Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group

Curriculum Studies logo

ESAI Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group

Curriculum Studies SIG

Maynooth University in collaboration with colleagues in Dublin City University (DCU), University of Limerick (UL), Mary Immaculate College, and Trinity College Dublin (TCD)  with the support of funding from Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) lead a Special Interest Group on Curriculum Studies. This SIG comes at a time when the field of curriculum studies is experiencing vibrancy here in Ireland and abroad.

Curriculum Studies SIG Team

  • Dr Majella Dempsey (Maynooth University) – SIG Lead
  • Dr Audrey Doyle (Dublin City University) – Co-lead
  • Professor Anne Looney (Dublin City University)
  • Nikoloz Maglaperidze (Maynooth University)
  • Professor Damian Murchan (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Dr Emmanuel O’Grady (Mary Immaculate College)
  • Dr John O’Reilly (University of Limerick)


Curriculum Studies

This SIG in Curriculum Studies will be relevant across all levels of education from early childhood to third level and further education. With this SIG we want to build understanding and to influence curriculum development through engaged dialogue. The focus is to look at curriculum origins, policy and practice. Inquiry into origins encourages us to consider where curricula come from. What are their intellectual, conceptual and empirical foundations? What are the past socio-political influences that shape their present conception and development? Inquiry into policy explores the development of competing and complementary ways of thinking about curriculum, their realisation through policy development, and the enactment of curricular practices in school, other educational institutions and non-formal educational settings. Inquiry into practices allows us to focus on a range of issues, including policy development processes, learning and teaching, assessment and organisational issues such as provision and access.

We welcome your interest and hope to build a vibrant group of curriculum thinkers and makers over the coming years. To join our mailing list please fill in this short form


Twitter: @EsaiSig

1st ESAI Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group Research Conference


Mapping the Field of Curriculum Studies Research in Ireland 

June 16th 2023 09.00 – 14.00 in DCU All Hallows Campus 

Keynote adress by Professor Daniel Alvunger, Linnaeus University, Sweden

To attend the conference click here

To present at the conference email for conference call.


Poster for Curriculum Studies SIG Event




Curriculum Studies SIG End of Year Report 2023

Curriculum Studies logo

Dr Majella Dempsey (MU)

Dr Audrey Doyle (DCU)

Professor Anne Looney (DCU)

Dr John O’Reilly (UL)

Dr Emmanuel O’Grady (MIC)

Dr Susan Pike (TCD)

Nikoloz Maglaperidze (NU) Post-graduate research lead


Please email if interested in joining our team.

Follow us on X @EsaiSig


June 2023

1st ESAI Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group Research Conference

Mapping the Field of Curriculum Studies Research in Ireland

June 16th 2023 in DCU All Hallows Campus


The first ESAI Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group conference was hosted by Dublin City University at the All Hallows Campus on June 16th . It was aimed at early career curriculum studies researchers. This event provided an opportunity for them to situate research interests on the map of curriculum studies theory and practice and to network with others in the field.



Keynote was by Professor Daniel Alvunger curriculum researcher from Department of Education and Teachers’ Practice at Linnaeus University in Sweden. The conference was opened by Majella Dempsey SIG lead. This was followed by parallel poster and paper sessions from early career researchers, PhD, EdD and Master’s students working in the area of curriculum. The keynote address was followed by a panel session with experts in the field of curriculum research in Ireland.

Panel speakers:

Audrey Doyle (DCU)
Orla McCormack (UL)
Ben Murray (NCCA)
Leanne Coll (DCU)

Two prizes of a bursary of 200€ each were awarded for the two best paper/posters to cover attendance at the ESAI conference in 2024. The winners were Joan Costello from UL and Denis Moynihan DCU.


 October 2023

Curriculum as a space where policy, practice and research come together in unique and innovative ways – round table discussion


In this round table discussion supported by the ESAI Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group we explored how curriculum as conversation across levels can provide a space where policy, practice and research come together in innovative and unique ways.

Majella Dempsey (MU) – discussed the concept of curriculum as conversation and the potential for policy, practice and research to assemble within this space.
Jim Gleeson (DCU) – discussed the evolution of Irish curriculum culture: understandings, policy, reform and change.
Audrey Doyle (DCU) – presented on curriculum making in initial teacher education.
Olive Laffoy (MU) – presented on how research and policy impacts on practice at school level bringing her experience as a school leader, school placement tutor and supervisor of research projects with MEdELM students.
Tazila Parveen Ramputh (MU) – presented on how accountability practices impact on curriculum at third level.
Seán Ó Foghlú (MU) – discussed developments in national curriculum policy development.


The conversation focused on some key questions such as;
How do we solve the dilemma of getting policy, practice and research to come in to conversation with each other?
Do our policy bodies such as HEA, DE, NCCA, TC and so on build policy on solid foundation of research and knowledge of practice?
How is research brought in to conversation in schools and universities?
How do we support the curriculum conversation in order to bring closer links between policy, practice and research across all levels? 


ESAI 2024

ESAI Curriculum Studies SIG Symposium – Curriculum reform in Ireland

Discussant – Professor Jim Gleeson


In this symposium we will discuss curriculum culture and curriculum change in an Ireland where there are shifts emerging that reflect diverse range of influences from European and international educational trajectories. These include the education policy shift from New Public Management to public value (Gleeson, 2023) and the associated emphasis on learning as a public good. Curriculum is multidimensional and is developed, implemented and enacted in multiple sites. These sites exist in a particular context and have a prior history (Dempsey, 2023) and how each site makes curriculum is of interest to our symposium.  We want to problematise the culture of change that seems to be remaining at surface level and where the in-depth changes suggested by the purposes and rationale of new curricula are not transferred or enacted in the curriculum making, pedagogy and assessment across the various sites.  There is a “curriculum gap” (Priestley & Drew, 2016).

We note the complexity of defining curriculum in Ireland and are open to conversations about how these different perspectives might be part of the gap (Gleeson, 2010).  Curriculum might be defined as noun, “the curriculum”, or a product (Tyler, 1949).  However, it is also viewed as a process (Pinar & Grumet, 1976), a process of encounter whereby it is the totality of the learning experience which brings about educational transformation or becoming (Doll, 1993).  How curriculum is understood will have implications for how it is made and particularly in pedagogy and assessment. Ireland has seen a noticeable shift from content-focused syllabus documents to subject specifications characterised by large numbers of learning outcomes and an associated emphasis on ‘learnification’ (Biesta, 2010).

This symposium will look at the concept of curriculum as a public project. It will map the curriculum changes that have occurred to date through the lens of the discipline of geography. This is a significant time also for Senior Cycle as further proposed accelerated developments occur.  The contributing challenges in relation to how we view assessment in Ireland will be proffered and the impact of assessment on the agency of the teacher to make curriculum will be explored.


Paper 1 – Curriculum: The great public project of our time by Dr Majella Dempsey

Paper 2 – Finding purpose in curriculum: Reflecting back and casting forward by Dr Susan Pike

 Paper 3 – Assessment in Ireland and the strangulation of the system by Dr Audrey Doyle

Please come along and join the conversation at ESAI 2024.

 Future Plans

The second ESAI Curriculum Studies Special Interest Group Research Conference will be held on June 14th, 2023, in DCU All Hallows Campus.

Keynote announcement and conference call to follow.


Malcare WordPress Security