Childhood Studies

Irish College of Humanities & Applied Sciences

Childhood Studies

We are delighted to offer you this Master's programme in Childhood Studies which is primarily designed for graduates in health, human and social sciences related programmes including such disciplines as social care, social work, nursing, psychology, counselling, psychotherapy, and programmes in cognate areas who wish to study at postgraduate level on either a full-time (over 1 Year) or part-time basis (over 2 Years) who seek to gain specialist knowledge of childhood and youth with a view to expanding their knowledge and understanding of children and young people under the age of 18.

There is little doubt that the care, education and support of young people have been understood and delivered within a reductionist ethos both in Ireland and internationally. Murphy (2015) noted that until fairly recent times that the care and education for children of pre-school age have by and large been seen by the Irish state as a private matter, and the responsibility of parents.

While there has been an improvement in the integration of relevant services in recent years, children of primary and post-primary school age are dealt with by discreet education structures generally and while the state has improved its support for children ( persons under 18) the history of such support has been mired in controversy historically and still remains somewhat disjointed. For example, the care provided to vulnerable young people has been divided between different state departments and agencies, with little integration of services until more recent times.

Despite policy level commitments to the primacy of the family and parents, there is evidence of increased numbers of children and adolescents in state-provided or funded care. Tusla (2019) for example reported that there were 5,985 children in the Agency's care at the end of 2019, with 91% of those in Foster Care. While that shows a decrease from 2014, Foster Care is only one aspect of Tusla's support structures. The Agency also reported 56,561 referrals to child protection and welfare services in 2019; 3% (1,425) more than in 2018 (55,136). More poignantly, it reported a total of 92,000 children living in consistent poverty and a further 190,000 children at risk of poverty.

The provision of care by the state has undoubtedly undergone reform in recent years and greater streamlining and accountability, perhaps most obviously when a distinct Government Department was formed for Children and Youth Affairs. While this is welcome, there remains a plethora of agencies, disciplines and personnel involved in the care, education and support of children and young people – frequently coming with diverse and divergent perspectives, training and education. This is perhaps most obvious in the case of children and young people who come into contact with the justice or mental health systems.

There is a strong correlation between young persons who manifest mental health challenges, who engage in substance use/misuse and those who come to the attention of the Gardai or Justice System, especially among those who are within care systems (Tarren- Sweeney, 2008), a finding that finds resonance in international jurisdictions.

The education and training needs for those engaged in supporting children and adolescents has been equally disjointed. This may be related somewhat to divisions regarding the definition of children, adolescents and elements of 'turf claiming' among professionals as well as ideological differences regarding whether or not child care and adolescent support should or should not be professionalised.

Irrespective of the number and range of professionals across disciplinary areas and professions working with children, it is noteworthy that in 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the Irish state should strengthen its efforts to provide adequate and systematic training and/or sensitization of professionals working with and for children (persons under 18 years).

This programme addresses the needs of practitioners and graduates who wish to develop their knowledge and professional competence in areas focusing on professionally supporting childhood development and should be of particular relevance to existing Level 8 graduates of programmes in areas such as Early Learning & Care; Primary & Post Primary Education, nursing, social care, psychology, sociology, social science, youth work and community studies and related disciplines.

This programme has been designed to accommodate the needs of both new and recent graduates as well as those students currently holding positions in the children and young people's workforce, including those wishing to advance their careers or indeed change careers.

Applicants should be driven by a desire to be professional leaders and agents for collegial support and change; recognising the special contribution that higher education in these fields (using a range of scientifically established paradigms and approaches) can make to professionals involved in supporting children to realise their potential.

What supports are available to learners

At ICHAS, every lecturer and member of staff is committed to excellence in education and professional practice. Each Module has a Module Leader who works with learners to enhance their learning and will provide formative and summative feedback throughout every module. Each programme has a Programme Co-ordinator and in addition, you will have direct access to the Programme Leader and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Dissertation and Practicum are central elements of the Masters programme. Each learner will undertake these modules under the direction of an Academic and Practicum supervisor respectively for these modules.

Who Awards My Qualification?

On successful completion of the programme, your qualification is awarded by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). QQI is one of the principal Irish awarding body for 3rd level education in Ireland and sets the standards for awards on the NFQ. Because this programme is both validated and awarded by QQI, the Award you receive is recognised in Ireland and internationally. See for further information.

