Course Overview

HE Awards 2018--HealthSc HE Awards 2018--new

The Master/Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences (Children’s Palliative / Complex Care) is facilitated by both the teaching teams at University of Galway and UCD. The programme designed for Registered Nurses working with children and adolescents with complex or life limiting conditions. The programme aims to provide students with the necessary in-depth evidence-based knowledge, skills and competencies to provide quality care to highly dependent children as they live with life-limiting illness and may face the end-of-life. 

All students will register on the full-time one-year Postgraduate Diploma. On completion of both theoretical and clinical modules for this course, students will graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma or (if they have achieved the minimum 60% average mark across these modules) they may apply to transfer to the second year of the MSc programme.

It consists of both theoretical and clinical components. A blended learning approach is adopted in the delivery of this programme.

Students are required to attend face to face workshops for a total of 12 days across the programme. Additionally, students are required to complete a minimum of 500 hours (reduced from previously-published 1,000 hours, on NMBI advice) before completing this programme. The course has a clinical focus, offering opportunities to develop specialist skills.The programme is offered through a blended learning format—a combination of online and face-to-face learning and teaching. Blended learning is an innovative and flexible approach to learning, making it possible to combine working full-time with studying. This course is approved by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

A Scholarship available within this programme:

For academic year 2023/24, HSE is providing limited number of scholarships. Priority for the scholarship will be given to those working in specialist community palliative care settings in line with recent HSE policy recommendations . Applicants are considered first come, first served basis. Please contact the Programme Director Claire Quinn ( for further information.

Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.

Applications and Selections

Places are limited to 14 Students ONLY due to specialist placement access. Early application is encouraged.  

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

Please note all applicants register for the 1-year postgraduate diploma, with the opportunity to transfer to the second year of the MSc programme at the end of the first year if they meet the relevant eligibility criteria

Garda vetting is required for this programme. This will be organised by the University of Galway after you have registered for your studies. Also the following information will be sought following acceptance of your place:

7.     Certificate of your immunisation status

8.     Evidence of Children First certification

9.     Evidence of Handwashing certification

10.  Moving and Handling certification

11.  Signed Confidentiality Agreement for Childrens Hospitals Ireland

Who Teaches this Course

  • Dr Claire Magner UCD

See full staff list here.

Mrs Claire Quinn
BNS., Dip., M.Sc
Lecturer Above The Bar
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Ms Deirdre Fitzgerald
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Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Applicants must:

  • Be registered on the general, children’s, psychiatric, intellectual disability or midwifery division of the register maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland;
  • Have a minimum of one year’s post-registration experience (exclusive of post-registration courses);
  • Be currently working in the required specialist area, i.e., an area associated with palliative care/children’s care/children’s palliative care or allied areas (neonatal, disability, oncology) and have as a minimum six months’ clinical experience in this specialist area;
  • Complete additional clinical hours in a children’s palliative care/complex setting. Placement length depends on the learning opportunities available to students in their current work setting;
  • Provide written support from their employer that they will be able to access this client group across the programme;
  • Satisfy the selection panel of their ability to complete the programme;
  • Have an honours Bachelor’s degree at NFQ Level 8 in nursing or a comparable qualification. Applicants who do not hold an honours degree or Higher Diploma (Level 8) must demonstrate that they have successfully completed (in the previous two years) a module at Level 9. Please consult the professional credit awards at Level 9 at:

Additional Requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)


Two years, full-time (option to leave with PDip after 1 year).

Next start date

September 2024

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

31 May 2024

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting




Course code


Course Outline

Full-time students will complete three core and three specialist modules in the first year (60 ECTS). Eligible students will then complete a research dissertation (30 ECTS) in their Masters year.

The student can avail of Professional Credit Awards as stand-alone modules prior to the commencement of the full PDip/Master’s. 


