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Higher Diploma in Children's Nursing Registered Children's Nurse (RCN)

Key Facts

Course Code: DPGNM-CNUR-1F09

Duration: 1 year full-time

Next Intake: Applications for the 2020-21 academic year will open on 1 October 2019

Closing date for applications:

Location: 24 D'Olier Street

Fees: Further information on course fees can be found at Academic Registry.

Applications for the 2020-21 academic year will open on 1 October 2019


The course aims to develop and expand knowledge, skills and values in nurses towards infants, children, young people and family as a unit in society. It is designed to equip nurses to deliver primary health care, acute, rehabilitative and palliative care as required and to foster the process of continuing education and research in children’s nursing practice. The student is both an employee of the National Children’s Hospital (Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24) and a registered student of Trinity College Dublin for the duration of the course. Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be eligible to apply to be entered onto the register held by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland as a Registered Children’s Nurse (RCN)

Structure & Delivery

Programme Structure

The post registration Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing course (Level 8) takes place over one full year (52 weeks) commencing in September. The programme consists of 12 theoretical weeks divided over three semesters; Michaelmas  Hilary and Trinity, 40 weeks clinical practice experience that spans medical / surgical nursing, high dependency, specialist nursing and community experience with 4 weeks annual leave. Students undertake eight compulsory modules; (five theoretical modules and three clinical modules) that are run sequentially throughout the year. All modules are grounded in a body of evidence-based caring knowledge that promotes excellence in children’s nursing practice. The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) requires 100% attendance (both clinical and theoretical) for all students pursuing the Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing Course.

Course Structure

The purpose of the course is to enable students to develop essential nursing knowledge, skills and values necessary to care for and support children, young people and their families to the highest professional standards across the health care continuum in all healthcare settings.

Five theory modules are as follows:

  • Fundamental Concepts of Children’s and Young People’s Nursing
  • Evidence Based Nursing Care of Children, Young People and Families in Illness
  • Contemporary Evidence and Research for Children, Young People and their families
  • Evidence Based Approaches to Adolescent Health in Young People’s Nursing
  • Evidence Based Approaches to Health, Well-being and Care in Children’s Nursing

Three clinical modules are as follows:

  • Clinical Skills for Children's Nursing Practice (Medical Nursing Placement 1)
  • Clinical Skills for Children's Nursing Practice (Surgical Nursing Placement 2)
  • Clinical Skills for Children's Nursing (Specialist Nursing Placement 3)

The School of Nursing and Midwifery has teaching facilities in D’Olier Street, Dublin, The Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James’s Hospital. Children’s specific clinical skills classes are taught in the clinical laboratories in the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James’s Hospital. Classes are also delivered in The Centre for Learning and Development in Tallaght Hospital. Clinical practice placements take place throughout the year in varying sites that include National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght and Temple Street Children's University Hospital in addition to diverse community settings.

The programme is assessed by a variety of methods including academic essays, assignments, coursework, a poster and oral presentation requiring the student to demonstrate application of module content childrens’ nursing, examinations and a literature review. Practice placements are assessed throughout the year.

Careers and Development

Higher Diploma Children’s Nursing graduates can work and specialise in a number of areas such as Neonatal Nursing, Intensive Care, Theatre, Emergency Department Nursing.  
Postgraduate specialist programmes that children’s nurses can pursue and an MSc in Child Health and Wellbeing. It is anticipated that the new children’s hospital will develop many new opportunities for children’s nurses to progress in their career pathways.
Post graduate Open Day

Please check the TCD Admissions website for information on the next scheduled Post Graduate Open Day. Please come along and visit us, the Children's Nursing team will be very happy to talk with you and answer any queries about children's nursing as a rewarding career choice for you.


There are no scholarships available for this programme at the moment.


Tuition Fees for the H. Dip. in Children's Nursing for EU students are €13,122.
Fees are paid by the HSE through Tallaght Hospital subject to meeting contract of employment criteria and when enrolment process has been completed.For the duration of the course, students will be employees of the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght, Dublin 24. In the event of withdrawal or a student being unsuccessful, the HSE will request repayment of fees from the course.

Additional incurred student fees

Consist of an online application fee for direct applications to the University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin is €55 per application. This payment must be made online following the instructions on the application form. The online application processing fee is non-refundable. The application will not be submitted to Trinity College Dublin until the application fee is paid in full.

Other expenses

There are nominal mandatory fees that apply to students (not hospital) and to be paid by the student when registering.  

Entry Requirement

Nurses applying for the programme must satisfy the following entry criteria:

  1. Be on at least one of the following divisions of the register as held by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland: General Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing and Intellectual Disability Nursing.
  2. Be on the active register as held by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.
  3. Have at least six months of full-time post-registration clinical nursing experience.
  4. Have relevant academic qualifications which satisfy admission requirements for the programme.
  5. Have Garda Clearance for working with children and adolescent.

