Post Graduate Certificate in NI Employment Law and Practice

Post Graduate Certificate in NI Employment Law and Practice

Would you like to get a recognised, accredited qualification in Northern Ireland employment law from the comfort of your own home/office, wherever you are based?

Five years ago, Legal Island joined forces with Ulster University and the Labour Relations Agency (the NI equivalent of the Workplace Relations Commission) to create what we think is the best employment law course anywhere in the UK. The feedback from students and guest lecturers has been exceptional.

The course includes 24 employment law and compliance lectures from the cream of Northern Ireland’s employment law expert practitioners and 12 afternoon sessions on ADR and tribunal representation, including role-play exercises with Labour Relations Agency staff and the President of Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal. All live sessions take place on Tuesday afternoons, with the majority of sessions taking place online. Students will also be able to watch recordings of all sessions and presentations after they are broadcast.

Where else will you find a line-up of guest experts like these?

  • Eileen McBride, President, OITFET
  • Adam Brett, Partner, Jones Cassidy Brett
  • Adrienne Brock, Partner, Elliott Duffy Garrett
  • Gareth Walls, Partner, A&L Goodbody
  • Lisa Bryson, Partner, Eversheds-Sutherland
  • Louise McAloon, Partner, Worthingtons
  • Orlagh O’Neill, Partner, Carson McDowell
  • Rosemary Lundy, Partner, Arthur Cox
  • Seamus McGranaghan, Director, O’Reilly Stewart
  • Anna Beggan, Partner, Tughans
  • Avril Alexander, Employment Relations Manager, LRA
  • Ciara Fulton, Partner, Jones Cassidy Brett
  • Elaine Clarke, Employment Relations Manager, LRA
  • Emma-Jane Flannery, Partner, Arthur Cox
  • Esther McGuinness, Senior Lecturer in Law; Co-Director, Ulster University Law Clinic 
  • Fiona Cassidy, Partner, Jones Cassidy Brett
  • Kiera Lee, Director of Employment Law, Mills Selig
  • Laura Gillespie, Partner, Pinsent Masons LLP
  • Mary Kitson, Senior Legal Officer, Equality Commission for NI
  • Patricia Coulter, Employment Relations Manager, LRA
  • Patricia Rooney, Partner, Tughans
  • Patrick McAuley, Employment Relations Manager, LRA
  • Paul Gillen, Partner, Pinsent Masons LLP & UU Visiting Professor to the School of Law
  • Rachel Penny, Partner, Carson McDowell
  • Scott Alexander, Head of Learning and Development, Legal Island
  • Mark McAllister, Director of Employment Relations Services, LRA
  • Joanne Lightburn, Senior Associate, Jones Cassidy Brett
  • Leeanne Armstrong, Legal Director, TLT Solicitors

We don’t believe you will find an equivalent course anywhere. If you do, please tell us and we’ll improve this one accordingly!

Just look at some of these topics:

  • Formation of the Employment Contract
  • Who is Protected? Modern Employment Relationships
  • NI & GB Comparative Laws
  • Pay and Annual Leave Issues
  • Work Life Balance and Family Friendly Rights
  • 5 x Sessions on Discrimination Laws in NI
  • The Law on Dismissal
  • Stress & Welfare at Work
  • Social Media in the Workplace
  • Recruitment & Selection
  • Discipline & Capability
  • Protected Disclosures
  • Redundancy & Reorganisation
  • TUPE
  • Workplace Grievances
  • Data Protection
  • 2 x Sessions on Trade Unions & Collective Matters
  • Important case law and other developments to watch out for in 2022 onwards

Who is it for?

This special course is aimed at those who wish to gain a recognised qualification in NI employment law & practice. Candidates should hold a degree, preferably in law or social sciences. This course will be of particular value to those who currently practice in employment law, trade union or HR professions, or intend to do so.

Hear from the Course Director and graduates (based on 2020/2021 information)

When does it run?

In the first semester there will be two live presentations between 2.00 - 4.30pm. Our first term will commence as planned on 21 September 2021 and students will be supplied with pre-recorded presentations that will complement the live sessions. In the second semester (commencing 26 Jan 2021) there will be a live session each week from 3.30 – 4.30, also supplemented by pre-recorded presentations.

Course work will be required at the end of each semester and successful students will graduate in the summer of 2022.

