Course Overview

Rural issues have moved to the top of the international agenda in terms of delivering sustainability on key resources and supporting populations. This MA is a full-time graduate course delivered over three semesters, directed primarily at graduates from the social sciences interested in furthering their knowledge and ability to impact on rural processes, policy and practice. It addresses the continued importance of agriculture and farming as a key sector.

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.

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 

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

NQAI Level 8 degree, Second Class Honours, or equivalent, with a 2:1 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.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2018

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

Please view offer rounds website

Next start date

September 2018

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting





PAC code


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)


Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

As a graduate, you will be equipped to work in a variety of contexts requiring the ability to conceptualise rural-related issues and apply this knowledge to policy, management and consultancy scenarios. Potential employers include national and international organisations with a rural development remit, groups and consultancies related to government programmes, and government departments. This MA programme can also become a stepping stone to PhD research.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,200 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Tuition

€5,976 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Non EU

€14,250 p.a. 2018/19

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.


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