Course Overview

The rural represents a key sphere in any discussion on sustainable development. Much is known about major trends that have impacted and that continue to impact on rurality, and significant research exists on the nature of such impacts. However, whilst we have considerable knowledge about the past and present dynamics of such impacts, we still struggle to deal with uncertainty about the future for the rural, and to anticipate and plan for the possible, probable, and desired shape of that future. This programme approaches such challenges by focusing on how innovation contributes to future planning for rurality; in other words, how to envisage and plan for a range of alternative, feasible and desirable future developments in the rural that are based on the conceptualisation, promotion and implementation of innovation across various spheres of rurality. 

Futures planning is particularly critical for effective policy-making in that it seeks to support existing planning and decision-making by providing decision-making frameworks to solve problems based on reasonable assumptions about the future, and by offering alternatives and their potential impacts. Its participatory ethos also ensures a strong focus on inclusive approaches to addressing rural development challenges and the space for bottom-up perspectives on these issues to emerge. The profile of rural areas is evolving. While agriculture remains a vital component of the rural economy, other sectors now provide the bulk of employment. They include industry, wholesale and retail, health and social work administrative and other services, and accommodation and food. In this regard, the rural increasingly mirrors the urban. The concept of ‘Smart Villages’ or ‘Smart Communities’ is just one specific example of emulating the Smart Cities movement employing information technology and other forms of economic and social innovation to manage local assets and resources, and enhance place-based sustainability. Rural areas need future planning responses to challenges such as increasing environmental regulation pertaining to agriculture and natural resource development as well as to industrial development so that the benefits of these sectors can be secured for the rural. These trends reflect increased demands for unique rural quality of life experiences and innovative ways in which to secure and enhance rural livelihoods. 

The programme also considers how innovation in a development sense is broadly linked to improvements—in methods, processes, products, services or technologies—and how it can be about promoting a culture of innovation that supports and nurtures new ideas. Other key issues that will be considered are how the effectiveness of rural innovation relates to how we frame the innovation challenges facing rural areas; whether these are pitched at the appropriate scale and with the appropriate levels of support and intervention for them to result in enduring economic and social benefits for rural places and communities.  

Aims and objectives of the programme

The aim of this programme is to address an observed gap in rural specialist knowledge and training that can identify future planning needs and challenges and respond in a critical and reflexive way with innovative and alternative practical strategies, policy narratives and theoretical perspectives to those that have tended towards reactive, predictive and low-impact intervention in this dynamic sphere of development and change. The programme aims to produce graduates who are aware of the complexities of rural issues, the associated innovation and planning processes and the implications for sustainable development at the level of the local place as well as at national and international scales. It aims to produce graduates who are confident in their identification of professional selves in rural innovation planning and futures planning; this means that on completion of this programme their belief in the vital importance of the rural to future sustainable development, and in their professional responsibility and capacity to advance its interests, will be assured. 

Its objectives include providing students with specialist knowledge and training that will prepare them to:

  • Identify future planning needs and challenges and respond to these challenges in a critical and reflexive way.
  • Propose innovative and alternative practical strategies, policy narratives and theoretical perspectives to those that have tended towards reactive, predictive and low-impact intervention in this dynamic sphere of development and change.
  • Have confidence in their identification of professional selves in rural innovation planning and futures planning.
  • Evaluate the vital importance of the rural to future sustainable development.

Scholarships available
Find out about our Postgraduate Scholarships here.

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

 Contributions from invited speakers from relevant professional and academic fields are an important feature of this programme

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

A Level 8 Degree with a standard of H2.2 overall, with H2.1 in a relevant discipline.


Additional Requirements

Duration

1 year, full-time

Next start date

September 2021

A Level Grades ()

Average intake

15

Closing Date

 Please view the offer rounds website.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting

Award

CAO

Course code

1MRP1

Course Outline

The programme is offered as a full time graduate course delivered over 1 year and 3 semesters, directed primarily at graduates from the Social Sciences and related disciplines who wish to further their knowledge and ability to impact on future rural processes, policy and practice at the strategic place-based level.  It is divided into 7 modules; 3 in semester 1 (10 ECTS credits each), 3 in semester 2 (10 ECTS credits each) and 1 in semester 3 (30 credits).  The format for these modules is a combination of class-based and field-based activities using methods such as role play, class debates, group and individual presentations, peer review, online MCQs and quizzes, surveys, focus groups, interviews, mapping exercises and feasibility studies.  The semester 3 module constitutes an independent project that can be based on a range of formats including dissertation, research report, portfolio development.  It also includes elements of professional development that include CV and interview preparation, and training in data visualization and presentation.  Assessment is based on continuous assessment, of both individual and group work. 

The following represents indicative module content:*:

  • Introduction to innovation and futures planning for rural development and sustainability
  • Research Methods and Mapping
  • Innovation in Rural Public Service Provision
  • Rural Enterprise and Industry Innovation and Development
  • Rural Tourism—a network planning perspective
  • Agriculture and the multifunctional countryside—a rural futures perspective
  • Professional development combined with Dissertation or other relevant Research Report/Portfolio (all staff). 

