Including a return to 3rd level education while pursuing a career break has been a gratifying decision. In this blog post, I will explore the unique experiences and challenges of being a part-time student studying a 2-year MSc programme at DCU Business School. From juggling life responsibilities to managing coursework and enjoying the perks of student life, I’ll share my experiences that have enhanced my personal and professional growth.

Even with the flexibility of time associated with a career break, being a part-time student still requires exceptional time management skills and a strong sense of dedication. Going back to education can seem daunting at first. Still, you quickly realise that it presents a valuable opportunity to explore pathways to enhance your career or to develop new career aspirations. Flexibility is perhaps the most significant advantage of being a part-time student. You have the freedom to design your study schedule. Attending the MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour combines lectures to a single afternoon one day per week, meaning you can engage with the course material at your own pace, which allows the pursuit of both personal and academic goals simultaneously without compromising either.

The highlight of the MSc programme is the diverse and vibrant community of fellow students and faculty, all with a depth and breadth of professional experience from various industries. The classroom environment, facilitated by the lectures, encourages sharing experiences and insights and provides a fertile ground for networking and connection. Group projects, guest speakers, case study analysis, and modules taught in work and organisational psychology/behaviour facilitate ongoing collaboration throughout each module that enhances the learning experience.

I really engaged with the Strategy, Organisation, and Innovation module. Although I had over 25 years of business experience, I found the module a great refresher. The module improved my knowledge, understanding, and application of strategy as a subject. The module exposed many strategic issues that business face, both internally and externally. I valued the class discussions on the weekly case studies and readings, with the weekly comments posts encouraging me to develop my thinking throughout the module. I learned to be more objective and think critically about the reading material. A skill that has helped me throughout the first year with reading in support of group presentations, writing assignments, and developing a research proposal for the final year thesis.

Although being a part-time student is an enriching experience, it does come with a fair share of challenges. Time management, fatigue, and finding a healthy life-study balance can be demanding. However, challenges can be overcome with proper planning, self-determination, and knowing you have the support of your classmates and faculty in times of need.

DCU Business School offers a wealth of resources in support of part-time study. From a state-of-the-art library, online learning management system, and access to a broad set of research databases to career support services and academic and personal supports, all aimed at enhancing your learning and helping you succeed in your studies and career goals.

Personally, I found it valuable to maximise my time on campus by attending guest lectures at the university, joining several student social clubs and societies, and participating in extracurricular activities as a way to immerse myself in the vibrance of university life. Engaging with other students and faculty beyond the MSc programme added to the overall experience, creating great memories and a broader personal network.

Being a part-time student studying the MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour provides a unique opportunity for anybody on a career break for personal and professional growth. Despite the challenges, the rewards have been significant. Time management, programme flexibility, and engagement in university life are both fulfilling and enriching. Embrace the journey and make the most of the invaluable journey that awaits you in pursuing a part-time MSc in Work and Organisation Psychology/Behaviour at DCU Business School.

Author: David Flood, MSc in Work & Organisational Psychology / Behaviour

At Fitvision we focus on building healthy, happy and engaged teams and leaders.

We work closely with our clients to create a positive work environment with employee wellbeing as a foundational metric of success. We understand the impact that wellbeing initiatives have on the workforce and how best to foster engagement, productivity and efficiency through dynamic wellbeing strategies. Fitvision’s goal is to help enhance the sense of community within organisations through wellbeing.

I founded the company in 2014 and our head office is in Fitzwilliam Square South in Dublin 2. Our clients are situated across the UK, US, Asia and Europe and include Primark, Indeed, Oracle, Workhuman and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Fitvision’s services encompass physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and they are also supported through the Fitvision App, a platform which provides regular metrics and helpful resources to employees. These services include gym facility management; fitness classes; educational workshops and seminars; one to one coaching and leadership and team development programmes.

The MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour appealed to me as I felt this would enable us to further serve the range of clients we work with in Fitvision. Understanding the dynamics that may help or hinder the wellbeing of employees has been captured extensively throughout the various modules within the MSc and I have already taken so much value from the course. The fact many of the lecturers have also worked as consultants to organisations adds another layer to the course, where they bring real world examples and match it to the academic literature. The assignments are very practical also and allow you to apply your current working context to the various frameworks covered within the modules. I have found this aspect extremely beneficial as a business owner. There is a direct correlation between the topics covered on the course and how you can then apply that knowledge to enhance your own current role.

