Your Education Programme and You
Find out everything you need to know about your programme and the supports available to you while you are studying at the School of Education. Follow the links below to learn about the types of supports you can avail of, the benefits of school placement and frequently asked questions.
The School of Education offers a variety of placements for both undergraduate and postgraduate students which form an integrated and assessed part of their degree.
Placement is a three-way partnership between the educational setting, the student, and the School of Education. It is a set period where students can learn in a professional environment relevant to their studies.
There are many benefits of student practice placement. They:
- Increase the student participation in a community of practice
- Provide an opportunity to gain and develop skills and competencies specific to their subject
- Help students to explore their career options
- Create a network of potential contacts
- Enhance employability on graduation
Above all placements provide an opportunity of relating theory to practice. They are thus a very important component of the student education learning experience.
A Day in the Life of a Student
One of the best things about being an international student at UCC is that it consists of a large, vibrant community of students from all over the world. There have been so many opportunities to cross paths with others who are not only new to UCC and the PME programme, but new to Cork as well. Updates and activities from the International Office, including online and in-person events like Thanksgiving quiz nights, Diwali celebrations, and general notices about events around town are helpful in forming a sense of community with other international students as well as with other new friends in Cork. The close proximity of the UCC Campus to Cork City means that most events are a walk or short bus ride away, and Cork offers a wide range of activities and facilities for everyone.
The School of Education UCC has high academic standards and sets expectations that the quality of your work will be extremely high, which is, in general, a positive thing, but can be a challenge when you’re feeling uncertain about your footing in a new community. However, I’ve found that students, professors, and campus staff often go out of their way to answer questions, make suggestions, and generally help you out in any way they can. If someone needs help, they only need to ask!
One aspect of the UCC PME programme that makes it easier to navigate as an international student is that the programme timetable is set up for you. The modules move from topics that will be important to you in the very first days of your teaching, like behaviour management and the philosophical and historical context of the Irish educational system, to more complex and big-picture issues, including lectures to help understand the finer points of policy as well as a module that encourages and supports collaborative work with your peers. This makes the PME programme easier to navigate and manage and it is reassuring that all components of initial teacher education required for the completion of the degree can be negotiated successfully. Having the same timeline as my peers has meant that those peers are a resource in managing the work, as we’re experiencing the same coursework and have similar timelines, deadlines and expectations to manage.
As a final year student, I begin most days during the week teaching. I am currently teaching 1st Year Irish, 2nd Year PE and Sport Science to Transition Years. I am really enjoying teaching placement so far – it has helped to develop my understanding of the role of a teacher, enhance my competencies in this area and also, has enabled me to build connections within my school community.
After school, I attend college lectures in UCC. The placement module helps to develop our knowledge as student teachers by discussing key elements of teaching practice i.e. classroom management. In this module, we also get the opportunity to learn from one another by sharing and discussing our various teaching experiences. Other modules include the final year project on a research topic of our choice, health, coaching and a few more.
In the evening- time, I work on assignments, undertake lesson planning for the following day and catch up on any additional work that needs to be done. As class rep and chairperson of the SSPE society, I have extra duties which I also tend to carry out in the evening time i.e. responding to emails and messages from both lecturers and members of my year group and organising course events.
Despite how busy I am, I always prioritise physical activity into my daily schedule – I play camogie with UCC and St Finbarr’s and regularly attend the gym. I think we as PE students are highly aware of the importance of physical activity and so, aim to practice what we preach by undertaking it as often as we can on a weekly basis.
Final year is certainly challenging however, being a part of such a supportive programme makes the overall experience much more manageable and enjoyable which I am very grateful for.
Is céim an-tairbheach í an BOid Gaeilge. Níl mo chuid Gaeilge ach tar éis dul i bhfeabhas le cabhair na foirne i Roinn Nua-Ghaeilge. Toisc gur cúrsa beag é, tá caidreamh níos fearr agam leis na léachtóirí agus leis an bhfoireann BOid, agus is féidir cabhair agus aiseolas a fáil uathu aon am is gá. Tá aithne agam ar gach mac-léinn ar an gcúrsa agus tá atmasféar den scoth sna léachtaí.
Tugannan an chéim deis duit meas ar an nGaeilge a chothú, le réimse leathan modúl trí Ghaeilge ar fáil, agus agus tréimhse saGhaeltacht anuas air sin. Tá cinneadh le déanamh agat idir teanga nua-aimseartha a roghnú, nó an mata. Is mac léinn mata mé, agus i mo thuairim, is deis iontach í an mata a dhéanamh, tosic go mbeidh mé cáilithe le dhá phríomh ábhar.
Cothaíonn an chéim scilleanna múinteoireachta i ngach bliain, agus bíonn deiseanna iontacha againn obair le scoileanna agus muid ar sochrúchán scoile. Mholfainn mé an chéim do aon dalta a bhfuil spéis nó suim acu sa Ghaeilge, agus sa mhúinteoireacht, go háirithe daltaí lán-fhásta. Is mac-léinn lán-fhásta mé, agus is buntáiste mór domsa go sásófaí critéir na comhairle múinteoireachta lastigh d'aon chúrsa amháin, agus is céim iontach í chun deis a thabhairt duit filleadh ar ais ar an gcoláiste agus cúrsa múinteoireachta a dhéanamh.
The BEd Gailge is a very beneficial degree. My Irish has gone from strength to strength with help from the Department of Modern Irish. As it is a small course, I have a better relationship with the lecturers and the BEd team, and help and feedback is always available if needed. I know all of the students in my year, and there is an excellent atmosphere in lectures.
The degree gives you an opportunity to foster your love and respect for the Irish language, with a wide range of modules through Irish on offer, as well as a semester spent in the Gaeltacht. You have a choice between a modern language and maths. I am a maths student, and in my opinion it is an excellent opportunity, as I will be registered in two core subjects
The degree fosters teaching skills throughout all years, and we have great opportunities to work in schools during our school placement. I would recommend this degree to any student with an interest in Irish and teaching, especially mature students. I am a mature student, and it is a huge advantage to me that all of the Teaching Council criteria will be met through the degree. It is an excellent degree which gives the opportunity to return to university and undertake a teaching degree, or people who want to undertake an education degree at third level.
"Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another" John Dewey
Hi, my name is Carol Regan. Whilst I’m a full time teacher and Learning Support Coordinator in my school, I am also studying the Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education (PDSEN) here at University College Cork. The course is taught through a block teaching method and this means that I am released from school to attend lectures. The first block was four weeks and it was a great grounding in the area of Special Education (SEN) and gave the class a wonderful chance to bond as a group.
During the block release, a typical day for me begins with coffee and camaraderie. I share stories, resources, ideas, and tips with fellow colleagues. Most importantly, I listen to them and we solve problems together. It’s actually learning through experience, and through storytelling. A nod to Dewey! This collaborative approach is hugely engaging and effective. I relish heading off with colleagues for our indulgent one hour lunch break. Supervision and school demands are far from my mind, as I soak up the campus atmosphere and stroll for a coffee in Fitzgerald’s Park.
Throughout the block, I was captivated by the guest speakers in attendance. They were incredibly inspiring, drawing on their own experiences and professional practice. It was the right approach to embolden my spirits. I left feeling that I could work towards my goal of supporting students with special educational needs in my school. I was reassured that my work and that of my colleagues in SEN is vital and worthwhile.
Dan O’Sullivan and Kevin Cahil are the course coordinators, and they are consummate professionals. They deftly provide the important theory and evidence to underpin our work, while also delivering a healthy serving of amusing anecdotes.
My assignments were daunting at first but I tackled them with gusto, and I seized the opportunities to develop my competencies in the areas of assessment, testing, provision, and planning. I found there is plenty of support available.
I did have to manage my time effectively on the return to school. I was juggling finishing assignments and catching up on my own SEN workload. However, I found a rhythm and I just kept forging forward. The course has fostered my curiosity and bolstered my abilities. Be certain, when you join the PDSEN, you will have found your tribe!
Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon I experienced on many occasions as I pondered applying for the PG Diploma in Educational Leadership. Various factors, such as my fear of academic writing, the potential impact on my already strained work-life balance and even my own perceived lack of formal “leadership” experience at the time, combined to create this sense of self-doubt and general fear of returning to study at this level. For anyone experiencing the same nagging thoughts, my message is clear- go for it. Not only did participating in the Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Leadership enhance my personal and professional development, it also provided me an opportunity to meet with a passionate group of supportive colleagues who came to the course with an array of backgrounds and experiences working in education.
This course consists of four well organised and highly supported modules, and as someone who had not engaged with academic writing since receiving my undergraduate degree, the level of support I received as a student was phenomenal. I always felt that the lecturers were cognisant of the sacrifice and commitment associated with undertaking a part-time postgraduate college course, and all participants felt supported to a high degree during lectures and when completing tasks independently.
Each module took place over two Saturdays with a range of guest lecturers facilitating a range of interesting leadership themes. The modules were pitched appropriately for all educational organisations- primary, secondary, and beyond!
The lecture days were well spaced out in the calendar and were extremely enjoyable when they came around. It afforded a great chance to meet with people and explore the course topics collaboratively. I always felt the course coordinator was conscious of the fact that we were giving up our weekends, making the days enjoyable and providing for plenty of breaks between sessions.
Everyone, regardless of the level of leadership to which they aspire, should consider studying educational leadership to understand the organisations in which they work and how best to maximise their impact in improving student outcomes. Irrespective of the extent to which you have previously participated at third-level, the Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Leadership will provide the correct amount of challenge and support to ensure a great experience in University College Cork.
I am a post-primary teacher of Mathematics and Science and my reason for choosing to study the Master of Education at UCC was to explore different areas of education at a deeper level. While teaching, I would regularly be questioning what works well, what doesn’t, reasons why and I was interested to learn more.
A typical M.Ed. college evening would be lectures starting at either 5pm or 7pm on a weeknight depending on which module that I chose. Each lecture is 2 hours in duration and is always well structured in terms of learning new ideas related to the module while always having opportunities for very interesting discussions with other students in the class and the lecturer. I really like how diverse the range of students is in each module with backgrounds in a variety of settings, ranging from Early Childhood to Third Level. There are so many things that I learn from in-class discussions with other students that are helpful to my practice that I never would have encountered in my own context.
I find the modular aspect of the course great as there is wide range of modules to choose from and it allows me to choose the modules that I am interested in and want to learn more about while planning the M.Ed. around what works best for me. There is always great support from lecturers and other students as well as additional resources being provided that allow students to explore further into particular areas that are relevant to education.
My name is Jakub Janiszewski and I am a 4th year in the BSc Science Education programme. The timetable varies throughout the week, but a typical day involves getting up for my school placement in the morning! I might then teach my 2nd year Science group, carry out some other duties at my school like supervision and substitution, and teach my 4th year Chemistry class. Around lunchtime I travel to UCC to attend my weekly tutorial, where we have the chance to discuss and cover various issues around our placement, with our classmates and placement supervisors. I then attend an education lecture (we cover various topics like curriculum and assessment, literacy, sociology, psychology,and philosophy of education, which have a lot of practical aspects to them which are helpful for placement and our future teaching careers). I then have an hour break, which gives me a chance to catch up with the other student teachers or to do some of my placement portfolio workin the Eureka Resource Room (a cosy library space with lots of teaching books and resources). The college day ends with a lecture on science education, where we cover various topics specifically relating to teaching science subjects. Overall, I am really enjoying the classroom teaching involved inmy school placement,and the large variety of lectures, lab practical work, tutorials, seminars and meeting my fellow student teachers in the Eureka Centre.
"Come, my friends, ‘tis not too late to seek a newer world" Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
What did I expect on this return to find a new direction? A wistful stroll through gates I’d passed many times before? A thoughtful wander past sights comfortingly familiar and startlingly new? A chance to chat over coffee with new people about new ideas, fresh from a lecture where new horizons were teased, and our boats of thought to reach them were frantically assembled, all hands and minds on deck? I’m not sure what I expected – but it wasn’t what I got! How to put it? I hoped for The Dead Poets’ Society and got…Back To The Future?
