What level of IT skills do I need?

In order to complete the course, you will need a basic competency with computers. You should be comfortable with word processing, web browsing, email, online searches etc. However, you don’t need an in-depth knowledge of the virtual learning environment (Moodle). Guidelines on using the tools and resources required for your course will be provided for you during orientation.


What software/equipment do I need?

In order to begin learning, you will need:

  • A laptop or desktop computer in good working order. A tablet or mobile device will not suffice
  • A reliable broadband connection with a min of 1Mb download speed. If you are unsure about your download speed, contact your internet provider to run a test speed
  • The latest version of Adobe Flash Player
  • An up to date version of google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox
  • A set of earphones, headphones or speakers. Depending on whether you are learning in private or in a communal space you may need to use earphones or headphones to listen to lecture content
  • In order to take part in webinars, you will need a microphone and/or webcam
  • For your assignment work, you will need access to word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer or a cloud-based word processor such as google docs
  • In Year 2, you will need to download the statistical analysis package Stata https://www.stata.com/ at a cost of ~€48 for a 6-month licence


Is would also be useful to have:

  • A quiet space to learn: somewhere you can set up your learning space and focus on your work
  • Security set-up such as anti-virus, anti-malware and Firewall settings


Is online learning for me?

Successful online learners are engaged, motivated and well organised. You should be able to manage your time effectively and work independently towards your goals. Actively engaging with the course and connecting with others is also very important for online learners. Participating in the online community will help you to stay on track and share resources, ideas and learning strategies with your peers.


Will I need to take time off work to complete the course?

You may wish to discuss your participation in the course with your employer, but you will not be required to take days off. The course is designed to suit working professionals. Your learning will be self-directed and you will be responsible for manage in your own time and responsibilities. There are two in-person course days (at the beginning and end of the course) and attendance at these is encouraged but not mandatory.


 Can I complete coursework on mobile devices?

Although the course is designed to be completed using a laptop or desktop computer, the Moodle mobile app allows learners to access Moodle on the go, and to download some of the content for viewing offline.


Are there any in-person days on campus?

Yes, there are two in-person days at the beginning and end of the course. These days are included to allow students an opportunity to meet fellow students and course staff in real life and to learn about the course. While attendance at one/both of these days is advised, it is not mandatory.


Will I have to sit exams on campus?

No, there are no final exams on the course. The course is assessed through a combination of online activities, online engagement and assignments. You will submit all your assignments online.


How much time will I need to dedicate to coursework?

Each 10-credit module will require approximately 200 hrs of student work. This includes all lectures, activities, assignments and independent study. The course runs in two terms of 12 weeks each, from September to April.


Can I complete the course while abroad?

Yes, you can. The course is wholly online- with two optional in-person days at the beginning and the end. With this in mind, you can complete the course from anywhere with a stable internet connection.


Will I attend graduation and receive a parchment?

Yes, you have the option of attending the in-person graduation ceremony in your home institution. If you do not wish to attend, your award will be conferred in absentia. You will receive a parchment just like any other award.

Will I receive a student ID card?

Yes, you will receive a student ID number and student card from your ‘home institution’ (one of the three institutions where you are registered; Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.


Will I have access to library services?

You will have full access to the college library, online databases, journals and ebooks through your ‘home institution’.


How do I apply?

There are two stages to the application process. Firstly, you should complete the short ‘expression of interest’ form online here. Your application will be reviewed by the Joint Course Committee and suitably qualified applicants will be invited to register at one of the three partner institutions; The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.


What are the entry criteria?

You should hold a National Framework of Qualifications Level 8 primary degree (or equivalent) in health, social science, statistics, economics or a related discipline. A cognate Master’s Degree may also qualify for admission.

In exceptional circumstances, applicants without a primary degree of a sufficient level may be recommended for entry to the programme following a review of their individual qualifications and experience by the Joint Course Committee (Board of Studies).


I don’t have an NFQ Level 8 primary degree- can I still apply?

Yes, you can. Your application will be reviewed by the Joint Course Committee, who will review your qualifications and experience. If they recommend you for entry to the Programme, your admission will be subject to the approval of the appropriate governing body in the institution with which you register.


English is not my first language, can I still apply.

If English is not your first language, you should be able to demonstrate proficiency in line with the requirements of the institution to which you’re applying.


Can I claim tax back on the course?

If you are an Irish taxpayer, you may be eligible to claim tax back on the course. Visit the Revenue website for more information www.revenue.ie.

If you pay taxes outside of Ireland, you should check with your respective tax authorities.


If I complete the Diploma, can I move onto the SPHeRE Phd Programme?

The Postgraduate Diploma in Population Health and Health Services Research is not a pathway to the SPHeRE PhD programme. The Diploma is aimed at professionals who want to confidently read, appraise and use research, but do not need to conduct a significant research projects themselves. It may suit busy professionals who would like to upskill but don’t want to give up work to do so. Progression on the SPHeRE PhD programme is based on the Programme milestones rather than ECTS credits, so credits earned on the Diploma are not transferrable to the PhD Programme.