I would highly recommend the MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour.

Author: Mark O’Reilly, Founder of Fitvision & Leaders Connect

View programme page: Msc in Work & Organisational Psychology / Behaviour

I was a student on the MSc in Work in Organisational Psychology/Behaviour with DCU Business School throughout 2017-2019, graduating with a first-class honours in 2019. Almost two years since graduating, this was a welcome opportunity to reflect on that journey and how this programme has shaped my approach to work and my career.

I was at the beginning of my career in quality assurance and enhancement in higher education when I applied for the master’s programme in 2017. I pursued the programme from the outset because I wanted to progress my career with a strong foundation in leadership, motivation and strategy theory and practical skills. Four years since I initially applied for the programme, I am now using the knowledge and skills I acquired to establish a new team in my organisation.

My previous studies were also in psychology in NUIG, so it’s not surprising that I loved learning the theory around organisational psychology and work motivation. I often find myself returning to look at theoretical models when I need to think critically about organisational dynamics and how to engage and motivate my peers in projects. Key takeaways from our talent management, systemic coaching and strategy modules have informed my work at a national level including publication in Ireland’s Yearbook of Education 2019/2020  and 2020/2021 editions.

My thesis was, without a doubt, my favourite piece of work to complete as part of the programme under the supervision of Prof Finian Buckley. It was a challenging piece of work but also hugely rewarding as I came away feeling like I had had masterclasses in my own discipline from conducting interviews with leaders in my field and analysing the findings. The process generally gave me the opportunity to position my professional role within the organisational literature and contextualise what I had been studying in a hands on, tangible format. 

On a more personal note, I found that the programme gave me a stable base to build my confidence in the early stages of my career when I was trying to carve my own professional identity and career path. Getting to study and engage in lively discussions and debates with peers across a huge variety of careers and experience was fantastic and was a springboard for both life-long friendships and a diverse professional network.

Overall, I found the course incredibly engaging and the faculty, with particular thanks to Prof Yseult Freeney and Dr Lisa van der Werff, hugely supportive throughout the two years and beyond. It has given me the combined theoretical and practical foundation that I was seeking to underpin the next phase of my career and also expanded my personal and professional networks. 

Wishing the best of luck to future cohorts!

Author: – Ruth Ní Bheoláin, Quality Assurance and Enhancement Manager, Hibernia College

Aoife Kelly-Cooney, a second year Masters student, studying an MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour at DCU Business School, writes about online trust for businesses who are increasing their online presence and activities in the wake of COVID-19.

COVID-19 has irrevocably changed how we work. St Patrick’s Day and the mutterings about its proceedings, with cases growing daily in Ireland, feels like a distant memory.  Most of us went home that week.  Most of us remain at home.

It would be remiss to say that the change has been all bad, particularly from a work perspective.  Gone are the commutes, the packed buses and darts, the hours wasted in meetings that could have been emails.  Gone too, are the spontaneous conversations in the shared kitchenette over an 11am coffee, the camaraderie of colleagues leading to innovation and collaboration. Increasingly, however, we hear reports of teams pulling together and going above and beyond the usual call of duty to work through this earth-shattering pandemic.  And, where COVID-19 has created a void in our lives, the internet has been there to help fill it, providing us with the tools we need to communicate and work effectively.

In spite of its benefits, the internet is a widely unregulated space and most of us understand the naivety of unfaltering trust in the internet.  Online trust significantly impacts consumer behaviour, and is a key obstacle to commercial success on the internet (Chen & Barnes, 2007).  This issue of trust, for even the most reputable businesses, may, for reasons including a sense of increased risk (Li et al., 2014), be more significant online.  Ultimately, opportunities presented to businesses by the internet may be appealing but, without the prerequisite trust, could be doomed to failure.

So, what can we do then with the information that we have?  Although trust may be slower to build in online relationships, research shows that final levels of trust are the same over time (Law, 2013).  The development of online trust is, therefore, a worthwhile pursuit for businesses, one that is easier to achieve than we may have first imagined.

Setting Your Business Apart:
Differentiation through the cultivation of trust is key to online business success in a crowded market.  Where there is no pre-existing relationship with the business, the initial information-searching and choice stages are critical (Li et al., 2014).  Investments in SEO may bring your business up the rankings on Google but, when you get that longed-for click into your site, how trustworthy do you appear to your potential customers and clients?

