Certificate in Electronics and Automation (Online)

  • NFQ Level 6
  • Credits 35
  • Course Code N/A
  • Award Special Purpose Award
  • Duration 1

Course Summary

Programme Code: SG_EAUTM_N06

Delivery: Online

About this programme

The programme, in addition to offering a minor award at level 6, is designed as a one-year online qualifier to allow holders of craft qualifications and others with substantial relevant work experience to progress to the level 7 BEng in Electronic Engineering.On successful completion of the programme the learner will receive a minor award at level 6 and will be adequately prepared to participate in the level 7 Electronic programme. This level 7 programmes can then be completed in a further two years online study.

Module overview:

Instrumentation is a foundation course in the principles of electronic circuit theory and the fundamental technologies & practical applications of sensors. The module aim is to equip learners with the basic theoretical and practical skills required to analyse and test low voltage direct current electrical circuits. It addresses topics such as Ohm's Law, Kirchoff's Laws, voltage, capacitance, inductance, semiconductors and the sensing of common parameters for system monitoring and control including temperature, pressure, light, and distance.  


Key Course Information

Attendance requirements: This programme requires attendance at ATU Sligo on four practical days (normally Fridays) during the year.

For Examinations, students may have to attend at the ATU campus through which they completed their studies. For some programmes it may be possible for the Exam to be taken remotely via online proctoring. ATU Students resident in the Republic of Ireland will be invited to attend exams at an exam centre located in Ireland. Students’ resident outside of Ireland or with exceptional circumstances may be eligible to attend remotely via online proctoring, where examinations are taken online and supervised virtually, subject to availability.

Applicants with other qualifications and with relevant work experience may also be considered through ATU Sligo’s Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) process. RPL is a process that may allow you to gain admission to a programme or to receive exemptions / credit from some parts of a programme based on demonstrated learning that you may have achieved through another programme of study or through your work and career. Further information is available through www.atu.ie/recognition-of-prior-learning which our dedicated RPL portal or by contacting our admissions team at admissions.sligo@atu.ie.

Award: Level 6

Application Closing Date : 16th August 2024

Entry Requirements

Entry to the programme is open to candidates who have completed phase 6 of a relevant craft certificate or equivalent. Other candidates may gain entry through the recognition of prior (RPL) learning in accordance with institute procedures. RPL is a process that may allow you to gain admission to a programme or to receive exemptions/ credit for some parts of the programme based on demonstrated learning that you may have achieved through another programme of study or through your work or career. Further information is available at www.atu.ie/recognition-of-prior-learning which our dedicated RPL portal or by contacting our admissions team at admissions.sligo@atu.ie .


Name: Neil Smyth

Job: Software Developer @ AIS Ltd (https://www.aisltd.ie/)

Can you share your career path to date?

Yes, my career path is quite unusual I suppose. I completed a B.Sc in Marketing (with a minor in German) in 2013 (from DIT) and then a M.Sc in International Business Management in 2014 (from Inseec (Paris, France)). Once I completed my Masters, I worked in a couple of different roles for a couple of small French tech start-ups based in Paris (from business developer to technical onboarding). I enjoyed my roles, but I found that I was always far more interested in the technical side of the businesses (in particular, the software), so I returned to Ireland after 5 years in France, to complete a level 6 degree in Software Development (with the Springboard initiative). Afterwards, I was lucky enough to get hired by a small engineering company here in Dublin as a Software Developer, mainly using Python, and I have worked there for nearly 2 years since.

What does your current role involve?

In my current role as a Software Developer, I mainly use the Python programming language. I write software to handle user inputs and parsing the outputs on a programmable interfacing device. I work with Linux and RaspberryPi (single board computers) systems and I also build/update/patch client-specific desktop and Android applications using Python, as well as using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

What motivated you to start studying?

My curiosity was a big factor. As I ended up working with a lot of embedded systems and electronics in my role, getting software to communicate with hardware, so I was really eager to learn more, particularly the electrical theory and the engineering mathematics. The company I work for also has a strong engineering ethos and so there is a positive atmosphere around education and upskilling.

Why did you choose this course from ATU Sligo?​​​​​​​

I began researching and I discovered the online courses in ATU Sligo. The course modules were exactly what I was looking for, theoretical yet also with a strong practical element (with on-site days, labs etc.) as well as being industry relevant. ATU Sligo also has a really nice campus and seemed to have a great structure for their online courses. I liked this a lot as the bulk of work was online, but it was important to me to be able to physically go to the campus to add to the experience and learning. Also, the course webpage was very informative and accurate. For example, I read the detailed syllabus for each module on the ‘Course Format’ page, so I knew exactly what I would be studying, the learning outcomes, if the course was continuous assessment and so on. So it gave me a sense of being well informed. Before registering, I also reached out via email to their admissions office, and they were really helpful and kind. So overall the process to choose and register for the course was really smooth. I’m not finished the course yet but I’m already looking another add-on course next year. 

