Gain a detailed understanding of how a modern prison system operates and survives from a theoretical & practical perspective.

Delivered by leading academics and prison experts, the purpose of the Diploma in Penology & Prison studies is to equip learners (from a variety of professional or interested backgrounds) with an understanding of the origins of punishment and sentencing in Ireland. Students will consider, sentencing, criminology and “What Works” when it comes to best prison practice. All lectures will be related to various theories of crime and offending. At the end of the course, learners will have a detailed understanding of how a modern prison system operates and indeed survives from both a theoretical and practical perspective.

During this course the student will learn how to identify certain types of criminals and their likely behaviours within the prison environment. In particular they will look at how both prisoner and prison officer exist both together and separately in a modern prison environment. They will also learn about the context in which the prison system currently sits in Ireland including sentencing policies and the likely direction of the Irish Prison Service into the future.

Who Should Apply?

Those working in the Prison Service in Ireland. Those working in the criminal justice system in Ireland who have a special interest in penology matters. Those in other careers, with an interest in prison studies and how it can affect society as a whole.

Course Content

Week 1 – Prisons and Imprisonment in Ireland

Week 2 – 
The Legal Context: The Criminal Justice System in Ireland

Week 3
 – Punishment: historical and modern perspectives

Week 4 – Nature or nurture? The perennial debate

Week 5 – Bad men in good jails – the psychopaths amongst you

Week 6 – Sex Offenders: a special category?

Week 7 – Life on the Inside – The Inmate Code

Week 8 – Justice for the Forgotten – The Modern Prison Officer

Week 9 – Sentencing and Sentencing Policy

Week 10– Non-custodial options – the future?

Course Fee

Classroom-based: €995
(€1,095 if paying  in instalments)

Online course: €895
(€995 if paying in instalments)

If paying in instalments by direct debit, the deposit to book a place is €150 and the balance is split into three equal monthly payments.

Non-EU students: Call +353 1 4160034


A pass grade on the written assignment will be required for awarding of the Diploma.

Similarly, the assignment must be submitted on the due date unless a sound reason for lateness is provided. In such instances, an extension may be awarded at the discretion of the lecturer.



John O’Keeffe

BA (NUI) Dipl. Legal Studies, Grad. Dip Law, LL.B., MA (Laws) PG Dip Crim. (Cantab.) M.St. (Crim.)(Cantab.) DGS (ad eundem Cantab.) (Dubl.)

John O’Keeffe is a Criminologist, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology & Criminal Law, and Broadcaster. If you would like to hear John speaking on a Criminology matter on his weekly radio show, namely the relationship between Terrorism and Psychopathy, you may listen here.

John is Director, Colleges of Criminology & Psychology at City Colleges, Dublin where he is also a Senior Lecturer in Criminal Law which he teaches on the FE1 Examinations and the Entrance Examination for the Honorable Society of King’s Inns. He is a Magistrate in the UK where he sits on the Northumbrian Bench and an Associate Member of and the New Zealand Bar Association. John is formerly Adjunct Faculty at Trinity College Dublin where he was Assistant Professor at the School of Psychology.

John is a graduate of University College Dublin, UWE Bristol, London Met. University and the University of Cambridge, where he is a life member of Homerton College. He is also an Associate Member of Exeter College, Oxford and was awarded a Doctoratus in Gister Studiorum (ad eundem Cantab.) from Trinity College, Dublin.

John was appointed a Visiting Scholar at the Centre in Crime, Justice & Policing at the University of Birmingham and teaches on the Forensic Doctoral programme(s) in the School of Psychology in Birmingham. He also holds Honorary Visiting Fellowships in the Dept. of Neuroscience, Psychology & Behaviour at the University of Leicester and Dept. of Sociology at the University of Surrey. He is currently Editor of the Garda Review. He is also a Director of the charity, AdVIC (Advocates for the Victims of Homicide).

Why City Colleges

  • Courses for students who are passionate about their subject, delivered by leaders in their field.
  • Live lectures which are also streamed live on Moodle and recorded for review
  • City centre location in South Great George’s Street, convenient for bus, LUAS, DART
  • Southside Dublin location in Dundrum
  • Study rooms and library in our City Centre location
  • Limited class size
  • Parking

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Select your Courses

Select the desired options and click the enrol button below when finished

Diploma in Penology & Prison Studies (Classroom)

Classroom Diploma in Penology & Prison Studies


6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

John O’Keeffe


Diploma in Penology & Prison Studies (Online)

Online Diploma in Penology & Prison Studies


6:30 PM - 9:30 PM

John O’Keeffe