With regard to design, the appearance and user experience of a site is essential in the attraction of potential customers and clients and signals the trustworthiness of a site (Briggs et al., 2002).  In addition, two types of online trust assurances can be readily adopted by businesses (Li et al., 2014): (1) “general” trust assurances, which are often provided by third-party organisations (e.g. review websites such as Trustpilot ), and (2) “specific” trust assurances which can be provided by the business themselves (e.g. refund policies). Competence is considered to be of equal importance to integrity in the cultivation of trust (Bluckert, 2005) and digital copies of business certifications along with testimonials, from previous and existing clients, can also be included to aid online trust cultivation.

Engaging with the Customer / Client:
COVID-19 has seen us adapt to different ways of communicating.  Video conferencing was a novelty for many at the outset, serving to bring us together for innumerable catch-ups and quiz nights.  Now that we are settling into our increasingly online lives, there is ample opportunity for innovative use of the internet for business communications.  Whether as a stand alone or part offering, there are marked advantages online: asynchronous exchanges (i.e. email) prove flexible and convenient, whereas synchronous exchanges (i.e. video-conferencing) provide the benefit of immediacy (Law, 2013) and increased connection between physically separate users (Deniers, 2019).

In times of deep uncertainty, such as the one being experienced at present, businesses must show that they can adapt.  Outside the context of the global pandemic, our society had already been profoundly changed by widespread internet use (Geissler et al., 2014).  Rather than being an inflexible tool by which we are restricted, the internet can serve to broaden parameters, and exists as a passport to an enhanced future of work for those who choose to embrace its value.

● Bluckert, P. (2005). Critical factors in executive coaching – the coaching relationship.Industrial and Commercial Training, 37(7), 336-340.
● Briggs, P., Burford, B., De Angeli, A., & Lynch, P. (2002). Trust in online advice. Social Science Computer Review, 20(3), 321-332.Chen, Y., & Barnes, S. (2007). Initial trust and online buyer behaviour. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 107(1), 21-36.
● Chen, Y., & Barnes, S. (2007). Initial trust and online buyer behaviour. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 107(1), 21-36.
● Deniers, C. (2019). Experiences of receiving career coaching via skype: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 17(1), 72-81.
● Geissler, H., Hasenbein, M., Kanatouri, S., & Wegener, R. (2014). E-coaching: Conceptual and empirical findings of a virtual coaching programme. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 12(2), 165-187.
● Law, H. (2013) The Psychology Of Coaching, Mentoring And Learning (2). Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 19-21.
● Li, H., Jiang, J., & Wu, M. (2014). The effects of trust assurances on consumers’ initial online trust: A two-stage decision-making process perspective. International Journal of Information Management, 34(3), 395-405.

Jennifer Grogan, Chartered Organisational Psychologist, gives us an insight into how completing the MSc in Work & Organisational Psychology in DCU Business School helped move her career forward.

I had worked in a HR role for over a decade and it was during this time that I decided to return to college as a mature student.  I undertook and completed a BA in psychology by night before continuing on to do a postgraduate diploma in HRM, followed by the MSc. in Work & Organisational psychology at DCU.

I signed up to do the Masters on a part-time basis and really enjoyed the way the course was structured.  It was delivered by a superb range of lecturers across a wide range of modules – each demonstrated a depth of knowledge in their subject matter areas.

For my own personal learning, I particularly enjoyed the leadership module by Dr. Melrona Kirrane, as it provided an opportunity to reflect on the impact of different leadership styles and the psychodynamics at play – which I find fascinating!

Completing my studies at DCU provided me with the opportunity to apply my knowledge on related projects at work and develop new skills.  This in turn gave me the confidence to consider and apply for new roles.  Since graduating from the course, I was successful in acquiring a new position as a Work & Organisational psychologist at ESB and working within the area of health, safety and well-being.

Finally, the course enabled me to become a Chartered Work & Organisational psychologist, with the support of my lecturers and supervised work experience – which I am grateful for!

The MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology/Behaviour at DCU Business School is the longest running specialised programme in Ireland delivering organisational psychology education.

The programme emphasises collaborative and participative team learning, and draws heavily on the experiences and insights of participants rather than on the lecturer as expert.

The programme produces professionally qualified organisational psychologists and organisational behaviour specialists who can make significant contributions to organisations wishing to achieve optimal performance.