*subject to possible minor changes in titles/contents

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

Credits
You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
Module
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Optional
A module you may choose to study.
Required
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Semester
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

Required TI6125: Research Methods and Mapping


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module outlines the principles of designing and implementing a holistic geographical research project: collecting representative evidence in the field, applying qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, and mapping and spatial representation using Geographic Information Systems. The aim of the module is to instil in students an ability to collect and analyse primary and secondary evidence, draw conclusions based on geographical principles and present findings in a meaningful, professional manner. Students will be required to engage multiple methodological approaches in a reflexive manner, considering issues of representation associated with the production of geographical knowledge. The module is built around ‘interdisciplinary’ Group Projects, and students will approach all aspects of the module through the lens of their semester-long projects. Group Projects will be collaborative across Masters programmes. Students will work together and learn from each other so that a holistic approach to the Research Project is obtained. Throughout the semester, students will be introduced to a broad geographical skillset that will provide a comprehensive foundation for research in Geography.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Critically evaluate methodological approaches in Geography
  2. Identify measurable and representative evidence for a given research topic
  3. Develop a field-based data collection strategy and apply appropriate data analysis and methodological techniques
  4. Use GIS to analyse and display primary and secondary data
  5. Design and implement a research project from start to finish
  6. Reflect on research findings and present a critical evaluation to an audience
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (75%)
  • Oral, Audio Visual or Practical Assessment (20%)
  • Department-based Assessment (5%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Key Methods in geography" by Clifford, N., M. Cope, T. Gillespie and S. French
  2. "Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction" by Cresswell, T.
    Chapters: 1
  3. "Simple Statistical Tests for Geography" by McCarroll, D.
The above information outlines module TI6125: "Research Methods and Mapping" and is valid from 2019 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required TI6137: Innovation and Futures Planning For Rural Development and Sustainability


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This overarching module critiques the key concepts and theoretical perspectives that reflect contemporary scholarship on rural development and sustainability perspectives, and how these can be cross-cut by research and scholarship on innovation and futures planning. It presents an overview of relevant planning theory and statutory instruments and examines pertinent dominant policy trends. It provides an organising framework within which subsequent module content and inquiry is contextualised.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Discuss the major concepts and theories of contemporary rural development and sustainability
  2. Consider the role of planning theory and related statutory instruments in rural planning
  3. Identify and apply ideas from innovation and futures planning scholarship to contemporary thinking on rural development and sustainability in order to broaden perspectives on rural development planning.
  4. Explain contemporary policy approaches to rural development and sustainability and critically evaluate them from an innovation and futures planning perspective
  5. Challenge the dominant paradigms in rural development and sustainability thinking.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning" by Mark Scott,Nick Gallent,Menelaos Gkartzios
    ISBN: 9781138104051.
    Publisher: Routledge
    Chapters: various
  2. "Planning for Sustainability : Creating Livable, Equitable and Ecological Communities." by Wheeler, S.
    ISBN: 978041580989.
    Publisher: Routledge
    Chapters: various
The above information outlines module TI6137: "Innovation and Futures Planning For Rural Development and Sustainability" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required TI6140: Planning and Innovation for Rural Service Provision


Semester 1 | Credits: 10

This module examines the issue of service provision, public and private, as a facilitator and driver of rural development and sustainability. It explores, for example, how technical and social innovation in service provision planning and implementation holds potential for rural places and communities to adapt to future demographic and other restructuring trends emerging at local, national and global scales.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Discuss the major concepts and theories of rural service provision
  2. Identify successful examples of rural service planning and innovation and draw on them as models of good practice in applied contexts
  3. Critically evaluate the tensions inherent in enhancing rural service delivery through innovation and futures planning to both support sustainable living and stimulate economic development of the rural
  4. Identify the way existing and potential future synergies between public and private sector service providers can be enhanced through ongoing innovation and forward planning
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "Unfolding Webs" by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg,Terry Marsden
    ISBN: 9789023244844.
    Publisher: Van Gorcum
    Chapters: Various
  2. "Rural" by Michael Woods
    ISBN: 9780415442404.
    Publisher: Routledge
    Chapters: various
The above information outlines module TI6140: "Planning and Innovation for Rural Service Provision" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required TI6141: Research and Professional Development Portfolio


15 months long | Credits: 30

This module involves completion of a relevant independent research project that enhances critical, analytical, practical and applied skills. Students may undertake a dissertation, or (as part of a possible placement), a research report/planning portfolio that forms part of a wider collection of activities. This independent research is complemented by supports that prepare students for their next career phase, particularly professional development, CV and interview preparation. It also prepares students for further research at PhD level if desired.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate the required range of key skills in designing research.
  2. Apply detailed knowledge of futures planning theory and methodologies to relevant rural problems.
  3. Research and present findings effectively and comprehensively, particularly for practice-based settings.
  4. Analyse information creatively and imaginatively in seeking innovative solutions to rural planning and sustainability problems and challenges.
  5. Propose innovative practical strategies and policy approaches to managing rural planning and sustainability challenges.
  6. Clearly identify and articulate their own acquired professional competence and skills and successful demonstrate these to prospective employers.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module TI6141: "Research and Professional Development Portfolio" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required TI6136: Rural Futures in Agriculture and the Multifunctional Countryside


