advertising; in recent years, the decline of traditional media means that the successful publications, i.e. the ones which are still running and profitable, have diversified. TV and cinema are both highly expensive to create content for as well as purchasing ‘spots’ in; meanwhile, the advent of VOD sites such as Netflix have begun to shake this market as they are based on a subscription model. Other popular options include posters or direct mail outs, which account for the large quantities of flyers going through letterboxes in urban/suburban regions. Meanwhile; ambient and guerrilla advertising are complex to implement and hard to get right. Undeniably, the future is in digital and online advertising, which has mushroomed in both popularity and profitability in the past decade.

Postgraduate Courses in Advertising: What to Expect

No matter what medium you use to you advertise through, what’s most important is that you understand the habits of your customers. Who are they, and what do they want?

In line with the industry, courses in this field tend to be highly practical and project-based. The goal of most postgraduate courses in adverting is to give you a comprehensive overview of the realm, as well as practical real-world advice in replicated professional settings.


Search our comprehensive list of courses online now.

Engineering is an area with multiple strands, each of which is united to the others by a shared commitment to innovation. After all, the discipline, by its very nature, must constantly evolve as its main purpose is to overcome the challenges posed across a range of areas – from computing and software to food and sustainability.

This forms part of the reason why, despite the previous recession, engineers have always been needed and  employed. Engineering is necessary in the modern world; its importance is therefore set to endure, and even flourish – a sentiment reflected by the sustained investment activity in Ireland by major international companies over the last few years.

Microelectronic Engineering

This is particularly true of microelectronic engineering, which has made assured progress in Ireland in recent years and includes companies such as Intel, ZMDI and Xilinx among its growing list of overseas investors. While the sector is already an excellent economic performer – employing over 8, 000 people and contributing €9 billion per year to the Irish economy – there is tangible evidence to suggest that further growth is highly likely.

For instance, recent research by the industry group Midas suggests that the sector will create an average of 200 jobs annually for engineering graduates. Supporting this projection are announcements such as the EU’s decisions to fund the development of an eco-friendly chip by a consortium including UCC staff, along with further financial backing for a major project in broadband infrastructure (known as ‘DISCUS’) which is headquartered at Trinity College Dublin. Even greater investment can come  from Intel, whose developed a $4 billion chip fabrication plant in Kildare. The creation of such a major facility generated jobs not only for electrical engineers, but for those in construction too: it is estimated that developing the plant has created employment for 3, 500 construction workers.

Projected Growth

Such growth requires a continuous supply of well-trained graduates. Unfortunately, even with the numerous postgraduate Engineering courses available to students still means there’s a huge skills deficit. (Note: Postgraduate study is not just a wise move in terms of planning for future career prospects; it is also a necessity for anyone who wants to work as a chartered engineer from 2013 onwards – as decreed by Engineers Ireland. )

Aside from the wider aim of career goals, the main importance of postgraduate education in engineering is to enhance one’s skill set and level of expertise. Ongoing professional development is essential in a technology-led profession such as engineering.

Course Advice

Some general advice for students is that they should consider enrolling on a wide-ranging engineering programme unless they are certain about the specific branch of engineering they wish to pursue (for instance, biomedical or biopharmaceutical engineering). Mechanical Engineering courses are often broad in scope and the area offers one of the most stable areas in terms of graduate employment. Programmes such as those offered at UCD and CIT are delivered through a combination of individual research, lab work, tutorials and work experience. Also, because students can generally tailor the programme (through module selection) to suit their personal tastes, they also have the chance to identify a topic that they may wish to explore further in an ensuing research programme. The resulting combination of general and specific skills allows graduates to secure employment in manufacturing, biomedical, energy and building services engineering, with further academic research being another available option.

In terms of more specific study options, postgraduate programmes in Electronic Engineering are widespread across Irish ITs and universities, with courses on offer from DIT, UCD, UL, NUI Galway and DCU, among others – yet further testimony to the sector’s noteworthy potential for prosperity. Maynooth University also provides a conversion course option. Its Master of Engineering degree (one year full time or two years part time) is geared towards engineering graduates who wish to update their knowledge of cutting-edge technology. Among the subjects taught are Optimisation Theory and Applied Computing for Engineers. Applicants for all such courses are required to have at least a 2. 2 honours primary degree in a cognate discipline.

Other Disciplines

Also popular are courses in Chemical Engineering. These are ordinarily designed to appeal to individuals with a science or engineering background who wish to develop or change their career towards the pharmaceutical or process industries. Offerings such as the University of Limerick’s GDip in Chemical Engineering (one year full time) have been specifically developed with industry in Ireland in mind – often in consultation with chemical and pharmaceutical companies. UL’s programme includes a series of one-day plant visits that give students a chance to tour chemical processing facilities and to interact with chemical engineering professionals. While candidates are typically expected to possess a second-class honours degree in a relevant scientific discipline, applications from graduates with relevant work experience are also invited.

