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UCC Postgraduate courses

Innovation through Design Thinking (HCI Pillar 1)

Course Fact File
Duration9 months
Teaching ModeFull-time. See Additional Teaching Mode Information for more info.
QualificationsPG Dip
NFQ LevelLevel 9
EU FeesFree or 90% funded
See Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

2023 HCI Pillar 1 Logos

Even though there is a constant focus on innovation within business, few possess the know-how to make it a reliable and repeatable practice. As businesses are facing significant challenges to build sustainability into their future business models and practices, the need to be innovative has increased further. As a result, new approaches to tackling this innovation dilemma are needed across all sectors.

Design Thinking is one of the world’s most popular approaches to establishing dynamic, human-centred, goal-oriented innovation. This programme creates a new generation of design thinkers to work across a wide spectrum of settings and sectors.

In addressing the skill needs of the future workforce (skills to adapt to the changing workforce and business models of the future), this programme enhances the data, digital, and design literacies of the participants, thereby ensuring they develop new ways of doing business. We ensure the relevance of skills development and provision by facilitating active engagement with industry partners.

The course content and its delivery are tailored to create deep personal and professional impact. Industry engagement is a core USP as it ensures continuous applied learning addressing live issues encountered within a business context. Our objective is that all participants are immersed in a hands-on, real-world, work-ready learning experience.

  • ED6076 Innovation, Creativity, and Design Thinking (15 credits)
  • BU6008 Data and Digital Literacy (15 credits)
  • BU6009 Industry-in-the-Classroom Work-based Learning Project (30 credits)
Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Apply design thinking in organisational settings to address real-world challenges
  • Use tools and frameworks for implementing and scaling human-centred change in complex environments
  • Develop data and digital literacy competencies required for innovation
  • Identify and analyse trends driving change in an increasingly digital age
  • Adopt the principles of an action design approach in praxis
  • Demonstrate an ability to clearly present and discuss ideas, designs and solutions
  • Manage the practicalities of working within teams charged with designing, prototyping, and evaluating solutions
MA Innovation Through Design Thinking

Graduates of the Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation Through Design Thinking, who have passed all modules within the PG Diploma, and have received an aggregate mark of 50%, will be eligible to progress to the MA Innovation Through Design Thinking. Eligible graduates will be contacted by the course director to confirm eligibility, and can then apply for the MA Innovation Through Design Thinking via UCCApply

The MA will not be funded as part of the HCI Pillar 1 initiative and applicants will be required to self-fund this Master’s (MA) degree. The cost for the 30-credit MA component is €2,885.

Additional Teaching Mode Information

Modules for this course will be delivered online. The sessions will take place 10-4pm Fridays over 12 weeks in Semester 1 (Sept-Dec) and 16 weeks in Semester 2 (Jan-May). This will be complemented with additional sessions on one Thursday of each month. The sessions include lectures, seminars from invited experts, interactive workshops, peer support learning sessions, and input from our artists in residence to help foster creative thinking.  These sessions will help students connect with each other and with their lecturers, reinforce module content build transferable skills, and interact with industry leaders and other experts. We look forward to providing students with a high-quality learning experience that will help them to learn, grow, and build their professional networks, and finish the course ready to take the next step in their careers.

Course Practicalities

Participants will be expected to dedicate at least 24 hours per week to the programme (across two semesters). This time will be allocated to lectures and other self-directed activities.

Why Choose This Course

 I am so happy I did this course... I would do it again in a heartbeat!...

Rose Foley, Graduate

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I was taken aback by the talent and the energy and the generosity of the spirit of the people [on this course]...

James Moynihan, Graduate

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The Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation through Design Thinking is jointly led by the School of Education and Cork University Business School.  The programme offers you a unique perspective on innovation by bringing together three key literacies, namely: design literacy, data literacy and digital literacy. These three literacies are informed by a novel artistic thinking approach through our Artists in Residence programme (AiR). 

Now more than ever, there is a need to be skilled in the art of “finding a way” as sectors are facing significant challenges to build sustainability into their future business models and practices. Now is the right time to locate yourself at the “sweet spot” of these literacies to build your knowledge and skills in the pedagogy and practice of innovation.

This course affords you the opportunity, whether you are upskilling or reskilling, to immerse yourself in a hands-on, real-world, work-ready learning experience. As part of the “industry-in-the-classroom” work-based learning project, you will be provided with the practical experience of undertaking a project in collaboration with an industry/social partner and applying skills and theories acquired to live issues encountered within real-world contexts.

You will have the opportunity to work with partners from sectors such as financial services, technology, retail, pharma, non-governmental agencies, local authorities, and health. These partners will help you enable action-oriented, applied problem-solving skills.

