School of Human Development

Graduate Diploma in Social, Personal and Health Education/Relationships and Sexuality Education

Course Code:
Course Type:
NFQ Level
9 - Please see for further information
Delivery Modes
1 year
call programme contact
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The Graduate Diploma in Social, Personal and Health Education and Relationships and Sexuality Education SPHE/RSE, the first of its kind in an Irish context, is funded by the Department of Education (DE) under an initiative to provide pathways for progression for post-primary teachers and to build capacity and leadership within the teaching profession in relation to the teaching of SPHE/RSE. This innovative, one-year, part-time NFQ Level 9 post-graduate programme of continuing teacher professional development is specifically designed to upskill and enable registered post-primary teachers to acquire, develop and advance their core competencies in the teaching of SPHE/RSE at Junior and Senior Cycle levels. The programme purposely incorporates three areas of professional learning, namely; personal development, skills and knowledge. Alongside the development of specialist subject knowledge, a focus on teachers’ own personal development and on the development of a skills-set needed for the SPHE/RSE classroom are key components of this programme.

This programme is open to all serving teachers who are employed in a position funded by the DE and who teach, and will continue to teach, SPHE/RSE in recognised Post-Primary schools. No fees or registration changes will apply to participants on the programme, who will continue to receive their salary in the usual way during their participation. Substitution cover will be supported by the DE through block release days, up to four weeks/20 days across the duration of the programme, from the school in which the participant works. A blended approach to programme provision will be employed, combining in-person and synchronous and asynchronous online delivery. These varied modes of delivery are intended to accommodate the needs of working/in-service teachers and facilitate their participation in the programme. The teaching, learning and assessment methodologies employed across the programme seek to facilitate teachers’ critical interrogation of their knowledge and understanding of the policies, theoretical foundations and curricula salient to SPHE/RSE and of innovative, collaborative pedagogies and co-productive and creative ways of working with young people. The overall mode of assessment on this programme is continuous assessment. Participants will be assessed inter alia on the basis of:

  • Recorded attendance at, and participation in, online and in-person sessions;
  • Engagement with programme content and activities; successful completion of selected tasks;
  • Successful completion of written and/or recorded/oral/visual assignments and artefacts across the four taught modules on the programme and pertaining to the year long Professional Practice and Partnerships module.
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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Post-Primary Education


This programme is open to all serving teachers who are employed in a position funded by the DE and who teach, and will continue to teach, SPHE/RSE in recognised Post-Primary schools.

View the relevant DE Circular Eligibility Criteria - see link



Part time

EU Status Fee Part-time
DE Funded

Scheduling of In-Person and Online Sessions


  • When will in-person classes for the January 2024 programme take place?
  • My principal would like to know when the 20 days out of school time will be? 
  • Is there any further detail available on when/if travel will be required? Would this be for a block of time/individual days?
  • Would the online components happen during the school day/evenings? 


Students will have two consecutive days of in-person classes in DCU, in each month. The schedule for those dates for the January 2024 cohort will be published in due course.. 

Regarding online elements of the programme, these will in the main, be scheduled on one evening per week, and will be hosted after school hours. Dates and times to be confirmed for the January 2024 cohort. Online classes will take place during the academic term, exclusive of mid-term/Easter school holidays. 

There will be a Spring/Summer/Autumn School - date to be confirmed.  

Programme Structure and Content


  • What is the course layout? 
  • Is there a placement element involved in the course? 
  • What forms of assessment are used?


The programme structure is outlined on the programme webpage under the programme. 

The course is research-informed and will focus on supporting teachers to critically engage with a broad range of content areas specific to SPHE-RSE. Support will also be provided for teachers to identify the unique needs for their own students and to listen with the intent to respond in a meaningful way.

There is a year-long module entitled Professional Practice and Partnerships, where the aims are that students will apply their learning in the taught modules to their practice in their own school setting.

The assessment on the programme is by continuous assessment which includes a wide variety of assessment modes. Some of the forms of assessment include the following: 

  • attendance, in-person, at lectures and workshops facilitated through a series of release days from school (20 days) across the one-year programme,  
  • attendance at a Spring/Summer/Autumn school as required,  
  • on-line learning, attendance at approximately one two-hour online lecture/workshop/seminar per week across DCU’s academic year,  
  • creation and development of an ePortfolio of evidence of professional practice with which the student has engaged throughout the programme;  
  • engagement in professional learning communities (PLCs),engagement in professional consultations with programme mentors/tutors.

There will be other assessment elements for each of the taught modules.

Eligibility Criteria


  • I am currently on a career break but will be teaching SPHE on my return. Can I still apply ?
  • Can I apply for the course if I do not currently teach SPHE but have previous experience covering a parental leave teaching SPHE ?
  • I am primary-trained but am teaching in the secondary side of a school.  My main subject is SPHE/RSE. Am I eligible to apply?
  • I have completed multiple trainings for SPHE and RSE but only have a certificate for Senior Cycle RSE and am not able to access my attendance records from 2019, when I did the other training, is this sufficient evidence?


As part of the eligibility criteria outlined in the Department of Education Circular eligible students will need to be teaching SPHE/RSE at the time of application and for the duration of the course i.e. from January - December 2024. 

The programme is open to all serving teachers, fully registered with the Teaching Council, who are employed in a position funded by the Department of Education and who teach, and will continue to teach, Social, Personal and Health Education/Relationships and Sexuality Education in recognised post-primary schools. 

Formal certification or documentation, including email correspondence, which indicates attendance at/release to attend the training is sufficient evidence to support an application for the programme.

Application Process


  • Is there an interview for a place on the course?
  • I have been successful atthe pre-application stage  and am trying to formally apply through the DCU Student Application Portal but it won't accept my pps number?


Application is by way of the online application process accessible from the end of August 2023  the link for which will be available on this programme webpage at that time. There is no interview as part of the application process.

When your query relates to an issue with the Student Application Portal, please log a call with DCU Information Systems Service ISS:

This will bring you to the ISS webpage, at the end of the Welcome paragraph there is a link which those without a DCU account can click on to log a ticket.

Next Steps

Applications for this programme will follow a two-stage process:

Stage 1. Pre-application

Pre-applications will open on the 28th of August 2023 and close on the 30th of September 2023. Applicants must complete the pre-application form here by 5pm on the closing date.

Pre-application Requirements

All Applicants must submit the following support documentation with their pre-application:

  • Teaching Council Registration Certificate
  • Signed Principal Declaration Form
  • Current CV  

Stage 2. Formal Application via DCU Student Application Portal.

Applicants will receive an email from DCU with regard to the outcome of their pre-application by end of October / early November. Successful pre-applicants will then be invited to complete the formal application on DCU's Student Application Portal from the 6th of November to the 20th of November 2023. Here's a quick step by step guide if you need help with your formal application. Please note that new applications will not be accepted at this stage

Formal Application Requirements

All Applicants must submit the following support documentation with their formal application:

  • Certified academic transcripts for each and every year of study, with certified English translations if applicable
  • Copy of passport
  • Certified copy of parchment / degree certificate, with certified English translation if necessary

Non Native English Speakers - Additional

  • Evidence of English competency which meets DCU entry requirements - see link

Application Queries

For EU applicant queries, please visit or email

For non EU applicant queries, please visit or email