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Graduate Diploma/M Ed in Special Education

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
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  • Programme Overview

    The aim of this one-year postgraduate programme in Special Education is to provide substantial theoretical and practical continuing professional development to teachers working with students with Special Educational Needs (SEN). From the broad perspective of inclusive practice, and general special education policy and practice in Ireland, the programme provides specific inputs in assessment, language, literacy, mathematics, social, emotional and behavioural content areas as well as incorporating ICT at all levels to support instruction and learning.

    Key Features

    This PGDSE programme is open to all serving teachers who are employed in a position funded by the Department of Education and Skills and who provide Special Education Teaching in recognised Primary schools, Post-Primary schools, and other recognised Educational Services. Teachers serving in special schools and special classes are also eligible to apply. The programme is designed specifically to assist teachers in meeting the learning and teaching needs of students with special educational needs. Potential applicants must therefore have a teaching role in relation to students with special educational needs. Please refer to the circulars listed in Appendix 1 for information on the qualifications necessary for Special Education Teaching posts at Primary and Post-Primary levels and qualifications necessary to teach in Special Schools.

    It provides a broad overview of special education and provision in the Irish context. In addition to offering an in-depth exploration of an SEN area of choice (Autism, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Mild General Learning Disabilities, Emotional & Behavioural Disorders, Down syndrome, etc.) for each participant, this course provides particular expertise in both ICT and the analysis of behaviour. The course runs from September to May of the following year and involves block release from school for designated periods (a total of eight weeks) and four Saturdays.

    Assessment & Career Opportunities

    Six modules focus on both theory and application with a view to change the planning and practice of teachers working with children with additional needs in primary, post-primary and special schools. Assessment modes used include inclusive and special education provision mapping, case study, reflective essay, documentation of planning and teaching, and practise in schools. Supervised placement in the teacher's own educational setting is an integral part of the programme. Continuous assessment applies throughout the academic year.

    The PGDSE programme provides opportunities for teachers to progress to management roles in their schools as well as applying for national level posts with agencies and organisations charged with providing CPD for teachers in special education. Successful completion of this graduate diploma provides an access route to the Master’s Degree in Special Education.

    For queries relating to the PGDSE course please contact

    M Ed in Special Education

    The M Ed programme comprises all the taught modules of the Graduate Diploma programme, a module on research methods and the writing of a dissertation on an approved topic. 

    For further information on the M Ed in Special Education, please contact or

    Contact for PGDSE

    Elaine Gleeson, Education Office


    For queries on the M Ed in Special Education:

    Programme Content

    The aim of the PGDSE programme is to provide substantial theoretical and practical training for teachers working with pupils with special educational needs and for teachers working with pupils requiring learning support teaching. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to acquire a wide range of practical skills, which will be of continuing benefit throughout their careers.

    Key aspects of the programme include:

    • Theory, Practice, Roles and Responsibilities in Special Education
    • Critical Influences on Child Development, Learning and Behaviour
    • Communication, Language and Literacy 1 and 2
    • The Role of ICT in Special Education
    • Special Education in Practice 1 and 2
    • Curricular Provision: Meeting the Holistic Needs of Learners with SEN
    • Curricular Provision: Collaborative Practice in Special Education
    • Identifying and Managing Special Education

    Entry Requirements

    Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education (PGDSE)

    The PGDSE programme is open to teachers in positions funded by the DES and who provide special educational teaching in recognised Primary schools, Post-Primary schools and other recognised educational services. Teachers serving in special schools and special classes are also eligible to apply. Download DES Circular for more detail.

    A limited number of places are available at six higher education institutions in Ireland including Mary Immaculate College.

    Particular requirements are accessed in the current Circular. For further information regarding the PGDSE programme contact: 

    M Ed in Special Education

    At the moment the MEd in Special Education is only open to graduates of the Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education. For further details contact


    How to Apply

    Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education

    The Applications process for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education course for the 2021-2022 Academic Year is now closed.

    For information on the PGDSE course the 2021-2022 DES Circular is here

    Fees: Programme funded by Teacher Education Section of Department of Education & Skills

    *If you have any questions or queries relating to this programme, please email

    M Ed in SEN

    To register for the M Ed SEN, students must have completed the PGDSEN and have obtained a B1 or higher in the Applied Research Project.

    Applications for September 2021 M Ed SEN is now open. Closing date for receipt of completed applications is 31 May 2021.  Please use the Master of Education (M Ed) application form clearly stating that it is the M Ed SEN programme you are applying for. 

    For further information on the M.Ed. in Special Education please contact 

    Fees: Click here.

    Please pay the non-refundable €50 application fee using Realex hereand return the completed application form by email to:

    Education Office
    Elaine Gleeson
    +353 61 204550

    Ask a Question

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question