Institute of Education

Master of Education

The Master of Education
Course Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level:
Delivery Modes
2 Years
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The Master of Education is designed for educators who wish to pursue in-depth study in education for both professional and personal development. This programme combines educational theory and applied studies to assist learners in the development of up-to-date knowledge in a chosen area of specialisation and beyond. The programme incorporates current educational thinking and the most effective pedagogical practices within a wide range of contemporary educational issues.

The key focus of the programme is that it offers students an opportunity to develop expertise in a chosen field, to critically reflect on your own practice and thinking, while also engaging with educational research and theory. It provides a grounding in research methodology and contemporary educational issues.

The on-going commitment is to provide our students with the highest academic standards in teaching, learning and research, while supporting and fostering differing learning styles and needs.

2024/25 Special Options:

  • Educational Leadership - Online
  • Poverty and Social Inclusion in Education - On Campus
  • STEM Education - Blended
  • Teaching and Learning - Online

The MEd is a two year part time programme. In the first year students undertake three core modules (Online) and three modules in their chosen special option. In the second year of the programme students undertake a thesis with the support of a supervising tutor.

The programme commences in late September. Students will study two modules in semester one and four modules in semester two. All taught modules will be completed by June, and the minor thesis will be submitted by June. Lectures take place on Tuesday and Thursdays. Each module consists of 21 contact hours.

Typically there is one assignment per module. In the main this is an extended essay of approximately 5,000 words but may vary depending on the special option in question. There are also two additional courses in Academic Writing and Competency in ICT that are completed on a Pass/Fail basis.

The pedagogical approach is interactive, hands-on and participative. It is intense and enjoyable. Informal and formal dialogue while working with peers in small groups forms an important dimension of the experience.

The three core modules will be delivered fully online in an interactive and engaging environment so do not require students to be on campus. Special option modules will be online for Educational Leadership, and Teaching and Learning. STEM Education modules will be delivered on campus and online. Poverty and Social Inclusion in Education modules will be delivered fully on campus.

Special Options

Educational Leadership

MEd in Leadership and Education is for teachers at all levels who seek, or are currently in, leadership roles. This course offers participants the opportunity to undertake a general study of the theory and practice of educational leadership. The course aims at enabling participants to understand and critique theories and practices of educational leadership in light of both current research and professional experience. The integration of theory and practice is fundamental to the course.

Module 1: Unpacking Leadership
The question is deceptively simple: What is a leader? Is that the person who runs things? Some may answer no that is the boss. Is the boss a leader? The minimum definition of a leader is someone with followers. School leadership is a comparatively recent topic for discussion, debate and research in education. Various leadership theories exist from the great man theory of the sociologist Max Weber to the behavioural theories of Skinner which suggests that leaders are what leaders do.  A  variety of definitions of leadership exist and many researchers talk about leadership but fail to define it taking it for granted that leadership means the same to everyone. The purpose if this first module is to begin to understand leadership and to explore how in the domain of education that it is frequently allied to and interlocks with school management and school administration.

Module 2: Leading in Climate of Accountability: Effective/Good Schools – How we create and sustain them?
As part of recent reform efforts, in the context of PSDT, WSE, School Self Evaluation and School Improvement Plans, increasing demands for internal and external accountability are evident within primary  and post primary education in Ireland.  While such demand has not, as yet, reached the same tempo as in other jurisdictions nevertheless, it is important and timely to scrutinise these developments critically, and to examine their implications for school leadership, as well as staff relations and continuing professional learning and the level of the school. The impact of accountability measures on the quality of teaching and learning will be assessed, and the potential impact on professional trust and professional relations, as well as with parents and the school community will be held up to critical scrutiny

Module 3: Leadership in Action
This module introduces the concept of change management and its place within educational leadership. This is linked to the challenges facing schools today and ways in which the educational landscape has changed over the last fifty years. This module looks at the different ways in which leaders can bring change about in their institutions and how this links to the different kinds of contexts that you can find in modern schools. This module explores concepts of middle leaders, leading professional learning communities, mentoring, coaching and sustainable leadership

Co-ordinator: Professor Catherine Furlong |

Poverty and Social Inclusion in Education

This course seeks to familiarise students with current thought and research in the area of poverty and social inclusion in education, to explore the development of policy in relation to socio-economic and socio-cultural marginalisation and to investigate a range of approaches to tackling exclusion at a national, local and classroom level. International best practice and research of the Educational Disadvantage Centre will also be examined to facilitate the development of a critical and informed understanding of the key issues in this area. The Centre's M.Ed Special Option Course, Poverty and Social Inclusion in Education offers a unique interdisciplinary focus across psychology, philosophy and sociology for teacher education, engaging centrally with EU Policy initiatives on early school leaving and is a distinctive course internationally that is not available in other universities in Europe or beyond. This Course seeks to bridge the policy/research divide, as well as a research/practice divide across universities and the statutory and civil society sectors with regard to early school leaving prevention. 

