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Sustainable Development / Forbairt Inbhuanaithe



Please note due to the great demand for our programmes early applications are assessed when received and dealt with promptly. Therefore it is advisable to make early applications for an early response. If you do not yet have your final degree results this will not hinder your application as we are happy to issue conditional offer letters in such circumstances.

This course, which includes a work placement, provides a broad knowledge and understanding of sustainable development including the issues, techniques, management and applications relevant to the living and working environment.


The MSc in Sustainable Development aims to produce the environmental professionals who can pursue actions and policies derived from evidence, experience and rigorous evaluation.

The programme aims and objectives are to provide graduates with the skills and ability to interpret principles of sustainable development and translate these into policy responses.

Information Handbook

An information handbook is available here to download: MSc Sustainable Development Information Handbook‌.  This is provided to give you an overview of the DT118 programme and contains most of the information displayed on these WebPages.

Entry Requirements:

Honours Bachelor Degree in any relevant discipline at 2.2 grade or higher, or equivalent. Eligible candidates may be interviewed where work/career experience is being considered in lieu of academic qualifications.

Note: Due to the considerable competition for our postgraduate programmes satisfying the minimum entry requirement is not a guarantee of a place. Applications will be assessed based on your academic grades and may also take into account your work/life experience.

Career Opportunities

Graduates are eligible for a wide range of posts in Irish and International enterprises, both public and private, in both the manufacturing and service sectors. Generally students tend to seek or get employment with the skills they developed in their primary degree but with the added advantage of having an in depth understanding of the process and application of sustainable development to environmental, economic or social sectors. With work placement and a suitable research dissertation you could develop the skills needed to help focus your career in a sector that is of particular interest to you.

Course Content

General Structure

The MSc Sustainable Development is a full time course that runs over 15 months at the DIT. Lectures take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays in semesters 1 and 2. Mondays and Tuesdays are allocated to work placement.

The Programme is structured to provide a first semester of modules which ensure that all candidates are exposed to the most current thinking about the core topics of sustainable development – such as ecology, the socio-economic environment, environmental law and institutions etc – while a techniques module ensures that candidates are aware of the research and writing standards necessary for participation in an MSc programme.

The first Semester is also used to prepare the candidate to select a Dissertation topic – largely though the ‘Research Conference’. Two modules – Case Studies (semester 1) and Sustainability and Public policy in a European Context (semester 2) – provide opportunities to visit and experience examples of best practice – both in Ireland and abroad.

The second semester consists almost entirely of optional modules that provide the candidate with exposure to subjects they feel will develop an expertise in a particular aspect of sustainable development.

In the first semester of the programme students have an intensive and in depth introduction to and review of sustainable development as applied in Irish, European and global economies.

In semester 2 students develop an element of specialisation. Students are asked to select 4 modules worth 5 credits from the suite of modules available to the programme (See Optional modules for DT118 for module summaries.)

Core Modules DT118 MSc in Sustainable Development

These modules run in the first semester unless indicated otherwise. A link to the module descriptor on DIT Coursewise pages is provided with each module outline below.

  • Society and Sustainable Development (5 credits) Introduces the learner to the socio-political and ethical issues integral to the study of sustainable development. The module introduces the learner to the key concepts and theories of politics, ethics, sociology, social policy and evaluates the role of social equity for the practice of sustainable development.
  • Research Techniques (5 credits) Provides the skills to understand sources of information, data analysis and computation relevant to research.  It also prepares the student for writing the dissertation.
  • Transport and Urban Development (5 credits) An overview of strategies and tools available to develop a comprehensive policy framework aimed at achieving sustainable mobility patterns and an accessible urban environment.  The module also provides insight into the reflexive relationship between transport infrastructure, real estate investment and urban development.
  • Ecology (5 credits) Provides an awareness and understanding of various areas of human activity and processes and how these impact on the natural environment.
  • Environmental Law and Institutions II (5 credits) Provides a proper understanding of environmental legislation and its impact on the process of monitoring and guiding the development process.
  • Sustainability and Public policy in a European Context (5 credits) This module is a forum for exploration of contemporary issues in sustainability and regional development through site visits in Europe.
  • Case studies in Sustainability (5 credits) A series of lectures from practitioners in the field of sustainable development. The module includes field trips based in Ireland
  • Economy and Sustainable Development (5 credits) An introduction to the concepts and theories of economics. The module uses contemporary examples in Ireland and internationally to analyse the relationship between economics and sustainable development.
  • Dissertation (25 credits) Semester 1 and 2 This is a self directed learning module which is reported in a dissertation between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The dissertation will be an original piece of work by the student on a research topic relevant to the theme of Sustainable Development.
  • Progress and Placement (5 credits) Semester 1 and 2 Each student is required to spend a minimum of 14 hours per week for 16 weeks in an approved and monitored work placement.

Work Placement

Each student will spend a minimum of 14 hours per week (Monday and Tuesday) over a minimum of 16 weeks in an approved and monitored work placement. The dissertations are generally based on his placement.

For information on some of the host organisations who have participated in the work placement programme please click here . This list is by no means exhaustive as the placements change from year to year to reflect the student's interests.

Elective Modules in Sustainable Development 

Students select 4 of these modules for semester 2

  • Sustainable Construction (5 credits) The module aims to familiarize the learner with documentation and construction techniques commonly used by the construction sector and provide an understanding of key issues, relating to energy conservation techniques.
  • Environmental Management Plans II (5 credits) The students work as a team or teams to develop a management plan of an extensive habitat or network of habitats that considers a number of scenarios such as intensification of tourism or agriculture or strict protection of habitats.
  • Environmental Design and Management (5 credits) This module presents a holistic and integrated approach to design, at household, settlement, city or regional level. The module explores new ways in which resources can be used more effectively and efficiently.
  • Climate Change – Systems and Models (5 credits) This module addresses the basic principles of systems analysis and environmental modelling.  The module introduces the student to the fundamental principles of system dynamics, the theoretical context of model development, the modelling process and the general approach to model construction.
  • Entrepreneurship (5 credits) To ‘make development happen’ is often dependent on local business initiatives the success of which is usually because of shrewd appraisal of market opportunities, ability to take risks, and use of supporting structures. The module explores the key issues in bringing ideas into successful business concepts.
  • EU Policy (5 credits) Examination of theories and practice of regional development.
  • Local Development and Project Appraisal (5 credits) A critical evaluation of how local and regional developments are implemented having regard to the principles of sustainable development.
  • Management Studies (5 credits) The module provides an introduction to managerial effectiveness and behaviour which will assist the student improve their organisational performance through the better use and the management of human resources.
  • Spatial Data Assessment (5 credits) The module presents an overview of methods for the assessment of spatial data including geographic information systems and related technologies to enable the learner to appreciate their usefulness in the complex and multifaceted task of sustainable development.
  • National and Regional Planning (5 credits) This module provides an understanding of economic forces underlying urban development and an awareness of Irish and international spatial planning practice and strategic policy making at metropolitan, regional, national and transnational levels.
  • Urban Economics II (5 credits) The module examines the relationship between changing socio-economic forces and their impact on the built environment through the planning and development process.
  • Law for the Community (5 credits)

DT118A Part Time Course Structure

Exit awards DT118 A (Part Time)

Postgraduate certificate in Sustainable Development
30 ECT credits
Candidates complete 3 core modules in semester 1 year 1 and 3 option modules in semester 2. There is no requirement to demonstrate prior learning for the postgraduate certificate.

Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Development
60 ECT credits
Candidates complete 5 core modules in years 1 and 2 and 5 option modules. Candidates should have 10 ECT credits from prior knowledge/work experience.

The module mix for the full and part time modes of study for all awards in Sustainable Development are shown in table 1.6 in the document below.


Table 1.8 Module mix for postgraduate certificate, diploma and MSc Sustainable Development on the full and part time modes.  


Course assessment is by a combination of written examinations and assignments. Each module is subject to separate assessment.


College of Engineering and Built Environment, DIT Bolton Street, Dublin 1

Timetable / Hours

15 months: 3rd week in September to mid October

Structure: Lecture programme 30% of total annual hours allocation.

Work Experience: 20% of total annual hours allocation.

Study hours: 50% of total annual hours allocation.

For Further Information

Dr Ken Boyle
School of Spatial Planning 
College of Engineering & Built Environment
Dept of Environment & Planning DIT Bolton Street Dublin 1 

T: 01 402 3814 
F: 01 402 3999 

Frequently Asked Questions

EU Fees

For information on part-time postgraduate fees click here

For information on funding please see the following link: Fees and Funding


Dissertation topics

Copies of the dissertations below are held in the DIT library at Bolton Street. Those listed are examples of work completed in the past five years.

  • My home, my street, my world: Children's experiences of Ballymun and how their participation in local environmental decision-making could increase the sustainability of their urban community / Hedda Dick
  • The potential for a certified cycle training programme in Ireland / David Sellars
  • Natura 2000 sites and development pressure in Ireland: Are Natura 2000 sites adequately protected in the light of Article 6 of the habitats directive? / Sandrine Cadic
  • The power of the consumer: How public awareness of the secondary carbon footprints of food could reduce Ireland's GHG emissions / Eloise Moore
  • The rate and directional flow of contaminants from septic tanks and their effect on groundwater quality in the Churchill & Oram group water scheme catchment / Dave Corrigan
  • A review of factors affecting the development of small hydro potential in Ireland / Fergal O'Hannrachain
  • The role for Irish environmental non-governmental organisations in waste management training / education for the small and medium enterprise sector / Lorraine Fitzgerald
  • The role of a segregated litter bin in diverting biodegradable waste from landfill / Jennifer Berta Muscheidt
  • Smart meters and the government's targets for renewable energy / Philip W. Beck
  • Strategic environmental assessment: how is it influenced by the relationship of local authority perception and the quality of the environmental report? / Maeve Morrissey
  • A sustainability comparison between horse traction and tractor traction on small farm holdings in Ireland / Claire Morrissey
  • A study of environmental initiatives in the Shanganagh Estate (Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council), with particular focus on community gardening as a gateway to environmental awareness and action in local authority housing estates: Emma C. El-Sahn
  • Sustainable building services design / Anthony J Farrell
  • Sustainable tourism in developing countries: Is there potential for home-stay tourism development in the Ndop plain, Cameroon? / Kirsten O'Dwyer
  • To what extent can renewable energy be a part of Ireland's energy policy and what will the benefits of Ireland's RES-E policy be? / Liane Casey
  • Training for sustainable development in Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council: An analysis of the training offered to senior executives and its impact on integration of the principles of sustainable development in the decision making process / Leah A. Kinsella
  • Urban biodiversity: What role can residents play in enhancing biodiversity in a highly developed urban setting? :/ Gavin Kenny
  • Is the ICA a suitable vehicle for raising awareness and providing education for women on sustainable development: particularly in relation to the adoption of sustainable lifestyle practices? / Michelle McMahon.
  • How do accessibility, quality/value, quantity, and hierarchy/design affect the sustainability of public open spaces? : assessing the provision of public open spaces in Fingal, County Dublin / Walter Sean Bruton
  • High density residential development in proximity to the Sandyford-St. Stephen's Green Luas line: Emma Healy
  • Farmers' markets in Ireland: Is there room for improvement? / Deirdre McGovern
  • Exploring the effectiveness of direct agricultural markets: a consumer perspective / Áine O'Loughlen
  • The evaluation of existing education centres and the development of an education for a sustainable development centre according to the guidelines of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development draft implementation scheme / Deirdre Toomey.
  • Ecological footprint analysis: a comparison between a rural village and eco-village footprint / Brenda Ryan
  • The developmental barriers to individual farm scale biogas project in rural Ireland / Yanling Wang
  • Development pressure on mature trees in Dublin / David MacPherson
  • Development of a resource recovery park in Ireland: a qualitative case study analysis / Andrew Wilson
  • A critical review of the treatment of groundwater in environmental impact statement's submitted between 1992-1999 / Lara Fagan
  • A correlated examination of permeability and community safety issues in the Blanchardstown area / Stephen Beasley
  • Contamination of public water supplies by Cryptosporidium: risk assessment practice in Ireland / Sheila Convery
  • Contaminated land and bank credit risk in small and medium size enterprises: T. E. McDermott.
  • Carbon pricing for central government: cost benefit analysis in Ireland / Shirley Kilcullen.
  • Can microgrids facilitate micro-generation in making a significant contribution to energy security? : A feasibility study for Cloughjordan / Christian O'Neill
  • Bus rapid transit as an alternative to light rail transit in Dublin / James Leahy
  • The barriers to the mainstreaming of lime-hemp: A systematic approach / Paolo Ronchetti
  • Attitudes of Irish consumers towards ecolabels: confusion, credibility and cynicism / Tara Connolly
  • Are potential High Nature Value (HNV) farms along the west coast of Ireland facing socioeconomic pressures and is farmland abandonment a current threat to HNV farming systems in Ireland? / Sheila Hourigan
  • An analysis of the implementation of part V of the planning and development acts 2000-2004 in Cork City and County: / Maria O'Halloran
  • Adoption experiences of environmental buildings within strategy and design processes in Europe / Sarah A. Sheridan
  • Adaptation for coastal communities: An investigation of the appropriateness of 'Hold the line' coastal defence techniques: Case study of the Maharees peninsula, County Kerry / Michelle O'Sullivan
  • Mental apartheid: A study of environmental perceptions / Conor Walsh
  • Mobility management plans and the planning system: Local authority follow-up, monitoring and enforcement of the MMP condition and its effect on implementation / Samantha Nulty
  • A model of the effect of biochar application on soil temperature and its resultant impact on soil organic matter decomposition / David Dowd
  • What are the challenges for sustainable retrofit in Ireland? / Marcia Mendonca