DSCY10130 Understanding Homelessness

Academic Year 2023/2024

What do you know about homelessness? What does that word mean to you? What image comes to mind? What does it mean to have a home?

We know that homelessness is a challenging issue involving children, adults, and families and an increasing public health problem. No single definition exists, and official national and international information is incomplete.

Homelessness can result from many factors. People experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness are among the most disadvantaged. People who are homeless have poor health, and many will live a shortened life; others may end up homeless due to illness and/or health problems.

The overall aims of the module are to help students understand the context, characteristics and impact of being homeless. We will examine current solutions from countries that report successful reductions in homelessness and imagine solutions required in Ireland. Students will be guided and supported to identify problem areas and develop ideas for potential solutions bringing their own interests and discipline-specific knowledge.

Students who completed this elective module since 2021 have identified the personal learning gained over the 12 weeks in their understanding of homelessness.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion, a student will be able to:
1) Describe what homelessness means from the perspective of people who are experiencing homelessness.
2) Describe the profile of homeless populations nationally and globally.
3) Understand policies supporting homeless populations.
4) Explore diversity in homeless populations and explain how people are viewed and characterised.
5) Explore responses to reduce the risk of homelessness.
6) Apply creative and innovative solutions supporting people who are experiencing homelessness.

Indicative Module Content:

In this module, students will learn what homelessness is and how it is experienced by many people in Ireland and globally.
Irish and international policies on homelessness will be discussed.
The impact of homelessness and the associated factors will be considered.
Personal accounts from people who have been homeless and practitioners supporting people who are experiencing homelessness will be shared.
Solutions for reducing and ending homelessness - looking at international successes- will be explored.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Conversation Class


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
We take an active approach to learning, including group and class activities, discussions, presentations, and reflection. The overall focus is learning using real-world examples from people who have been or are engaged with homeless services.

The module comprises three units:
Unit 1 Context and person-centred perspectives
Unit 2 Policy perspectives
Unit 3 Real-world solutions and opportunities

Lectures will include co-delivered sessions with UCD PPI partners, including DubSimon, and from practitioners engaged in planning and delivering homelessness services, including health professionals and colleagues from Focus Ireland.

The module will be delivered through lectures, with further learning supported via Brightspace activities.

Weekly classes will consist of lectures and in-class activities and discussions.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Attendance, engagement, and participation with specified in-class activities. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Journal: Submission of an individual short written report [350 words] demonstrating reflection and learning over the 12 weeks of attending and engaging in the module. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Group Project: Brief group presentation (week 5 / 6 of module). All students attend.
Unspecified n/a Graded No


Group Project: Presentation of a prepared student-generated group project in the final class. All students must attend. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback provided to students post-assessment.

Reading list is provided in Brightspace. Recommended reading to guide each session is provided in class.
Name Role
Dr Cliodhna Bairead Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Thilo Kroll Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 16:00 - 17:50