Tempted to study abroad? When considering where to study at postgraduate level, there are a lot of factors to consider. Which is the best programme for you with regards cost, suitable accommodation, university supports, or programme content? Does the course you’re looking at provide teaching experience? Do they have a strong department, research background or archive in your chosen field? 

In Ireland, we have a wealth of excellent training providers that rank very highly on the international scale. However, with recent funding cuts to HEIs; consistently rising fees; combined with the sky-high cost of living in our cities, it’s important to keep your options open when examining what’s right for your future. Here are the top 10 reasons to consider studying abroad.

1. Satiate that Wanderlust

If you have always loved traveling, and feel that you’re at your most challenged when you’re visiting a new place, undertaking your postgraduate training overseas is a no-brainer. It’s a great way to scratch that itch and prepare yourself for your future career in one fell swoop. Also, it’s a good idea to be fiscally prepared, and save enough for travel on your downtime. You can use your location as a ‘base’ and visit as many surrounding areas as you can, which will make your stint even more memorable.

2. Test Drive a Potential New Home

So you’ve done the research and heard that Canada/Germany/X is a lovely place to live. Why not dip a proverbial toe in the water before packing up and moving over there for good? A year-long training programme, along with the student visa you’ll need if it’s outside the EU, is the perfect way to see if this country could be a prospective home for you. Can you see yourself starting a career, or building a life there? After you complete your course, you’ll know for sure. Either you can start the application process to move over for good or leave with a qualification and the knowledge that it’s not right for you.

3. Assert Your Independence

Mammy won’t be washing your laundry every Friday; there’ll be no more lifts when you oversleep; and you can forget about waking up hungover on a Sunday afternoon to a freshly cooked roast with 3 types of spuds. When you study abroad you’ll be completely on your own. This level of independence is a soft landing into the responsibilities – and freedoms of – adulthood. You will get the chance to develop a whole new set of skills, and do what you want without the well-meaning (but at times overpowering) influence of those people who’ve known you all your life. Take this time to breathe, take heed, and figure out who you are.

4. Explore

In a sense, absolutely everything in your life will be new. Firstly, you’ll get to explore the region you’re staying in. Even if you’ve been there previously on holidays, living in a place provides a completely different set of experiences to a quick visit. You will get to know the locals, their background and history, their customs and foods – be it poutine, pad thai or paella. Then through your postgraduate programme, you’ll also get to thoroughly investigate your chosen field of study. You can challenge yourself alongside like-minded leaners to a much deeper degree than you ever touched upon during your undergrad.

5. Become More Employable

Not only does a postgraduate qualification look great on any CV, but international study is an immense asset when it comes to your landing the job of your dreams. If you have thrived academically with positive references during your time abroad, this implies a certain skillset which is highly sought after; independence, self-reliance, discipline, communication skills, drive, bravery, and maturity. Studying abroad is rewarding but challenging, and any potential employer worth their salt will recognise this.

6. Learn a Language

The very best way to learn any language is to completely immerse yourself in the region. Set goals, learn phrases, and use every interaction to practice your diction. Acquiring a second language not only improves your memory but also increases your attention span. The act of becoming bilingual exercises your brain, helps you concentrate and increases your problem-solving ability. In fact, learning a language can even stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia by years. Bilingual graduates are in high demand at any workplace, so use your time wisely and get practicing that vocab: ‘Je voudrais un travail s’il vous plait.’

7. Make new friends

A move to another country can certainly seem daunting, but don’t worry… as an international student, you’ll be alongside plenty of people who are in the same boat as you. When you’re engaging in an experience as exciting (and scary) as moving alone to a new city, you have a tendency to bond fast with your peers. Don’t be surprised if you graduate with a number of lifelong friends. One benefit of having an international group of besties is that you’ll have couches across the world you can crash on, as well as the best on-hand tour guides ever.

8. Expand your horizons

If you undergo postgraduate study in another country, you’re catapulted into another realm. That means that you’ll be forced to try new things constantly and lolling about in your comfort zone will be a thing of the past. You’ll try new food, meet new people, have experiences you’d never have dreamed of if you had stayed in the same college you got your undergraduate degree from. Things can seem overwhelming, but it’s so important that you challenge yourself and don’t let anxiety get the better of you. Just remember to breathe and take stock of how far you’ve come. These changes will all happen incrementally and when the time comes to go home, you’ll hardly recognise yourself.