Selection and recruitment of candidates thereafter is on the basis of performance at interview.

Documentation required to complete application

It is a good idea for those considering making an application to do some preparatory work. You will be required to submit the following documents with your application:

  • ABA Pin No
  • Certified copies of your educational awards (Parchments).
  • Certified copies of your educational transcripts.
  • Details of your professional experience
  • 1 Academic reference
  • 2 Clinical references

Note: Official academic transcripts can take weeks to receive, particularly if sent from overseas.


All applicants to the School of Nursing and Midwifery whose first language is not English or who have not been educated through the medium of English must present one of the following qualifications in the English language:

  • IELTS: Grade 6.5 overall with a minimum of grade of 6 in each category
  • TOEFL: 88 internet-based, 570 paper-based, 230 computer-based. The test taken here should be TOEFL IBT
  • University of Cambridge: 
    Proficiency Certificate, Grade C or better (CEFR Level C1 or C2) 
    Advanced Certificate, Grade C or better (CEFR Level C1 or C2)
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE Academic: a minimum score of 63 to be eligible (with no section score below 59)
  • An award certificate with a minimum II.1 overall score from Trinity's Centre for English Language Learning and Teaching's Pre-sessional Pathway Programme

Please note that test scores are only valid for two years.

For further details on these English Language Proficiency Tests, please contact the appropriate organisation directly.

Hear from our graduates

The Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing in Trinity College was the most enjoyable year of both academia and clinical practice that I have completed. The lecturers in TCD School of Nursing & Midwifery were extremely supportive and knowledgeable. Due to the small class size, the lectures were interactive and engaging. The clinical skills tutorials prepared me for the clinical setting, including the use of simulation classes. I felt supported throughout the completion of assessments, in particular the literature review, with meetings with a facilitator leading up to its submission. The clinical aspect of the course in the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght was also a fantastic learning experience. The staff within the NCH were great at teaching students and were always approachable. The range of placements was varied and provided a great insight into children’s nursing. I’m delighted I chose to complete my Higher Diploma in TCD. 

Niamh Gunning, Higher Diploma in Children's Nursing Student. Sept 2017-2018

From doing the higher diploma in Children's nursing I have achieve my goal of becoming a competent, hard-working and caring children's nurse. This came with the help of a comprehensive course, and a diligent team of lecturers in the nursing department of Trinity College. Under the guidance of the lecturers, the course helped me develop many different skills and expand my knowledge to a higher level to previous. The expert lecturers gave me a better understanding of how to be a conscientious nurse with evidence base knowledge, and how to research for the most update evidence. This higher diploma changed my outlook and understanding as a nurse and a person. I would highly recommend any nurse to undertake this course as not everyone gains self-worth when doing the daily job. I feel privileged to be a children's nurse.

Michelle Dillon, Higher Diploma in Children's Nursing Student, 2012-2013

I completed my Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing in 2008/2009.  Prior to that I had worked as an RGN specialising in renal nursing for 6 years. Whilst my previous experience in adult nursing stood to me, you have to forget everything you think you know about nursing children and their families, be prepared to learn a completely new approach to nursing care and take advantage of every opportunity to learn and participate, both in the classroom and on clinical placement.   Children's nursing was completely new territory for me but by the end of my HDip year, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, and still can’t.  It is such a privilege to care for children and their families at a very worrying time in their lives and to feel that you are making a difference and helping them. I thoroughly enjoyed my HDip year, I made friends for life in my classmates and although starting a completely new discipline was daunting at the beginning, the training and support I received from TCD, my course co-ordinator and all the lecturers was invaluable in helping prepare myself and my classmates for the reality of life as a children's nurse.

Blaize Whelan, Higher Diploma in Children's Nursing Student, Sept 2008-2009

I think that all the lecturers at TCD and staff in the National Childrens Hospital prepared and guided me to competently care for children. The course helped me to expand my knowledge and skills in nursing to care for children and their families. The mentoring during placement was excellent and really assisted me to develop new skills with a string focus on family centred care. It is a really quick 52 weeks but the course layout is manageable and the support from staff is excellent. I really enjoyed this course it prepared very well for children's nursing and assisted me to develop my career further.'

Sorcha Hannify, Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing Student, Sept 2008-2009


When and how do you advertise?

This course is advertised in the National Press in November and on the School of Nursing and Midwifery website

What is the closing date for application?

Closing date for applications: 31st of March each year

How do I apply for the Course?

Applications must be made online at  Completed applications will be processed through the Academic Registry, University of Dublin, Trinity College.

