Professional Diploma in Educational Studies (Computational Thinking)

The Professional Diploma in Education Studies (Computational Thinking) is a 30 credit, part-time, Level 9 NQF programme taught jointly by the School of Education and the School of Computer Science at UCD Dublin.

The aim of this graduate-level programme is to provide participating teachers with strategic understanding and applied skills in the area of computational thinking with reference to the emerging interest at post-primary level of teaching opportunities in this space.

Computational Thinking (CT) has recently been defined as a problem-solving process that includes a number of characteristics and dispositions relevant to learning and life in the twenty-first century. CT is essential to the development of computer applications, but it can also be used to support problem-solving across all disciplines, including the humanities, mathematics, and science. Students who learn to apply CT across the curriculum can begin to see a relationship between academic subjects, as well as between life inside and outside of the classroom.

This programme provides an introduction to, and extensive practice in, the core understandings and capabilities necessary to engage successfully in CT and CT-related teaching & learning in the Irish, post-primary setting and context. It is designed in support of the ongoing DES initiative and represents a unique university / industry partnership in this area.

The course is a blend of Computer Science and Education components at Level 4 (postgraduate):

  • EDUC40270 Digital Learning Design 10 ECTS, Semester 1; 2018/19
  • COMP47560 Coding & Software Engineering 10 ECTS Semester 2; 2018/19
  • EDUC42960 Computational Thinking, 5 ECTS Semester 1; 2018/19
  • COMP47550 How Computers Work 5 ECTS Summer School; June 24-28, 10AM-5PM, Computer Science A1.17, UCD Belfield

Digital Learning Design

This module is intended for those new to the field of Education ICT, Technology in Education, eLearning and /or with an interest in using new digital media within their work. The programme covers in a systematic way the concepts and practices necessary to build personal capability in this rapidly emerging and challenging area of education and practice.  It can provide a strong theory-informed grounding in the key issues and questions surrounding the area and also the skills and understanding needed to design, develop and use technology and digital materials in post-primary educational settings, and to design and resource digitally-rich courses of training in Computational Studies.

Credits: 10; Format: On-site lectures & workshops. Semester 1 (Sept-Dec 2018) [Tuesdays, 5pm – 7pm at UCD Dublin.]

Coding & Software Engineering for Teachers

This module will help teachers become proficient in the practices of coding and software engineering. The core focus will be on developing programming skills in an imperative programming language such as Python, Java or C. Key elements of software engineering practice such as Testing, Version Control and Agile Development will also be addressed.

Credits: 10; Format: Mixed delivery, online lectures, 4 half-day workshops. Semester 2 (Jan-May 2019).

Computational Thinking

The module focuses on the pedagogical understandings necessary to design & assess learning activities associated with teaching Computational Thinking (CT) in the secondary school.  Using EU COMPUTHINK concepts and models as a starting point, it explores the practical aspects of building these into the teaching repertoire of course / programme participants. The focus is predominantly on the personal pedagogical skill-sets necessary to do this. Course learning activities are directed at foster critical teaching capacity in designing and assessing CT classroom experiences that focus on CT concepts such as abstraction, algorithmic thinking, automation, decomposition, debugging, and generalization; developing individual capacity for constructive integration of coding and programming activities into meaningful students’ learning opportunities the following objectives / outcomes  in particular; and better understanding how student self-efficacy can be harnessed to drive post-primary level learning in this area.

Credits: 5; Format: Mixed delivery; 4 Saturday workshops, and related on-line activities. Semester 1 (Sept-Dec 2018).

How Computers Work

In order to teach Computer Science at second level teachers require an in-depth understanding of how computers work. In the modern world of Cloud Computing this extends beyond the software and hardware in a laptop, to cover networks, servers and virtualisation. This module will cover hardware and software concepts from the logic gate level up to wide area networks and server farms.

Credits: 5; Format: Intensive delivery, 10 hours of lectures, 20 hours of laboratory. Summer school (June 24-28, 10AM-5PM, Computer Science A1.17, UCD Belfield).

This programme is targeted in the first instance on qualified teachers working in schools considering the early introduction of the new Computer Science subject for Leaving Certificate.

The programme will be most beneficial to teachers with a strong interest in the possibilities and challenges of introducing this exciting new subject area into their schools once the DES and NCCA finalise their work in the area. Prior experience with any aspect of computer programing is an advantage.

It is not restricted to science / maths teachers; we see possibilities across the subject and secondary age-range for engaging with the types of learning and assessment we address in the programme.  However, we note that people with good mathematical ability can find it easier to learn to code. The syllabus includes a 10 credit module on coding and software engineering in the second semester.

Please note that while the PDES is not a 'formal' teaching qualification in itself, it is designed to provide a strong & comprehensive basis from which to teach the new subject once it launches. We envisage this as a practical course that will help teachers become ready and capable across the full range of skills and understandings needed to address the new LC course specification. We have been monitoring the development of the proposed LC course and are confident of the direction the diploma is taking.

This programme offers both a funded award track entry (sponsored by Microsoft Ireland) and an open-recruitment route for interested teachers who do not match the funded track entry profile, but still wish to participate in the programme.

Microsoft Ireland has indicated that it will sponsor a number of teachers to the full cost of all fees involved. Teachers applying from DEIS and / or all-girl post-primary schools will we prioritised under this award scheme. Teachers and schools with an interest, but sitting outside this bracket, will also be considered for the award on a case by case basis. Additional places may be available on a fee-paying basis, if space allows. Fees for this PDES programme are €3090.

If you are interested in being considered for one of these UCD/Microsoft Awards, please indicate this on your Application.

Please note the following attendance commitments at UCD (Dublin campus) for the 2018/2019 academic year:

  • Semester 1 (Sept - Dec): Students will be required to attend UCD on Tuesday evenings from 5-7pm, as well as four Saturday workshops (to be scheduled). 
  • Semester 2 (Jan - May): Students will be required to attend four workshops (to be scheduled). 
  • The final module is an intensive one-week (Monday - Friday) course in mid/late June, where students will be required to attend UCD during the day (to be scheduled) .

To apply, see the application form here:

Closing date for applications: June 8, 2018.  


Prof Padraig Cunningham, UCD School of Computer Science, lead lecturer & module co-ordinator (Computer Science)

Dr Conor Galvin, UCD School of Education. Programme Co-ordinator and lead lecturer & module co-ordinator (Education)

Dr Brett Becker, UCD School of Computer Science, lecturer (Computer Science)


Dr Kevin Marshall, Microsoft Education, industry partner & cohort sponsor ​

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr Conor Galvin, UCD School of Education;    or