Course Overview

Note: next intake for this course is September 2023

The Professional Diploma in Education Studies is the first in a suite of courses that will cover a number of specialist content areas. The Professional Diploma in Education Studies (Leading Innovation) is a qualification in leading innovative learning in schools. It will be delivered through distance education and supported with an online/blended approach to engaging learners. It is aimed at education professionals who would like to challenge and/or improve the way they think about their work in a variety of ways. Our course will include some face-to-face sessions, and we believe that these combined with more frequent online engagement will provide a dynamic and transformative learning experience for all learners. 

We are committed to developing our students’ critical voice through reading, discussion, peer learning, presentations, critical review, reflection and practical application. This commitment to participative learning experiences will ensure that high-quality learning outcomes are achieve. 

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

Dr Paul Flynn
PhD, BEng, BA
Lecturer Above The Bar
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B.Ed., M.Ed., PhD
Established Professor, Head of School
School of Education
Nuns Island
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Requirements and Assessment

This programme is assessed through various continuous assessment techniques and project work in each of the following modules: 

Semester 1: Leading Innovation for Inclusive Learning (15 ECTs)

Semester 2: Literacy & Numeracy in 21st Century Classrooms (15 ECTs)

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

A Level 8 Undergraduate Degree (H2.2) or equivalent in education, the social sciences, arts and humanities or other relevant discipline is required.

Additional Requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)


1 year (2 semesters); blended/distance education, part-time

Next start date

September 2023

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

None, determined by the Programme Team and Programme Director. 

NFQ level

Mode of study

Blended Learning

ECTS weighting




Course code


Course Outline

The course is delivered in a blended manner comprising one 15 credit module per semester. As options and modules are added students will have more choice in both semesters. The basic structure for students will require a choice of one core and one optional module to complete the programme, (as there are a total of two linked modules at present- both are core). Ideally students should try to work through the full diploma as part of a single cohort over one academic year. There is some flexibility in relation to this—please contact the course administrator in order to discuss your options.

There will be weekly online lecture-discussion forums for 1.5 hours per week based on assigned readings on selected topics on a designated evening. Students are also expected to attend the university for face to face workshops and seminars three times during each semester. The overall course is also supported by a combination of live and pre-recorded online lectures, assigned readings, focused tasks and group based discussions.

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (30 Credits)

Required ED6179: Leading Innovation for Inclusive Learning

Semester 1 | Credits: 15

This module will critically explore three bodies of scholarship: 1. Contemporary issues in educational leadership: The context for innovative schools, 2. Perspectives on school leadership 3. Leading innovation in schools as learning organisations These module thematic areas will develop an in-depth understanding among participants of leadership practices and approaches that will foster innovation in the key domains considered vital for high quality educational experiences in schools. The module content is designed for teachers with some teaching experience who would like to either move into a leadership position or challenge the way they think about their work in a variety of ways. The concept of leadership employed is broad and can be applied to teachers at different stages of their career. The focus in the module on the ambition of fostering innovation in schools is fundamentally based on developing inclusive, diverse and creative learning spaces for all students and for all staff who contribute to the formation and education of children and young people in schools. Scholarship on contemporary issues in education will explicate the main discourses framing education policy and practice with a view to identifying the manner in which innovation and creativity based on principles of social justice, equity and inclusion can be at the core of school improvement. A particular focus here will involve a critical engagement with how the rise of a neo-liberal agenda in education, and public policy more generally, has crystallised around new public management with implications for autonomy and accountability in schools. The module interrogates this pervasive policy agenda and the manner in which it plays out in terms of national policy and school practices, with particular reference to the lives and work of principals and teachers, and the impact of recent policy initiatives including School Self Evaluation and the Literacy and Numeracy policy. This national policy discourse is situated within international social movements, and a key anchoring concern throughout is what does professional responsibility and leadership practice in schools entail in these changing times. The critical engagement with the main perspectives on school leadership will provide an opportunity for students to examine, understand and criticise the application of principles underpinning the different theories of school leadership with particular emphasis on modern theoretical developments in the area. The module questions prevailing models of leadership practices and provides the language and concepts that will enable participants to formulate their own positions on what forms of leadership practices are most likely to result in more innovative and dynamic school cultures and environments. A deep knowledge and understanding of the role of the school as an organisation in order to enhance participants expertise in this area is essential. This module examines the role of school leaders in organisational development with respect to two main areas of inquiry (i) leading and managing structures and systems and (ii) leading and managing staff. Key perspectives underpinning this module are the concept of the school as a learning organisation and the idea that schools as professional learning communities can be used as a framework to support innovation in practice.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Clearly articulate the shaping international influences on the contemporary national policy agenda and create a constructive critique of dominant policy agendas from a practice perspective and from the perspective of developing more innovative inclusive schools
  2. Identify and critically evaluate where potential exist within current policy and contextual frameworks for innovative change engage, for example, how self-evaluation can be harnessed as an opportunity to enhance innovative responses by schools
  3. Develop a critical insight into the range of leadership theories and perspectives in scholarship by critiquing different perspectives from a number of different contexts in Irish schools. By engaging in this process participants should co- construct models of leadership practice that are applicable to different contexts in Irish education.
  4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the processes of school planning, school self-evaluation and the school as a learning community for organisational development and growth.
  5. Demonstrate awareness of current issues and trends influencing the area of leading innovation for inclusive learning
  6. Demonstrate a sophisticated and nuanced insight into the complexity of leading for innovation within schools, taking account of the contextual variables that prevail in schools and within education systems
    Reading List
    1. "School Leadership and Racism: An Ecological Perspective. Urban Education, 54(5), 631–655" by Brooks, J. S., & Watson, T. N.
    2. "Gender, Identity, and Education Leadership" by Fuller, K.
      Publisher: Bloomsbury
    3. "Educational Management and Administration." by Gronn, P., (2000) Distributed properties: A new architecture for leadership.
    The above information outlines module ED6179: "Leading Innovation for Inclusive Learning " and is valid from 2020 onwards.
    Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

    Required ED6178: Literacy & Numeracy in 21st Century Classrooms

    Semester 2 | Credits: 15

    In this module students will critically evaluate: current issues and trends influencing specifically the areas of literacy/numeracy in the field of education; conduct applied analysis of school contexts; literacy/numeracy pedagogies, explore the use of evidence informed models of practice to target improvements in the key areas of literacy/numeracy; and associated leadership strategies. Students will by respond by developing proposals for implementation within the naturalistic context of their work.
    (Language of instruction: English)

    Learning Outcomes
    1. Demonstrate awareness of current issues and trends influencing the areas of literacy/numeracy
    2. Demonstrate capacity to identify opportunities for pedagogical innovation to improve literacy/numeracy learning experiences in school contexts.
    3. Demonstrate cultural sensitivity, specific to educational environments, when considering implementation of strategies to improve literacy/numeracy learning experiences in school contexts
    4. Demonstrate appreciation of design theory when considering responses to classroom based challenges that relate to literacy/numeracy
    5. Identify and critically evaluate the challenges relating to designing classroom engagements to enhance literacy/numeracy learning experiences
    6. Demonstrate experience of engaging with a wide ranging educational community
    7. Identify and critically evaluate where potential exist within current policy and contextual frameworks for innovative change engage, for example, how self evaluation can be harnessed as an opportunity to enhance innovative responses by teachers
    • Continuous Assessment (100%)
    Reading List
    1. "Language, Literacy and Literature: Re-imagining Teaching and Learning." by Tiernan, B., & Kerins, P.
    The above information outlines module ED6178: "Literacy & Numeracy in 21st Century Classrooms" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
    Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

    Why Choose This Course?

    Career Opportunities

    There are four main career pathways:

    1. Permanent or more substantial contract in initial employment as a teacher
    2. Internal promotion within current schools
    3. Job mobility—transfer to other schools
    4. Employment opportunities in education support services

    Who’s Suited to This Course

    Learning Outcomes

    Transferable Skills Employers Value

    Work Placement

    Study Abroad

    Related Student Organisations

    Course Fees

    Fees: EU

    €3,000 p.a. 2021/22

    Fees: Tuition

    €2,930 p.a. 2021/22

    Fees: Student levy

    €70 p.a. 2021/22

    Fees: Non EU

    Find out More

    Dr Paul Flynn
    Programme Director

    2023 QS Subject Rankings: Top 250

    Education QS Subject Award Badge