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Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations

  • Belfast City Council
  • Department of Social Development
  • Lisburn City Council
  • Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  • Volunteer Now
  • Tada Rural Support Network
  • 5 NI Health & Social Care Trusts

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles

  • Community Engagement Officer
  • Regeneration Manager
  • Community Health Development Manager
  • Community Centre Manager
  • Project Co-ordinator
  • Youth Worker
  • Suicide Bereavement Officer


Supporting organic intellectuals to develop professional community development practice in order to transform communities.


This is the only 3rd level qualification in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland which provides you with a specialised degree in Community Development. Endorsed by professional bodies in both jurisdictions, the course will enable you to gain employment in a wide range of settings across the community/voluntary sector and public sector, e.g. local councils, health trusts.

You will have the opportunity to gain high level skills to work effectively in communities, to empower those without a voice in a society, to bring about social change, build capacity and improve the quality of life in disadvantaged and marginalised communities.

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About this course

In this section


You will be introduced to a core body of knowledge and debate on issues relating to inequality and social injustice. You will have an opportunity to explore local and international contexts, in order to gain critical awareness of the role which community development can play in tackling inequality, socio-economic disadvantage and marginalisation across the world. In addition, the course examines the role which community development plays in societies transitioning from conflict, through local and international examples. Modules draw on experience and scholarship from elsewhere in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, and Europe as well as developments in other urban, post-conflict societies.

You will be encouraged to put knowledge and skills into practice through engagement in critical reflective practice. The course makes links between theory and practice throughout the modules and you will frequently be asked to draw on your own knowledge and experience, to understand and challenge current theories, policies and practice. You will also be equipped with the skills required to engage in community development work, including community engagement, group-work, collaborative working, community learning, good governance and organisational development. In the final year, you will have an opportunity to select a practice project of your choice, related to community development.

Recognisng that community development work occurs in multi-disciplinary settings, the course provides students with opportunities to learn alongside those specialising in youth work. Modelled on best community education practice, active participatory learning forms the core teaching practice on this course.


Attendance is part-time. Students normally attend one day per week 9:30am - 4:30pm over four years throughout this academic year. Study day will change according to the year of entry.

Start dates

  • September 2019
How to apply

Teaching and learning assessment

The teaching on this course is highly interactive and students are expected to participate fully in all classes. We recognise that there are different styles of learning and therefore our teaching includes a variety of modes, including presentation of information, seminars, tutorials, small group and class discussion, debate and practical activities. We will make use of the university's online teaching tools, in order to ensure that students can access materials off-campus 24/7.

There are no formal examinations for this course and assessment is 100% coursework. To cater for a wide range of learning styles and recognising that this is a professionally endorsed course, we will assess your knowledge, understanding and competence in key skills, through a range of assessment tools, including essays, oral presentations, group-work, debate contributions, peer-seminars, reports, reflective learning logs.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Understanding Community Development: History, Context and Philosophy

Year: 1

This module examines the historical context which has given rise to the current field of community development practice across Ireland and the UK, in framing the context in which community development is practised, the module will also draw upon international models and key thinkers who have influenced how community development is practised today.

Community and informal education

Year: 1

This module enables students to gain knowledge and understanding of community and informal education and the roles they play in community development. The module encourages students to reflect upon the learning they have gained in a variety of ways and situations throughout their lives, applying theoretical models and approaches to these. In addition, it enables students to gain an enhanced understanding of how people learn and the barriers to learning. The skills developed will enable them to facilitate an informal education session.

Applied Socio-Political Perspectives

Year: 1

The module explores how the approaches of political theory, sociology and social policy can produce practitioners who are better informed about soci-political processes and their impact on young people and communities.

Year two

Assessed Practice 1: Developing Reflective Practice

Year: 2

This module aims to introduce students to national occupational standards in community development, to give students the opportunity to reflect on issues of professionalism and to pinpoint areas for professional development. It enables students to gain skills in critical reflection necessary and to practice these skills in order to develop reflective practice.

