ProfDip Creativity, Innovation & Leadership

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 20)

The most successful leaders are those who adapt and respond well to change. In an era of polycrises, alongside advancing technology, AI, automation and continued disruption, organisations are looking for agile and creative leaders to drive innovation.

This course will help you master the mindset, skills, and tools to become an intrapreneur and to cultivate an innovative environment within your organisation. You’ll develop the skills to influence others and harness the energy of a team to solve challenges together. And you’ll apply these skills to a real innovation project – for your organisation or a community project of your own – for an outstanding upgrade to your CV.

Wherever you are in your career, this professional diploma course will reignite your spark and give you the confidence to present your ideas and lead from the front. It is expected that all participants will make progress in their career. 

This exceptional learning experience will open your mind to a more creative and innovative way of thinking. By the end, you’ll be ready to take the lead for intrapreneurship within your organisation, in your current role or the next.

Careers & Employability

This course is designed to equip participants with the skills that will help them to become a recognised champion for innovation within their business.  It is expected that all participants will see a progression in their career.  

Participants returning to employment will enhance their CV, gain business acumen related to critical issues facing Irish businesses such as Brexit and digitisation (making them more attractive to prospective employers facing these issues in particular) and join a network of emerging innovation leaders.  

Participants in employment will take on new responsibilities (i.e. leading business-critical projects), and/or gain promotion within their existing business and increasingly work directly with senior management. 

Finally, for those experienced managers who are returning to Ireland, this course represents an opportunity to reintegrate quickly into the business ecosystem. 

Curricular information is subject to change

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

This course is perfect for anyone looking for their next step in their career. You’ll learn the skills and confidence to become an innovation champion and take your career to the next level.

You might be:

  • A career changer

  • A public sector leader or aspiring leader

  • Working in a large corporate or an SME

  • Making the leap into leadership

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

This course is designed to equip participants with the skills that will help them to become a recognised champion for innovation within an SME or large business.  It is expected that all participants will see a progression in their career. 

“Our collaboration with UCD Innovation Academy is an important part of our wider innovation agenda and has been well received across the business. The quality of the ideas identified through this initiative was excellent, and a number have since been actioned."  - Ciaran Doran, Business Transformation Manager, ESB Generation and Wholesale Markets

Curriculum and Learning 

The UCD Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership has been developed in collaboration with industry and leverages the significant experience of UCD Innovation Academy. It is designed in response to the perceived threats to the competitiveness of SMEs and large business. 

What will I Learn?

Participants on the UCD Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership will:

  • Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset 
  • By enhancing the creative confidence of participants and learning to think like an entrepreneur, participants will build their capacity to identify opportunities of value, to develop, share and iterate these ideas; and to engage the strengths of colleagues to execute these ideas for the benefit of their business. 
  • Acquire the Skills to Innovate
  • Participants on the UCD Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership will learn to use proven approaches to strengthen their business acumen and to foster a culture of innovation within a business. Course participants will learn to:  
  • Identify and critically evaluate ideas of value from customer insights;
  • Collaborate in a way that plays to the strengths of others;
  • Communicate in an engaging way to engender support for new initiatives;
  • Prototype, test and iterate ideas based on customer experiences;
  • Quickly develop and adapt business models to incorporate new opportunities;
  • Appreciate the possibilities that new technologies can offer a business; 
  • Develop the influencing skills to embed a culture of innovation across the programme are.  
  • Practice Proven Tools and Methods 
  • Participants will practice step-by-step methods (e.g. Design Thinking, Value Proposition Design) to put their newly developed innovation skills to work quickly and start making an impact. 


How will I Learn?

Participants on the UCD Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership will learn by doing from an international, cross-disciplinary team of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and academics at the O’Brien Centre for Science, a world-class learning facility in University College Dublin. 

Innovation Project - Deploy New Skills Quickly

Participants will be required to undertake an innovation project to apply their newly developed skills and utilise a toolkit of approaches to solve a problem relevant to their business. By embedding an innovation project as part of the formal learning of the course, not only will participants have the opportunity to practice their skills but they will have an opportunity to prove the viability of adopting these low-cost, rapid, design-led approaches to innovation to their peers and seniors. Participants will receive innovation coaching towards the implementation of this project from the UCD Innovation Academy Entrepreneurial Specialists.

