UCC Postgraduate courses

Education - Professional Master of Education (Secondary School/Post-Primary Teacher Training)

Course Fact File
CodePEC01 Full-time
Duration2 Years Full-time
Teaching ModeFull-time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.
NFQ LevelLevel 9
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing Date31 January 2024
Non-EU Closing Date31 January 2024
Start Date2 September 2024

Course Outline

The Professional Master of Education (PME) at UCC is a two-year, level 9, full-time teacher education course. This 120-credit programme is designed to qualify graduates as post-primary secondary school teachers.

Our PME is fully recognised and accredited by the Teaching Council of Ireland for the purpose of registration as a professional post-primary teacher in Ireland and the EU. 

  • Note: Application for this programme is online through the PME PAC site.

The PME combines two school placements with university lectures and tutorials, which develop student teachers’ requisite professional knowledge, skills, understanding and competence. You are introduced to best practices in teaching, learning, and educational research with special emphasis on meeting the diverse needs of learners, on the curriculum and on current issues in education. You will be encouraged to integrate educational theory and practice through extensive reflection on your own professional classroom practice.

Students are supported in their development by experienced teachers in schools and tutored by specialist School of Education staff in nurturing their professional identity as teachers. 

At the end of this course, you will have acquired the professional knowledge, understanding, and skills that you need to teach your subject or subjects in a second-level school. You will have gained practical experience in two contrasting school settings, and developed your ability to respond flexibly to the diverse and changing educational needs of school students aged 12 to 18 years. You will have been challenged, encouraged, and invited to question and deepen your beliefs and assumptions about the purpose of education, the nature of teaching and learning, and the role of the teacher in the 21st century.

PME Subjects

We support the following post-primary teaching subjects: 

  • Business Studies (covering the 3 subjects of Accounting, Business, & Economics)
  • Civic, Social, and Political Education
  • Computer Science
  • English
  • French
  • Gaeilge/Irish
  • Geography
  • German
  • History
  • Home Economics [only available to students on the protected pathway from the BA (Hons) in Home Economics and Business (MT930) in MTU]
  • Italian
  • Maths
  • Music
  • Politics & Society
  • Religious Education
  • Science (covering the 4 subjects of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, & Agricultural Science)
  • Spanish

Note: A minimum number of students is required for the subject-specific modules to run each year (cross-subject support may be provided if student numbers are low).

Year 1

Placement for PME Year 1 students is negotiated and arranged by the UCC School of Education for successful applicants, taking into account the various circumstances of the programme and of the successful students and the available placement opportunities in our partner schools. Students must sign a placement form and are contracted until the end of the school year to carry out their teaching placement in the school in question. Students must ensure that there is a minimum of twelve students in their placement class group for supervision purposes.

Year 2

Each student is expected to have a contrasting placement experience in a different school context for Year 2. Placement for PME Year 2 students is again negotiated and arranged by the UCC School of Education PME Placement Committee, taking into account the various circumstances of the programme, student preference, and the available placement opportunities in our partner schools.

As part of their University programme, some students are required to undertake placement and training that involves dealing directly with patients, clients, or service users. This programme is subject to the University's Fitness to Practise Policy.

Students will be required to start on their school placement anytime from mid to late August aligned to the re-opening of partner schools.

  • Note: To be eligible for appointment to an incremental salaried teaching position in a secondary school, a teacher must be registered. It is the Teaching Council of Ireland alone that has the authority to determine what constitutes adequate qualifications for registration purposes. See www.teachingcouncil.ie for registration details.

Irish Language Requirement: While the Irish requirement has been removed for the generality of second-level teachers who do not use Irish in their everyday work, teachers of Irish and teachers employed in Gaeltacht schools and in other schools where Irish is the medium of instruction will be required to be fully proficient in Irish. A special course in spoken Irish, run by An Gaeilge Labhartha, UCC, will be available to students during their PME studies.  