Transitioning Justice: A Grassroots Toolkit

Year: 2

This module uses the Transitional Justice Grassroots Toolkit (Rooney, 2012a) and User's Guide (Rooney, 2014) to enable students to engage in a justice conversation about grassroots knowledge and global experience. The module uses a flexible 5 Pillar framework to examine local and international post-conflict processes of: institutional reform; truth; reparation; reconciliation; prosecution and amnesty. Students assess what has worked well so far, what remains to be done and consider implications for community praxis.

Power; Inequality and anti-discriminatory practice

Year: 2

This module will give students the opportunity to critically explore what constitutes a just society where goals and outcomes reflect norms of fairness. Students will rigorously critique the patterns of gender and racial inequality along with other marginalised groups, come to recognise the values that underpin diversity. Students will gain knowledge and sound understanding about the rights of social integration and identity.

Year three

Assessed Practice 2 (Ex-Agency)

Year: 3

This module will give students the opportunity to explore how they can critically reflect on and develop their professional understanding through critical thinking and engagement within a community development practice situation that has a different focus than their working environment. This module will allow students the opportunity to investigate emerging and contemporary practices that requires synthesis of main and secondary sources that inform their practice. There will also be an emphasis on students being independent and self-directed learners.

The Northern Ireland Context - Transforming Communities

Year: 3

This module will equip students with the necessary skills to work within contested spaces using community development approaches. Students will gain a sound understanding of the historic and current political processes and begin to develop models of practice. The module focuses on the Northern Ireland perspective using a social policy lens. Students are also encouraged to compare and contrast these approaches from a global perspective.

Community Education: Just Practice

Year: 3

This module provides students with an in-depth understanding of the theories, principles and practice of community education, enabling them to develop and enhance skills in facilitating community learning.

Year four

Managing Community Projects

Year: 4

This module seeks to equip participants with the necessary skills to carry out the demanding multivariate managerial tasks confidently and effectively. Students will gain an understanding of organisational context design and structure. The module will introduce students to to the facets of about organisational behaviour and they will learn how to manage effective communication systems.

Assessed Practice 3: In-Situ Placement

Year: 4

This module aims to equip students equip students with the necessary skills to design and implement a training programme/s or project event/s. Students will be introduced to the skills and techniques of leading projects and tutor training. The module provides students with the support mechanisms to implement and review their ideas and critically reflect on these within a practice placement environment. A unique feature within this module is the use of peer reviewers of placement practice to support students with their self-reflection. Students will gain knowledge of learning maps that demonstrate the links between National Occupational standards and practice.

Study Of Applied Practice (SOAP)

Year: 4

This module relates to the independent study or evaluation of practice within community and/or youth work practice. This module introduces students to the range of skills and methods employed in community and youth work based research. Students systematically investigate and critically reflect on key aspects of practice thus developing critical discourse and analysis within a professional frame of reference. The final written piece of 6,000 to 7,000 words will reflect the student's autonomous learning and development, knowledge and conceptual understanding of current community or youth work practice.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

A level

Applicants should satisfy the University General Requirements e.g.

Provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE English Language grades A-C/ 4-9 or equivalent); and Provide evidence of passes in five subjects, two of which must be at A level (grades A-E) and three at GCSE level* (grades A-C/4-9); or Provide evidence of passes in four subjects, three of which must be at A level (grades A-E) and one at GCSE level* (grades A- C/4-9); or Provide evidence of an approved qualification at an equivalent level such as a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma or Access to Higher Education qualification or equivalent; or Provide evidence, for a process of formal accreditation by the University, of learning you have gained through work or other experience. The Subject Committee will consider a range of qualifications, experience and other evidence of ability to complete the course satisfactorily when considering applications for part-time study.

* GCSE English Language (grades A-C/4-9) may be used as part of the GCSE requirement.

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall Access profile [Minimum 40%]


GCSE Profile to include minimum English Language Grade C or equivalent.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Additional Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to be currently working or volunteering in the field of community development, undertaking a minimum of 8hrs per week. Applicants who have significant experience in the field of community development are welcome to apply directly to the university via the university's Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) procedures. For further information please contact the course director Dr Rosemary Moreland. Tel: +44 (0) 2890 368333. Email:

Exemptions and transferability

Applicants with significant experience in working in or with the community or voluntary sectors may apply for exemption from Level 4. Candidates who submit a satisfactory APL portfolio, are eligible for entry directly to Level 5.