Learn from a Highly Experienced Team, Embedded in the Innovation Ecosystem

UCD Innovation Academy has an extensive, deep network of relationships across the SME, Corporate, Not-for-Profit and Public sectors. Our team of Entrepreneurial Specialists are themselves practising entrepreneurs who are immersed in the ecosystem. They have also facilitated innovation modules for SME senior management teams on Enterprise Ireland’s prestigious Go Global for Growth Programme as well as New Frontiers, Science Foundation Ireland’s SPARK accelerator and the Social Innovation Funds ‘Animate’ and ‘Think Tech’ Accelerators. 

Guest Lectures, Fireside Chats and Co-Facilitators with Proven Real-world Experience

While our team of Entrepreneurial Specialists are all immersed in the ecosystem, the course will also integrate guests through panel discussions and one-to-one interviews offering a ‘warts and all’ insight into the challenges of leading innovation in business. 

Learn from Peers and Build a New Professional Network  

This course places an emphasis on teamwork, collaboration and fostering a strong community of learners enabling networking and peer-to-peer learning to take place. Through a combination of in-class activity and evening events, we hope to create an environment where new professional networks can flourish. 

Gain the ‘UCD Advantage’ 

UCD Innovation Academy is located in the O’Brien Centre for Science, a flagship facility at the heart of University College Dublin, Ireland’s largest university. Being part of UCD is of significant benefit to the participants of all of our courses and will offer participants on the Professional Diploma:

1) As Ireland’s ‘Global University’ UCD offers extensive international networks  

2) Access to world-class research expertise (facilitated by UCD Innovation Academy) and facilities in a highly collaborative environment; 

3) Access to a world-class library facility and study/workspace; 

4) Access to UCD Career Development Centre, including career guidance support and online resources for up to two years after graduation; 

5) Access to a wide range of talks and networking events outside of the course. 

Get ‘Hands-on’ with Emerging Technology at UCD Innovation Academy Labs: 

UCD Innovation Academy offers participants on the UCD Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership access to a high-end prototyping space with equipment and expertise from an interdisciplinary team of 12 UCD Innovation Academy Creativity and Technology Fellows who regularly contribute to modules at UCD Innovation Academy. This facility offers participants an opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ with emerging technology and understand the value that it can offer a business. 

UCD Innovation Academy provides transformational educational experiences for the betterment of society and the economy. We prepare learners from all walks of life to succeed in an uncertain world. We work with higher education, enterprise and the public sector, national and international, to equip learners with the mindset, tools and skills to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. We act as a catalyst for positive change, within individuals, institutions and societies.

Our approach to teaching and learning - the “IA way" is underpinned by innovation, creativity, leadership, entrepreneurial thinking and design thinking. Our unique 21st century learning pedagogy centres on experiential, challenge based learning in interdisciplinary groups. By providing learners with the tools, the skills and the mindset to enable innovation, we help people and organisations unlock their true potential.

By the end of the Professional Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership, you will

  • Gain an innovator’s mindset.

  • Build creative confidence via practical challenges.

  • Build your CV with a substantial innovation project module.

  • Develop your leadership skills to engage others.

  • Build a peer network of friends, contacts and collaborators.

  • Leave ready to apply your new skills to progress your career.

  • Have a Level 9 qualification from UCD.

In an IBM study of 1,500 CEOs, creativity came out as the most important leadership quality.

This course will teach you the skills you need to become your organisation’s champion for creativity and innovation.

Employers are looking for people who can think their way around these problems. If you’re looking for your next job, having this Diploma on your CV will be sure to make you stand out from the crowd.

If you’re already in work, you’ll be primed to take on new responsibilities and step into more senior roles. Expect your employer to get you working more closely with senior management, running business-critical projects, and to put you top of the list for promotion.

View All Modules Here

The course is split into 3 core modules, totalling 20 ECTS

As the programme involves continuous assessment, students must attend all class sessions.