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 (60 Credits)

RequiredNU6446: Quality of Life and Symptom Management in Children’s Palliative / Complex Care

Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module focuses on developing in depth comprehension of the philosophy of palliative care for children and the application of key concepts in relation to the assessment and management of symptoms. A repertoire of knowledge, skills and sensitivities is required in the management of pain and other symptoms (WHO, 1990). The aim of this module is to enhance students’ understanding and knowledge of the philosophy, principles and practice of pain and symptom management in caring for individuals with life limiting illness (Doyle et al. 2005). It aims to develop knowledge and skills in assessing, diagnosing, planning, intervening and evaluating evidence – based theories, related research findings and principles of pain and symptom management. Students will also examine the role of technology in supporting quality of life for the child and adolescent with a life limiting illness. This module is composed of five units.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Define palliative care and describe the principles which guide practice within the multidisciplinary team.
  2. Integrate knowledge of the pathophysiology of end of life disease processes and their effects to the care of children and adolescents with life limiting illness.
  3. Apply the principles of impeccable assessment and early identification of the cause and impact of pain and other distressing symptoms.
  4. Use evidence based tools and related theories of pain and symptom management to guide practice, arrive at clinical decisions and manage symptoms effectively.
  5. Critically analyse the importance of providing individual care tailored to meet and respect the needs of the child and their family.
  6. Explore the principles of ethical-decision making in palliative care and the complexities of advanced care planning
  7. Using the holistic palliative care philosophy, integrate analysis of psychological, social, spiritual and physiological factors in assessing, planning and intervening the relief of symptoms associated.
  8. Employ both traditional and innovative interventions and other non-pharmacological therapies, appropriately in the care of children and adolescents with life threatening illness and their families.
  9. Demonstrate an awareness of the nutritional requirements of children at different stages of the disease.
  10. Demonstrate understanding of the role and functions of technology
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU6446: "Quality of Life and Symptom Management in Children’s Palliative / Complex Care" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredNU623: Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice

Semester 1 | Credits: 10

Errors are inevitable in healthcare systems (Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance, 2008). It is estimated that medical errors would rank 5 in the top 10 causes of death in the United States, ahead of accidents, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, if included on the National Centre for Health Statistics’ list (Joint Commission, 2005 p.7). In Ireland, the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (2008) acknowledge that healthcare will never be risk free but argue that it is critical that the systems in place are as safe as possible, that the right ‘checks and balances’ are in place and that learning results from mistakes. To ensure this happens it is important that programmes prepare nurses to promote and enhance clinical safety. The module is guided by the National Patient Safety Framework (The Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2005) and the WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Guide for Medical Schools (World Health Organisation, 2009).
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Critique the concepts of ‘safety’ and ‘risk’ in context of their practice setting.
  2. Examine the concept of ‘clinical governance’ in the Irish healthcare system
  3. Identify and evaluate the factors that determine the quality and safety of healthcare from the perspective of (i) the nurse or midwife (ii) the client (iii) the multidisciplinary team and (iv) the wider healthcare system
  4. Identify local policies and procedures to improve clinical safety and apply safety principles in practice.
  5. Debate the tensions between ‘managing risk’ and ‘client autonomy
  6. Explore their role in promoting and enhancing safety as a member of the multidisciplinary team
  7. Complete a risk assessment relevant to their practice setting.
  8. Evaluate their contribution to quality improvement in their practice setting
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU623: "Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredNU6444: Care of the Child & Family with Palliative / Complex needs

Semester 1 | Credits: 10

Although death in childhood is relatively uncommon, the specific care needs of the child and family require a reflective, family centred and evidence-based approach to practice (Goldman, Hain and Liben, 2012, 2020). Recommendations within the Irish Policy for Children with Life Limiting illness (DoH&C 2010) encourages further professional development for nurses nd AHPs caring for these children and families. This module aims to assist nurses and AHPs to explore this approach to palliative and complex care practice with an emphasis on providing an overview and understanding for both paediatric/ disability trained and adult-orientated practitioners.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Articulate a conceptual framework for practice which sees child and family as the unit of care
  2. Demonstrate a contextual understanding of child development in relation to life-limiting illness and its consequences
  3. Develop strategies for advanced communication skills to support the child and family in need
  4. Identify and respond to issues of grief and loss in a family context
  5. Critically appraise the policy dimension of care for children at end-of-life
  6. Explain the value of multi-agency support in the care of the child and family with life-limiting illness
  7. Explore the principles regarding the breaking of bad news and identify strategies which support best practice in breaking bad news
  8. Explore key theories of bereavement and loss in contemporary society
  9. Recognise the influence of social structure and culture on grief responses
  10. Articulate the nature of grief work and the role of the palliative care practitioners in supporting families in grief and loss
  11. Identify the key components of complicated grief and the appropriate palliative care response
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU6444: "Care of the Child & Family with Palliative / Complex needs" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredNU921: Clinical Competence 1