In total there are 4 modules: 2 x 20-point credit modules (employment law and compliance law) and 2 x 10-point credit modules (ADR & Tribunal Representation).

Each module is assessed. The course will be taught by leading employment lawyers and other experts from across Northern Ireland and will include role plays presented by guest lecturers. The cost is £4,380. Student loans may be available – check with Ulster University for details. This course may be completed in a part-time (modular) basis. Again, check with Ulster University, should you be unable to complete the PG Certificate in one year.

Places on this course are limited - apply through the Ulster University website:


"A solid foundational course exploring all aspects of the topic in a practical fashion, with real life examples and application."
Derek Weir, Head of Legal Services and Employee Relations, Queen's University Belfast

"An outstanding course in every aspect, taught by a wealth of subject matter experts in every field of employment law."
Michelle Connolly, Student, Ulster University (2019 QUB Graduate).

"The information has been very practical. From day one I have been able to put the learnings from the lectures into my working life. Great for linking and networking with other professionals and has provided me with a great grasp of Northern Ireland employment law."
Jillian Miskelly, People Partner NI, Depaul

"An excellent course – a must for any HR Professional. Comprehensive cover of all key employment law matters."
Joanne Doherty, People Partner, Ulster University

"This course builds my confidence when I make decisions in my role. I feel like the course has given me the tools to know the right response or at least I know where to look for the answer. I have also felt creatively inspired throughout this course – thank you!"
Maya Leonard, Senior Manager, People Solutions, Concentrix

"Very useful, practical course for any HR professional trying to navigate Northern Irish employment law. Highly recommend."
Kathryn McKinney, HR Officer, WD Meats

"The kids out there want something they can relate to, something that's real – this course is it"
Jack Morgan, Student Clinician, Ulster Law Clinic

“Excellent. The course brought together all areas of Employment legislation into one qualification. Every speaker was expert in the topic they were presenting and very enthusiastic regarding subject. Very worthwhile.”
Laura Banks, Solicitor, Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors

"This is easily the most comprehensive, pragmatic and worthwhile course currently on offer.  It brings together the 'best of the best' practitioners in the jurisdiction and affords students an unparalleled opportunity to blend academic excellence with commercial experience and application.  We are and have been delighted to support this initiative."
Gareth Walls, Partner, A&L Goodbody (Guest lecturer)

“This course is a truly unique post graduate course with a focus on skills and capacity building finely balanced with applied learning, real life context and expert practitioner input. This inspired blend makes for a learning experience like no other currently offered, it is truly a tailored added value product that everyone has been crying out for.”
Mark McAllister, Senior Employment Relations Officer, Labour Relations Agency (Guest lecturer)

"This course boasts an outstanding range of practising lawyers, who are leaders in their respective fields.  As such, this course gives students access to practical, first-hand knowledge of legal principles and unprecedented practical insight."
Laura Gillespie, Partner, Pinsent Masons (Guest lecturer)

“Very relevant, up to date and thought provoking”
Damian Rushe, Employment Relations Officer, LRA

“Useful and practical information which allows for interrogation and debate on current issues and problems relevant to me. I found the Recruitment and Selection sessions most valuable as it uses real life adverts, with relevant case law and very practical, logical ways to overcome potential problems.”
Dylan Loughlin, Employment Law Consultant, MCL Employment Law

“It is a very interesting course and the focus on practical aspects is very good.”
Nuala McMahon, Student, Ulster University

 “I thoroughly enjoyed the ADR sessions as they were very informative and interactive. The course was informative and useful in applying theory into practice”
Paula Breen, Student, Ulster University

“If Carlsberg did courses, you would want to pick this one!”
Philippa Herra, Student at Ulster University

“Very practical course that ensures it can be used day today. Builds confidence in the application of legislation.”
Marie Matthewson, Head of HR, CCEA

“The course has only increased my understanding of employment law and made me more employable for the future.”
Callum McMahon

“Builds confidence and knowledge to use in the work environment. Able to share knowledge with colleagues”
Laura McGovern, Senior Employment Advisor, BMA

“Great course, very practically based with lectures delivered by key players in the employment field.”
Mollie Simpson, Barrister

“Great course, practical and informative with lots of useful resources that are invaluable.”
Martin Garry, Section Lead Resourcing, Ulster University

“Very engaging and practical course, the range of practitioners in employment law was excellent. Highly recommend!”
Siobhan Fitzsimmons, AHRBP, Queen’s University Belfast

“As a HR professional this course was a fantastic source of support and information. Definitely recommend.”
Noeleen Farnan, Owner, Business Primis


  • Avril Alexander
    Avril Alexander Employment Relations Manager
    Labour Relations Agency

    Avril Alexander has worked for the Labour Relations Agency for over 30 years, including 5 years in the Helpline, where she answered queries on employment law and 8 years working as a Conciliation Officer, helping parties resolve employment tribunal claims. Avril is currently working as an Employment Relations Manager in the Conciliation and Arbitration Department where she manages a team of conciliators.  She is a member of the CIPD and is a qualified and experienced mediator.

  • Anna Beggan
    Anna Beggan Partner

    Anna joined Tughans as a Partner in June 2006 to head up the Employment Team and has grown and developed the team to now be one of the largest and most highly regarded in Northern Ireland.

  • Adam Brett
    Adam Brett Partner
    Jones Cassidy Brett

    Adam Brett is a Partner in Jones Cassidy Brett. For many years Adam jointly headed the litigation department of a major Belfast Commercial Practice, and for the last 20 years he has concentrated increasingly on employment and discrimination matters. Adam has throughout his career advised a wide range of educational and charitable bodies, including Schools, Universities, Colleges, and other educational institutions in relation to employment, student and other concerns.


  • Adrienne Brock
    Adrienne Brock Partner
    Elliott Duffy Garrett

    Adrienne is a Partner in EDG and the Head of the Employment Law Unit. After graduating from Queen's University, Belfast with an LLB (Hons), Adrienne was admitted as a solicitor in Northern Ireland in 1986.

    Adrienne provides advice and representation in relation to employment law issues, mainly to employer clients, across a wide range of sectors including private, voluntary public and regulated sectors. This includes, in summary, advising in relation to the management of employment and employment related issues from recruitment/selection/appointment to termination of employment, including contracts of employment, policies and procedures, conduct of grievance, harassment and disciplinary procedures, dismissals and compromise agreements.

  • Lisa Bryson
    Lisa Bryson Partner
    Eversheds Sutherland

    Lisa is a partner in the employment and immigration team of Eversheds Sutherland.  Lisa trained and qualified with Eversheds LLP (as was then) in Nottingham and London before moving back ‘home’ in 2009.  She has led the employment and immigration practice in Northern Ireland since re-joining the firm in 2017.

    Lisa has considerable experience of providing contentious and non-contentious employment law advice to private and public sector clients.   She specialises in restructuring and TUPE work, major change programmes, executive matters and severances and Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunal litigation.  Lisa is an experienced Tribunal advocate and has appeared in numerous hearings both in Northern Ireland and England.  Lisa advises clients across a broad range of sectors with a particular interest in the financial and professional services, retail, media and telecommunications, transport and logistics and manufacturing sectors.

    The practice group works closely with businesses preparing for the immigration implications of Brexit and those businesses seeking to move their workforce around the globe and recruit new employees to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

  • Fiona Cassidy
    Fiona Cassidy Senior Partner
    Jones Cassidy Brett

    Fiona has had extensive involvement in advisory work and litigation both in private practice with JCB in the Fair Employment Commission.  As the Solicitor and Secretary to the Commission, Fiona was responsible for management and administrative matters.  She therefore has a wealth of practical experience of dealing with public administration and management.  Fiona has been described in the Chambers UK legal directory as a “leader in the field” of employment law and as “an expert in human rights and anti-discrimination law, as exemplified by her involvement in the drafting of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act.

  • Patricia Coulter
    Patricia Coulter Employment Relations Manager
    Labour Relations Agency

    Patricia Coulter has worked with the Labour Relations Agency for over 22 years, after starting her career in HR Management in the Shipbuilding & Railway Industries. During her time in the Labour Relations Agency she has extensive experience in advising on Employment Law matters and has delivered training on a wide variety of employment law topics. She is currently working as an Employment Relations Manager in the Conciliation and Arbitration Department where she manages a team of conciliators. She is a chartered member of the Institute of Personnel and Development and is a qualified workplace mediator.

  • Ciara Fulton
    Ciara Fulton Senior Partner
    Jones Cassidy Brett

    Ciara Fulton is a Senior Partner in Jones Cassidy Brett, a niche employment law firm based in Belfast, which is renowned for its expertise in employment and equality law. Ciara is dual qualified and advises on all aspects of employment law in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. She has significant experience of advising clients on all aspects of employment law and cross-border issues.

  • Joanne Lightburn
    Joanne Lightburn Senior Associate Solicitor
    Jones Cassidy Brett

    Joanne is dual qualified and advises on all aspects of employment law in Northern Ireland as well as Great Britain (GB), having practised for 9 years at a large leading commercial law firm in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

    Joanne has extensive experience in Employment Tribunal litigation, specialising in complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. She also specialises in providing strategic advice to public and private sector clients on non-contentious matters such as TUPE negotiations and large-scale business reorganisations, often involving collective redundancy programmes. In addition, she provides practical advice on day-to-day HR matters as well as complex disciplinary and grievance issues.  She also advises on aspects of public administrative law.

  • Paul Gillen
    Paul Gillen Partner
    Pinsent Masons

    Paul Gillen is a Partner in the employment & pensions team at Pinsent Masons LLP. Beginning his career in Human Resource Management, he spent more than 10 years working in a variety of HR roles including retail, construction, civil engineering, manufacturing and distribution.

    Paul is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and is currently vice chair to the Northern Ireland Branch Committee. Paul is a member of the CBI Employment and Skills committee and a Visiting Professor to the School of Law at the University of Ulster.

  • Laura Gillespie
    Laura Gillespie Partner
    Pinsent Masons

    Laura Gillespie is a partner in the litigation & dispute resolution team and is based in Pinsent Masons' Belfast office. She handles a wide range of commercial disputes, to include contractual disputes, fraud, land disputes, judicial review and professional negligence.  Laura is a specialist in regulatory compliance, helping clients navigate through regulatory enforcement such as Data Protection, Environmental & Waste, Health & Safety, Modern Slavery and Internal Investigations for bribery and fraud.  Laura is recognised in both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

  • Mary Kitson
    Mary Kitson Senior Legal Officer
    Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

    Mary Kitson is employed by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland as a Senior Legal Officer.  Mary qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and after 1 year working in a commercial law firm joined the Fair Employment Commission in 1993.

    Mary commenced employment with the Equality Commission in 1999.  Her role involves providing advice and assistance to people who believe that they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination and to help the Commission choose appropriate cases to support.

  • Jennifer Knape
    Jennifer Knape Lecturer in Clinical Legal Education
    Ulster University

    Jennifer has over nineteen years’ experience in employee relations. She is a registered nurse, practising barrister and a ADR Group civil and commercial mediator. She has a background in criminal defence and prosecution, civil, professional disciplinary and regulatory and employment law. Jennifer is a part-time lecturer and a case supervisor in the Ulster Law Clinic.

  • Rosemary Lundy
    Rosemary Lundy Partner
    Arthur Cox

    Rosemary Lundy is a partner in the Employment Law Group of the Arthur Cox Belfast Office in Northern Ireland. Rosemary has extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, with a particular specialism in equality, having worked as in house legal adviser with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland before joining Arthur Cox.

    Rosemary contributes to Legal Island’s “First Tuesday” email service and regularly writes articles for a variety of publications.

  • Mark McAllister
    Mark McAllister Director of Employment Relations Services
    Labour Relations Agency

    Mark McAllister is Director of Employment Relations Services with the LRA and part-time lecturer in Law. He specialises in employment law, dispute prevention and strategic collaborative working in industrial and employment relations. Mark is the former Northern Ireland Convenor of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and the Chair of the NI ICSA Governance Institute. He is an accredited mediator,  a member of the Employment Lawyers’ Group and the Industrial Law Society and is a regular speaker on the employment law circuit and contributor to employment law publications.

  • Patrick McAuley
    Patrick McAuley Employment Relations Manager
    Labour Relations Agency

    With previous experience working in a variety of HR and Organisation Development roles in both the public and private sectors, Patrick joined the Labour Relations Agency in 2011.  Initially employed as a Conciliation Officer, he is currently employed as an Employment Relations Manager with responsibility for the Agency’s regional office, working in both Conciliation and Advisory services.  Patrick is a Chartered Member of the CIPD, a PRINCE2 Practitioner and a qualified workplace mediator.

