Institute of Education

Grad Dip in Inclusive Education, Learning Support and Special Education

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This programme has been offered by the Institute of Education, DCU since September 2016. It combines two well-established graduate diploma courses that were offered previously at St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra and the Church of Ireland College of Education, Rathmines.

The programme is open to primary and post-primary teachers who are employed in a position that is funded by the Department of Education and Skills and who provide Learning Support, Resource Teaching and Resource Teaching for Travellers in recognised primary schools, post-primary schools, and in other recognised educational services. Teachers serving in special schools and special classes are also eligible to apply.

The programme provides a qualification that is recognised by the Department of Education and Skills for teachers working in the areas of inclusive education, special education and learning support who work in the following roles: Learning Support Teacher and/or Resource Teacher, Teacher in a Special School, Teacher in a Special Class.

Funding for the course is provided by the DES. This means that for teachers who are eligible:

  • No fees or registration charges will apply to participants.
  • They will continue to receive their salary in the usual during their participation.
  • Substitution will be provided by the DES to the schools in which they work, to cover their attendance at lectures and seminars during school hours.

There are no formal written examinations involved in the course. Participants will be assessed on the basis of full attendance at the programme venue, engagement with course content and activities, successful completion of selected tasks and written assignments and supervision of work in schools/centres, including final evaluation of this.

Participants who successfully complete the course, and who meet the relevant entry requirements, will be eligible to seek admission to the Masters in Special Educational Needs (MSEN) programme run at the School of Inclusive and Special Education. Credit for completion of the postgraduate diploma will be given to those who progress to the MSEN programme.

This is a one-year, part-time postgraduate diploma programme that aims to provide substantial theoretical and practical continuing professional development to teachers who work with learners deemed to have special educational needs and/or who require learning support in primary, post-primary and special schools and other recognised educational settings.

It is a delivered in a blended format. This involves attending lectures, seminars and workshops during eight weeks of block-release that is spread out over the course of one academic year, including a number of Saturdays. Learning also occurs during visits by course tutors to schools, in dedicated on-line sessions and through engagement with resources made available on DCU learning platforms. In order to participate in the programme, teachers will need access to a computer and broadband internet access.

Indicative Modules

  • Principles and concepts of inclusive and special education
  • Assessment, profiling and planning
  • Teaching, planning and learning for all
  • Learner identity and educational implications
  • Collaboration and leadership
  • Reflective practice and enquiry
  • Elective modules

The course will begin with a joint session for Principals & Participants on the afternoon of 10th September 2021.

Thereafter participants are required to attend three blocks of lectures (in their entirely). DES-funded substitution is available to the schools/centres of all those who are offered a place on the programme to allow this to occur.

The dates of mandatory lecture blocks are as follows:

  • Block 1 - Mon 13th September - Fri 8th October 2021 (4 weeks)
  • Block 2 - Mon 10th January - Fri 21st January 2022 (2 weeks)
  • Block 3 - Mon 28th February - Fri 11th March 2022 (2 weeks)

Lectures are normally held continuously from 9.00am to 3.45pm each day in the DCU, St Patrick’s Campus, Drumcondra. Course organisers reserve the right to schedule some face-to-face tuition on campus on a number of Saturdays during the year. There will also be in excess of 10 on-line sessions scheduled in the evening time (usually on Monday evenings) during the year. Access to reliable broadband is an essential prerequisite for satisfactory engagement with the GDILS programme.

View the current course structure

The institute of Education, DCU is set within the only faculty of education on the island of Ireland. It runs the largest postgraduate programme of this kind in the country. This means that you will have the opportunity to come in contact with course participants from a wide variety of settings and benefit from input provided by lecturers who have developed expertise in a very broad range of (often specialist) areas and sectors. For example, particular expertise has been developed within the programme team around the inclusion of students in primary, post-primary and special schools and other education centres, including settings that respond to highly complex learner profiles, such learners deemed to have severe or profound learning disability.


Life on Campus

We have three academic campuses close to Dublin City centre - they are located in Glasnevin and Drumcondra, and can be reached by public transport (Dublin Bus).

Each campus has libraries, study spaces, restaurants, and on-campus residencies. Sports facilities are located on two of the academic campuses. We also have a dedicated sports campus in the form of St Claire’s. 

Exceptional facilities

DCU students have access to exceptional teaching and learning facilities across our three academic campuses. 

These include modern learning theatres, research centres, new media and TV studio, radio/podcast studios, classrooms, computer suites and advanced labs in the areas of languages, engineering, physics, chemistry and biotechnology, as well as a sports performance centre and training hospital ward. In 2021, we opened our first virtual reality ‘Leadership Lab’, which is located in our Business School.

Construction on our FutureTech building on the Glasnevin campus will get underway in 2022. Once completed, this facility will advance DCU’s international reputation for excellence in science and health, computing and engineering disciplines. It will have the capacity to accommodate an additional 3,000 STEM students on the university’s Glasnevin campus.

Campus life

DCU student facilities boast a fully equipped sports complex with a 25-metre pool, three libraries and The Helix, our renowned performing arts centre.

Our purpose built, state-of-the-art new student centre known as 'The U' serves the needs of a rapidly growing student body of 18,500. It is home to the Student Leadership and Lifeskills Centre, performing arts and cultural spaces for students and the wider community, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Hub.

There are more than 140 clubs and societies for students in DCU, with ‘Clubs & Socs’ days taking place on both the Glasnevin and Drumcondra campuses at the start of the academic year.

Student Supports

We have a number of academic, professional and social supports for students.

Student Advice Centre: Offers a wide range of supports and services to students and advice.

The Writing Centre - drop-in writing workshops for students through the academic year.

Maths Learning Centre - provides maths support for students of all ability levels with maths modules.

Student Learning: facilitate the transition from passive to active learning for students at DCU, by teaching study skills, nurturing critical thinking and building student confidence. 

Careers work with students to help them on their professional journey into graduate employment.

Our student support team offers a comprehensive support programme, helping students make that all important transition into university life and focusing on building confidence and skills which are key to success at third level.



General Entry Requirements

The programme is open to all serving teachers who are employed in a position funded by the Department of Education and Skills and who provide Learning Support, Resource Teaching and Resource Teaching for Travellers 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.

Please review the relevant DES circular at the link below inviting applications for the course. This is usually updated and circulated in January or early February of each year. 

View the relevant DES Circular Eligbility Criteria

* Note applications for DCU is via the process below, not the hard copy from the above circular.


Part time

EU Status Fee Part-time
DES Funded

Next Steps

Make an Application

Applications for 2022-23 will open when the DE issues the circular governing the course. Usually, the circular is issued in early February (e.g., last year, circular issued on 11/2/2021). Once the circular is released Applications for 2022-23 will open for approximately 4 weeks. The link to the application form will be available on this page. Please keep an eye on this page as information pertaining to the application open and closing date for 2022-23 will be updated here.


Prospective future Applicants

It would be useful for prospective future applicants (and their Principals/Centre Managers/ Board of Management Chairpersons) to be familiar with the DE circular governing these courses, especially those elements that relate to eligibility, which do not tend to change much from year to year. Please pay particular attention to cover requirements to ensure you are eligible before making an application. A copy of last years circular can be viewed here. 


Additionally, it is important to be aware in advance that when making an application for 2022-23 applicants are required to upload a signed copy of the Principal and Board of Management Declaration form with their application. Applicants are advised that without the signatures of both their Principal and the Chairperson of the Board of Management of their school, applications can not be deemed valid.


EU Applicants

Closing Date: TBC

"No fees or registration charges apply to eligible applicants who secure a place on this course"

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