Module 1: Critical Approaches To Equality In Education
This module seeks to develop your potential as an agent of change with regard to strategic policy making concerning equality in education at the school level, local community level, regional, national and EU levels and to develop awareness of the importance of a community development approach to relations between the school and local community. A specific focus will be on analysis of European policy developments for early school leaving prevention and to develop teachers’ capacity to relate to other professionals’ viewpoints as part of interrogating interdisciplinary understandings of this area. It is sought to analyse current system supports and gaps in seeking to address poverty and social inclusion in education and to develop fresh, innovative thinking in order to reform the education system through conceptual skills to integrate theory, policy and practice for social inclusion in education. This includes developing an area wide vision of system change in including identification of emerging needs,  as well as the interplay between marginalised parental engagement and family support services.

Module 2: Equality, Education And Poverty
This module engages students in an exploration of the ways in which poverty impacts on individuals’, families’ and communities’ experiences of, and engagement with education. It enables students to explore the structures and cultures of the education system and of individual schools and classrooms in order to understand the interface between schooling and those living in poverty. The module introduces students to a number of important theorists including Bourdieu, Lynch, Reay, Blandford, O’Brien, Willis, Sharpe & Green who explore various aspects of social class, poverty and the interface of both with education. The module affords students the opportunity to apply the theoretical lenses provided to enable them to reflect critically on their own and international education systems, the culture of their own schools as well as on their own professional practice. The module also engages students in critical analysis of a number of education interventions aimed at addressing socio-economic exclusion including DEIS, the Home-School-Community-Liaison programme and the Incredible Years programme.

Module 3: Transformative Education and the DCU Changemaker Schools Network
Education has the potential to transform the realms of possibility for students, and in turn society. With its emancipatory potential, education can transform the lives of those most marginalised in society and in our education system. To realise these transformative aspirations for our children, the power of the relational is critical to ensure transformational agency to empower teachers and students to respond in a dynamic way to our increasingly diverse and dynamic world.  In this module, we will explore transformational leadership and the culture of schools using case studies from the DCU Changemaker Schools Network. By exploring teaching and pedagogy to foster social change and inclusion, we will focus on care and affective equality. Drawing on Fraser, Freire, Reay, Lynch and Noddings the relationship between leadership, pedagogy, care and affective equality will be appraised, to enhance the fostering of school cultures for and of social inclusion. During this module, students will be introduced to teachers and school leaders in the DCU Changemaker School Network, and will be provided with opportunities to explore their school cultures. In considering pedagogies for social inclusion, embodied cognition and communication will be explored in this module. It will examine learning theories focussing on creativity and how we communicate, with a specific focus on non-verbal communication. This exploration creates the space for students to develop inclusive learning approaches to foster classrooms and schools for and of social inclusion.

Co-ordinator: Professor Paul Downes | 

STEM Education

Recent Irish curriculum policies advocate strongly for a national focus on STEM education that begins in early childhood and extends throughout the education system. As stated in the STEM Education Policy Statement, “we need a national focus on STEM education in our early years settings and schools to ensure we have an engaged society and a highly skilled workforce in place. This requires a clear understanding of STEM education for the Irish context. The embedding of this understanding across our education system will help transform the STEM education experience of learners from early years through to post-primary" (DE, 2020 p.5). To achieve high quality STEM Education, it is critical that all students have access to the widest range of STEM education in disciplinary and integrated forms from early childhood to school leaving age. Key to this provision are teachers who have the necessary competence and confidence to foster students’ STEM interest and identities through innovative, meaningful classroom practices, as well as providing access to role models and information about the diverse careers that exist within STEM industries. This special option in STEM Education within the MEd is designed for teachers and Early Childhood practitioners interested in developing their understanding, practices and leadership in STEM Education across education settings, teacher education and policy contexts. The programme is designed with the aim of exploring the possibilities for STEM education with a research-based awareness of critiques and constraints. The modules include an introduction to what is currently understood as integrated STEM education, the theories and methodological approaches used in integrated STEM Education and, the processes and transversal skills that can be developed through integrated STEM education. Modules employ a range of critical discussion, reflection and hands-on workshops; assessment includes a balance of practical and written work. A blended approach, employing a range of synchronous and asynchronous approaches with face-to-face sessions and workshops on selected Saturdays.

Module 1: Foundations in STEM Education
Module One introduces perspectives on the nature of STEM education. The Irish curriculum context with its focus on STEM education is interpreted in relation to this literature. Models detailing the nature and extent of integrated STEM education in the literature, possibilities and critiques of integrated STEM approaches, and studies presenting empirical findings from STEM education implementation are shared and discussed.

Module 2: Signature Pedagogies in STEM Education
The focus of Module Two is on learning and development within STEM education i.e., what disciplinary and interdisciplinary learning can be developed through STEM Education. Emphasis is placed on connections within and across disciplinary areas and includes attention to mapping the different STEM disciplines back to curricula.

