Specialist Diploma in Quality Management
Lean Systems


(Postgraduate NFQ Level 9) (On-line / Distance Learning)


Course Overview:

This Lean Black Belt course, aims to develop participants' process improvement skills.  The diploma will provide education and practical application to a Black Belt level in Lean.  The course will enable participating companies gain competitive advantage through the application of Lean principles to drive improvement with measurable results.  A company-based project will form a key element of the programme, ensuring the integration of the various concepts in the participants’ workplace.  It will provide participants with a practical application of Lean tools and techniques within their own organisation.

This project will need to result in significant improvements for participating company.

This programme forms part of the MSc in Strategic Quality Management Lean Sigma Systems.  Those who have completed this programme may continue on to the MSc.


Download the brochure here



This programme takes 9 months and is run over two semesters, each 15 weeks.


For Whom

The Diploma 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.


Entry Requirements:

Relevant primary degree (Level 8) or recognised professional qualification and 1-3 years relevant industrial experience.

In the situation where an applicant does not meet the minimum entry requirements above, an offer of a place on the course may be made in exceptional circumstances. The candidate will be required to provide a portfolio of evidence of prior qualifications in quality management together with the application of learning or competence (e.g green/black belt project reports, reflective papers or journals). Two references from appropriate signatories in the candidate’s organisation will be accepted as evidence. Candidates may be required to attend an interview prior to enrolling on the programme.


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:

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.


Programme Fees:

Fees for the programme are €5,250, payable in 2 equal instalments.



Please visit the Application page to read detailed guidelines on how to successfully apply.


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 ulearning@ul.ie or call 061 213360.


Approved Training Programmes and Trainers have been placed on the FÁS/EI National Register of Trainers (Registration No.902816)