9. Build a professional network

Most likely you’ll have given up a lot to study overseas; the move can be pricey; relationships and friendships have to be put on hold; you’ll miss important events, birthdays, and weddings. Keeping this in mind, it’s vital you make the most of your time and utilise every opportunity afforded to you by the experience. Connect with your university professors, teach undergrads and go to every lecture/conference you can. A rich, diverse professional network is invaluable for your own career. If maintained well, this means having access to outside advice, potential employment opportunities and is very attractive from the point of view of a potential employer.

10. Stand out from the crowd

At present, more and more people are entering the employment market with postgraduate level education behind them. As a jobseeker, if your CV has a qualification from a top international university this could mean the difference between it landing on the top of the pile, when you’re dealing with graduate placement, or somewhere in the middle. Not only does this set you apart from other applicants, but experiences like these make for interesting talking points. You will be more memorable to any interviewers and no doubt your experience will come with lots of anecdotes to illustrate what you learned along the way.

Most children across society today are raised on cartoons, which probably explains how animation remains such a fundamental and beloved art form. Through this format, you can translate stories, and express ideas in a way that truly connects with a viewer. Films, games, shows, shorts and webisodes can be funny, happy, satirical, political, abstract or tragic. There’s an emotional dialogue to a good animation which tackles concepts in ways that live-action films simply can’t. Give Up Give Up Yer Aul Sins, an Oscar-nominated Irish short, is the perfect example of how a warm and charming piece of cinema can not only reflect local history with authenticity but resonate with people across the globe.

History of Animation

Depending on the agreed definition, the first recorded animation could be cited as the Victorian Zoetrope. This was a crude invention that produced the illusion of movement through a series of drawings or images showing progressive stages of that movement. This is debatable, however, as going back much further, 5,000 years, in fact, there was old pottery bowl discovered in Iran, which had five sequential painted images of a goat leaping. Or could the inception of animation be based in the shadow play which early humans enjoyed in the Paleolithic period?

Modern Animation

No matter which it was, what we now know as animation today began to take shape at the turn of the 20th Century. In the 1890s, a man named Charles-Émile Reynaud developed a projection device, where hand-painted colourful pictures in a perforated strip ran between two spools. Simultaneously, the medium of film began to take off; these fledgling filmmakers would experiment with different techniques. J. Stuart Blackton’s The Haunted Hotel (1907) was a huge mainstream success; he was one of the first to use stop-motion animation to make objects appear to be moving independently. This certainly got audiences talking at the time.

First Feature

The very first entirely animated feature was El Apóstol (The Apostle), a 1917 Argentine film which implemented cut-out animation. Tragically, a fire decimated the footage and all the film’s copies were lost forever. It was the 1930s when technicolour was introduced. This paved a path for a tenacious young upstart, Walt Disney who developed his skills through a number of animated shorts. Subsequently, the second half of the 20th Century, saw technological advances make their impact on the industry. Less and less work was being animated by hand. Finally, Toy Story (1995) was the first feature-length fully computer-animated film. Now we live in an era where the vast majority of animated works are done digitally, and 40% of kids under the age of 12 know the entire dialogue of Frozen verbatim.

Why Study Animation?

To excel in this field you need a strong creative streak and robust artistic ability. No matter which area you decide to focus on, there’s a wealth of technical knowledge you’ll have to master too. Many of the computer programmes will even require maths and/or coding – so be prepared to work. We’ve compiled a list of the top five reasons why it’s worth studying this field anyway!

1. You’ll be in demand.

Because there’s a composite of technical and artistic skills required for this area, there is not a high proportion of the population that fits this bill when it comes to natural aptitude. If you are able to comprehensively master the skills required, you’ll never be short of a job opportunity or nixer.

2. There’s room for creative expansion.

When you graduate with your postgraduate certificate, there’s so much scope for specialisation and advancement. You can continue learning on the job, or focus on the various elements of each style of animation. You could also branch into directing, producing, writing, advertising, or graphics. There’s room for lateral movement across any position you take.

3. Ireland has a healthy animation industry

We may be a tiny island with a small population, but when it comes to animation, we pack a big punch on the international stage. Remember Fievel in that adorable child’s film, An American Tale? That was partly made here while, the prehistoric adventure, The Land Before Time, was entirely completed in Ireland. Cartoon Saloon and Brown Bag films are highly influential animation houses within the industry. In fact, Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner, which was executive produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin and Angelina Jolie, was nominated in 2017 for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards.

4. You can be your own boss.

… in a sense. A lot of the work you’ll be undertaking will be freelance, so you can pick and choose the jobs that work for you. There’s also plenty of opportunity for you to strike out on your own and do small independent advertising gigs or even avail of the funding opportunities provided by the BAI or Screen Ireland.

5. It’s rewarding.

To work in animation makes you a god of sorts. You get to create these detailed digital artificial worlds and the characters that move about in them. You might decide where they go or what they do. Plus, your work can help to sell goods, create visual effects in video games or even touch the emotions of people that you’ve never met. The fruits of your labour have a direct influence on the lives of others, and what’s more rewarding than that?

