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Apprenticeship - Principal Engineer

Course Details

Available: Part- Time

Duration: 4 Years

Qualification: NFQ Level 10 Major Award

Faculty: Science and Engineering

Course Type: Professional/Flexible

Fees: For Information on Fees, see section below.


Philomena Kelly
+353 (0)61 237770
+353 (0)61 237798
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Brief Description

Lero and CONFIRM  Smart Manufacturing have partnered with the University of Limerick (UL) to deliver Ireland’s first qualification at level 10 (DEng) funded through the national apprenticeships programme: The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (DEng).  

How a professional doctorate differs from a traditional doctorate

The traditional doctorate, the DEng programme focuses on preparing candidates for an academic career and is thus focused on training people to rigorously address scientific problems which can result in a contribution to knowledge that can be published in the peer‐reviewed scientific literature.

Professional doctorates recognise the existence of research activities which can be described as professional practice. The context for this DEng programme is the practitioner workplace and the focus is on solving real‐world problems faced in the daily work‐place. The scope of these problems can be sufficiently large to be addressed in a significant piece of research planned and conducted over a period of time and which can ultimately result in a DEng award.

Download our brochure here.

This qualification is aimed at those pursuing professional rather than academic careers. The DEng acknowledges that significant research takes place within the practitioner’s workplace, therefore, the context for this DEng programme is the practitioner workplace and the focus is on solving real-world problems faced in the daily work-place.

The DEng Apprenticeship will equip apprentices with a diverse knowledge of technology principals, disruptive inventions and new designs, processes and techniques, as well as substantial knowledge at the cutting edge of industry and the forefront of academic research.  Through problem-solving, heuristics, theory of inventive problem solving, technical analysis and critical evaluation, apprentices will gain the ability to significantly contribute to the creative process.

The aim of a Professional Doctorate programme is to produce a qualification which, whilst being equivalent in status and challenge to a DEng, is more appropriate for those pursuing professional rather than academic careers. The DEng acknowledges that significant research takes place within the practitioner’s workplace. Candidates are required to make a contribution to both theory and practice in their field, and to develop professional practice by making a contribution to (professional) knowledge.

How it Works

This four year programme is structured for blended delivery of online learning and face to face sessions which minimizes time ‘off the job’. You must successfully completed the qualifier module (PT8001) to be offered a place on the PDEng.  The programme includes:

  • The PT8001 is the Professional Portfolio qualifier. This will give you an understanding of the structure of the Professional Doctorate; how to develop a professional portfolio and how to deliver a unique contribution to professional knowledge. You will be required to identify a problem that is significant to your industry or profession and to propose an appropriate approach to solving this problem.
  • 270 credits of work. The bulk of the credits, 180 are allocated to the output of your in-company research. This is delivered as a dissertation as is the culmination of your work.
  • 12 modules delivered over four years combining traditional distance education with online learning and approximately 4 day face-to-face per semester.
  • A dedicated supervisor to support participants.
  • Participation in a Community of Practice.  This will allow participants to interact and engage in peer-to-peer learning activities.
  • Support from an industry mentor within the company throughout the apprenticeship.

For professionals who wish to:

  • Evaluate the relevance of current and emerging theories and practices within your area.
  • Formulate effective solutions to complex, real-world problems common to your field.
  • Apply current research to practical problems in the workplace.
  • Design rigorous research that expands the professional body of knowledge in your field.


Qualifier Module (Must be passed to gain entry)


Year 1
Research Support Modules (to be completed between May & August)


Year 2
Research Support Modules & Professional Doctorate Progression Report 1


Year 3
Research Support Modules & Professional Doctorate Progression Report 2


Year 4
Professional Doctorate Progression Report 3 & Research Dissertation Submission


Community of Practice
Alongside your modules you will be participating in the Community of Practice (CoP). This an integral part of your programme and includes:
  • Company Visits - including uploading your individual and group reports
  • Mentoring - recording your meetings with your mentor
  • Forums


  • Employers must be approved by SOLAS and commit to support the apprentice throughout the programme
  • Candidates would typically hold a 2.1 honours degree in a relevant area and five years’ experience.
  • The successful completion of the qualifier module (Professional Portfolio PT8001) prior to being offered a place on the programme

For fees information and how to apply email apprenticeships@ul.ie