Module 3: Designing for STEM Education
Module Three explores the processes and transversal skills that can be developed through integrated STEM education. This includes disciplinary processes such as mathematical modelling, scientific enquiry, design thinking, and computational thinking as well as transversal skills such as problem solving, critical and innovative reasoning, and communication. Students will apply this learning into the design and development of an integrated STEM education project centred on an authentic real-world problem.

Co-ordinator: Dr Margaret Leahy |

Teaching and Learning

The MEd special option provides three complementary perspectives on teaching and learning that enable practitioners to gain a deeper understanding of their everyday work in schools. First, the sociological lens prompts teachers to consider the issues presented to them in their classroom that may be within or outside their locus of control. Psychology provides the second avenue to teaching and learning, and addresses how teachers may apply psychological theories to implement transformational strategies in their classrooms and schools. Finally, the module on teacher identity requires teachers to consider how their personal experiences, relationships and societal influences shape who they are and consequently, how they teach.

Module 1: Sociological aspects of Teaching & Learning: Education, Equality and Social Justice 
This module will critically examine sociological aspects of teaching, learning and achievement with particular reference to education, equality and social justice. The module draws on both theoretical and empirical work to explain and highlight the unequal experiences and achievement of individuals and groups in the educational context. There will be a particular emphasis on inequality in the following contexts: Parental involvement in schooling; Social class and theories of capital; Constructs of intelligence and implications for learners; Gender and education; Race, ethnicity and interculturalism. 

Module 2: Psychological aspects of Teaching & Learning  
How job satisfaction fits with other concerns about teaching, including staying in teaching and children’s learning will be addressed in this module. Links between self-esteem, self-efficacy and job satisfaction will be explored together with various factors that determine self-esteem. This module will also examine psychological perspectives on pupil behaviour (including motivation to learn and theories on learning) and their relevance for understanding and managing behaviour in the classroom. Participants will be enabled to develop a structured approach to preventing and tackling emotional and behavioural problems and engaging pupils in their learning activities by drawing on one or more of the psychological perspectives.

Module 3: Teacher Identity and Popular Culture
This module will examine historical and ongoing influences on identity formation particularly as they relate to the identities of teachers and educators in Ireland. The intersect of teacher identity with teachers’ positioning in terms of teaching and learning will also be examined from critical, historical, comparative, virtual and other perspectives. Participants will be enabled to articulate theoretical perspectives on identity formation and re-formation. An integral aspect of this module will be the development of a framework for analysis of aspects of teacher identity through its representation in various policy documents, literature, research reports and various print and digital fora. 

Co-ordinator : Dr Regina Murphy |

Exit route: Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Educational Studies
Those students who, for any reason, do not wish to continue to the thesis on the MEd. programme may, after satisfactorily passing all the 6 taught modules, apply to exit with a Post-graduate Diploma in Advanced Educational Studies.

A benefit of the Master of Education at DCU is that students may choose from a range of special options. The programme is designed for those working within the education sector. This diversity of backgrounds of students, which the special options of the course attracts, leads to a dynamic learning environment.

The programme is delivered by a team of academics and practising experts with applied experience in their fields. A number of special options allow students to pursue the Masters of Education online.

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.

The Master of Education programme is designed to meet the professional and personal needs of teachers and educators.

The course is intended for those who wish to make a significant contribution to the enhancement of professional practice in their chosen special option by reviewing and systematically applying appropriate theories and research to their professional practice.


Applications are welcomed from all those working in education settings:

• Candidates are required to have a Level 8, Lower Second Class Honors Degree, minimum H2.2. 

• Candidates may be interviewed for places.

Due to the specialist nature of this programme, additional criteria may be used to assess suitability to undertake this programme. For further information, please contact the Programme Chair using the contact details above.

International Applications

International candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above.  In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language. For further information on international applications click here.


Part time

EU Status Fee Part-time
€4,200 per annum/Transfer fee €3,100
Non EU Fee Part time
€8,300 per annum

Next Steps

How to Apply

All Applicants must apply through DCU's Student Application Portal which is available here.  Here's a quick step by step guide if you need help with your application.

  • 2024/25 Special Options:

- Educational Leadership - Online
- Poverty and Social Inclusion in Education - On Campus
- STEM Education - Blended
- Teaching and Learning - Online

  • Certified academic transcripts for each and every year of study, with certified English translations if applicable.
  • Personal statement of 250 words maximum outlining your reasons for applying.
  • Non Native English Speakers - Evidence of English competency which meets DCU entry requirements.

EU Applicants

Applications will open November 2023.

Non-EU applicants

  • Applications will open November 2023. If you require a study visa and are
    a Non EU student, you should take an online Special Option. (Study visas
    are only granted for full-time programmes)

All entry requirements should be met before the commencement of the programme.

Applications Closing Dates:

EU Applicants: 31st May 2024

Application Queries

For EU applicant queries, please visit or email

For non EU applicant queries, please visit or email