Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links

Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies

Course Code: DPDSP-ASST-1O09
Duration: 1 year
Next Intake: September 2016
Maximum Intake: 25 students
Applications: Now open for September 2016 intake
Closing Date: 31st May 2016

Course Details

This level 9 postgraduate course, delivered online, aims to provide graduates from all disciplines with the opportunity to develop their understanding of the role that social policies play in developing functioning and just societies. A second year leading to a M.Sc. in Applied Social Studies is available to eligible candidates who have completed the Postgraduate Diploma with a 2.1 or better result.

Students will consider the role of social policy in addressing some of the ‘wicked problems’ that contemporary societies face.  Wicked problems are complex interdependent problems such as crime and poverty, which are often resistant to the policy solutions put in place by governments.  Students will be exposed to the arguments for developing policy interventions in areas such as social security, health and housing, and the challenges of implementing and changing policy in these areas at a national and global level.

Whether you are interested in social work, social policy, social care, or social change this course will provide you with new knowledge and perspectives.  The programme is of interest to individuals:

  • working in the delivery, management or funding of social services
  • developing social policy or advocating for social policy change
  • interested in work related career development
  • seeking a pathway to further study in social work, social studies and social policy

The programme has particular appeal to graduates who wish to pursue a Masters programme in social work, social studies and social policy but who do not have an undergraduate qualification in these fields. This online Postgraduate Diploma can act as a conversion course for such graduates and enhance their application for specialised programme such as a Masters in Social Work. The programme will also appeal to applicants from outside Ireland, in particular North America, who wish to study in Ireland’s leading university with expertise in Irish, EU and global social policy.

This course provides students with a stimulating online learning experience by creating a structured yet flexible learning approach. The place of study is flexible as online delivery allows students to engage in learning activities at home or in the workplace and there is no requirement to attend at the Trinity campus in Dublin.  Students will have access to weekly materials using a virtual learning environment and the opportunity to engage with other students and lecturers using discussion boards.

Module Delivery and Assessment

The Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies is a level 9 postgraduate diploma offered as a one year online programme. With 60 ECTS credits the workload is high, however students are not required to be on campus and have a lot of control over when they learn allowing them the flexibility to combine work and study.  The programme consists of the following seven modules and runs over three 10 week terms from September until June.

Term 1
1. Principles of Social Policy (10 ECTS)
2. Criminology (10 ECTS)

Term 2
3. Managing Change in Social Systems (10 ECTS)
4. The Family and Society (10 ECTS)

Term 3
5. Contemporary Social Policy Debates and Analysis (10 ECTS)
6. Introduction to Disability Studies (5 ECTS)
7. Introduction to Social Work (5 ECTS)

There are no terminal examinations on the course. A range of continuous assessment methods are used including projects, blogs, reflective journals, essays and case studies. 

The Online Learning Experience

Online learning is a flexible and effective way to study. Successful online learners are organised, connected, engaged and motivated. Developing these habits early on will allow you to get the most out of your studies.

The flexibility afforded by online learning does not mean that you can or should let things drift. As you may be working or caring for family alongside your studies, it is crucial that you develop both a weekly and term schedule that takes into account both regular and periodic learning requirements of the course as well as the other commitments in your life.

To develop a weekly schedule you should take into account that materials are normally released on Friday evening and that the live tutorial takes place the following Thursday.  Between these two days, alongside your other commitments in life, you need to find the time to complete all of that week’s learning tasks.  Between Friday and Thursday your weekly schedule should cover all weekly learning requirements e.g. watching presentations and videos, finding and reading reference materials, posting to the blog or discussion forum.  

Your semester schedule should take into account the periodic learning requirements e.g. the time to research, consider, write and edit assignments.  Pay careful attention to the submission date for assessments as you will be penalised if you are late.  For many students the time around assessment submission is associated with a high intensity of work so if you can, reducing other commitments at these times may be of benefit.

Without the physical stimulus of sitting in class a few times a week, online students need to be particularly aware of the sources of distraction when studying. Aligning your schedule with your motivation will help to reduce these distractions. Actively contributing to the online community on your course is also advisable as colleagues can help you to benchmark your progress, help you over any learning bumps and share their successful strategies for managing their time and learning.


Graduates of the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Social Studies may progress onto the M.Sc. in Applied Social Studies which is offered as a one year online programme.  To earn the award of M.Sc. in Applied Social Studies, students much attain an average of 2.1 of higher in the Postgraduate Diploma (60 ECTS) and a pass mark in the Masters Dissertation (30 ECTS). Graduates of the MSc. in Applied Social Studies may progress onto PhD study in the School. 

Admissions Requirements

The programme is open to graduates from all disciplines.  Successful applicants will hold a level 8 degree in any subject at a minimum of Upper Second Class Honours degree (2.2).

How to Apply

Applications are completed electronically and require the following documentation:

  • Application Form completed online here
  • 2 Reference Letters - applicants are not required to get two hard copy references. You must list two referee contact details on the online application form. An automated email will be sent to both referees asking them to complete a template and send it back. (It is preferable that references are either academic or professional)
  • Official Transcripts - a transcript is a breakdown of the modules you completed and the grades you obtained. Please contact your University to request a transcript as soon as possible as some Universities can take up to 21 days to process transcripts. (This includes undergraduate transcripts and graduate transcripts if applicable)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • 1 current photo (headshot). Please ensure it is a clear picture with a plain background. (It is preferable that it is in jpeg format)


Tuition Fee:
EU students: €5,500
Non-EU students: €10,500

Application Fee: €35 (to be paid online)

Fees may be subject to change

For further information:

Laura Cusack
Course Administrator
+353-1-896 3593

Dr. Julie Byrne
Course Coordinator
+353-1-896 4648

Dr. Stephanie Holt
Course Director
+353-1-896 3908

Last updated 29 January 2016 Social Work & Social Policy (Email).