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The basics
Ireland: Subject Guides - Must read

What are students studying in Ireland?

Want to know which subjects are most popular in Ireland? We explore five of the top courses to study at Irish institutions.

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If you want globally recognised courses, high-quality teaching and a unique culture unlike any other, Ireland could be a perfect fit for you. Besides choosing a destination, you also need to consider which course you want to study. That’s why we’ve taken a look at what programmes other international students have chosen to pursue in Ireland and why this might be.


But first, let’s kick off our list of popular courses with a few reasons Ireland is such a great place to learn and live:


  • You can work 20 hours per week during term time to earn money
  • Ireland remains part of the EU and close by for trips to European countries
  • If you are from an EEA country, you may be eligible for lower tuition fees
  • Home to beautiful green countryside and exciting cities
  • Ireland is a young country with a third of the population under 25 years old


Not convinced? Find out more about studying in Ireland.


1) Medicine

There are five universities in the Republic of Ireland, all offering medicine courses:


In Northern Ireland, the following universities also have medicine programmes:


While entry requirements will vary according to each institution, many will require you to sit the Health Professions Admissions Test in addition to other qualifications which you can check on the university websites. Medical schools at Irish universities have close ties to other medical institutions, where you can gain experience during and/or after your degree. Undergraduate medicine courses in Ireland typically take five to six years to complete. Postgraduate courses last for four years. Yet, to study medicine as a master’s degree you will need to have previously completed a relevant bachelor’s degree.


2) Nursing

Another popular medical degree among international students in Ireland is nursing. You can become a registered nurse if you want to remain in Ireland to work and you can earn up to EUR 34,000 depending on experience (Payscale). To enroll onto a nursing degree, you should have studied relevant subjects beforehand such as biology, physics and maths. Again, entry requirements do vary so check the university website or contact the institutions on social media for more information.


What’s great about nursing in Ireland is that your degree will be recognised in many parts of the world so if you decide to live and work somewhere else, you’ll be qualified to do so. In addition, Ireland allows non-EU/EEA eligible students to remain in the country after graduation for 24 months to find work. This is known as the Third Level Graduate Scheme and encourages international students to remain in Ireland to work after their studies. Compared to other countries, Ireland has generous immigration policies in place to welcome international graduates.


3) Biology

Students who choose to study biology must have an interest in living things such as cells, humans and animals. This is a general description of what to expect but biology students can choose modules carefully to reflect what interests them most. During a biology degree you can expect a range of teaching formats such as lectures, computers sessions, laboratory work, fieldwork and seminars.


There are a variety of jobs that you could do with a biology degree, but some will require you to gain further qualifications such as a master’s degree or PhD. If you decide that you don’t want to follow the biology route after your undergraduate degree, the skills you gain are transferrable for other professions within business, law and teaching. So, if you’re wanting to study biology abroad, Ireland is a desirable setting with a combination of buzzing cities and plenty of countryside for an active and varied lifestyle.


The top institutions for biological sciences are as follows:

  • Trinity College Dublin
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Galway


4) Media

A degree in a media or communications can open doors in the following professions:

  • Journalist
  • Editor
  • Public relations
  • Radio broadcaster
  • Marketing and branding
  • Copywriter
  • TV production


You’ll gain skills in effective communication, independent research, problem-solving and analysis. These are applicable to many industries so if you’re unsure about what career you want, you can still apply to other positions with this degree. This is a competitive industry with lots of creative, bright-minded individuals hoping to find work. Set yourself apart by gaining experience during your degree and work for the university newspaper, radio or magazine. Many media and communications courses expect students to find work experience/internships during the course with certain universities offering a year abroad. Find out more about the type of work you could get into with a media degree.


5) Engineering

Engineering courses are desirable for many international students around the world. This could be due to the high earning potential, continual learning on the job and the ability to solve problems that will benefit society. Top universities (THE World University Rankings 2020) for general engineering in Ireland include:


  • Trinity College Dublin
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Galway


There are several different branches of engineering, so make sure you understand what each involves before applying. An engineering degree from an Irish university is widely recognised and allows for travel to other countries for work opportunities. If you’re looking to work for a large and reputable company, many universities hold careers fairs where you can speak to representatives from top companies. Examples include Jacobs Engineering, Arup and Intel with offices based in major Irish cities such as Dublin, Cork and Galway. However, the skills acquired through any type of engineering degree can be relevant for other professions, so you’re not stuck if you change your mind.


Now that you know which courses are popular in Ireland, why not try our course matcher tool to find your route to university. While you research, stay up to date with the latest news in international education.