Graduate Diploma Cancer Nursing (Adult, Breast, Children, Colorectal)

The Graduate Diploma in Cancer Nursing is an academic and clinically based programme designed for students who wish to deepen and broaden their knowledge and expertise in cancer care in order to provide safe, effective and holistic care to people with cancer. There are four strands in this programme (Adult Cancer Nursing, Breast Care Nursing, Children’s Cancer Nursing, and Colorectal Nursing). Students undertaking the programme will choose one of these strands. Established in 1988 at diploma level, the UCD Cancer Nursing programme was the first specialist course in oncology nursing in Ireland. Over the years, hundreds of oncology nurses throughout the country have successfully completed what is now a Graduate Diploma in Cancer Nursing.

Who is the programme for?

The programme is aimed at advancing the registered nurse’s repertoire of knowledge and skills in Cancer Nursing; it is particularly aimed at preparing the nurse to assume the role of clinical nurse specialist in their chosen speciality - Adult, Breast, Children or Colorectal Nursing.

Course Features
  • The UCD Cancer Nursing programme now offers 4 specific strands of which students can choose to undertake one: Adult Cancer Nursing strand, Children’s Cancer Nursing strand, Breast Care Nursing and Colorectal Nursing.
  • All of the teaching is undertaken by those who have national and/or international expertise in cancer care including, clinical and research expertise. 
  • Supernumery student placements and continuous assessments encourage and enable students to broaden and deepen their expertise in cancer nursing over the course of the programme.
Aims of the Programme

The programme aims to develop the practitioner’s capacities for caring and competent practice in Cancer Nursing, in order to prepare the nurse to provide patient-centred care within the health service.

The specific aims of the programme are:

  • To build upon and advance the student’s repertoire of knowledge, skills, attitudes and professional values that were developed during the course of his/her basic training and arising out of his/her experiences in clinical practice
  • To provide the student with the requisite knowledge, skills, attitudes and professional values for the advancement of his/her role in the care of patients, including critical analysis, creative thinking, decision making and communication
  • To develop a greater understanding of the theory which underpins Cancer Nursing Practice including theory in the social and behavioural sciences and theory in the biomedical sciences
  • To provide learning experiences that advance the student’s professional development and personal growth and experiences that affirm the student’s capacity to be a self-directed learner
  • To advance the student’s sense of professional awareness, and commitment and a sense of professional responsibility and accountability in Cancer Nursing
  • To enable the student to value learning as a continuous process and as a necessary process in the context of his/her professional role in Cancer Nursing
What will I learn?

The curriculum is designed to enhance your knowledge and skills with respect to the holistic assessment and management of patients. 

How will I benefit?
On successful completion of the programme, you will receive a Graduate Diploma in Cancer Nursing. This is a highly regarded qualification for nurses caring for patients in Ireland.

Information Technology

It is essential that you have access to a personal computer and an email account as communication with students is primarily undertaken by email. Lecture handouts/announcements are made available to students via Blackboard (a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that supports online learning and teaching) and/or via email. Messages from the university regarding examination policy and procedures are also sent via email.

Programme structure

Assessments are varied (assignments/short examination questions/MCQ/case presentation and clinical assessments (Clinical Competency Assessment Tool, Clinical Learning Outcomes, a practical examination (OSCE)) and occur at intervals throughout and at the end of the trimesters.

There are four strands available in this programme (Adult Cancer Nursing, Breast Care Nursing, Children’s Cancer Nursing, and Colorectal Nursing)

Please click on the following link for detals of the Gradute Diploma Cancer Nursing (Adult) strand:


Please click on the following link for detais of the Graduate Diploma Cancer Nursing (Breast Care) strand:

Please click on the following link for detals of the Gradute Diploma Cancer Nursing (Children's) strand:

Please click on the following link for detals of the Gradute Diploma Cancer Nursing (Colorectal) strand:

Full and Part-Time options are available for each strand:
 - The full-time programme (X546) involves one (academic) year, broken down into two trimesters.
 - The part-time option (X747) involves two (academic) years. You will complete the two core modules in Year One and the relevant specialist modules in Year Two

List of core modules:

  • Nursing Knowledge: Phil & Prac (Autumn Trimester)
  • Research Methods Applied to Healthcare (Spring Trimester)

List of specialist modules:

  • Fundamentals of Cancer Care 
  • Psychological Impact Of Chronic Illness (PICI) and
  • Adult Cancer Nursing
  • Clinical Practicum (Adult Cancer Nursing)  or
  • Breast Care Nursing 
  • Clinical Practicum (Breast Care) or
  • Children's Cancer Nursing
  • Clinical Practicum (Children's Cancer Nursing) or
  • Colorectal Nursing
  • Clinical Practicum (Colorectal Nursing)
Careers/where can I go?

Possessing a broad and deep understanding of the theory and skills required for caring for patients with cancerous conditions, you will be well positioned to work in a variety of settings specialising in your chosen area both nationally and internationally. As the programme is particularly aimed at preparing nurses to assume the role of clinical nurse specialist, many nurses eventually take up CNS positions and some may undertake further study required for the role of ANP in Adult, Breast, Childrens or Colorectal care. Many nurses also proceed to assume CNM/Educational/Clinical Facilitator roles.

Entry requirements
  • Applicants must hold a primary degree in Nursing (or equivalent in related discipline)/APEL consideration if no degree
  • Applicants must be entered onto the appropriate division of the Nurses Register maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) (be registered as an RGN)
  • Other criteria to be used in the assessment of the application include number of years of experience, and evidence of ongoing professional development
Specific requirements
  • Applicants must have at least one year’s experience in nursing in their specialist area at time of attendance
  • Applicants must be employed in a unit in their specialist area (focusing on cancer and benign conditions) or related specialist setting prior to commencing the course and for duration of the course
Documents to be submitted with your application


  • Original transcript(s) including date and grading of degree award (non UCD Graduates only) & notarised English translations where relevant
  • Nurse applicants: A current photocopy of NMBI registration
  • Copy of Birth Certificate or Personal Page of Passport
  • Signed Declaration Form from Employer (original form)
  • Completed Professional Reference Form (original form)
  • Nurse applicants: Completed Clinical Competence Assessor Nomination Form signed by the nominee
  • Evidence of proficiency in English language (applicants whose first language is not English)
How to apply

Applications are made online through UCD Applications. ​Applicants may be required to undertake an interview (either face-to-face or via telecommunication) as part of the admission process.

Please note that all applicants are required to pay a €50 application fee. Your application cannot be processed fully unless the application fee has been paid.

Apply online


The fees for your programme can be found at the links below. Search using your major code (the four-digit code beginning with 'X' which can be found in the key information box on this page).

Please note that UCD fees are subject to change annually. The fees shown include the student centre levy which must be paid by all students. 

If you are being funded to do your programme, please make sure your organisation gets in contact with Please note that all applicants are required to pay the €50 application fee. Your application cannot be processed fully unless the application fee has been paid.

More information about fees is available on the UCD website at the link below:

If you have any queries about your fees, please contact:

Recognised Prior Learning

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) applications must be submitted online through your SISWeb account.

There are two instances in which you can apply to have recognised prior learning taken into account when applying for a programme in UCD.

1. RPL for admission to a UCD programme

If you are a prospective student seeking admission to UCD and you do not meet the required admissions criteria as set down for a particular programme of study in UCD, you may apply to be admitted based on prior learning.

2. RPL for exemption from a module or modules on a UCD programme

If you have been accepted onto a UCD programme and wish to have credit transferred towards the requirements of the UCD programme of study, you may apply for RPL from a module or modules.

When applying for RPL, please note the following:

  • You must submit your application for RPL as early as possible and preferably before you commence the relevant module/stage/programme.
  • An application for RPL relating to a particular module should be submitted before the third week of the trimester in which it is offered. Applications made after this date will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances.
  • Your application will be reviewed by the Taught Graduate Standing Committee and Programme Board. You can expect to hear of the outcome or status of your application typically within four to six weeks of submitting it (depending on committee schedules).
  • Please note that in some cases your application may not be successful or you may not receive RPL for the amount of credit for which you applied, therefore you must register for, attend and participate in the module or modules until you have been informed of the decision of the School Programme Board.
  • If your application is not successful, you are responsible for all assessments associated with the module.


Please read the UCD Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning at this link: UCD Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning

Frequently Asked Questions