Course Content

Year 1 (60 credits)

Core Modules (50 credits)

  • ED6301 Philosophy and History of Education (5 credits)
  • ED6302 Introduction to Psychology and Sociology of Education (5 credits) 
  • ED6303 Curriculum and Assessment (5 credits)
  • ED6306 Inclusion – Special Educational Needs and Multicultural Education (5 credits)
  • ED6330 School Placement 1 (20 credits)
  • ED6331 School Placement: Research and Professional Experiences Portfolio A (5 credits)
  • ED6332 School Placement: Research and Professional Experiences Portfolio B (5 credits)

Plus 10 credits from the following:*

  • ED6308 The Teaching of Business Studies 1A (5 credits)
  • ED6309 The Teaching of Civic, Social and Political Education (5 credits)
  • ED6312 The Teaching of English (5 credits)
  • ED6313 The Teaching of a Second Language 1A (5 credits)
  • ED6314 The Teaching of a Second Language 1B (5 credits)
  • ED6315 The Teaching of Geography (5 credits)
  • ED6316 The Teaching of History (5 credits)
  • ED6317 The Teaching of Mathematics (5 credits)
  • ED6318 The Teaching of Music (5 credits)
  • ED6319 The Teaching of Religious Education (5 credits)
  • ED6325 The Teaching of Physical Sciences (5 credits) 
  • ED6326 The Teaching of Biological Sciences (5 credits) 
  • ED6327 The Teaching of Irish (5 credits)
  • ED6328 The Teaching of Business Studies 1B (5 credits) 
  • ED6329 The Teaching of Home Economics (5 credits) [only available from 2024]
  • ED6333 The Teaching of Computer Science (5 Credits)

Year 2 (60 credits)

  • ED6341 Collaborative Seminar: Contemporary Issues in Irish Schools (5 credits)
  • ED6354 Literacy and Numeracy Development in the Post-Primary Classroom (5 credits)
  • ED6359 PME Professional Research Paper (10 credits)
  • ED6360 PME School Placement 2 (30 credits)
  • ED6361 Specialist Subject Pedagogies 2 (5 credits)
  • ED6362 Designing Curriculum and Assessment for the Contemporary Classroom (5 credits)

Additional Teaching Mode Information

Students are required to spend a minimum of 100 hours of personal experience directly teaching a class or classes in one or more approved subjects (normally 6 periods per week) in Year 1 and 150 hours (normally 9 periods per week) in Year 2. In both years, placement must be undertaken on specific days and during specific times for the entire school year from mid to late August until the following June.

School Placement Teaching Portfolio

In both Years 1 and 2, students are required to prepare and maintain a School Placement Teaching Portfolio with evidence of long and short-term planning, daily and weekly reflections, resources and other relevant data for all their class groups for the duration of their placements. During both placements, students are also required to engage in non-teaching school activities for an equivalent number of hours. This experience will normally include lesson planning, preparation, and reflection, opportunities for some classroom observation of experienced teachers, team teaching, participation in school meetings, and other collaborative work with school staff and the extended school community. During these non-teaching activities, students in Year 1 will also be required to complete a variety of reflective research tasks pertaining to their placement (e.g. pertaining to classroom management, teacher questioning, ICT, literacy learning theories, school supports, and school communication, which form part of a School Placement Research and Professional Experiences Portfolio.

Year 2 students will engage in more school activities commensurate with their evolving school experience and increased time in school and will also conduct research related to their classroom or school context, which will form part of their required Professional Research Paper in Education.

Course Practicalities

Students must teach a specified number of lessons per week in both Years 1 and 2, as laid down by the School of Education to meet the requirements of the Teaching Council. School placements last for the full school year, during which student teachers are expected to participate fully in school life. College lectures and tutorials commence in mid-August/early September and are held on specific days in both academic years.

Assessment for the PME is primarily by continuous assessment with a small number of written exams. Continuous assessment includes project work related to the various modules culminating with the writing up of a larger piece of professional classroom/school research at the end of Year 2. There is a strong emphasis on the integration and application of theory and practice throughout all assignments. School placement is assessed over a series of visits to the placement school by the allocated university tutors. Students must pass both the school placement and coursework modules in both years in order to be awarded the PME.