"Old age hath yet his honour and his toil" Tennyson
They – whoever they are – say you can never go back. They’re right. I was Back, but it was most definitely The Future. The first, and most alarming and disarming, fact was the sheer youth, energy and potential of the first time students that thronged the steps of the Student Centre or sprawled on the grass outside the President’s Office or crowded in flocks of anxious chatter outside the Library. It was difficult, at first, to feel there would be a place for someone not quite so young but that quickly faded. As the course rocketed into orbit – no easing us in – the kinetic craziness tumbled us all together, with our hopes and fears and uncertain of our place in this youthful firmament, and fired us out of a cannon aimed by our lecturers at a target called insight.
"Though much is taken, much abides" Tennyson
What was that insight? As strangers we began our projects and as friends we finished them, the journey from awkward introductions to Formal Presentations, via lots of Reflections, an unforgettable one. I learned that though returning to learning, with all the inevitable complications involved, can mean that much is taken, the meeting of minds and the forging of friendship abides. I started this course in search of a new direction and unquestionably found it – that journey is only beginning – but I found something else as well, something older that holds true for all students: people matter most, and college will mean nothing without the people you meet. If you want to get better, be with the best people you can find and no barrier, real or imagined, will matter. That will always be true.
"That which we are, we are" Tennyson
My name is Junior Brosnan and I am currently in my 3rd and final year of Early Years and Childhood Studies in UCC. I entered the course in 2019 as a mature student, and one of only three males in the course, and any apprehension I had quickly faded as both staff and students alike were the most welcoming people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. What I really love about the course is its diversity in modules. As the course is split evenly between Education, Applied Social Studies and Psychology, there really is something for everyone. The experiences you have on placement will change your life and, at least for me, really solidified that this is my true career path.
A typical day in my life on the course will see me on campus learning about an educational theorist and how their theories have impacted our education system. Then, I would be walking to the Western Gateway Building, not before stopping off for a coffee with my friends, to learn about the gendered marketing of toys to children. I will finish my day over in the Cork Enterprise Centre learning about healthy eating and its psychological benefits to children. As I said, there really is something for everyone. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience on this course and would recommend anyone thinking about doing this course, no matter your age or your gender (I do encourage more guys to do this course, trust me, you’ll love it!), to do it. You won’t regret it!
My name is Lorraine Chadwick and I’m currently a third year student enrolled in the UCC School of Education’s Cohort PhD in Education programme. An Assistant Principal, I also teach Business, Geography and Economics in Regina Mundi College, Douglas and on Wednesday afternoons I teach the Pedagogy of Business Studies module to first year Professional Masters of Education students in UCC. Every day is busy and so it’s important that I plan my week carefully to ensure that I’m able to fulfil all of these commitments to the best of my ability!
My PhD research is a longitudinal, qualitative study of post-primary Junior Cycle students’ experiences of assessment. It’s important to try to set aside some time every day for the PhD. This may involve reading a couple of journal articles, transcribing data, planning for interviews or focus groups or trying to get a couple of hundred words on paper! Keeping on top of assignments is another aspect of programme which usually needs my attention. It’s been challenging to do this at times and there are days when I have found it difficult to motivate myself and phases of self-doubt creep in!
Covid 19 has also impacted the cohort in the sense that we’ve had many hours of virtual learning and we’ve obviously had less in person social interaction too. Consequently, I’m really grateful to be back on campus since September 2021 and I’m looking forward to participating in the focal point of this year’s module, our summer school, which will be held over one week in July. While the Cohort PhD in Education is certainly challenging, it feels less so due to the support and encouragement of the programme’s directors and my research supervisors who have given me the confidence to navigate the complex landscape that is educational inquiry and research. Given the pace of change within the educational milieu, it is a privilege to work with academics at the frontier of their research fields as I endeavour to produce a piece of high quality research of my own. No two days are ever the same but they are always busy!