Leadership for Sustainable Rural Development

Rural areas are crucial to national productivity. Sustainable rural development is a strategy to promote vibrant, healthy rural communities by supporting regional economies, protecting natural resources, ensuring adequate rural services, and addressing food security.

Many rural communities depend on the viability of natural resource-based activities for their livelihoods, from farming, forestry and energy production to leisure, tourism, and artisan markets. Climate change and the increasing encroachment of urban spaces into rural areas present challenges as rural communities navigate the complex landscape of rural sustainability. Rural sustainability leaders are needed to challenge the disparities between rural and urban environments, and enable and strengthen sustainability through policy making, environmental protection and the empowerment of local communities.

This innovative Masters programme is open to applicants from all subject backgrounds, and is designed to create leaders and sustainability professionals in all fields and subjects. The course will require a high level of independence, adaptability, engagement with both the University and external organisations, and a willingness to be challenged.

Programme content is designed to be holistic, so students will study at intermediate level the broad-ranging fields of leadership and management, environmental and sustainability science, social studies, and economics, amongst others, to prepare them for life as change agents in sustainable development. The course embraces personal choice of study where possible to enhance the students’ existing knowledge, experiences, and interests.

A key principle of the programme is the importance of Education for Sustainable Development, and students will complete the course as fully developed individuals with competency in critical-thinking, systems-thinking, interpersonal working, and much more. Modules are taught through action-based, experiential learning methods such as practicals, site visits, work placements and community-based learning consultancy projects, in addition to lectures and tutorials.

Subjects taught

Year 1
Core Modules
• Foundations for Sustainable Development (20 credits)
• Leadership and Management for Sustainable Development (20 credits)
• Skills for Sustainable Development (20 credits)
• Effective Leadership: Group Project (30 credits)
• Work Placement (Sustainable Rural Development) (60 credits)
• Rural Development Project (30 credits)

Entry requirements

Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

Applicants who do not meet the above academic requirements will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Submission of a portfolio and/or interview may be required.

The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit http://go.qub.ac.uk/RPLpolicy for more information.

Application dates

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2024 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.


1 year full-time.

Enrolment dates

Entry Year: 2024/25

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
This MSc will equip you to work in a variety of roles in both the private and public sector, here in Northern Ireland, and internationally. Our recent graduates have gone onto a wide range of roles such as; Climate Programme Manager: Action Resilience Officer for Climate: Rural Development Specialist; Environmental Manager; Sustainability Consultant; Rural Community Development Officer; UFU: Recycling Education Promotions Officer; Rural Community Network Manager; Marine Community Support Officer; Rural Services Support: Waste and Recycling Manager: Parliamentary Assistant and Environmental Consultant.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider