Employment Law and Practice - PgCert

2025/26 Part-time Postgraduate course

Award:

Postgraduate Certificate

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

School of Law

eLearning:

This course is taught online so you can study where you want, when you want.

Start dates:

September 2025

January 2026

Overview

Would you like to get a recognised, accredited qualification in employment law from the comfort of your own home/office, wherever you are based?

Summary

The importance of the employment relationship between employers, employees, unions and other statutory bodies and agencies is such that a thorough knowledge of both the context and the substantive law is necessary for those involved in this area in any capacity. This programme attempts to provide the basis for this knowledge and to put students in the position where they may not only have an understanding of the law both conceptually and substantively, but also be in a position to use that knowledge in the solution of problems.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

The course includes 24 employment law and compliance lectures from the cream of Northern Ireland’s employment law expert practitioners and 12 afternoon sessions on ADR and tribunal representation, including role-play exercises with Labour Relations Agency staff. All live sessions take place on Tuesday afternoons, with the majority of sessions taking place online. Students will also be able to watch recordings of all sessions and presentations after they are broadcast.

Attendance

Attendance is fully online

Start dates

  • September 2025
  • January 2026

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The course is 100% coursework assessed using mock employment tribunal bundles and other employment scenarios.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

Dr Esther McGuinness is the Course Director for the programme. Dr McGuinness has 25+ experience in the employment arena. She is a Co-Director of the Ulster Law Clinic and the current Head of the Law School

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Modules

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

Employment Compliance and Development

Year: 1

Whether you are a lawyer, human resources professional, personnel or industrial relations officer, this module will develop a range of skills, which will enable all students to remain fully abreast of the latest legislative and case law developments in employment compliance. It will ensure that all students acquire in-depth knowledge and understanding of how employment compliance issues operates in practice. Students will be provided with assistance enabling them to respond to complex practical, legal and ethical problems. Students will be encouraged to critically analyse the law and important legal issues they face in practice.

Employment Law

Year: 1

The importance of the employment relationship between employers, employees, unions and
other statutory bodies and agencies is such that a thorough knowledge of both the context and
the substantive law is necessary for those involved in this area in any capacity. The module
attempts to provide the basis for this knowledge and to put students in the position where they
may not only have an understanding of the law both conceptually and substantively, but also be
in a position to use that knowledge in the solution of problems.

Year two

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Year: 2

Methods of ADR are increasingly being used within the legal system and advocated as a means of removing cases from overburdened courts. In appropriate cases they can provide an alternative to legal adjudication and can be used as a means of achieving satisfactory solutions to disputes. The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the processes of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and its relationship to law. The course will cover processes such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation and will provide students with a foundational knowledge of ADR which can then be developed in their professional practice. The module will comprise both theoretical and skills based elements. Students will consider the rationale and ethics of ADR before being introduced to some of the practical skills used in these processes. The study and practice of ADR will be undertaken in the context of a range of legal subject areas, including commercial law, family law and employment law.

Tribunal Representation

Year: 2

This module aims through a combination of lectures and practical exercises to enable trainees to further develop their own professional practice in relation to employment and social security matters. The module aims to develop a student's ability to apply and further develop the knowledge and practical skills gained in prior and concurrent modules. The module will encourage discussion of rationales and consequences of each available course of action in any given scenario, and students will be encouraged to critique solutions to any issues identified as arising from their choice(s). It is anticipated that students will examine the impact of the rules and procedures involved and their tactical application in practice with a view to developing their own individual work practice.

Standard 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.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must hold a degree in law or human resource management, or a degree with significant law content or a non law degree or non human resource degree but with appropriate work experience or equivalent or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation or prior experiential learning

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.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

Graduates often use this qualification to secure promotion with existing employers, to secure higher-level promotion elsewhere or to establish themselves as independent practitioners.

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025
  • January 2026

Fees and funding

2025/26 Fees

Postgraduate fees are subject to annual review, 2025/26 fees will be announced in due course.

See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2024/25 entry.

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

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

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


For more information visit

Disclaimer

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Testimonials

"This is easily the most comprehensive, pragmatic and worthwhile course currently on offer. It brings together the 'best of the best' practitioners in the jurisdiction and affords students an unparalleled opportunity to blend academic excellence with commercial experience and application. We are and have been delighted to support this initiative."
Gareth Walls, Partner, A&L Goodbody (Guest lecturer)

“This course is a truly unique post graduate course with a focus on skills and capacity building finely balanced with applied learning, real life context and expert practitioner input. This inspired blend makes for a learning experience like no other currently offered, it is truly a tailored added value product that everyone has been crying out for.”
Mark McAllister, Senior Employment Relations Officer, Labour Relations Agency (Guest lecturer)

"This course boasts an outstanding range of practising lawyers, who are leaders in their respective fields. As such, this course gives students access to practical, first-hand knowledge of legal principles and unprecedented practical insight."
Laura Gillespie, Partner, Pinsent Masons (Guest lecturer)

“Very relevant, up to date and thought provoking”
Damian Rushe, Employment Relations Officer, LRA

“Useful and practical information which allows for interrogation and debate on current issues and problems relevant to me. I found the Recruitment and Selection sessions most valuable as it uses real life adverts, with relevant case law and very practical, logical ways to overcome potential problems.”
Dylan Loughlin, Employment Law Consultant, MCL Employment Law