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Institute of Education

Masters in Special Educational Needs

Masters in Special Educational Needs

  • PAC CodeDC994
  • Course Type Postgraduate
  • NFQ Level 9
  • Delivery Modes Part-Time
  • Duration Two Years

The Masters in Special Educational Needs (MSEN) is a blended programme open to qualified experienced teachers working in primary and post-primary schools, in special schools or classes or in other recognised educational centres. The aim of the MSEN programme is to develop teachers' knowledge and skills in analysing, critiquing and applying research literature in the area of special and inclusive education and in carrying out research relevant to children and young people with learning difficulties or special educational needs.

Applicants must have  successfully completed  a recognised postgraduate diploma programme of continuing professional development for teachers involved in learning support, inclusive or special education or the DCU accredited Professional Diploma in Special and Inclusive Education. Selection criteria may apply to all candidates. 

A qualification of Masters in Special Educational Needs will be awarded to successful course participants by Dublin City University.

PAC Application for Year 1 | Application form for MSEN Year 2 is closed


Year Two Entry

Successful applicants who have completed a recognised postgraduate diploma programme of continuing professional development for teachers involved in learning support, inclusive or  special education may  carry 30 credits towards the MSEN and will be required to complete an additional 60 credits  for the award of MSEN.  The 60 credits are normally completed within one academic year and comprise two 15 credit modules and a 30 credit thesis. Module SI801 focuses on research methodologies and Module SI802 addresses curriculum and pedagogy and current issues in inclusive and special education. Students will also complete a 30 credit thesis on an approved topic relating to inclusive and special education.  The year  usually comprises a week’s summer course, online lectures, and a small number of face-to-face lectures on campus. 

Applicants should note that they  will be required to submit two formative  assessment requirements at the end of August and so will need to be in  a position to factor in some  time during the Summer vacation  for the completion of these requirements.

Summer School 

In 2018/19, Year two will commence with a Summer School from 2nd to 6th July 2018 at the Institute of Education, DCU St. Patrick’s Campus, Drumcondra. If an applicant is not able to attend  all days of the Summer School it may be possible to complete some of this element  remotely online at a later date during  the Summer.  


In 2018/19 face-to-face lectures are likely to take place on Saturday 22nd September and Saturday 1st  December (both dates to be confirmed). 

Online lectures

These normally take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings  between September and November. A small number of online sessions will be scheduled in semester 2.

Year One Entry 

Successful applicants entering the MSEN from the DCU accredited Professional Diploma in Special and Inclusive Education will complete 90 credits over two academic years, 30 credits in Year One and 60 credits in Year Two

In year one, they will complete three  modules delivered entirely online. SI804: Assessment and Planning for Special and Inclusive Education (SIE) involves the diagnostic  assessment of a child/young person, reporting and the preparation of an individual education plan.  Modules  SI805: Planning for Learning and SI806: Teaching and Learning for SIE involve one formative and one graded assessment of teaching and planning in the course participant’s own school/college.

Candidates who have successfully completed the requirements of Year 1 will then progress to Year Two which is likely to begin with a Summer School between 1st and 5th July 2019.  

In order to participate in  both years of the programme, candidates must be teachers and must have access to a school or setting where they can engage in research on a topic in the area of inclusive and special education. As a considerable part of the programme is delivered online, students will also need to have access to a computer and have high quality broadband access.

View the current course structure »


Dublin City University is widely recognised as a dynamic and innovative institution that is distinguished both by the quality and impact of its graduates and by its focus on the translation of knowledge into societal and economic benefit. Excellence in education and research activities has led to DCU’s ranking in the top 1.5% of universities globally. In a  foreword to the Strategic Plan, 2017-2022  Talent, Discovery and Transformation, Chancellor Dr. Martin McAleese  notes that DCU’s “responsibility to the coming generations is realised in the massive investment we have made in creating Ireland’s first Faculty of Education. Our graduate teachers will be world-class and their pupils will receive the gift of a wonderful life-enhancing education, the single most important basic investment any society can make”

The DCU Institute of Education is the newest faculty of Dublin City University. Established through the incorporation of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education, Church of Ireland College of Education and the DCU School of Education Studies, it has a staff of more than 125 full-time academics and a student body in excess of 4,000. It is and is a recognised centre of excellence in teacher education nationally and internationally, and has  a distinguished record in providing continuing professional development offering a range of taught and research programmes to masters and doctoral  level. 

DCU facilities at St Patrick's Campus are first class. Online learning facilities draw from the most up-to-date technologies whilst employing innovative teaching and learning methods. Students have access to two extensive libraries that include a vast array of educational resources and diverse study spaces for both collaborative and independent work. Remote access to journals and Ebooks enable and enhance study at a distance.


The Masters in  Special  Educational Needs is designed to meet the professional and personal needs of teachers seeking to acquire deep expertise in the area of inclusive and special education. The programme offers participants the opportunity to develop deep understanding of and critique theories and practices relating to inclusive and special education in light of current research and professional experience. Graduates will develop the skills and knowledge to contribute to and lead  the development of a culture of critical analysis, research, and innovative practice in inclusive and special education and so have  a formative impact on development within schools, workplaces and the broader education community.

The programme will be of interest to teachers who wish to take on a leadership role in relation to inclusive pedagogy within their schools and school areas. Many graduates of the MSEN have also moved into leadership and professional development roles  within other relevant educational contexts.

In these areas


General Entry Requirements

The Masters in Special Educational Needs (MSEN) is a blended programme open to qualified experienced teachers working in primary and post-primary schools, or in special schools or classes.

  • Eligible applicants will have at least three years' teaching experience, with at least one year in Special Education.
  • Applicants must also have completed either

    ○ DCU accredited Professional Diploma in Special and Inclusive Education (Year 1 applicants)


    ○ DCU accredited Graduate Diploma in Inclusive Education, Learning Support and Special Education (Year 2 applicants)

How to Apply and Closing Dates

Make an Application

All Applicants must submit

  • Certified academic transcripts for each and every year of study
  • Brief CV highlighting relevant work experience, including at least one year in area of Special and Inclusive Education
  • Personal statement of 500 words maximum indicating area of research interest
  • Non Native English Speakers must submit evidence of competence in the English language as per DCU entry requirements see link

Non-EU Applicants

Applicants who require a study visa for the purposes of gaining entry into Ireland are ineligible to apply for this programme.


Dates for Submission of Applications 

Please see below for closing dates for the September 2018 intake

Year 1 Entry

Applications close 5th June 2018

Year 2 Entry

Applications close 23rd April 2018


Apply online through the Postgraduate Applications Centre ( for DC994.