Carol O'Byrne

Dr Carol O'Byrne

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


Originally trained in Languages and Linguistics (Carol hold a first class honours BA (Joint Honours) in French and German and a first class honours MA in Applied Linguistics, both from University College Cork), she has always been interested in education, and in particular in teaching and learning.  Undertaking a professional doctorate in Education at the University of Sheffield allowed Carol to develop that interest, and since completing the doctorate in 2009, the major focus of her work has shifted to Education.  In addition to Carol's teaching and research, she has served on Academic Council and on various institutional committees, as well as representing WIT (now SETU) on national committees including the Royal Irish Academy’s Modern Languages Committee, the Learning Innovation Network and the HEI FET Forum.  Carol has also been programme leader on the Teaching Council accredited Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching in Further Education since its inception in 2012.

Research Interests

Carol's early research work focused on learner strategies for second language acquisition and on the development of learner autonomy in language learners.  In the early 2000s, her research focus shifted from language education to education more generally and Carol undertook an Ed.D. in the area of higher education and lifelong learning with the University of Sheffield in the UK.  Carol's doctoral thesis, completed under the supervision of Professor Melanie Walker, focused on the nature and evolution of academic professional identities in the IoT sector of Irish higher education and examined these identities in the light of socialist realist conceptualisations of identity and of the structure-agency relationship drawn from the work of Margaret Archer. 

Carol's research interests include: professional identities and working experiences in education; interaction of structure and agency (policy and practice) in academic working contexts; modes of reflexivity and their impact on individuals and organisations.  She is also very interested in the areas of Further Education and Further Education teaching, and is currently supervising a funded doctoral candidate whose work explores the professional identities of further education practitioners in Ireland. 


Carol began her lecturing career as a language lecturer.  In the 1990s she lectured in French at WIT and UL, and in German at IT Tralee, before taking up a permanent position as a lecturer in German at WIT in 1999. Based in the Department of Languages, Tourism and Hospitality, Carol taught both on specialized language programmes, including the BA in Languages and Marketing and the BA (Hons), and on language programmes for specialists in other disciplines, working with students of computing, engineering and business at various points.  As demand for languages declined during the economic boom, Carol branched out into other areas, teaching Intercultural Communication and Professional Development and Effectiveness across a range of programmes in the School of Engineering, as well as modules in areas such as Pedagogy and Research Methods in the School of Education.  On completion of mher doctoral work in Education, Carol moved to the School of Education, where she now teaches on both the PG Diploma in Teaching in Further Education and the M.Ed. in Education.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

Education/Academic qualification

EdD, Ed. D (Education), University of Sheffield


Masters Degree, MA (Applied Linguistics - French), University College Cork


Bachelors Degree, BA (Joint Honours) (French and German), University College Cork



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