By adopting an Action Design Research approach, you will develop critical thinking skills through using the industry/social partner as a site of inquiry and reflection. It is this ongoing proximity to industry/social partners that we believe will assist you with achieving your employment ambition.

Skills and Careers Information

As part of this skills-focused programme, we aim to design the student learning experience in accordance with participants’ ambition and situation. Adopting this approach ensures that each participant is afforded a student learning experience that meets their employability needs.  In addition, you will learn how to inspire, lead and facilitate diverse teams to innovate through design thinking

We envisage that graduates of the Postgraduate Diploma in Innovation through Design Thinking programme will become future change makers, who have the ability to change conversations within organisations and have the confidence to lead change thereafter.

The demand for innovative thinkers with design, data and digital literacy skills is growing. Business has no shortage of problems that need to be solved but there is a shortage of talent with this unique blend of literacies to be the “agents of change” who will take a lead role in solving these problems.

Are there any career workshops included as part of this course?

Students will have access to the UCC career services. Main activities will include: 

1. Career coaching to formulate individual career action plans leading to employment, reflecting on: 

  • Where are they now in their careers?
  • Where do they want to be?
  • Strategies for gaining employment on completion of the programme.

2. Job readiness workshops will be built into the programme as outlined below:

  • Positioning oneself for job readiness: Setting realistic career objectives; Understanding strengths and skills; Learning from successful role models; Developing a career management strategy.
  • Moving forward into a job: Taking action by developing career goals and implementing them;
  • Creative job-hunting both on-line and off-line; Written applications, CVs and interview preparation and implementing career plans.

3. Participants will be given the opportunity to meet employers by attending UCC-organised recruitment fairs, jobs roadshows and other events where employers will be invited on campus to meet students.


Applicants must have a minimum Second Class Honours Grade 2 in a primary honours degree (NFQ Level 8) or equivalent in any discipline.

Under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) applicants who do not meet the above academic entry requirements may be considered for admission and will be assessed on a number of factors including: 

  • Academic Achievement 
  • Prior Work Experience 
  • Personal Statement 
  • References may also be required 

All applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency. See our English language proficiency requirements. 

Fees and Costs

Places will be subsidised under the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 as follows: 

  • Standard EU Fee: €8,250
  • 90% Subsidised Fee: €825 payable by the applicant
  • 100% Subsidised Fee: No course fees payable by the applicant

For full details on subsidies available please see 'What will it cost?' on the main HCI Pillar 1 webpage.

How To Apply

 Applications must be made on Springboard+.  

  • If you already have a Springboard+ account, please apply here
  • If you are new to Springboard+, please create an account here to apply
  • When you log into your existing account or register for a new account, go to the search courses tab and search for the course you are interested in applying for. Further instructions can be found in the 'How to Apply' section of the Springboard+ webpage. 

Applicants are advised to apply early as high demand is anticipated and places are limited. Applications cannot be assessed until all supporting documentation has been received.   

Documentation that you will need for your application

1. Applicants who meet the Academic Entry Requirements will need:

  • Copies of transcripts from all previous relevant educational qualifications. A parchment may also be required in some instances
  • A Personal/Motivation Statement: In 500 words or less, please state why you wish to study this programme
  • An up-to-date CV

Where English is not your first language you are required to submit a copy of a UCC approved English Language Test/Exam.

2. Applicants who apply under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), will need:

  • Copies of transcripts from all previous relevant educational qualifications. A parchment may also be required in some instances
  • Personal / Motivation Statement - In 500 words or less, please state:

- Why you wish to study this programme
- How your experience, professional and educational, equips you for admission to the course despite not meeting the academic entry requirements

  • An up-to-date CV
  • References where applicable

Where English is not your first language you are required to submit a copy of a UCC approved English Language Test/Exam.

3. Eligibility for HCI Pillar 1 Funding

In addition to the above, academic, English language and RPL requirements, all applicants must provide proof of the following in order to qualify for HCI Pillar 1 funding:

  • Evidence of living full time in the Republic of Ireland
  • Evidence of holding a valid Personal Public Service Number (PPSN)
  • Evidence of having lived in the EU/EEA/UK/Switzerland for 3 out of the past 5 years
  • Evidence of meeting the nationality/visa requirement
  • Evidence of meeting one of the following employment statuses:

- Employed

- Unemployed and in receipt of an eligible Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment for 9 out of the past 12 months

- Recent graduate (2023 or 2024)

- Returner

- Self-employed

- Formerly self-employed

The above funding eligibility documentation will be required after acceptance of a provisional offer, and not earlier than 6 weeks prior to course commencement. For more detailed information on what constitutes acceptable evidence please visit the Springboard+ website.

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact