Professional Diploma in Strategic Leadership for Healthcare Improvement and Innovation

This programme is one of a number of programmes offered by the UCD IRIS Centre for Interdisciplinary, Research, Innovation & Education in Health Systems and provides participants with important insights into the key principles, concepts and tools that support the design and implementation of strategies to build a sustainable culture of quality improvement and innovation. The programme is recognised at Level 9 on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) framework  and comprises two modules, Strategic Leadership for Healthcare Improvement  and Innovation, and Innovation in Healthcare: Local and Global. These modules can also be taken as stand-alone professional certificates:

Download the brochure (pdf)

Who is the programme for?

The programme is open to applicants from a range of professional backgrounds, clinical and managerial, who hold an appropriate honours bachelor's degree, or equivalent. 

Programme objectives

The aim of this programme is to help you acquire and apply knowledge and understanding to enhance improvement and innovation capacity in your organisation. 

What will I learn?

You will gain insight into developing and executing organisational strategy to build sustainable culture for creativity and innovation. You will apply systems and design thinking principles to contemporary healthcare challenges and critically evaluate their contribution. In addition, you will study conceptual frameworks, theories, models, case studies and research findings and consider how these can be applied to strengthen your own and your organisation's strategic thinking and innovatiive capacities. 

Programme structure and workshop dates

The programme comprises two modules, Strategic Leadership for Healthcare Improvement  and Innovation, and Innovation in Healthcare: Local and Global. It will be delivered through one-day workshops (four per module) and assessed through a variety of continuous assessment strategies. There will be no examinations. The workshops require a high-level of student engagement and comprise a series of exercises and activities that emphasise the critical evaluation of theory in practice.

(Please note that workshops take place on the dates below.   For 2021/22, the workshops will be held virtually by Zoom).

NMHS43610 Strategic Leadership for Healthcare Improvement and Innovation - 2022 dates

  • Wednesday 12 January (10am - 4.30pm)
  • Wednesday 09 February  (10am - 4.30pm)
  • Wednesday 09 March (10am - 4.30pm)
  • Wednesday 06 April (10am - 4.30pm)

NMHS43620 Innovations in Healthcare, Local and Global - 2022 dates

  • Wednesday 26 January (10am - 4.30pm)
  • Wednesday 23 February (10am - 4.30pm)
  • Wednesday 23 March (10am - 4.30pm)
  • Wednesday 11 May (10am - 4.30pm)


Student testimonials

Since they began in 2017, our programmes in Leadership, Innovation and Management have received consistently positive evaluations from students.

Below are extracts from students' evaluations

2017/18 cohort:

"Expands concept of innovation and belief in your own innovation capacity

"Enjoyable, real eye-opener, highly recommend" - "Everyone should take this course"

"Opens the mind to new learnng, gave me a language to voice my learning" - "Good class interaction and comradeship"

"Good team learning, high trust developed within group" - "Interesting materials and discussions"  - "Interactive learning, not traditional lecturing"

"Thank you for taking me on this amazing journey"

"Great course to open the mind to new ways of thinking, has made me think more positively about strategy and future"

"I look at my practice differently now" - "Everyone should be involved in strategy so everyone should take this course"

"Makes you think!" - "Broad coverage of topics, challenges assumptions, useful frameworks for future use"

"Good networking, great group, benefit of multidisciplinary group membership" - "The diversity of group was good. Different grades and professions brought different perspectives to discussions"

"Positive educational experience that can be used in practical terms" - "Great discussions"


2018/19 cohort:

"I have really learned so much in this course, which has changed the way I work and I approach work in a different way now"

"I learned the true concept of innovation and the tools needed to apply learning" - "Really interesting content, throughly enjoyed"

"Interactive, engaging and challenging module" - "Very interesting course, stimulating" - "Very good course, well presented"

"Relevant to practice" - "Opportunity to network and learn from other students"

"Lots of fun along the way!" - '"Course allows you to think outside the box and be really innovative"

"Challenges you to think differently, look at processes, services, dilemmas in a different way. Gives structure, tools to support innovation."

"Have met some great people on this course" - "I developed a really in-depth learning of key concepts...unlocks potential"

"Learned some very interesting concepts"

"Makes you broaden your thinking" - "Has opened my eyes to systems thinking, challenged my thinking"

"Thought-provoking, applicable to real world, new ideas and theories"

"Learned a new way of communicating using theories and concepts learned in class, empowered to back up plans and ideas"

"This course helped a lot in terms of looking at the organisational system, by understanding the theory and putting it into practice"

"Important subject matter that addresses a huge gap in the health system - huge learning"  - "Content very interesting"

"Blended learning approach much more engaging than didactic teaching approach" 

"Interesting concepts explored, have gained a good understanding of strategy, stepped outside my comfort

zone with class presentations and discussions"

"Opens up dialogue and strategic thinking, recommend module, sets out the tools for change and transformation"

2019/20 cohort:

"The teaching and reading provided during this course has changed my perspective on leadership, and particularly strategic leadership, forever."

"During the process of learning this course, I have come across various concepts which I believe if introduced and appropriately applied to healthcare organizations would result in positive long-lasting changes in the system"

"The programme dealt with key leadership concepts that can help to address and combat barriers to improved care and if adopted and applied could radically impact and transform the way healthcare systems operate leading to a future of multiple far-reaching transformative possibilities and opportunities."

"One of the most powerful lessons gleaned from the study of strategic leadership was to understand myself and my role within the organisation. My attitudes, values and beliefs have the ability to impact on how others react within the organisational environment.  How I carry myself, respond to others and situations in context will determine how objectives will be met and goals achieved.  Perceptions of myself and how others perceive me will also impact on leadership style. I must acknowledge that my values and habits have the capacity to limit my leadership style.  The ability to reflect and get a sense of perspective in the midst of change will assist with persistence and resilience."

"As a health care professional studying this course, I was able to understand my individual contribution through engagement and collaboration with other members of the health system. Moreover, studying the concepts in this course broadened my perspectives as an individual and views myself in others’ context, my dynamic roles in my organization and the complex and diverse healthcare system."

"I feel that I have learnt a lot from engaging with the materials and readings, and am committed to introducing the lessons learned into my own organisation and practice as a strategic leader."

"This module has really challenged me to think differently about my leadership."

"So much learning that took place in the classroom environment where open and sense-making dialogue occurred during each workshop. The course leader role modelled facilitation of 360° view and not just our own narrow perspective through questions, journals, books, web sites, videos and encouraged me to be innovative in my thinking and application of my learning."

"The course provides practical guidance on how we can improve relationships with each other, ultimately resulting in increased organisational success, avoidance of stress and burnout, while improving job satisfaction."

"Personally, I feel that the greatest lesson I have learned from this course is awareness of the many facets involved in strategic leadership as a concept and as a practice."

"The concepts have given me a more in-depth understanding of the demands of leadership in an organisation. They have also increased my consciousness of the various reactions I, or my colleagues, may have to certain situations and this has allowed me to pre-empt possibly negative responses and adapt toand overcome these challenges."

"Fom my engagement with this course, I came to realise that our greatest needs within the healthcare system are visionary, effective, and wise leaders."

"Ever since the engagement of my studies, ithas become more evident that every day can be a powerful opportunity to show others the leadership behaviours and values that we believe in"

"This course helped me to acquire extensive information about strategic leadership which aided me to improve my leadership style, while also coaching and mentoring teams to promote individual and organizational changes."

"The course on Innovations in Healthcare- Local and Global was an eye-opening learning experience for me that innovation creates opportunities and is critical for the survival, economic growth, and success of an organization."

"Many thanks for a well-resourced programme...I found it both invigorating and frustrating studying and working in an organisation that could benefit from  some of the material we covered."

"I am confident as a result of this course… that some of my learning … can be consolidated into a constructive platform for a more client-centric service."

"Now that we know what we can achieve in a time of a crisis and given the concepts that have been explored in this programme an opportunity now presents itself to us to redesign our model of healthcare through innovation at its core and to view the future of healthcare in a more optimistic light."

"Taking on this course, made me realise that innovation is not just a simple change of practice, it has wider aspiration for a wider vision, goals and objectives as a thinker, worker and professional with an aspiration to deliver services of a high quality especially in my profession as a healthcare provider."

"Prior to commencing this programme, I believed that my area of work was forward thinking and open to innovation, however I can now see that it is a forward-thinking area that has not developed strategy to carry out innovation initiatives."


Entry requirements

Honours Bachelor’s degree, or equivalent. 

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).

• EU fees information

• Non-EU fees information

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 the fees for your programme are being paid by a third party (full or partial), please ensure your funding organisation/sponsor/hospital contacts Please note this is not a student facing email address. 

Student Queries:

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

Application Fee:

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:

General information about UCD Fees

Recognised Prior Learning (RPL)

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