For the exact dates and times for the forthcoming intake please refer to our website

IA40310: Creative Thinking and Innovation (5 ECTS)

IA40340: Leadership for Innovation and Creativity (5 ECTS)

IA40210: Professional Practice  (Action Learning Project – Innovation in the Workplace) (10 ECTS)

Module 3 is delivered over 4 months, combining; external project work (students undertake a project related to their own context approved by their facilitator titled an ‘Action Learning Project’), milestone classes, meetings and mentoring sessions, and finally, the module culminates in the Action Learning Project, student presentations.

€2,600 (EU) or €2,600 (Non-EU)

100% or 90% funded for eligible applicants through the HEA Springboard+ Initiative. See for eligibility criteria.

FREE for eligible jobseekers: those who have received eligible DEASP Payments.

FREE for returners to work and carers.

90% subsidised (student pays €260) eligible individuals in employment or self-employment, and formerly self-employed.

See ‘How to Apply’ section on our website for eligibility criteria.

The deadline for applications is 12pm 4th December 2023. 


This course is open for applications through the HEA Springboard+ website. Visit the How To Apply section below to begin your application. If you require more information, please register your interest on our website and we will be in contact with you shortly.


Applications will be reviewed and places offered on a rolling basis until the course is full.

Below is a summary of the application procedures and funding eligibility for this course. These are subject to change. 


The full document requirements are on Springboard+. Please read them carefully. 


Initial supporting documents


You will need to upload some supporting documents as part of your application:

  1. Current CV and Letter of Motivation. 

  2. A copy of your academic transcript to show that you have a minimum of an Undergraduate Honours Bachelor's Degree (NFQ Level 8). If you previously studied at UCD, please provide your UCD student number on a Word document/PDF.

  3. Applicants who do not have a level 8 qualification can apply through Recognition of Prior Learning.


Under UCD's Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy, consideration will be given on a case by case basis to applicants who do not hold a primary degree but who can demonstrate extensive professional experience. Typically, such applicants would have five years or more experience where their role includes managing teams, leading projects, programmes or business units.


If you are applying under RPL, please review your CV to ensure that it clearly demonstrates the following-

a. Any experience of leadership and self-direction

b. Any experience of management or entrepreneurship

c. A description of employee, budget and client responsibilities


RPL applicants should also upload two recently dated professional/employment references. These should be on headed paper or from an official email address and including the referees name, role and email address.


  1. If English is not your first language an English language qualification is required. Click HERE for full English Language Requirements for UCD.


Concluding steps

Following provisional offers, UCD Innovation Academy will request evidence of eligibility in respect of holding a valid PPSN; Nationality; Current Residency; 3 of 5 Years EU/EEA residency; and current Employment Status between six weeks and two weeks from the stated course start date. It is only at this point that eligibility for funding through the HEA Springboard initiative can be ascertained. 


Visit our FAQs here



“The diploma course gave me the courage to be a leader. It helped me climb over the huge barriers I had created against myself.” – Lisa Finlay, Senior Learning & Development and Innovation Specialist, William Fry, Programme Alumna.

“I love design thinking. It’s that simple. And for this, I am so pleased I was able to persuade my senior leadership to make it part of what I do. That was the leadership influencing I learned on this Prof. Dip. coming into play – to be able to sell my vision of what bringing design thinking and innovation frameworks into the organization could be.” – Tracy Mooney, Senior Manger LinkedIn, Programme Alumna.

“The programme provided me with the mindset shift I needed at just the right moment in my career.” Vinny Lanigan, Irish Defence Forces and Former Public Sector Innovation Network, Programme Alumni.

This in-person programme will be delivered on the UCD campus in our state of the art learning facility, the Shackleton Lounge. 

When you begin a course with the Academy it will feel like nothing you’ve experienced in education before. It’s not just our state-of-the-art facilities that make us different.

Our teaching and learning team facilitate learning in a high-energy environment and encourage you to harness your creativity and work as part of a team. Through this process you may learn as much from your fellow students as you do from your facilitator.

“I enjoy the adventure of a co-leadership approach. As colleagues, we build on each other’s strengths. When we facilitate together in a shared space of creative flow, it’s exciting for students and facilitators alike.”

Eina McHugh, Entrepreneurial Specialist

Apply directly now through Springboard*

Deadline to apply: 12pm Monday 4th December 2023

*Places are offered on a rolling basis. We encourage you to apply early to secure a place on the programme.