How did you find the process of studying online? What elements did you find helpful? Were there elements you found challenging? ​​​​​​​

As mentioned, I had previously undertaken an online course at another institute, and I found it difficult as I was quite isolated as a student. However, I’ve found that ATU Sligo are very experienced in delivering online courses. The structure of the online course is the best I have seen, it’s very robust with a real sense of a student community. The lecturers are excellent and empathetic, knowing that a lot of the online students work full time and have families etc., so the course is very adaptable. All classes are recorded so students can rewatch at suitable times and deadlines for projects are fair and flexible. As an online student, I feel there is a community of peers, lecturers and our course co-ordinator that I could reach out to if I had any questions, issues or queries.

Generally speaking, it’s always a challenge to return to college to learn new subjects and undertake tests, assessments, exams. The semesters are short and intense, with a decent workload but I find it to be fair and I’m definitely learning a huge amount that I’m sure will prove to be invaluable as I continue! I also really liked that the projects, tests and assessments were individually based (not involving group work). I think group work is particularly difficult to coordinate online, and, as most online students have full time jobs, so they already had experience in group/teamwork in abundance so I was happy I didn’t have any more. So the tools and community were in place in the course, but the onus was upon the individual students to get the work done. This a subjective preference but I’m really glad the course was conducted in this manner.

In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer? ​​​​​​​

My employer, luckily, was very supportive – they helped me finance the course and also gave me time off for exams. As it’s an online course, a lot of my time studying was outside of work hours, so it hasn’t affected my professional workload. And as mentioned, I’ve remarked that a lot of concepts in work have made far more sense after learning about the theory in my modules. One of the main reasons I chose the course at Sligo is because the course modules were so relevant to what I was working on and that has indeed been the case. My choice has been totally vindicated!

What advice would you have for anyone considering studying online?

My advice would be that, if you’re curious and already considering it, go pursue the course. Reaching out to the college to get information and sign up is probably the biggest step. There are plenty of other students in the same boat as you, people returning after years out of education, with families and full-time work and we all manage to get through the course workload together. There is a great support system within the college and as I mentioned, the lectures are really considerate of people’s situations. Even doing extra classes to help students who need a bit of help (like our Eng Maths and Instrumentation lecturer Eva Murphy sacrificing her Friday evenings to do extra Q&A classes). The students also set up a few Whatsapp groups, which is a great tool for us to come together and get through it. And there’s no judgement, as we are all on same the journey together! Overall, the course will be challenging but if you’re curious and willing to put few hours in the evenings, it’s 100% worth it.

In what way has studying online with ATU Sligo benefitted your career?

Generally, as mentioned, a lot of topics and theories that I had encountered in work that I struggled to make sense of previously, became clear after studying my courses and I was able to connect the dots. This enabled me to be more confident and proactive on projects, which in turn, gives me a positive sense of purpose in work.

Did this course provide any unexpected benefits to your career?

It’s still early days but as I have been able to get a more holistic view of my work and different projects as well as the industry as a whole and it’s opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities.

Did you find that the elements you were studying had practical relevance in your day-to-day role?

Yes, I found in particular that the on-site lab days and assessments were very helpful as they put us in an environment, with some time constraints, where we had to think of solutions to resolve problems. For example, in our C-Programming and Embedded Programming courses, we were given some technical problem that we needed to solve, within a period of time, and I found this was helpful in my day-to-day role to be able to think with clarity under time constraints.

What were the key skills you took away from your time studying at ATU Sligo?​​​​​​​

The theoretical aspects of the course I encountered: I use them daily in work. I also have taken on some concepts such as incorporating software ‘flowcharts’ (from our C-Programming module) to help me design a procedural flow for different projects I’m working on, as well as solving technical issues by breaking them down separate parts in an attempt to resolve the logic. I also apply a lot of the electrical theory when I’m physically testing some electronic parts using the multimeter. More generally, the course instilled in the students a sense of approaching problems with an engineering mindset.



Programme Fees

Academic Year 2024/25 Fees

Total Programme Fee: €2,500

Funding Opportunities

Next Level Skillnet funding may be available to successful applicants who fulfil eligibility criteria. Please email Sue Davies in Next Level Skillnet to find out more information: sue@nextlevel.ie 


To help make the payment of fees more manageable for students who are self-funding their studies, tuition fees can be paid through payment instalment plans at ATU Sligo. For further information on instalment plans, please visit our Fees and Funding webpage

If you apply and are approved for an online course at ATU Sligo, you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of €250 to secure your place. Your deposit will then be credited against the course fees once you are registered as a student. Students at ATU Sligo are also eligible to claim tax relief at the standard rate for tuition fees.

For further information and guidance about Fees and Funding for online and part-time courses at ATU Sligo, click here.

If you are seeking to take your exams online, and you meet the eligibility criteria (overseas students and those with extenuating circumstances), an additional examinations fee will apply. For further information, please visit our Examinations webpage

Course Format

Semester 1

Title Credits
C Programming 101 05
Instrumentation 1 05
Microcontroller Architecture 05

Semester 2

Title Credits
Embedded Programming 201 05
Instrumentation 2 05
Microcontroller Interfacing 05

Full Year

Title Credits
Introduction to Engineering Mathematics 05