Semester 1 | Credits: 0

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU921: "Clinical Competence 1" and is valid from 2014 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredNU6439: Service Improvement

Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module will allow the student the opportunity to plan and implement, with their manager, and an academic facilitator, a service improvement initiative. The project will focus on an issue of relevance to client care or service improvement and must be supported by the student’s line manager and/or clinical facilitator. Examples of the types of projects include: completion of a defined literature review supporting some aspect of unit work, preparation of a patient education leaflet (supported by an evidence based rationale presented separately), development of a patient education pack (supported by an evidence based rationale presented separately), development of a strategy to reduce waiting time, an initiative that will improve patient/staff safety, development/implementation of guidelines/policies, an initiative that improves the quality of patient services or the work environment, an initiative that saves time/money or any issue/problem/change that can be addressed through action. This work must be completed within a calendar year.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Critically examine a practice issue and contribute to service improvement
  2. Integrate and apply learning from other modules
  3. Work collaboratively with peers and clients
  4. Become an autonomous and independent learner
  5. Develop the skills and knowledge needed to implement a change in clinical practice
  6. Develop their skills of analysis, critical thinking, problem-solving and reflection
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU6439: "Service Improvement" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredUCD_NU6445: Specialist Understanding of Complex Care for Children

Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module focuses on the central concepts of care that underpin specialist practice in complex care for children and their families. The module is designed to enhance the Students understanding of the emerging speciality of complex care delivery. This will include exploration of the organisation of health services for this population, factors influencing care delivery in this area including the role of technology, the organisation of care services for this population and issues pertaining to quality care and clinical governance.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the organisation of health services for children with complex care needs and their families in the national and international context.
  2. Critically evaluate the key constituents of a successful transition to home for the child with complex care needs and their families.
  3. Critically discuss the impact of medical interventions and technology on the psychosocial well-being of children and their families
  4. Critically evaluate standards of care and outcome measurements for children with complex care needs.
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module UCD_NU6445: "Specialist Understanding of Complex Care for Children" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredNU502: Advanced Research Methods

Semester 2 | Credits: 10

. This module is designed to enable students to explore the methodological and practical issues of research. It will help students determine the appropriate research design for research questions in their practice and provides an opportunity for students to debate, challenge and clarify research issues. This module will also help students understand the systematic review process and types of reviews, Finally, the module prepares students to develop a research protocol
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of what is meant by ‘evidence-based practice’
  2. Discuss theoretical perspectives on research methodology
  3. Formulate an answerable clinical question using the PICO approach
  4. Develop a database search strategy
  5. Explain clearly the key characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the main qualitative and quantitative research methodologies
  6. Articulate a research problem and formulate a research question or hypothesis as appropriate to guide the conduct of a study
  7. Justify the use of appropriate data collection, sampling, and data analysis methods for qualitative and quantitative research
  8. Discuss rigour in the context of quantitative and qualitative research
  9. Discuss evidence synthesis of quantitative and qualitative research
  10. Create a plan with clear rationales for data collection, sampling, data analysis and rigour to be used when conducting a primary qualitative or quantitative study or evidence synthesis
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU502: "Advanced Research Methods" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

RequiredNU922: Clinical Competence 2

Semester 2 | Credits: 0

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU922: "Clinical Competence 2" and is valid from 2014 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Year 2 (30 Credits)

