MA (Rural Sustainability)

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies
School of Geography and Archaeology

Course overview

The MA (Rural Sustainability) is a full-time graduate course delivered over 3 semesters, directed primarily at graduates from the Social Sciences who are interested in furthering their knowledge and ability to impact on rural process, policy and practice.

In terms of major contemporary debates on the future sustainability of key resources, systems and structures required to support populations and societies the rural has moved to the top of the international agenda.

The role and functionality of rural space continues to alter and evolve in response to global processes and trends linked to economic activity in particular. While some areas expand and prosper, others face serious questions about their future sustainability in social and economic terms.

To this end, debates continue around the ability of rural areas to realise and reinforce their viability, along with critical questions on what is meant by viability in a rural context. The ongoing importance of agriculture and farming as a key sector must be acknowledged. In recent times, a focus on multifunctionality as the way to ensure rural sustainability has had to be balanced by concerns around subsidisation, resource exploitation and environmental degradation. Other critical issues are also central to this sustainability debate. In a globalizing era, rural localities represent sites through which flows of capital, goods, services, knowledge, people and skills present new challenges and opportunities in equal measure with tensions and conflicts. From this perspective, change and development linked to globalising forces is highly context-specific, a dynamic process of reimagining and remaking rural place that can be negotiated and manipulated. This leads to related questions around the ability (as opposed to the frequently-stated desirability) of rural areas and rural populations to shape their own development trajectories, the nature of required development interventions, and the appropriate scales at which these ought to be delivered.

This MA Programme, theoretically informed and with a strong field-based and applied focus, is offered in direct response to these newly emerging discourses on the sustainability agenda for rural areas. It seeks to challenge and facilitate students to engage with but go beyond established conceptual and theoretical perspectives, engage new ways of understanding and dealing with contemporary rural complexities, and develop critical insights that can support policy and practice in sustaining the rural environment.

Key facts

Entry requirements

NQAI Level 8 degree, second class honours or equivalent, with a H2.1 in Geography or a related subject. Selection is based on a candidate's academic record at undergraduate level, statement of intent and academic letters of recommendation.

Duration: 1 year, full-time

Next start date: September 2015

ECTS weighting: 90

Awards: MA

Closing date: Please view offer rounds website

Mode of study: Taught

Course outline


Conceptualizing the Rural—Policy, Strategy and Governance

1 10
The Multifunctional Countryside 1 10
Research Methodologies; Practising Rural Geography 1 10
Rural Development and Communication for Rural Innovation 10
Rural Community and Field-based Learning 2 20
Dissertation (Research Paper)

2 (May–August)


Applications and selections

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

Who teaches this course?

  • Dr Maura Farrell
  • Dr John McDonagh
  • Dr Marie Mahon
  • Staff from the Discipline of Geography 

Find out more

Dr Maura Farrell
T: +353 494 118

Dr John McDonagh
T: +353 91 492 569

Dr Marie Mahon
T: + 353 91 492 376

PAC code


Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,015 p.a. 2014/15 (inclusive of Levy)
 - Tuition: €5,791 p.a. 2014/15
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2014/15
Non-EU (Total): €13,250 p.a. 2014/15