Course Overview

The primary focus of family support is on early intervention and prevention, aiming to promote and protect the health, well-being and rights of all children, young people and their families, paying particular attention to those who are vulnerable or at risk. The aim of this programme is to further the education and skills of professionals with a common interest in family support.

Established in 2003, this programme is the only one of its kind in Europe with an emphasis on applying a Family Support orientation across a wide range of practice and policy arenas.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre(PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.

Who Teaches this Course

  • Ms. Carmel Devaney, BA, MA, Course Director 
  • Dr. John Canavan, Associate Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, 
  • Professor Pat Dolan, Director UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre 
  • Dr. Bernadine Brady, BA, MA, PhD 
  • Dr. Brian McGrath, BA, MSc, PhD

Requirements and Assessment

Assessment of candidates will be on a continuous basis, will vary from module to module and will involve a combination of essays, project work, and written assignments. Central to students’ assessment will be their ‘on site’ placement and associated practice and their Year Two research project (minor dissertation).

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Participants will have a third-level qualification or a recognised professional qualification in a field broadly related to family support service delivery. In addition, as the programme is not geared towards individuals coming out of undergraduate programmes, a minimum of three years’ work experience in the health and social services area will be required of candidates. As there currently exists a set of practitioners working with children and families who, despite a wealth of skills, have not attained a formal, recognised undergraduate qualification, two places may be offered on the programme at the PDip (Family Support Studies) level.

Additional Requirements


2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2016

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

27 May 2016

Next start date

September 2016

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting




PAC code

GYA07 (MA); GYA08 (PDip)

Course Outline

This is a two-year part-time programme and students are required to attend college two days every second week over four semesters with the agreement of their employers. There are seven modules in total on the programme; three of these are core modules and are taught in both years.

Year 1

  • Family Support Theory (5 ECTS)
  • Family Support Practice (20 ECTS)
  • Families and Children in Ireland: Sociological Insights and Policy Perspectives (5 ECTS)
  • Child Protection and Alternative Care (5 ECTS)
  • Community Development (5 ECTS)
  • Understanding and Working with Vulnerable Populations (5 ECTS)
  • Introduction to Social and Policy Research

Year 2

  • Family Support Theory 2 (5 ECTS)
  • Family Support Practice 2 (5 ECTS)
  • Families and Children in Ireland: Sociological Insights and Policy Perspectives 2 (5 ECTS)
  • Law and Family Support (5 ECTS)
  • Health Promotion and Families (5 ECTS)
  • Social and Policy Research ( 20 ECTS)

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates will have the opportunity to enhance their careers in a wide range of service areas at both practitioner and manager level, working in state and voluntary services on behalf of children and families. Reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of the family support area, the programme is geared towards those working in social work, social care, community work, public health nursing, disability, education, justice, social welfare, early years, gerontology, and other related fields.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€1,675 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Tuition

€1,507 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Student levy

€168 p.a. 2015/16

Fees: Non EU

€13,250 p.a. 2015/16
Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.

Find out More

Dr. Carmel Devaney
Course Director, Child and Family Research Centre,
School of Political Science and Sociology,
NUI Galway.

T 353 91 495 733