Applicants who have successfully completed the Certificate of Higher Education in Community Development are eligible for direct entry to Level 5.

Applicants who have a qualification equivalent to the Certificate of Higher Education in Community Development are eligible via the university's APL process to apply for direct entry to Level 5.

For further information please contact the Course Director.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Graduate employers

Graduates from this course have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:

  • Belfast City Council
  • Department of Social Development
  • Lisburn City Council
  • Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  • Volunteer Now
  • Tada Rural Support Network
  • 5 NI Health & Social Care Trusts

Job roles

Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:

  • Community Engagement Officer
  • Regeneration Manager
  • Community Health Development Manager
  • Community Centre Manager
  • Project Co-ordinator
  • Youth Worker
  • Suicide Bereavement Officer

Career options

This professional qualification equips graduates with the skills to work in a wide range of positions within the community and voluntary sectors, as well as in the public sector. Whilst graduates often find employment managing projects and organisations within the community and voluntary sector, increasingly areas of the public sector, including local councils, neighbourhood and rural regeneration, health trusts and allied health professions require expertise knowledge and skills in community development approaches.

The course team encourages further study and we currently co-deliver an MSc Community Planning and Governance. There are also opportunities for doctoral research and we welcome applications from graduates for PhD study.

Work placement / study abroad

There are three work-based, assessed practice modules over a four year period, each of which require approximately 15 hours per week over 20 weeks. Two of these modules will be in students' current work or voluntary community practice. Students will normally undertake one work-based assessed practice in a different context, in order to further develop their skills and understanding of community work in alternate settings. There are opportunities for those who wish, to undertake this placement abroad and the staff team will support students in accessing these opportunities.

The Community Development Team have a wide range of local and international networks, to facilitate students in choosing a suitable placement.

Professional recognition

All Ireland Endorsement Body for Community Work Education and Training (AIEB)

For the purpose of benchmarking community work/development as a profession in its own right requiring specific skills.

The Endorsement and Quality Standards Board for Community Development Learning (ESB)

For the purpose of providing a robust system of endorsement of quality for all types of training and learning in Community Development.

Academic profile

The Community Development Team were awarded the Distinguished Teaching Fellowship Award in 2008 for the APEL Community Development Pathway. More recently, in 2016, the Team were awarded the AONTAS Adult Learner National Star Award for this pathway.

Dr Rosemary Moreland and Dr Isobel Hawthorne-Steele are Senior Fellows of the Higher Education Academy and members of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences. Dr Erik Cownie is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


How to apply Request a prospectus

Applications to our part-time undergraduate courses are made through the University’s online system.

Start dates

  • September 2019

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees

Northern Ireland & EU:

Additional mandatory costs

Students are required to pay any additional costs incurred as part of their Ex-Agency work-based assessed practice, including but not restricted to travel, accomodation, subsistence and child-care. If students undertake placements with children or vulnerable adults, they will be required to undergo police vetting and will be responsible for paying the appropriate fee.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
  2. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  3. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  4. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  5. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.


"Support and guidance was very good...the tutors were fantastic and I learned so much from others in the class".

"I did my placement with Community Restorative Justice...I learned so much about human rights....this has guided my career and my post-graduate learning".

"You can get bogged down in your own are with like-minded people all the time. In a mixed group you are likely to be challenged and this makes you question your own biases and prejudices. I must admit I had not sat down and heard the 'other' perspective. I am a lot more confident now in dealing with different views".

"Beforehand, I never felt capable...doing the degree has transformed my confidence...I see posts advertised, now I think 'why not? I could apply for that!'"

"The degree was a challenge alright...but worth it. The qualification opens doors, the learning supports my practice and there are half a dozen of the class I am still in regular contact with".

"I just feel the degre has given me so many career options...and I have made lasting friendships with ones I have met on the course 7 or 8 years ago...we still catch up, the odd email, coffee in town. I have asked for help with funding...and they would ask me".