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Professional Master in Education (P.M.E.)

Duration: 2 years full-time
Applications Opening Date: October 2013
Closing Date: Now Closed
Course Coordinator: Dr Ann Devitt
Course Administrator: Ms Elizabeth Fleeton
Course Email: efleeton@tcd.ie
Course Tel(s): +353-1-896 1488
Course Next Intake: September 2014

**Applications for September 2014 are Now Closed. Shortlisted applicants will be called to interview within the next 3 weeks.

For information on eligibility of degrees for registration with the Teaching Council, click here.

For information on the Application Scoring System, including what qualifies as relevant professional or voluntary experience, please click here.

The Professional Master in Education (PME) is a required qualification for persons wishing to work as post-primary school teachers in the Republic of Ireland and a recognised teaching qualification within the EU. The aim of the course is to prepare new entrants for the teaching profession who are professional in all aspects of their work and who are knowledgeable and reflective about the aims and processes of education and are subject experts in their chosen discipline.

On entering the PME students are embarking on a process of professional development which continues through to their induction and probation as a new teacher and then to continuing professional development as an experienced teacher. The 2 year full-time PME programme of initial teacher education constitutes the first stage of this process, primarily a course of professional development with a significant academic dimension. There is a clear emphasis on the acquisition of key teaching competences and students are expected to develop the competences both during their time in TCD and whilst on school based placement.
The PME is offered with specialisations in the following ten post-primary curriculum subjects (applicants select one at the time of application as their major subject):

  • Business Studies (including Accounting and Economics);
  • English;
  • Geography;
  • History;
  • Irish;
  • Mathematics (including Applied Mathematics);
  • Modern Languages (including French, German, Italian, Spanish and Other Languages);
  • Music;
  • Religious Education;
  • Science (including Biology, Chemistry and Physics).

Course Structure and Content

Course Aims


The Professional Master in Education aims to provide a holistic programme for the preparation of individuals for a career in the teaching profession through the development of critical and analytical skills, skills and strategies for teaching, and a reflective professional approach to teaching and learning. We seek to develop in our students:

  • critical knowledge and appreciation of the discipline of education;
  • a sense of the broad context of Irish education as part of society as a whole;
  • an appreciation and understanding of the complicated nature of the teacher’s role and of the function[s] of schools in society;
  • critical knowledge of a range of models of instruction, with the ability to choose between them and to apply them in classrooms, laboratories and elsewhere;
  • the ability and willingness to act as reflective practitioners, adopting critical insights into practice as appropriate.

Description and overview

Each element of the course has been carefully thought out to address specific educational and training objectives and to provide a varied complement of practice in teaching techniques and reflection, and in-depth study of educational issues at masters level. Together they make up an integrated Professional Master in Education (PME) leading to a recognised professional qualification. 
The course is composed of two major elements: school placement and experience, and university studies. In-built progression between both years of the programme is reflected in these components, and facilitates the growing professionalism of students on the PME as they prepare to enter a challenging but rewarding career.

Year 1

During their first semester in year 1, students will attend lectures, tutorials and workshops in Trinity College on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and participate in structured school activities on Thursdays and Fridays, observing and team-teaching with their co-operating teacher in partnership schools, and gradually assuming responsibility for whole class teaching (2-3 classes). During the second semester, students will participate in a block placement, prioritising Junior Cycle classes, with responsibility for planning, implementing, assessing and evaluating allocated classes (typically 12-15 classes a week). During their block placement, students will attend half-day pedagogical support sessions in College on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. These sessions are designed to maximise student learning and opportunities for reflection during school placement and to facilitate the integration of theory with practice. Opportunities for collaborative reflective activity will be explored through the introduction of a peer-buddy system supported by our e-learning platform. 
The objectives of the College afternoon support programme include:

  • enabling students to meet regularly with other students in their area;
  • providing students with opportunities to discuss in greater depth topics raised in lectures, seminars and workshops during semester one and which have arisen in practice whilst on placement;
  • facilitating discussion on topical educational matters that are usually not subject discipline-focused (for example, discipline, transfer from primary to secondary school, gender issues in schools, etc.);
  • facilitating discussion on school experience placements: preparation, de-briefing etc.

When students return from school placement, they will participate in placement review and evaluation activities, and complete a research methods programme in order to prepare them to write a detailed research proposal for their thesis in year 2. The research proposal is designed to draw on the material included in students’ teaching and learning Professional Development Portfolios (PDP) which includes all reflections, assignments, academic readings, observations, lesson plans and schemes of work, placement feedback reports etc. from the beginning of the PME course.

