Disability Studies

By Aedín Dunne - Last update

Get Daily news and updates directly to your Email

Disability Studies is a very important area. We are all equal and deserve the same opportunities despite the challenges we may face. Are you caring, kind and passionate about helping others? Do you think you would be able to help impact the lives of others positively? 

If you answered yes to all of the above questions then it sounds like you might be suited to a career in this area. Have a look below and see if it sounds about right. 

What are Disability Studies?

Disability Studies is an academic discipline that looks at the meaning, nature and consequences of having a disability. It explores different areas such as physical, mental or psychological impairments. A large aim of courses in this area is to reduce prejudice and discrimination and try gain a deeper understnding of the area. 

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and college in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas: 

  • Intellectual Disability Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Healthcare Assistant with Intellectual Disability Studies (PLC)
  • Inclusive Education & Training with Disability Studies and Special Needs Assisting (PLC)
  • Contemporary Disability Studies (OPC-CDS)

Studying Disability Studies in college

There are a number of courses in relation to disability and helping those who have a  disability. There are PLC courses available which are all a year long while the undergraduate degrees will range from 3-4 years depending on the course and the University you choose to study at. 

PLC courses will give you the foundation you’ll need in the area. In cases like the Healthcare Assistant with Intellectual Disability Studies, you will have a QQI Certificate and be ready for the working world if you do not want to go on to an undergraduate degree. 

In this area the undergraduate degrees relevant include Intellectual Disability Nursing and Occupational Therapy. In your first year of both courses you will be introduced to disability, what it is and prepare to help those who need it. As you course goes on you will look more in depth at different course material and gain a deeper knowledge as well as applying your knowledge practically through work placement. 

You will have experience in helping and treating those with disabilities as well as helping to combat issues, help people physically and emotionally while playing a role in reducing prejudice and discrimaination.

Career Options

There are a few options you can take in this area. Some people may gain a QQI Certificate and work through that while others might use a PLC to get into an undergraduate course and possibly a Master after that. Those who start off in an undergraduate course can also continue on to specialise in a specific area of their interest. 

You can work in roles from a Healthcare worker to Occupational Therapy and Intellectual Disability Nursing. Likewise, you can go into nursing or other healthcare positions through courses of your choice. 

Skills and qualities that are essential in this area include excellent communication skills, work well with others, compassionate, empathetic, a passion for helping others, a good listener, kind, patient, organisation skills, time management skills and desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives for their benefit. 

Related Jobs

  • Healthcare Worker
  • Nurse
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Community worker
  • Rehabilitation Counsellor
  • Special Education Teacher

Further Study

Visit postgrad.ie for more information.


Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should

include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

PLC courses will accept Leaving Certificate results. Specific courses may have their own requirements. For example, some courses may have a certain interview process or expect a portfolio of sorts so it is always important to look into these things in depth. 

The highest points needed for Physiotherapy last year were 589 points while Occupational Therapy was required 555 (highest) and Intellectual Disability Nursing required the highest of 420 points. 

Where can I study?

For other courses in the area you would like to explore, you can do so here

Did you know?

  • Up to 1 in 10 people under the age of 45 have a disability in Ireland
  • Julia Lathrop was one of occupational therapy’s foremothers
  • Over a billion people in the world live with a disability


Aedín Dunne

Development Studies
English Literature


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We'd love to send you the latest news and articles about evening classes, further learning and adult education by email. We'll always treat your personal details with the utmost care and will never sell them to other companies for marketing purposes.

Comments and Reviews Policy