Subjects taught

Structure of Course

On acceptance of their place on the course, learners would be required to attend an induction day. This covers all aspects of the programme content, delivery, assessment, and requirements. Induction provides the learner with an opportunity to become familiar with the environment, peers, and faculty members.

Learners can complete this course on a full-time basis over 1 year and a part-time basis over 2 years only. Attendance would normally require attendance in person (either in class or on Zoom) on 1 or 2 evenings per week (6 pm to 10 pm) and Saturdays (9.30 am to 4.30 pm) in the academic year from September to July. The timetable has been structured to optimise the utilisation of online learning via Zoom where this allows, but skills-based components do require a certain amount of in-person attendance and it is taught using a combination of classroom-based and blended learning techniques via Zoom. This allows the learner to access classes in person or using on-line facilities. In certain skill-based modules, attendance will be a mandatory requirement.

Each learner on the Full-Time route would study and submit for assessment 4 modules in Semester 1 (40 ECTS), while those on the Part-Time Route would submit 2 Modules (20 ECTS) in Semester 1. In Semester 1, learners focus on fundamental Modules associated with the programme and on the full-Time option, are also taught a 10 ECTS Module on Research Methodologies and Design to support them with their Dissertation Module.

On the Part-Time route, this Research Module is taken in Semester 4. The Dissertation Module commences in Semester 1 and is due for completion and submission in Semester 3 for Full-time Students and Semester 5 for Part-Time Students.

In Semester 2, learners on both the Full and Part-Time options will complete a total of 30 ECTS of topic focussed learning as well as completing their Practicum module (10 ECTS) and are assessed on this body of work by the end of the First Semester. In the Practicum (Work-Based Learning) module, all learners will be required to undertake a minimum of 150 hours of practice placement, with 15 hours of supervision arranged by the College, 10 of which would be mentoring or small group tutoring with 5 hours direct 1 to 1 placement supervision.

Students will complete the Programme on submission of their Dissertation Module at the end of Semester 3 on the full-time route and Semester 5 of the Part-time route. Those students who exit the programme without completion of their Dissertation will be eligible for an Exit Award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Childhood Studies.

The following are the modules that have to be completed on this course which means a total of 90 ECTS have to completed for the Award of MA in Childhood Studies

Name of Module Mandatory / Elective ECTS (Credits)
Critical Perspectives on Child & Youth Development M 10
Research Methodologies & Design M 10
Curricular & Pedological Approaches in Early Learning & Care M 10
Governance & Professional Leadership in Child and Adolescent Practice M 10
Contemporary Discourses in Early Learning and Care M 10
Practicum M 10
Dissertation M 30

Entry requirements

The knowledge, skills, and competence required to successfully participate in and complete this Level 9 programme will normally require applicants to have successfully achieved a Level 2:2 award in a relevant Level 8 degree.

Those who have completed other relevant educational programmes or have relevant professional experience etc., where Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) and Acquired Prior Learning (APL) can be applied to the programme by submission of programme content, qualification, and assignments equivalent to an appropriate Level 8 award at an Honours 2:2 standard, can also be considered. Candidates over 23 years of age who hold significant professional qualifications and or can demonstrate appropriate learning from experiential or other sources of learning may apply through a Recognition of Prior Learning route (RPL). For non-native speakers of English, an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) is required. Candidates may study on either a full-time or part-time basis.

All applicants will be required to attend for interview to ascertain their suitability for the programme.

In the case of overseas applications, whose first language is not English, applicants will have to provide either certification of completion of a primary degree through the medium of English or submit the official results of English Language competency demonstrated through the completion of English language proficiency tests indicating a minimum score of to B2+ in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). Certification may be evidenced through the production of a certificate of IELTS Level 6.5 or equivalent) or equivalent competency tests, if applicable.

All international applicants must meet the visa requirements for study in Ireland.

Successful applicants would be required to complete Garda Vetting at the College.

If you have any queries in relation to this course then please contact the college on 061 216288 or email us at A member of the Admissions team will be happy to assist you


1 Year (Full Time) 2 Years ( Part Time)

Available at our Dublin and Limerick Campuses

Post Course Info

Where Can I progress to on completion of the course?

On successful completion of the MA in Childhood Studies, learners will be qualified to access Level 10 Programmes on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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    Course provider