Year 2

During their first semester in year 2, students will participate in an advanced school placement module, covering both Junior and Senior Cycle classes, where they have full responsibility to plan, deliver and evaluate all aspects of the classes they teach (typically 15 classes a week), and engage fully in the day-to-day life of a school. Students will attend evening pedagogical support sessions in College every two weeks, and in their second year, the emphasis in these sessions is placed on providing a theoretical framework for students to develop their understanding of how:

  • children learn (classroom processes);
  • the curriculum is designed and assessed (curriculum and assessment issues);
  • schools interact with and serve society (historical and sociological issues); and
  • and act as a basis for further professional development.

During their second semester, students will attend lectures, workshops and seminars in College, and take advanced pedagogical studies and research in their major subject area. This advanced module is designed to equip students with the relevant knowledge and skills to engage in research, and to reflect on their periods of school experience and academic studies in education. The module will inform the design, implementation and evaluation of a substantial research project in their major pedagogical subject area. This minor thesis aims to develop in students the ability to apply the research skills necessary to conduct a small-scale research study in their chosen area. Part of the assessment of the ICT module in year 2 will form an intrinsic component of the preparation and completion of students’ research projects.

Foundation and Professional Studies

Students participate in lectures and tutorials in the foundation disciplines of education, attend modules on ICT (Information and Communication Technology), and choose one specialist option. Depending on their interests, timetabling flexibility and workload management, students may request permission from the PME Registrar to attend an additional specialist option in one or both years of the programme on an attendance only and unassessed basis. ICT consists of two mandatory modules and focuses on technical skills in year 1, and on pedagogical application in year two. In year 1, students attend two pedagogy subjects. The first (major) will be the subject that they intend to teach full-time in schools. Students attend seminars and workshops in both their major and minor subjects in first year and specialise only in their major subject as an advanced study of pedagogy in second year. The purpose of the modules in pedagogy are to introduce students to the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching and learning in their subject area. Literacy and numeracy are included as key components of each pedagogical subject area. Teaching in each subject is shared by a team of full-time members of the School and part-time staff, many of whom are also practising teachers. 
Each pedagogy subject area aims to develop in students:

  • the ability to reflect on and evaluate their own practice;
  • a working knowledge of relevant research into pupils' learning and an appreciation of the importance of pupils being actively engaged in their own learning;
  • an appreciation of the importance of developing positive relationships with pupils, based on principles of equity and inclusiveness;
  • a rigorous approach to planning, combined with the ability to make considered choices from a range of teaching methods and resources;
  • a knowledge of approaches to the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy which can be implemented through their subject curriculum;
  • a knowledge of the content of their subject[s] as required for the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate examination syllabi.

Students receive occasional inputs from invited guest speakers and staff in the following areas across both years: the school as a learning community, teacher identity, legislation relevant to school and classroom, child protection, academic reading and writing, development education, the teacher and external agencies, early childhood education, transition to secondary schools, parents in education, the teacher as a professional, service to the profession and community, and the teacher as a reflective practitioner. These additional inputs will occur during the induction week and throughout the academic year.

School Placement

School Placement is a major element of the course and students accepted for the course will be placed in a range of different school types, usually in the greater Dublin area. In accordance with the Teaching Council of Ireland guidelines, at least 40% of student time over the two years of the PME must be allocated to school placement, involving between 200-250 hours of direct teaching, which includes approximately 25 hours of team teaching experience during students’ first semester.

There are two school placement modules:

An introduction to School Placement (year 1)
Advanced School Placement (year 2)

The introductory school placement module in first year involves incremental tasks such as peer teaching, co-teaching with a mentor or co-operating teacher, learning support and resource teaching, and individual teaching and reflection. Structured non-teaching hours involve targeted classroom observations, peer and individual planning for teaching, learning and assessment, attendance at staff meetings, involvement in extra curricular activities, familiarisation with school policies, documentation, procedures and practices, and guided reading and portfolio tasks.The advanced module in second year requires students to engage in school based research, all aspects of the planning, implementation and evaluation of teaching, and full participation in the day-to-day activities of school life.

Over the course of the 2 year PME students are placed in at least three different educational settings by the School Placement Co-ordinator. Students are normally placed in TCD partnership schools and experience a range of educational types, including primary school, post-primary and inclusive educational settings. Students are also placed in a number of different school settings to reflect the socio-economic and cultural diversity of society, including all girls/boys/mixed gender, designated disadvantaged, multiple languages, gaelscoileanna, etc.

Admission requirements

Applicants must be university graduates, normally with an honors Bachelor degree that includes, as a substantial component, at least one subject from the list of those taught at Leaving Certificate level in Ireland. Applicants should be aware of specific entry criteria to the teaching profession which are set and regulated by the DES in association with the Teaching Council of Ireland, and which must be satisfied independently of the School of Education’s entry requirements. Please check our website for information on the Teaching Council Degree Eligibility requirements.

Please click here [pdf] for information on the Teaching Council Degree Eligibility requirements.


Last updated 12 February 2014 kellyva@tcd.ie.