Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

MSc Loss & Bereavement

This programme aims to impact on health, social and community systems and ultimately to enhance quality of life.

Since 2004 RCSI has supported bereavement education programmes convened at the Irish Hospice Foundation.

During 2016/17 we revised the MSc Bereavement Studies and now open applications for two MSc variants – the MSc Loss & Bereavement and the MSc Loss & Bereavement (Counselling) with accreditation. These are a level 9 bereavement studies programmes.

This programme is rooted in contemporary scientific research about loss and bereavement as well as being designed against a policy and professional regulation backdrop. There is an increasing impetus in Irish policy on developing competence in loss/ bereavement and discussions about dying; these programmes address some of the associated educational needs.

The programme attracts participants from health, education, private and community sectors and aims to promote competence, understanding and application of research findings to bereavement care in Ireland and to develop expert educators. 

Applications are invited from representatives of a wide range of professional disciplines whose work or volunteering roles involve the provision or organisation of bereavement support care in community, health or other areas. 

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Aims and objectives

This programme aims to promote critical inquiry into the place of loss, death and bereavement in Irish society and in health and social care systems. Through this process we aim to equip practitioners and managers to promote and provide a range of appropriate supports in their communities, workplaces and professional practices.

Learning outcomes

  • Critically debate and contribute to theoretical understanding and knowledge about loss and grief across the lifecycle and grief support structures relating to health, community and work organisations and in the voluntary sector.
  • Evaluate different contemporary perspectives on death, dying and loss in society – including social history, cultural issues, cause and circumstance of death in contemporary Ireland, death education, loss through the life cycle, family bereavement, cultural issues, gender issues, research and ethical issues.
  • Critically appraise, apply and design bereavement research, audit and evaluation.
  • Critique, select and utilise support and counselling skills in the context of loss and bereavement.
  • Analyse the organisation of bereavement support and formulate strategic and systematic developments in bereavement care in different settings.
  • Develop and utilise advanced bereavement counselling skills as part of professional counselling practice.
  • Design models for self-care and staff support in environments where people are consistently working with or meeting dying, death and bereavement.
  • Manage and evaluate changes in work practices relative to an area of bereavement care.
  • Reflect on personal development and personal growth through the educational experience.
  • Display an integrated value-based and evidence-based approach to the support of bereaved people.  

Course details

This is a part-time course, over two years. There are seven modules in year one (5 at 10 credits, two at 5 credits) and a dissertation in year two. A 10 credit module consists of 250 hours of learning including lecture time, self-directed learning, course preparation, examination time, and supervision. The two-year programme equates to 90 credits and it is devised to support Level 9 learning outcomes.

Module title(s) Type of module Credits Year Delivery mode
Module 1: Loss, grief and bereavement, psychological theories and models Core 10 1 Classroom/blended learning
Module 2: Counselling in loss and bereavement Core 10 1 Classroom/blended learning
Module 3B: Organisational staff support and self-care Core 10 1 Classroom/blended learning
Module 4: Loss, death and bereavement in society Core 10 1 Classroom/blended learning
Module 5: Research appraisal Core 5 1 Classroom/blended learning
Module 6B: Range of loss and non-finite loss   5 1 Classroom/blended learning
Module 7: Policy and management in bereavement care Core 10 1 Classroom/blended learning
Core 30 2 Classroom/blended learning


A range of assessment methods will be applied. These include written coursework, reaction papers and a dissertation/ work-based project in year two.

Admission requirements

Applicants must possess counselling/psychotherapy accreditation through a national body and a Level 8 degree in relevant area (or equivalent as demonstrated through RPL). Recognition of prior learning (RPL) process involves demonstration of formal training in counselling/ psychotherapy; significant professional experience in loss/bereavement-related work; evidence of personal insight into loss and bereavement.


The course is convened by the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Accreditation is through the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the National University of Ireland.

Class time

The programmes run from September 2019 to June 2021.

Classes for Year One are held in three-day blocks once a month (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) from 9.15am to 5:30pm.

Dates are as follows for Year 1:

  • 12, 13, 14 September 2019
  • 10, 11, 12 October 2019
  • 14, 15, 16 November 2019
  • 12, 13, 14 December 2019
  • 16, 17, 18 January 2020
  • 13, 14 February 2020
  • 12, 13 March 2020
  • 23, 24, 25 April 2020
  • 21, 22 May 2020

Classes for Year Two are held in two-day blocks once a month (Mondays and Tuesdays).

Participants are expected to attend all sessions and to devote time to the self-directed learning and assignments associated with the programme.

While contact hours or lectures make up 30 hours per module, this course is designed relative to the QQI and ECT systems. A guideline of 250 student hours per module to include contact time, course work preparation, self-directed learning and reading is suggested although individual students may vary in the time commitment required.

Fees (for EU students*)

*(non EU students, please contact for rates)

A non-refundable deposit of €500 is required on acceptance of a course place.

Year 1 Fees: €5,000

Year 2 Fees: €5,000

The fees include an IHF supplement of €50 for display, photocopying and printing of downloaded electronic material.

The balance of the annual fee may be paid in two instalments. The first instalment of fees must be paid prior to registration. Cheques should be made payable to The Irish Hospice Foundation. Fees are eligible for tax relief.


Applicants must apply online. 

Applications will be processed through the Irish Hospice Foundation and final selection may be based on an interview.

In completing your application form please provide full details of your experience and potential to apply learning in your work or volunteering role. This application form will be used for selection purposes.

Closing date for application is Friday, 3 May 2019


All classes, tutorials and seminars will be held at the training rooms of the Irish Hospice Foundation, 4th Floor, Morrison Chambers, 32 Nassau Street, Dublin 2.

The Irish Hospice Foundation also houses the Thérèse Brady library, a specialist Library for a niche collection of bereavement books, journals and resources.

For general enquiries contact:

Maura Dunne
Education Administrator
Irish Hospice Foundation 4th Floor, Morrison Chambers, 32 Nassau Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 679 3188 Fax: (01) 673 0040

Course content enquires:

Orla Keegan
Course Director
Irish Hospice Foundation, 32 Nassau Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 6793 188