Entry Criteria

Students must be registered, or be eligible to register, in one of the three disciplines in nursing- general, psychiatry, intellectual disability nursing and have 6 months post registration experience since initial registration is required. Students must have a Diploma in Nursing, or a TCD access to Nursing programme or a Degree in Nursing. Prospective students must have Garda clearance for working with children and adolescents. All applicants must present an English language qualification. Accepted/Permitted English language qualifications available at

Is Prior Learning recognised?

Student’s prior experiences are acknowledged and developed where possible throughout the teaching/learning processes however there is no formal accreditation for prior learning.

Selection and recruitment of candidates

All candidates are selected on the basis of application and performance at Interview. Short listing for interview is made on the basis of applicants fulfilling academic and professional entry requirements.

Where and when do interviews take place?

Interviews take place in National Children’s Hospital Tallaght between May and June each year.

Who sits on the Interview Panel?

Interview panels are made up jointly of staff from Trinity College Dublin and The National Children’s Hospital.

When will I expect to hear outcome of interview?

Successful candidates will be informed by a designate member of The National Children’s Hospital. A panel is set up in the event that places offered are not accepted.

What is the pass mark for theory modules?

The pass mark for all theoretical modules is 50%.

What learning resources are available to me as a student?

Students have full access to all services within Trinity Library and IT facilities. Online/Virtual Learning Environment (e.g. Moodle/Blackboard) support student learning.

What academic student support services are available in TCD?

Student support services include: Health Service – Student Clinics, Student Counselling Service, Chaplaincy, Day Nursery, Mature Students Officer, Access Services, Disability Service, Academic Registry, Learning Supports and the Postgraduate Advisory Service. The centre for Academic Practice and eLearning (CAPSL) provides resources and services to students to help them make the most of their time in Trinity College Dublin. College Health, Dean of Students, Equality Office, Junior Dean and Registrar of Chambers. Mature Students Office, Mental Health Forum, Sport, Student Charter (PDF 815 KB), Trinity Access Programmes (TAP), Student Counselling Student Learning Development, Student Parent Supports, Student2Student, TCD Finance, Wellbeing, Mental Health Forum * Sports Centre

What is the pass mark for clinical modules?

The pass mark for all clinical placements is PASS

What clinical supports exist in clinical areas ?

All students are orientated to the course and require ongoing support. Students receive academic and clinical support from a variety of educational and clinical personnel. These include Course Co-ordinator, Lecturers, Clinical Co-ordinator, Nurse Practice Development Co-ordinator, Preceptors, Clinical Nurse Managers and Staff Nurses.

How is the Course assessed?

The course is assessed by a variety of methods including academic essays, assignments, coursework, a poster and oral presentation requiring the student to demonstrate application of module content childrens’ nursing, examinations and a literature review. Practice placements are assessed throughout the year in accordance with Standards and Requirements for Children’s Nursing (NMB1, 2015) .

What happens in the event of sick leave and or any other type of leave?

The total number of hours of interruptions must be repaid in full in order for the course to be deemed complete and prior to registration as a RCN.  This includes the repayment of all leave, for example, sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, compassionate leave, force majeure leave and any special leave. All absences from the clinical area will be calculated in hours by the Clinical Co-ordinator (NCH) at the end of the course. Clinical assessments will be deemed incomplete if the required attendance and the appropriate competency level are not achieved. Repaying time to the clinical area will be arranged by the Clinical Co-ordinator (NCH) in collaboration with the Clinical Nurse Manager of the appropriate clinical area.

Why Trinity for Post Graduate Specialist Nursing?

International Reputation Trinity is Ireland’s top ranked university, and the only Irish university in the world top 100 universities (QS World University Rankings 2018/19). The School of Nursing and Midwifery is ranked 41st in the world in the recent QS (QS World University Rankings 2018/19) with International recognition of academic staff that have specialized in children’s nursing practice.

Trinity Education Trinity offers an exceptional educational experience centred on a research-inspired curriculum. Course includes diverse modules and the chance to become involved in research activities. The School of Nursing and Midwifery has a significant history of producing exceptional graduates in practice, education and research. There is a strong cohesive relationship with our clinical partners The National Children’s Hospital and other affiliated sites.

Location Trinity is situated in the heart of Dublin's city centre, at the centre of the country's transport hub, in a beautiful campus which contains a wonderful mix of modern and historic facilities (including the country's largest research library).

Student Supports Supports include a wide range of learning supports to aid your transition from second to third-level, an excellent Careers Advisory Service to help you find employment and an Alumni Career Network for support after you have left College.

Diversity of Students Our students come from every county in Ireland (with over 50% from outside Dublin) and all socio-economic backgrounds. Our international students represent 118 different nationalities.
Student Life Trinity College offers students an unparalleled experience, with 120 societies and 48 sports clubs waiting for you to join them in Front Square during Freshers' Week, course-specific social events for you to get to know your new classmates, not to mention the legendary Trinity Ball.