  • Eileen McBride
    Eileen McBride President

    Eileen McBride graduated from Queen’s University in 1978.  She was admitted to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1979 where she specialised in Matrimonial/Family Law and Employment Law.  She was appointed Chairman of the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals in 1994 and President in 2005.  Awarded CBE in 2010.  

  • Seamus McGranaghan
    Seamus McGranaghan Director - Commercial
    O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors

    Seamus McGranaghan qualified as a Solicitor in O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors in 2003 and practices mainly in the areas of education and employment law. Seamus has assisted and advised many Boards of Governors, Senior Management Teams and Teachers in relation to all aspects of education and employment law. Seamus also provides advocacy services for Boards of Governors on both Expulsion Appeals and Independent Admissions Appeal tribunals. 

  • Orlagh O'Neill
    Orlagh O'Neill Partner
    Carson McDowell

    Orlagh O'Neill is a Partner and Head of the Employment Team at Carson McDowell Solicitors in Belfast. She advises mainly employer clients on a wide range of employment issues and has acted for some of Northern Ireland's largest employers, including Royal Mail and BT. She is a committee member and vice chair of the Employment Lawyers Group of Northern Ireland, a member of both the UK and Irish Employment Law Groups (ELA and ELAI) and a regular speaker at annual employment law update conferences.

  • Rachel Penny
    Rachel Penny Partner
    Carson McDowell

    Rachel is a Partner in the firm's Employment Team. She is a graduate of Cambridge University and completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law in York.

    Rachel's experience straddles both contentious and non-contentious employment law for a wide range and size of clients. Rachel has particular expertise in advising on TUPE and other employment matters in corporate transactions and mergers, including public sector reorganisations. 

  • Patricia Rooney
    Patricia Rooney Partner

    Patricia is a Director in the Employment Department and has extensive experience advising on contentious and non-contentious employment issues and pension matters.

    She drafts and advises on Service Agreements, restrictive covenants and their enforceability; TUPE and Service Provision Change issues and regularly represents clients at the Employment Tribunal and Courts in Northern Ireland.

    Patricia is described “knowledgeable, unflappable and pragmatic” as well as “very experienced and very detailed.”  Chambers UK 2018

    Extremely knowledgeable and competent” and “provides timely and high-quality advice.” Chambers UK 2017

  • Gareth Walls
    Gareth Walls Partner
    A&L Goodbody

    Gareth Walls is partner and head of the A&L Goodbody Employment and Incentives team in Northern Ireland. Gareth represents a number of local, national and international brands in business support, strategic workforce planning and tribunal matters. He also has significant experience in corporate immigration, redundancy, re-structuring and TUPE issues. Gareth is an accomplished advocate with particular emphasis on equality matters, unfair dismissal, covenants and injunctive relief in the Employment context, as well as being a CEDR qualified mediator.

  • Kiera Lee
    Kiera Lee Partner
    Mills Selig

    Kiera has 19 years’ experience in employment law acting mainly for employers in contentious and non-contentious matters. Her client list includes leading NI Companies and large employers (up to 2,000 employees).

    Kiera’s experience covers day to day HR problems and complex restructuring issues. She has given advice on a restructure and redundancy programme involving more than 800 employees and defended multi claimant tribunal claims for unfair dismissal arising from TUPE transfers.

    She also assists with strategic decisions, successfully managing the exit of senior executives and any contentious issues with restrictive covenants.  

  • Leeanne Armstrong
    Leeanne Armstrong Legal Director

    Leeanne joined TLT as a Legal Director in the Employment team in July 2018. Leeanne has experience of advising a range of public and private sector clients on a broad range of employment issues.

    Her experience includes support and representation of clients in the Industrial Tribunal and the Fair Employment Tribunal, TUPE, outsourcing, absence management, grievance and disciplinary procedures, redundancy, equality and diversity issues (including monitoring obligations). In addition, Leeanne has extensive experience supporting on employment aspects of multi-million pound M&As. Leeanne's depth of experience enables her to bring a practical and commercial approach to the advice she provides to clients, including in the management of tribunal litigation, so as to provide the client with the most favourable and cost-effective outcomes.

Event details


24 Lectures


21 September 2021