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My UL story: What to expect from a Postgrad in Education and Health Sciences (Lizzie Kavanagh)

At the University of Limerick, students come first – whether that's with student-led teaching in state-of-the-art classes and tutorial groups, or the university's award-winning Cooperative Education & Careers Division.

Indeed, for student Lizzie Kavanagh, it was this welcoming attitude and the myriad facilities that helped her choose UL on the back of an undergrad in DCU.

The Education and Health Sciences faculty’s close industry ties is a key attraction, and UL works with leaders in health to develop modules at the frontier of new innovations in medical equipment and solutions to healthcare.

In the Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, the University of Limerick offers qualifications in four departments: the School of Allied Health, Nursing & Midwifery, Physical Education & Sport Sciences and Psychology, along with two schools, the Graduate Entry Medical School and the School of Education.

Life after undergrad

The University of Limerick provided a direct route to the career Lizzie had wanted to pursue since completing her Leaving Cert exams: occupational therapy.

“I didn't get the points for it, so I studied Health & Society as my undergraduate degree,” she recalls. “Then I took a year out while I did the Health Professions Admissions Test (the HPAT). There are only 30 places for the Masters in Occupational Therapy – and there's only one course, in the University of Limerick.”

The MSc in Occupational Therapy is a two-year, full-time course that produces graduates with a qualification accredited by the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland and recognised by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists.

Graduates will be qualified to practise both in Ireland and abroad, across a range of environments including schools, hospitals and community settings.

For Lizzie, pursuing the MSc in Occupational Therapy as a postgraduate, rather than going straight into Occupational Therapy after her Leaving Cert, has been a blessing in disguise.

“I got another perspective in my undergrad,” she confides. “Doing this as a postgrad gives me an opportunity to bring different perspectives to my qualification. There are people on my course who've done marketing, people who haven't been in college for eight years, but bring other experiences to the table.

“With Occupational Therapy, you really have to look at the whole 360 degrees; I feel like, as a postgraduate student, I have more empathy, more skills and more experience to bring to the course.”

Hands-on experience and transferrable knowledge

The course, according to Lizzie, is definitely one in which you're thrown in at the deep end – although, she admits, it's not quite clear whether or not there is a shallow end. “It's really compact, because it's only a two-year course, so it's quite heavily loaded,” she says. “I'm only in my first year, but I was on placement just last week.”

Work placement offers students not only the first-hand experience of working in a real-life setting, but also puts them in contact with Occupational Therapists who can share their knowledge and skills.

“The Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI) has already been in to us, to talk us through employment. The AOTI is there for us to join and it offers a lot of support,” says Lizzie. “We go in front of a board to get a public job, then it's a matter of, however well you did on the interview, you'll be put on a panel.”

UK vs UL: Why settle on Limerick?

While the University of Limerick is the only Irish third-level institution offering the accelerated Masters in Occupational Therapy, Lizzie admits that she had considered undertaking the postgrad in the UK.

However, a big advantage in UL’s favour is the fact that the UL experience is designed so that students feel like individuals, rather than numbers – something reflected in the hands-on approach of staff, the 2,400 on-campus rooms available to students and the multi-purpose University Arena, which has earned UL the title of 'Ireland's Sporting Campus.'

“I thought, I'd like to do it in UL,” she says. “I applied for a loan to pay the fees (the course costs €6,000 per annum). I was determined to do it one way or another!”

When asked if she'd recommend the course, Lizzie is unequivocal. “It's tough, and it's go, go, go – but you get a good taste of it all. It's just two years, so you just get it done.”

Plus, she says, as a postgraduate student, you're in a better position to get down to it. “You're more mature. You know how to get the head down. You've written essays, you've got research methods, you have that groundwork done.”

  Why do a postgrad in Education and Health at UL?

UL’s postgraduate courses are developed and reviewed with industry leaders, to make sure our students have the most up-to-date skillsets for up-and-coming careers.

The University boasts exceptional facilities and the highest quality academic standards, all in the vibrant and affordable city of Limerick. Click below to download your eBook and discover why UL is the number one choice for your postgrad and future career.