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

The agricultural sector remains vital to the sustainability of rural places and communities. It evolves in response to science and technology innovation, to policies and trade agreements, and to consumer trends for food and related products. It is increasingly the focus of mitigation options for climate change such as forestry or flood control. This module examines what innovation entails for farmers and other stakeholders who regard agriculture and associated land-based activities as viable rural livelihoods. It critiques the extent to which agricultural and environmental policies support sustainable planning for agriculture as a sphere of activity that secures future economic, social and cultural dividends for the rural.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Discuss the major contemporary concepts and theories of agricultural change and multifunctionality.
  2. Explain contemporary policy approaches to agricultural development and multifunctionality, and critically evaluate these concepts from an innovation and futures planning perspective.
  3. Question the dominant paradigms in agricultural development and multifunctionality thinking.
  4. Explain the different dimensions of multifunctionality, e.g. forestry, off-farm activity, environmental quality and identify possibilities for innovation in these sectors.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module TI6136: "Rural Futures in Agriculture and the Multifunctional Countryside" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required TI6138: Rural Enterprise and Industry Innovation and Development


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

This module explores the emerging scope for development of rural enterprise and industry, as sectors other than agriculture increasingly provide the bulk of rural employment. It examines the vital role of innovation as initiated and facilitated by a range of stakeholders – individuals, community-based NGOs, government and institutional partners – to generate new economic opportunities at the local level. It also analyses how economic planning policies and strategies address the challenges of future economic development, and how these might be enhanced.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Discuss the major concepts and theories of rural enterprise and industry development
  2. Identify good examples of successful rural, agricultural and industrial based enterprise and innovations and draw on them as models of good practice in applied contexts
  3. Explain contemporary policy approaches to rural enterprise and industry development and critically evaluate them from innovation and futures planning perspectives
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of how different scales of governance impact on levels of innovation and planning for successful enterprise and industry development
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
The above information outlines module TI6138: "Rural Enterprise and Industry Innovation and Development " and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required TI6139: Rural Tourism Networks - A Planning Perspective


Semester 2 | Credits: 10

Tourism Planning and Development is often not considered central to planning debate and discussion. However, tourism has a central role in the economic development potential of rural areas. Innovation suggests expanding the scope for tourism products and services through employing information technology and other forms of economic and social adaptation and transformation. Futures planning on the other hand suggests the potentially finite nature of local assets and resources, and the requirement to balance tourism development with place-based sustainability policies and strategies. Networks and networking have been used as a method of decreasing fragmentation in tourism and rural development and promoting positive communication in this regard. This course will engage with the relationships between tourism and rural areas. Particular attention will be given to the role of networks and clusters in sustainable rural tourism planning and development. This module particularly examines the power of networks of individuals, organisations, government departments and institutions who all have a stake in tourism development to collaboratively agree future planning visions and strategies.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Discuss the major contemporary concepts and theories of contemporary rural tourism
  2. Identify the value-added impacts of networking approaches to rural tourism development as an effective means to innovate within this sector
  3. Evaluate and critique contemporary policy approaches to rural tourism from an innovation and futures planning perspective
  4. Outline potential networking approaches that would enhance the development of rural tourism strategies at local and regional levels.
Assessments

This module's usual assessment procedures, outlined below, may be affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. Current students should check Blackboard for up-to-date assessment information.

  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Module Director
Lecturers / Tutors
Reading List
  1. "The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning" by Mark Scott,Nick Gallent,Menelaos Gkartzios
    ISBN: 9781138104051.
    Publisher: Routledge
  2. "Micro-clusters and Networks" by Ewen J. Michael
    ISBN: 0080450962.
    Publisher: Elsevier
  3. "Network Analysis and Tourism" by Noel Scott,Rodolfo Baggio,Chris Cooper
    ISBN: 9781845410889.
    Publisher: Channel View Books
The above information outlines module TI6139: "Rural Tourism Networks - A Planning Perspective" and is valid from 2020 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Future career prospects

Graduates of this programme will be able to consider careers in a number of areas dealing with rural innovation, development and planning, including the following sectors:

  • Government Departments.
  • Public Service Organisations.
  • Local Tourism and Heritage Organisations.
  • Local Development Organisations.
  • International Aid Organisations.

Further study opportunities

Graduates of this programme will be able to continue their studies to PhD level in a range of disciplines at NUI Galway.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

 

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,600 p.a. 2020/21

Fees: Tuition

€6,376 p.a. 2020/21

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2020/21

Fees: Non EU

€15,550 p.a. 2020/21

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Downloads

  • Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2021

    Postgraduate Taught Prospectus 2021 PDF (11.3MB)