Course Overview

The programme aims to give teachers a thorough professional knowledge and understanding of special needs and learning difficulties, and to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to support the education of those with special needs and learning difficulties in various contexts. In doing so, the programme also aims to provide enjoyable and rewarding learning experiences and be responsive to learners’ needs.

The programme is supported by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and provides a recognised qualification for teachers working in the area of special educational needs and learning support in mainstream and special settings. Programme fees are paid by the DES. The programme is delivered by a core team supported by a cohort of associate lecturers with a range of experience and expertise.

Applications and Selections

Application is via a circular which is issued to all schools by the Department of Education and Skills, usually in the previous January, and which can be downloaded from the DES website. Completed forms must be submitted to: PDip in Special Educational Needs, School of Education, NUI Galway, by the closing date.

Who Teaches this Course

  • Dr Patricia Eaton
  • Andrea Higgins
  • Michael Lally
  • Bernie Hanley

Requirements and Assessment

Assessment is through coursework assignments undertaken during the year and is linked to teachers’ developing practice.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

To be eligible, applicants must be graduates and qualified teachers registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland. Further eligibility criteria are included in the DES circular.

Additional Requirements

Garda Vetting/police clearance is required for this programme.

1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2016

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

The closing date for completed applications to the programme is given on the DES circular.

Next start date

September 2016

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting




PAC code


Course Outline

The programme consists of five modules:

  • Inclusion: Perspectives and Implications for Practice
  • Assessment, Planning and Applications
  • Curricular Issues for Special Educational Needs
  • Implications of Educational Disability
  • Specialist Study.

The programme involves release from schools/centres for designated block periods of a total of eight weeks over the academic year, with substitute cover provided. In addition, some lectures and workshops take place on Saturdays. The programme also includes supervised work in teachers’ own schools/centres and a four-day placement in a special setting other than their own.
Key to the programme are inclusive approaches to teaching and learning, which are discussed and demonstrated. Teachers are supported in implementing such approaches in their schools. Participants are encouraged to engage with the programme, and emphasis is placed on developing the skills required to become effective, reflective practitioners in the field of special educational needs.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates are recognised by the DES for positions as learning support and special education teachers in mains-tream and special settings.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€2,330 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Tuition

€2,106 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Non EU

€13,250 p.a. 2015/16
Fees are covered by the DES for eligible participants.

Find out More

Dr Pat Eaton
T: +353 91 492 369