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Lean Systems - Specialist Diploma

Course Details

Award: Specialist Diploma
Qualification: NFQ Level 9 Minor Award Delivery:
Blended (combination of on-line and on campus delivery)
Two semesters, each 15 weeks.
On campus classes on 3 Saturdays each semester
Start Date: January 2020 Enquiries:

Lean is a set of management strategies and tools that is geared to improve process flow while eliminating waste and improving quality. This Lean Black Belt course, aims to develop participants’ process improvement skills, and will provide education and practical application to a Black Belt level in Lean. A company-based project will form a key element of the programme, ensuring the integration of the various concepts in the participants’ workplace.

  • The Specialist Diploma in Lean Systems is aimed at managers, engineers, supervisors and technicians who have responsibility for quality or continuous improvement within their organisations and also those who wish to develop knowledge and skills in the area of Lean systems. 
  • Are responsible for or actively engaged in organisational improvement and development through the use of quality management. tools and techniques.
  • Seek recognition as a Black Belt in Lean.

Programme participants should hold a NFQ level-8, primary degree in any discipline or an equivalent qualification and have at least three years of relevant work experience. Where an applicant does not meet the entry requirements above, an offer of a place on the programme may be made in exceptional circumstances, where the candidate provides a portfolio of evidence to support prior learning,  and the application of learning or competence in the area.

For more information about NFQ (National Framework of Qualifications), visit the NFQ website here

  • This flexible programme lets students take three taught modules over two semesters. In addition to the taught modules, there will be a strong focus on the integration of the concepts tools and techniques in the participant’s organisation during the course of the programme. 
  • Course delivery combines traditional distance education with online learning and approximately three on-campus days per semester. 
  • Talks by industry/professional experts who will deliver a seminar linking theory to practice.

Programme Structure:

The programme comprises three taught modules, a series of seminars and a company based project.

•Lean Thinking/Lean Tools 1
•Lean Thinking/Lean Tools 2
•Leadership and Change Management
•In-Company Project

In Company Project: 

Programme completion requires a substantial industry based project, reported in the form of management report. The expectation that the project would realise savings of at least €50,000 for the participant organisation. The project will require the application of the concepts covered in the course. The output of the project should involve a significant benefit to the company. The Student, Supervisor and Company will agree the success metric for the project as part of the topic selection process.

Examples of success metrics could include: 

•the improvement of a specified performance indicator by an agreed amount. 
•the quantifiable addition of value to process or service which was the focus of the project. 
•a cost saving of the order of €30,000 which must be verified by the company, or in the case of a Small to Medium Enterprises, (SMEs, <250 employees), project savings must amount to 0.1% of annual turnover.

An example could be a kanban system that could result in cost savings through inventory reduction to the value of €50,000, or an increase in machine efficiency by 5%, or a reduction process cycle time by 10%.

The University of Limerick and several leading Irish companies designed this course to meet the standards of a black belt. While there is no single authority that issues black belts in Lean or Six Sigma the industry group and university carried out extensive research in designing the course to ensure that the course met the general standards that are expected of a black belt holder. 

Black Belt projects are expected to save in the region of €50,000 for their organisation. A Black Belt holder is expected to be competent in the tools and techniques to organise and implement a project at this level. Successful participants will receive a letter from the University of Limerick stating that their capability is at black belt level.

Delivery is a hybrid of traditional distance education and online learning together with a number of on-campus tutorials (approx. 3 Saturdays per semester). In addition, there are on-line discussions moderated by a subject matter expert on elements of each module to reinforce the learning and maximise the benefit of the programme for participants.

Tutorials are held at the University of Limerick campus.

Fees for the programme are €5,250, payable in 2 equal instalments (€2625 *2).

Before you apply, you will need to gather documentation. Please visit the How to Apply page to read detailed guidelines on which documents to gather and the application fee. You will also find the application link for your chosen course on the 'How to Apply' page.

N.B. - We recommend that prospective students for any ULearning programmes visit the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. For any queries which are not addressed in the FAQ please do not hesitate to email or call 061 213360.