RequiredNU6515: Research Dissertation

Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 30

Students will be required to undertake a piece of primary research or an evidence synthesis on a topic relevant to their practice area. Students will be assigned a research supervisor who will support them in undertaking this work.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrated knowledge of ethical requirements and procedures by negotiating access to research site/participants by securing ethical approval from the appropriate Research Ethics Committee in the case of primary research. Or in the case of evidence synthesis/secondary data analysis, demonstrate knowledge in the process of negotiating access to full text data not available in the library databases.
  2. Developed a research question(s) of significance to area of of significance to their specialist nursing/midwifery professional practice or a problem statement(s) based on a review of evidence-based literature.
  3. Identified and apply an appropriate method(s) to achieve the objectives of the research question (s)/ hypothesis for primary data collection, or in the case of secondary data analysis, employ valid and reliable method(s) for processing and analysing archived research data
  4. Critically discuss research findings with reference to the methods used, current literature and professional practice.
  5. Prepared a scholarly report (Option A) research article (Option B) ready for publication which will demonstrate accurate expression, analysis, and synthesis of the research subject.
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
The above information outlines module NU6515: "Research Dissertation" and is valid from 2023 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates have found employment and promotion opportunities nationally and internationally in clinical nurse specialist roles (neonatology, palliative care, paediatric palliative or specialist complex care,) specialist community home care, disability or liaison roles and/ or children’s hospice employment.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€9,140 p.a. (including levy) 2024/25

Fees: Tuition

€9,000 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Student levy

€140 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Non EU

€17,500 p.a. (€17,640 including levy) 2024/25

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €4,000 towards your tuition (2024/35).  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  A P1 grant is where SUSI will pay tuition up to a maximum of €6,270. SUSI will not cover the student levy of €140.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = Tuition (EU or NON EU) + Student levy as outlined above.

Note to non-EU students: learn about the 24-month Stayback Visa here


Michelle Curtin |   CNM, Resilience Care

I chose this course as it’s the only one of its kind in Ireland. Paediatric palliative/complex care in the community is a developing approach to nursing I feel extremely passionate about. I am lucky to work for a homecare provider delivering care to children in their own homes and I wanted to increase the standards of care for our child clients. NUI Galway and lecturers were extremely helpful and genuinely interested in you and your career and how to bring about not only academic success but also personal and professional growth. Everyone in NUI Galway were eager to help and clearly wanted all students to succeed. I found the course very informative and it challenged my understanding of the area. Linking with class mates and guest speakers from around the country taught me a lot and how each region follow national policy and challenged me to see what I could bring to my area and my organisation. I am now a Nurse Manager overseeing care for over 17 children with complex medical or palliative needs and coordinate a team of 45 nurses and carers. Attending NUI Galway and successfully obtaining this Postgraduate degree has definitely prepared me for this challenging yet rewarding role.

Karen Lovett |   CNC for children with life-limiting conditions, HSE Kerry

I always had a passion for the care of the child and family with life limiting conditions. By undertaking the NUIG Children’s Palliative /Complex care course it gave me the knowledge and confidence to change the direction of my career. As a result of the programme, I became the Clinical Nurse Co-Ordinator for Children with Life limiting conditions in Kerry. The NUI Galway clinical placements gave me the opportunity to network and learn from the experts of the very special community of professionals supporting children's palliative care in Ireland. Initially I found the return to college daunting but with the support of The NUIG lecturers, mentors and colleagues on the course it became very manageable. I would recommend this course as education is key in the development of this very specific area of paediatric care for the future.

Orla Hammersley |   Public Health Nurse

I chose to do this course because I have a background in children with disabilities and now qualified as a Public Health Nurse. I felt that there is a huge gap between children with complex needs been discharged from hospital to home without the same level of support in the community. I feel that by completing the PGD/Masters in childrens palliative care/complex care I now have a much better understanding of the needs of the child, their siblings, and the support that parents need. I found the clinical placements to be an exceptional experience and I gained both professionally and personally. I was partially supported both financially and with clinical placement access by my employer the HSE as a response to service developments in this area. In the future I hope to be involved with the delivery of home care packages for children with complex needs and also supporting community staff in providing come care packages for this group of unique children. I can highly recommend this course.

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