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UCC Postgraduate courses

Voluntary & Community Sector Management

Course Fact File
Duration2 Years Part-time
Teaching ModePart-Time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

The Masters in Voluntary and Community Sector Management provides education, training and skills in managing/coordinating voluntary and community organisations. As such, the course will contribute to the ongoing professional development of workers already in the community and voluntary sector as well as opening the door to wider opportunities in the sector for those seeking employment there.

There are more than 25,000 voluntary sector organisations in Ireland. These range from large charitable bodies like Simon, Barnardos, and Concern to small residents’ associations, or from broad campaigning bodies like Amnesty International to small single-issue groups in a local housing estate trying to get youth facilities in the area.

These organisations may provide vital services in care, welfare, health, education, housing, poverty alleviation, social inclusion, and the promotion of rights. They may also enhance democracy and participation in society through empowerment and capacity-building, lobbying, and campaigning.

The MSocSc in Voluntary and Community Sector Management is a part-time postgraduate degree taught over two years. 

It recruits every two years (for a start in September of every even-numbered year). Students attend the University one day per week. Some of the modules may be delivered in blocks of five days and/or over long weekends.

Modules (90 credits)

Part I - Year 1

Students take 40 credits as follows:

  • GV6112 The Third Sector and the State (5 credits) 
  • SS6600 Principles, Values and Practice in the Voluntary and Community Sector (5 credits)
  • SS6606 Social Policy and the Voluntary and Community Sector (5 credits)
  • SS6607 Financial Oversight and Management in the Voluntary and Community Sector (5 credits)
  • FE6602 Social Enterprises and Local Development (5 credits) 
  • SS6608 Quality Systems and Risk Management in the Voluntary and Community Sector
  • FE6712 Leadership and Change Management in Co-operative & Social Enterprise (10 credits)

Part II - Year 2

Students take 50 credits as follows:

  • FE6601 Co-operatives and the Third Sector (5 credits)
  • IS6012 Application of IT to the Third Sector (5 credits)
  • MG6100 Leadership, Organisational Development, and Change for the Third Sector (5 credits)
  • LW6103 Legal Aspects of State Regulation (5 credits) 
  • SS6602 Applied Social Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (5 credits) 
  • SS6605 Dissertation in Voluntary and Community Sector Management (25 credits)

All modules are assessed via continuous assessment. There are no end-of-year exams for the course.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

You attend the university one day per week (Wednesdays 10am-5pm) for two 12-week terms per year (September to December and January to March) over two years. In addition to this, one module is taught online in Year 1 and students will be required to set aside time outside class to complete that. Assessments including the 12,000-word participatory research project are completed in your own time.


Assessment will be by continuous accumulative assessment over the twelve modules. Each module has different assessment criteria and for specific module-related information please consult the relevant module in the current online Book of Modules.

There are no formal exams. Assessments will include group project work, portfolios, essays, and a participatory research project at the end of the second year.

Who teaches this course

The Master’s is co-ordinated Dr. Claire Edwards in the School of Applied Social Studies, and taught by lecturers in the School and in the five other contributing departments within UCC: Management and Marketing; Food, Business and Development; Business Information Systems; Government; and Law. 

Why Choose This Course

This course is specifically designed for those who want to develop a career in the voluntary/community sector and is the only master’s of its kind in Ireland. It is taught by eight different departments across UCC with an input from a large number of academic staff.  The course fees have also been kept deliberately low for a Masters in Management in order to promote access among the not-for-profit community and voluntary sector. We view this course as part of our commitment to the promotion of teaching and learning in the voluntary and community sector.

Skills and Careers Information

The course is intended to enable community and voluntary sector workers to further develop their expertise, professional management capabilities and analytical understanding of the relationship between the state and civil society, through a challenging and supportive learning environment. It draws on a range of academic disciplines and inter-professional approaches and is underpinned by values of equality and social justice. An important aspect of the course includes team and small group work, allowing you to learn from one another’s voluntary sector experiences.  The course also promotes the development of networking for workers and organisations in the sector. 

In the past, the course has been undertaken by workers in national and regional voluntary organisations and local community-based groups. It has also included workers in the statutory sector, who work closely with the voluntary and community sector, at both national and local government levels.  Of course, as a Masters in Management, the degree is also of benefit to anyone seeking a career in management or project coordination in any employment sector.

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Apply knowledge, skills and values to take a leadership and/or managerial role in an organisation in the community and voluntary sector;
  • Describe, critically assess, integrate and apply leadership structures and decision-making processes related to community, voluntary, co-operative, and social enterprise organisations;
  • Identify and critically assess the interaction between societal structures, policies, practices and values in Third Sector management;
  • Integrate and apply law, rights mechanisms and good governance practices to work in the Third Sector;
  • Critically assess social research relating to the Third Sector, and apply theory and practice in social research to Third Sector management and planning;
  • Demonstrate an ability to manage and conduct research on the Third Sector;
  • Integrate and apply theories and practices that promote democratic processes within Third Sector management;
  • Integrate and apply business skills, accounting skills and information technology to exert effective control over the management of resources and practice in the Third Sector.


  • You require at least a second class honours in an approved primary degree;
  • You will normally have a minimum of two years of recent and relevant work experience (e.g. practitioners/managers in youth work, play work, community work, community education, the community and small voluntary sectors, community renewal and enterprise, faith community workers, community health workers, equality workers, and environment workers);
  • You will have to satisfy a selection committee.

Applications will be considered under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) from those without a primary degree provided that you have a vocational/professional qualification in a relevant subject area as may be deemed suitable by the Head of School and you have held, for a minimum of two years, a position of responsibility of relevance to the course. Final acceptance is subject to approval by the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, and the College of Business and Law, UCC. 

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

  • You must enter details of professional or voluntary positions held. Please include all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

  • In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning and professional training relevant to this programme.

  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme and include what benefits you expect to gain from studying for the MSocSc in Voluntary and Community Sector Management.

  • Please add the name and email addresses of 2 referees.   After the online application is submitted, all applicants will also be required to send reference requests to their 2 Referees via the application online reference forms - one from an academic source outlining your academic qualifications/ability and the other from a voluntary sector group (or, if appropriate, from a public or private sector employer) outlining any voluntary sector experience or other relevant experience you have had in a paid or unpaid capacity.


Deferrals are not permitted on this programme. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact