Course Overview

The MA in Environment, Society and Development centrally involves a critique of interventionism and the various practices of development, environmental management and security that define our world; and practically how that critique can enable better and more community-based and environmentally sensitive forms of governance. Since its inception, the programme has had a rich array of students from all over the world, including China, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Malawi, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam. Many have gone on to work in NGOs and UN agencies and, in addition, to pursue PhD research in leading Geography Departments across the world. Our students have consistently brought passion and new perspectives to urgent questions of environment, development and sustainability. They mirror a commitment on the programme to a postcolonial concern for the production of nuanced global knowledges that are crucial to envisioning and actioning a better world. Each year, students benefit especially from our reputation for providing one-to-one support. The programme director and teaching team have received a number of accolades for teaching excellence, including: a Learning and Teaching Innovation Award in 2010 to extend the civic engagement element of the MA from NUI Galway’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching; an NUI Galway President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011; and the National Academy for Integration in Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. In terms of academic excellence, the best testament to the programme is having the late Neil Smith as the inaugural external examiner. Neil was one of the leading geographers in the world until his untimely death, and his involvement on the MA from the beginning was a major reason why it garnered the strong international recognition it has already established.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.

Who Teaches this Course

  • Dr John Morrissey (Director)
  • Prof. Ulf Strohmayer (Module Lecturer)
  • Dr Philip Lawton (Module Lecturer)
  • Dr Valerie Ledwith (Module Lecturer)
  • Dr Aaron Potito (Module Lecturer)
  • Dr Kathy Reilly (Module Lecturer)

Requirements and Assessment

Assessment is in the form of continuous assessment, essays, oral presentations and other projects. Students must also submit a dissertation of 15,000–20,000 words based on original research. The topic will be agreed, after consultation, with individual supervisors.

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Second Class Honours NQAI Level 8 degree with a 2:1 in Geography and a 2:2 overall or related discipline, or equivalent. Selection is based on a candidate’s academic record, personal statement and letters of recommendation. Prior learning in terms of relevant work experience is also recognised.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2016

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

Please refer to the offer rounds/closing date webpage.

Next start date

September 2016

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting




PAC code


Course Outline

Running through the MA is an overarching aim to impart understanding of how different philosophical and ideological approaches to environment-society relations influence policy formulation and implementation. In this context, our hope is to empower students to become critically informed by, and ethically engaged with, the various (geo)political, social, economic and environmental processes that shape the world in which we live. The practical emphasis of the MA is reflected in a field-based learning module in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where students will intersect with the development work of the European Commission, UN agencies and various NGOs. In connecting with the work of UN agencies like the United Nations Development Programme, a key challenge for students will involve thinking through the scalar nature of all forms of development, in which initiatives on the ground are framed by broader geopolitical, economic and institutional structures that both enable and hinder development in complex ways.

Modules include:

  • Conceptualising Environment, Society and Development
  • Geography and Geo-graphing
  • Geopolitics and Security
  • Environment and Risk
  • Managing Development
  • Field-Based Learning
  • MA Dissertation 

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

The programme prepares students for a range of workplaces including government departments, non-governmental organizations, planning and project management agencies and specialist research and policy institutes. Each year, students gain enormously from the experience of developing transferable and problem-solving skills while working on the ground in Bosnia with a variety of international development practitioners and local community actors. Since its inception, the programme has had registered students from Ethiopia, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, UAE, the UK and USA. Many have gone on to work in NGOs, UN agencies and a range of development and planning contexts, both nationally and internationally. In addition, many of our students have gone on to pursue PhD research. To this end, the Neil Smith Graduate Research Award will annually recognize the most outstanding student on the MA. This prestigious award is presented annually to the student achieving the best overall mark on the programme, and is designed to encourage the continuation of graduate research at doctoral level, where Geography has strong research clusters in Geopolitics and Justice and Planning and Sustainability. The award will honour the late Neil Smith, who was the inaugural external examiner on the MA programme.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,015 p.a. 2016/17

Fees: Tuition

€5,791 p.a. 2016/17

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2016/17

Fees: Non EU

€13,250 p.a. 2016/17

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.