Why Choose This Course

My understanding of the profession grew with every lecture, grew with every experience...

Student Testimonials

Read more

Teaching as a profession is both challenging and rewarding. The best teachers are those who combine a passion for their subject with the skills necessary to teach it to a variety of learners, and who enjoy interacting daily with a variety of young people. Good teachers can make a real difference in young people’s lives. The PME in UCC is a ground-breaking and innovative teacher education programme, which is excellent preparation for teaching at the second level. It incorporates the latest research in the field of education studies with a key emphasis on fostering innovative and inclusive classroom pedagogies.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Two yearlong school placements in two contrasting post-primary schools (one in Year 1 and one in year 2) are an integral part of this course. Schools Placements are normally only in the greater County Cork area and are only arranged in specific PME partner schools. Students are only permitted to complete PME placements in these PME cooperating schools. Students may also elect to complete a placement in an Irish medium immersion post-primary school setting. A list of PME partner schools where UCC PME Placement can be completed will be provided to successful applicants when offered a place on the programme.

As per Teaching Council guidelines, the programme includes a requirement for two separate mentored and supervised school placements in recognised cooperating post-primary schools. School placements are designed to give student teachers opportunities to gain professional experience in classrooms and schools, to learn about teaching and learning in a variety of situations, to participate fully in the life of the school, and to gain an in-depth understanding of the role of the teacher and the school more generally. 

Note: While some co-operating schools are in the greater Cork city area, some partner schools on the list will require a considerable amount of travel and may necessitate use of a car or public transport.

Skills and Careers Information

Graduates of the PME will be well equipped to begin a teaching career in Ireland or abroad. Our graduates are highly sought after in the UK and elsewhere. Furthermore, the skills gained in teaching are easily transferrable to other careers. Teachers learn to communicate with groups and to present material in an organised manner, which is an enduring skill that is much sought after in many fields. Our PME graduates are working in many other non-school settings.

Check out our School of Education News Page here.


Candidates must have a primary degree at a minimum level of 2H2 or equivalent (e.g. primary degree and Masters) that is recognised by the Teaching Council of Ireland for the teaching of at least one subject in a post-primary school.

Candidates must also complete and submit a Subject Declaration Form from the Teaching Council in respect of their eligibility to meet the requirements to teach their specific subjects.

Entry to the PME programme is competitive and selection is according to a subject-based application system with points awarded based on the marks obtained in the undergraduate degree, any subsequent academic qualifications, and certain categories of relevant professional work experience. See the PAC website for details.

The current PAC PME subject-based entry system does not have set quotas for each subject but offers in subject areas are made based on Department of Education and Skills priority subjects (e.g. languages, maths, physics, chemistry) and each institution's own local circumstances, demands and ability to cater for subjects on the programme. It is necessary to limit the number of students admitted to the PME and our current quota is circa 120 students per year. (Deferrals are not permitted on this programme due to its competitive nature.)

Subject Teaching Choice

Students are normally allowed to teach only those subjects, which they have pursued to an advanced level in their degree (normally a minimum of 60 credits) and for which they have completed, signed, and submitted a Teaching Council Subject Declaration Form on application. At least one of these subjects must be approved by the Teaching Council for teacher registration.

Students normally also teach a second subject in which they have some recognised academic attainment and for which they are recognised to teach by the Teaching Council. All students are required to attend pedagogy courses to support the teaching of both their teaching subjects.

Students who do not have a second teaching subject will be required to attend ED6309 The Teaching of Civic, Social and Political Education to support them to be possibly able to teach CSPE as a second subject in post-primary schools.

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.


See the Contact Us section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

Professional Master of Education (PME) (PEC01)

To make an application to the PME programme visit the PAC PME website.

Professional Master of Education (PME Art & Design)

To make an application to the Professional Master of Education (Art & Design) programme apply online at UCC's online application portal. 

  • Please note the deadline for applications for the PME programme is different from the PME Art & Design programme.

Deferrals: note that deferrals are not permitted on this programme.

The closing date for non-EU applications is 31 January 2024

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact