Higher Diploma (Software Design and Development)—Industry Stream / ICT Skills

College of Engineering & Informatics

Course overview

PG IT Award badge

ICT Logo
‌This programme is aimed at candidates with little or no IT experience. It provides an academic foundation and broad technical training in software design and development. The skills developed in this programme include the core software development tools and techniques as well as a solid grounding in a specific ICT (information and communications technology) domain. The HDipAppSc programe structure is based on a first semester of immersion in computing knowledge, supported by extensive laboratories, followed by a second semester of specialisation and industry placement. Key features of the approach are that it provides a:

  • Solid foundation in key computing knowledge at the level expected by industry;
  • Choice of specialisation allowing participants to focus on areas of strength and interest;
  • Model for industry involvement allowing industry to influence development and training of participants;
  • Significant placement/internship allowing participants to gain relevant experience and giving industry an opportunity to field test potential recruits.


Key facts

Entry requirements

The programme is open to candidates with level 8 degrees, preferably with a background in a cognate discipline. Students will be assessed prior to being offered a place on the course, and this assessment can include a formal interview and/or standard aptitude assessment tests. Students may transfer to the MSc (Software Design & Development) subject to places being available, and subject to the student completing a required additional course on research methods, and an interview, in tandem with the achievement of a minimum 2.1 result in the Higher Diploma.

Duration: 1 year, full-time

Next start date: September 2016

ECTS weighting: 60

Average intake: 30

Closing date: Please view offer rounds website.

Mode of study: Taught

Course outline

The programme structure and student engagement is based on three successive phases, and builds on NUI Galway’s lengthy experience in providing software design and development conversion courses for students from cognate backgrounds such as Physics, Maths, Engineering and Science.

A number of proven teaching and assessment methodologies will be employed, including lectures, tutorials, laboratory workshops, rapid feedback from assignments,and project-based learning. The phases of the programme are: 1. Semester 1 – General studies in computing, which recognises that participants are largely from non-computing backgrounds, and so the material covers key areas of software development, including databases; operating systems; programming; internet programming and software engineering.

Based on industry feedback during the programme design process, and on the key specialisms identified for Semester of the Higher Diploma, a feature of this phase is that students will opt, in consultation with their company sponsor, for an operating systems course in either .NET or Unix. A number of the first semester courses will be shared with cognate taught post-graduate programmes, and the remaining modules are purpose-designed for this new programme. Students on the Diploma Programme will also have access to the HEA-funded DISC facility, which provides daily support for students with programming questions, and is especially important during the early stages of the Semester.

Furthermore, in the first weeks of Semester 1, the student will be introduced to their work placement company, and allocated both a company mentor, and an academic supervisor, and so initial work on the project element can start at an early stage. This will allow scenarios where students can map out their project work plan, which could involve activities to learn a company-specific technology in preparation for their placement. 2. Semester II - specialisation, where students get the opportunity to focus on a specific underlying platform (.NET or Java) and take a set of focused modules that provide a further foundational element in order to bring the candidates to the industry entry standard for students in the discipline of computer science and information technology. The programme has built-in support to facilitate this transition.

First, students will effectively have two taught subjects in Semester II, and an advantage of this is that it will free up the necessary time to achieve the requisite knowledge set. Furthermore, students, after an initial specification of their project in Semester I, can start to apply their learning to progressing the project, and also interact with their placement company over this timeframe. Extensive lab hours will also be a feature of this specialisation effort, with 1 hour of supervised lab for every one hour of lecture. Students will also have access to DISC during this time, which will provide front-line resources and advice for specific programming problems. Tutorial support will also be provided 3. Semester III – Industry Experience and Professional Development, where on completing their Semester II examinations, students begin their work placement with one of our industrial partners.

Because of our strategy of early engagement with their placement company from Semester I, and project identification and initial work in Semester II, students will be familiar with the company settings, and therefore will have a considerable knowledge base to help them quickly settle into their placement. The placement is a key learning and practical element for students, and this is where they can contribute to their company and also reflect on how their practice can illuminate theory. As part of their work placement, they will focus on an individual project, which has an overall weighting of 25% of the Diploma. We have also used this approach and project weighting at undergraduate level, and self-motivated graduates with independent learning, critical analysis and communications skills will excel with this form of evaluation. A clear rubric will be communication to students in relation to the project quality standards, and a flexible and outcome-based approach will ensure that additional studies such as undertaking formal company training and/or achieving accreditation standards with respect to a given technology (.NET or Java) will be recognised and rewarded as part of the student’s final grade.

Applications and selections

Applications are made online via www.ictskills.ie

Requirements and assessment

Assessment includes examinations in Semester I and Semester II, continuous assessment, a capstone project in software design and development, and completion of a three-month industrial internship.

Find out more

Dr Enda Howley
T: +353 91 494 335
E: enda.howley@nuigalway.ie

PAC code

N/A; apply via the ICT Skills Initiative: www.ictskills.ie

Fees for this course

EU (Total): €224 p.a. 2015/16
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2015/16

Apply via the ICT Skills Initiative: www.ictskills.ie

Current students

Siobhan Collins

Siobhan Collins

"I was attracted to this course, as it features a placement within the IT industry, thus giving great skills needed to obtain work after. The University also has great labs for using computers and easy access to printers and facilities. I would recommend NUI Galway to others as I feel it offers a large and broad range of Information Technology postgraduate courses compared to other Irish higher education institutions."


Nigel Flynn 

Nigel Flynn

"After completing my undergraduate in Engineering and gaining a number of years' professional work experience, I saw a growing need for Software Developers in my line of work. I feel this course has given me a solid knowledge and foundation in Software Development which I can build on. In particular I was impressed with the state-of-the-art IT training facilities provided and maintained by the IT department, which really gives the student hands on experience with IT infrastructure. I have undertaken research in the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), a world-renowned research institution at NUI Galway. I feel that when I graduate, the knowledge/experience I have gained from the course  will provide me with a lot more options in my career path; I have the option to continue with my existing career and be set apart with my new  skills or I could continue in an exciting research domain with possible progression to a PhD."