Research Profile

Cindy O'Shea


Cindy O'Shea is a staff member in the School of Applied Social Studies where she began her career as a tutor in 1997 and subsequently progressed to the role of Placement Supervisor and lecturer on the B.Soc Youth & Community Work team. Her work chiefly focusses on the development of competent professional practitioners for the Youth & Community Work sector and in the development of reflective practice.
Cindy began her career in UCC in the Centre for Adult Continuing Education in 1992, teaching part-time on a number of Community Based courses but based primarily with the then Certificate & Diploma Courses in Youth Work Practice and in Community Development. In 1995 she took her first part time contract as a Course Co-ordinator with Adult Education with responsibility for the Youth & Community Work programmes. Utilising her own area of expertise as a Community Youth Worker & Health Promotion Worker, she has been involved in the development of Community based approaches to education and specifically in the development of the Diploma in Non-Formal Guidance as well as the redevelopment of the Diploma in Youth & Community Work. The philosophy of community based teaching & learning has been extremely successful for the Centre for Adult Education in past years with 76 outreach Centres in the period of 2000 to 2004 and building on professional networks Cindy  successfully built the credibility of Diploma programs in both community based and professional settings.  Cindy has been involved in co-ordinating & teaching on a variety of both Adult Education, Outreach and Continuing Education courses through her career with Adult Ed, including, the Masters in Learning & Development Consultancy, Higher Diplomas in Personnel Management, H.Dip in Safety, Health & Welfare at Work and the H.Dip in Leadership Development (Pharma Chem), Diploma's in Employee Welfare at Work, Retail Management, Training & Development, Team Supervision (Pharma Production), Non Formal Guidance, Social Studies, Regional Studies, Youth & Community Work, Community Development and the Youth & Community Work with Physical Activity Certificate.
Since graduating from UCC in 1987 with a B.Soc. Sc (hons), she has completed a Higher Diploma in Counselling in 1995, graduating with first class honours, in 2002 she completed a M.Sc. in Training & Human Resource Management with the University of Leicester completing a thesis at Distinction level. Further study in 2004 led to a Post graduate Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education and a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching & Learning in 2010. She has completed a Diploma in Life and Business Coaching and has trained as an NLP Practitioner and has been committed to continuing professional development throughout her career by training and developing skills in governance, management and applied skills. She is currently working on a doctorate track, examining the experience of prisoners in the Irish prison system.
As a professional youth worker she has 10 years direct experience with Ogra Chorcai and Cork Aids Alliance, delivering Drugs Awareness programmes, Personal Development and Health Promotion with Young People, families and professional groups.  She has been a volunteer with the East Cork Adult Literacy Service as a literacy tutor and with Meals on Wheels. She has worked on the Boards of Management of Ogra Chorcai, The Irish Heart Foundation (Cork), Cork Aids Alliance, Youth Work Ireland Cork , Cork Volunteer Bureau, AVP and the General Service Board of AA Ireland. She has worked with a Community Development Organisation in Pune, India in the summer of 2008. Cindy has also been involved in the development of a number of resources for Young People on Substance Misuse, Health Awareness, and HIV, Aids and Sexuality with the National Youth Council of Ireland and is involved in consultancy work within the Voluntary sector as a facilitator, supervisor, trainer and researcher.  She has worked as a member of Youth Work Irelands Quality Standards Peer Assessment Committee with responsibility for the evaluation & assessment of a number of Youth Work Projects and Services around Ireland.
The value of volunteering and having lived experience motivated Cindy to become involved in Samaritans and she has held a number of senior roles in the organisation since 2012, including Branch Director, Regional Director for Ireland, Regional Prison Coordinator, Appeals Assessor and Deputy Chair of Regional Directors over 15 years. She has worked on a number of cross organisation committees developing policy around Safeguarding, Prison Work, Child Protection, Governance, Organisational design and problem solving.
Cindy is a regular speaker at conferences and has presented papers at conferences at National and international level.

Research Interests

  • Professionalisation of youth and community work.
  • Reflective Practice and Professional Formation in the social professions
  • Group Work Practice
  • Group Work as an educational tool
  • The experience of prisoners in the Irish prison System
  • I am also a member of the 'Researching the Professions' and 'Children & Youth' research clusters of ISS21.

Contract Researchers

 Researcher NameProjectRoleFunding Body
Cindy O'SheaBarriers to Male Participation in Adult EducationPostgraduate ResearcherUCC Strategic Research Fund
Cindy O'SheaAn Evaluation of ABI Services in HSE Southern RegionCo Principal InvestigatorHealth Service Executive
Cindy O'SheaNeeds Analysis of single parents under 24 on Great IslandCo Principal InvestigatorDepartment of Education and Science
Cindy O'SheaAudit of Cork County Education Provision in 2005Co Principal InvestigatorDepartment of Education and Science
Cindy O'SheaSocial Needs Analysis for Step Program in East CorkCo Principal InvestigatorDepartment of Education and Science


Peer Reviewed Journals

(2016)'Book Review: Schinkel, Marguerite (2014) Being Imprisoned; Punishment, Adaptation and Desistance'
O'Shea, Cindy (2016) 'Book Review: Schinkel, Marguerite (2014) Being Imprisoned; Punishment, Adaptation and Desistance'. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies, Vol 16 (ISS.2) [DOI] [Details]

Conference Publications

(2022)ICEMTL Barcelona
O'Shea, C & O'Donovan D. (2022) Practice Teaching in the Pandemic -Creating constructive clinical practice learning environments through interactive multi media methods’ ICEMTL Barcelona [Details]
(2022)ETS Conference Berlin
O'Shea, C . (2022) Becoming- the journey from knowledge to practice' ETS Conference Berlin [Details]
(2019)SOTL Conference Bilbao
O'Shea, C & O'Donovan D. (2019) Developing the professional 'toolkit' - Making learning meaningful in applied youth and community work education' SOTL Conference Bilbao [Details]

Published Reports

(2008)'Needs Analysis of single parents under 24 on Great Island'.
O'Shea.C and Griffin, M. (2008) 'Needs Analysis of single parents under 24 on Great Island'. Family Support Network, Cork, Cork. [Details]
(2006)'Social Needs Analysis for Step Program in East Cork'.
O'Shea.C and Griffin, M. (2006) 'Social Needs Analysis for Step Program in East Cork'. YMCA East Cork, Cork. [Details]
(2006)An Evaluation of ABI Services in HSE Southern Region'.
O'Shea.C and Griffin, M. (2006) An Evaluation of ABI Services in HSE Southern Region'. HSE Regional ABI Committee, Cork. [Details]
(2005)Cork County Adult Education & Training Audit 2005'.
O'Shea.C and Griffin, M. (2005) Cork County Adult Education & Training Audit 2005'. Cork County Development Board, Cork. [Details]
(2004)A Study of Barriers to Male Participation in Adult Education'.
O'Shea, C & O''Faithigh, M.. (2004) A Study of Barriers to Male Participation in Adult Education'. Centre for Adult Continuing Education, UCC, Cork. [Details]

Professional Activities

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2022Digital Badge UCC
2022Digital Badge UCC OVPTL
2021Digital Badge UCC OVPTL
2019Gold Digital Badge SPEEDS UCC
2019Bronze Digital badge SPEEDS UCC
2013UCC Exceptional Citizen UCC

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
Samaritans UK & Ireland Deputy Chair of regional Directors01-SEP-21 /
CDYS Board menber01-SEP-22 /
Samaritans Cork Branch Director01-JUL-12 / 01-JUL-15
Samaritans Ireland Regional Prison Support Officer01-OCT-20 /
Samaritans Ireland Regional Director01-OCT-17 / 07-APR-19
Leargas Committee Member01-MAR-22 /
NSETS HEI representative01-JUN-22 / 02-JUN-24
AVP Ireland Chair & Board Member01-JAN-21 / 12-JUL-22
GSBAA External Trustee01-MAR-20 /


 CommitteeFunctionFrom / To
UCC's Work Integrated Learning Project Committee Member2022 /
Mediation Course in development in ACE Chair2022 /
UCC's RPL Steering Group Committee Member2022 /
EAAD Best (HSE South) Steering Group Member2021 /
Professional Accredited Programmes and Work Placement Working Group (CACSSS) Committee Member2021 /
National Suicide and Self Harm Committee of IPS Committee Member2020 /
Mental Health Reform Prison Committee Committee Member2020 /
Youth Work Educators Forum Founder & Convenor2017 /


 EmployerPositionFrom / To
ACE, University College Cork Course Co-ordinator01-SEP-09 / 30-JUN-14
ACE, University College Cork Course Co-ordinator01-SEP-95 / 31-AUG-04
Ogra Chorcai Ltd Outreach Worker01-JAN-88 / 31-AUG-95
Cork Aids Alliance Education Outreach Worker01-SEP-95 / 01-SEP-97
University College Cork Lecturer & Practice Supervisor01-SEP-04 /


2006Coach Academy NLP PractitionerNLP Theory and Skills
2010UCC Pg Dip TLHETeaching & Learning
2005UCC PG Cert in Teaching & Learning in Higher EducationTeaching & Learning
2002University of Leicester MSC. Training & HRMTraining & Human Resource Management
1987UCC B.Soc. Sc.Social Sciences
2005Coach Academy Dip in Life and Business CoachingLife and Business COaching
1994UCC H.Dip CounsCounselling

Outreach Activities


Supervisor & trainer for Voluntary sector agencies and Youth Work Practitioners. Speaker at Youth Work Events Erasmus Programme

Other Activities


External Examiner for Carlow IT 2013-16 and LIT Thurles Campus 2011-14

Teaching Activities

Teaching Interests

  • Group Work & Facilitation
  • Reflective Practice
  • Professional Formation & Skills development
  • Managing & developing Professional Practice in Youth & Community Work
  • Peer Support and approaches to working in prison
  • Experience of Prisoners within the prison system

Recent Postgraduates

 Graduation YearStudent NameInstitutionDegree TypeThesis Title
2022Aoife Talty UCCAn Examination of the experience of Churchfield Community Trust during the Covid Pandemic
2022Nicole Nagle NUI (UCC)An analysis of the Irish Social Welfare System as it is Applied to the Direct Provision System, and the Overlapping of Human Rights Breaches.
2022Luke Conway NUI (UCC)Social Isolation Among the Elderly- an All-Ireland Comparative Study of Experiences in Urban & Rural Areas

Contact details

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School of Applied Social Studies

Staidéar Sóisialta Feidhmeach

William Thompson House, Donovan's Road, Cork, Ireland.