Certificate in Automation and Instrumentation (Online)

  • NFQ Level 6
  • Credits 35
  • Course Code N/A
  • Award Minor Award
  • Duration 1 Year

Course Summary

Programme Code: SG_EAUTI_N06

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 Mechatronics. The level 7 programme can then be completed in a further two years of online study. Students exit with a minor award that can lead to a major award.

This is a long-standing and growing programme with flexibility in learning methods and excellent lecturing staff with relevant industry experience. It is highly relevant to automation and instrumentation modules. The programme has a focus on practical work, every one hour lecture has a two hour lab associated with it. The students’ career can progress to engineer, technician, commissioning etc.

Key Course Information

Key modules will deliver knowledge in: Instrumentation, Automating Pneumatics, Programming and Interfacing. There is also a one-year math module in the programme. This two-semester long math module would normally be delivered in one semester. By spreading it out over two semesters, students have more time to get through the material. Students have the option to come in two days during the programme and can meet their fellow students, lecturers and do hands-on lab work.

Live Lectures: Live lectures normally take place between 6pm and 10pm, Monday to Thursday but this may vary depending on the availability of specific lecturers. For the Certificate in Automation and Instrumentation, students are expected to attend live lectures 2 evenings per week.  If the Live Classroom scheduled times for the live online lectures do not suit you, recordings will be made available through Moodle. Online lectures are held after 6 pm, usually 6-7, 7-8 or 8-9 pm on two evenings a week. You may have two lectures on the same evening. Each lecture is recorded by the lecturer and last for 1 hr. Most modules include two hours of lab work per week.

Study hours: Whether you are studying part-time online, blended or full-time online, it is very important that you allocate enough study time to your online course to stay focused, reduce stress and achieve your goals. For part-time online or blended learning, it is recommended that you should try to allow for 5-6 hours per week per 5 credit module to your studies.

On-Campus Attendance : As part of the programme, students may attend one day per semester for practical experience (normally Fridays). This practical day is not mandatory. This day can also be used to meet the lecturers and fellow students. The practical part of the modules contributes to about half the overall marks in the modules.

The Moodle page is used to deliver module content and provide active learning material such as formative quizzes, help videos, recorded lectures, information about the module and can be used to communicate with other students.

Not enough time?

If you think that completing the certificate in one year is too much demanding on your available time, then we have an alternative.
There is an option to complete the certificate (module by module) over a two-year period. Or you can just complete the modules that you are interested in, get the credits, and don’t complete the certificate. With the latter option, the gained credits are potentially transferrable to different programmes and have European recognition.
If you are interested in completing the certificate over two years, then you must complete the modules in the right order as most modules follow on from each other. The modules are delivered in sets of two and the sets are not related to each other. In the table below you can see the order.

First Module

Follow on Module

Instrumentation 1

Instrumentation 2

Programming Fundamentals

Programming Communications and Interfacing 

Pneumatic/E-Pneumatic and Hydraulic Systems

Automation Programming

Introduction to engineering Mathematics (This module runs for a full academic year)

To select either of the two options, click here for the Advance Centre and set the NFQ Levels Filter to 6. Here you will see the modules as in the table above and you can select the relevant modules (Quality Assurance module is not part of the certificate).

If you have any questions about the registration through the Advance Centre, please email louise.ogorman@atu.ie

If you have questions about the programme/module delivery, please contact rudie.coppieters@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. 

Graduates who have not obtained this minimum may incorporate other equivalent qualifications and relevant work experience and apply for assessment via the Recognition of 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 or 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.

What level of RPL do you expect to meet academic entry requirements?

About 5 years of relevant work experience or if prospective students have done some relevant training courses. Some knowledge can be acquired through non-formal ways of education.

What should you have an interest in applying for this programme?

Have an interest in automation and solving problems.

Should they work in a certain sector e.g. HSE?

The sector is not relevant; whenever there is automation, there will be an automation technician or engineer. Our students work in all areas of production. This could be energy, Wind Farms or Turbine providers, Medical, Medical Devices, Robotics, Food and Beverage or any other manufacturing company.


Career Opportunities

Machine Operator, Maintenance Technician, Manufacturing Technician, Process Technician, Automation Engineer, Calibration Technician, Automation Equipment Technician etc.

Further Study

Students can progress their studies into BEng in Mechatronics (Online)


Tony Murray-Hollister Ballina

It was a long time ago that I engaged with formal education, and I was a bit nervous about starting this course. However, I did find the lectures easy enough to follow and the fact that they are recorded makes it more flexible as I can watch them when it suits me and if I need to watch them twice, that is also not a problem.

Anthony Hopkins-Abbvie

I have always struggled with math as a subject in school, but I found that the support from the lecturer was mighty. I do tend to learn through doing so to have the option to do the pneumatic and PLC labs on campus was a great help.

David Slevin-Aran Biomedical

I have been working abroad for a few years now and that makes it very difficult to do any formal education so to be able to do the whole course online made it possible. I found it interesting to do lab work at home with the Arduino boards, it gave me a proper feel for the real thing. I have enjoyed the course immensely, it has been challenging and rewarding.

Niall Punch-Stryker

At leaving cert I did not perform very well, and it put me off education for a long time. After many years of working, I felt that I wasn’t getting any further in my career. The Certificate in Automation and Instrumentation gave me the opportunity to further my career.

Christopher O Reilly-Castle Electrical Services

Before starting this programme, I was worried that I would not be able to commit the time to it. I have a family and both myself and my partner are working so time comes at a premium. I did find that after the first few weeks that I found a “rhythm” to join the lectures. Also having the recorded lectures helps when you want to catch up during the holiday periods.

Gavin Casey-Liebherr Container Cranes

I found the lecturers very helpful, they helped with tutorial, podcasts, and many other tools to remove barriers to learning. My fellow students also helped when I was stuck on some practical work through the online forum. Being able to do the exam online was a great help as I am not based in Ireland, and it would be very costly to travel for exams.

Did you know?

Frequently Asked Questions about this course

Is it necessary to attend the Online Induction in September?
It is highly recommended to attend the Online Induction in September to become familiar with using online technologies. It would also be a good opportunity to meet your fellow students and the lecturers that lecture on the programme.

When do the online lectures start?
Normally in the week following induction.

When will the dates of the practical days be available?
These will be announced at induction. Usually, the last three Fridays of the semester.

What are the times for the practical days?
The day normally starts with a 3 hr practical at 10 am. After lunch there is another 3 hr practical. The day finishes at 5 pm.

When do online lectures finish for the semester?
Most lecturers deliver about 12-13 lectures per semester including revision lectures. This allows at least a couple of weeks before the end of semester exams which usually start the 2nd week in January for the 1st semester and the 3rd week in May for the 2nd semester.

How will students be assessed?
Students are assessed through lab work and weekly quizzes (continuous assessment) and an exam at the end of the semester.

Will they have to attend examinations and how will these be conducted?

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.

Will there be additional reading during the course?
There is a study/reading week in October and at Easter.

Recommended books students can research in advance?
Students can have a look at some books on basic Java programming, pneumatic systems, basic PLC programming, fundamental books on instrumentation and leaving cert maths books. Students can have a look at the learning outcomes on the module descriptors and find relevant information on the Internet regarding the learning outcomes.

Overview of the key skills that students can expect to acquire on completion of the course.
Programming in Java, creating automation solutions by using microcontrollers, making measurements, designing and building circuits for automation, building pneumatic & electro-pneumatic circuits, PLC programming.

Programme Fees

Academic Year 2024/25 Fees


Total Programme Fees: 



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