What to expect working in Animation

When it comes to specialisation, there are many different areas to choose from if you’re planning on taking a postgraduate course in animation; you could study 2D, stop-motion, or there’s 3D, which could be both hand-drawn and computer-generated. With 3D, you could find yourself model-making, or utilising stop frame animation. You will most likely be using a software package too, such as Flash, 3ds Max, Maya, LightWave, After Effects, Avid, Softimage or Cinema 4D.

Although most of the work you do will be just you on your computer screen, communication skills are a must in this game. No matter where you end up, you should be able to function well as part of a team, as very few animation projects are completed, start to finish, by just one individual. You might find yourself in creative staff meetings, working with clients, pitching concepts, or taking notes from script editors, funders or producers. Collaboration is a key focus when it comes to this line of work.

Especially in Ireland, Animation is a competitive industry. To find any type of employment, a comprehensive portfolio is essential. Many animators work as freelancers or on short-term contracts and you could find yourself working on video games, adverts, children’s programmes, feature films, music videos, titles, special effects, or cartoons animated drama for adults. Where you end up is down to you!

Moore’s Law and the technological shifts brought in under its mantle has obliterated our traditional interpretation of what ‘media’ actually means. A few generations ago, the only media available to consume was via print. Then came photography, followed by radio, film, TV and most recently the computer. It’s hard to fathom, especially for the average millennial, but in our living memory, there are people whose households only got their first radio when they were children. In fact, a morse code transmission from the revolutionaries in the Dublin General Post Office during the Easter Rising is commonly considered to be the first broadcast in Ireland; our first official radio station didn’t exist until years later.

Shifting Trends in Media

2008 saw the mass distribution of a powerful pocket computer. Simple, easy to use, and with the processing ability that would have required a robust 18-inch tower a few short years before, the iPhone revolutionised the way we consumed and created media. It was a camera, recorder, iPod and most importantly, had access to the internet. This, hand in hand with the evolution of social media – from the clunky geopages and Myspace to the murky depths it inhabits today – is what democratised media in a sense. Now everyone in with access to the internet can be a broadcaster of sorts.

Meanwhile, in the past, film was a notoriously restricted endeavour. Not only was the equipment prohibitively expensive, but processing reels of film was equally costly and the edit process gruelling, if nothing else. The improvements made to the design of the digital camera, the storage of files, and affordable prosumer editing programmes mean this is no longer solely the endeavour of organisations with deep pockets.

These are only a few examples of changing trends in the past few years; we haven’t gotten to the language of video gaming, its cultural control and industrial importance. We haven’t mentioned the impact streaming and pirating has had on musical artists, or the influence on online platforms has on traditional TV broadcasters. Long story short, those who were considered the ‘gatekeepers’ of taste and media no longer have the power they once did.

Media Studies Postgraduate Courses

The term Media Studies is as broad and encompassing and the word ‘media’ itself. There are a number of schools tied into the academic study and research of the forms. Some course modules might tackle the historical background of one facet of media and how this related to economic or social trends in an era. For example, a class might pose the thesis of how was the postmodernism movement represented in film? What was the impressionists’ influence on literature? Another angle when it comes to Media Studies might be the critical analysis of various texts; for instance, using semiotics to identify trends with regards gender in advertising. There are also a lot of opportunities to study various hypotheses at PhD level around the country; this is a great option if a career in academia is something you’d be interested in.

The other side of the academic coin is studying and understanding the mechanics and technologies behind media. On courses like these, you might find yourself learning code, mastering a digital camera, gaining skills in graphic design, learning the basics of sound production. While there is often a research module on practical programmes, a lot of your assignments and grades will be project-based. There’s a lot more of a team-focused element too which is, in turn, reflective of the various fields within the industry. A major benefit of courses like these is that you graduate with a completed portfolio of work.

Career Opportunities

Again, with the media industry in flux, there’s no one path when it comes to getting a certain role. Graduating with a postgraduate qualification in Media Studies, you could end up in a 9-5 administration role, in advertising, in academia, writing, freelance, film or radio. When it comes to finding employment in the media industry, things can get quite competitive so a strong postgrad and portfolio will put you ahead of most other graduates. Depending on your chosen area, another viable option following on from a degree is to specialise with a training scheme. You could go into a practical role as a trainee, in say, the world of sound recording or film. Alternatively, Springboard provides a host of subsidised options where you can upskill in areas where there is presently a skills deficit.

No matter what your chosen path, media is a rewarding an interesting career. It’s all about interpreting and communicating with your culture, telling stories and making sense of the world. If this is an area you’re interested in, check out our comprehensive list now.