Local Development & Innovation

This course, which includes a work placement, provides international state of the art knowledge and specialised analytical skills in the field of local development and innovation. The programme is intended to prepare participants to act as managers, administrators and professional advisers in the public, private and community sectors.

The programme is designed to balance theory and practice and provide students with an understanding of how local communities operate and the skills to play a critical role in developing innovative programmes to facilitate social and economic development at a local level.

The programme explores current debates around local development, innovation and governance. It aims to give students a multi-disciplinary research-based knowledge of key processes and issues at local and regional level arising from social, economic and political change in the global economy and to understand institutional and policy responses to such change.

Graduates are eligible to take up positions where they will have specific responsibility for local development objectives as graduates and will often work with high degrees of autonomy within larger structures. The programme is not intended to produce narrow local development specialists but rather to equip graduates to critically engage with a wide variety of disciplines and sectors and facilitate and manage the place making agenda, i.e. the shared development of better places.

Entry requirements

Honours bachelor degree in any relevant discipline at 2.2 grade or higher, or equivalent. Eligible candidates may be interviewed where work/career experience is being considered in lieu of academic qualifications.

If English is not your first language you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as detailed on our website. Applicants for this programme should have a minimum IELTS (Academic Version) English Proficiency of 6 overall (or equivalent) with nothing less than 6 in each component.

Note: Due to the considerable competition for our postgraduate programmes satisfying the minimum entry requirement is not a guarantee of a place. Applications will be assessed based on your academic grades and may also take into account your work/life experience.

Assessment Info

Course assessment is by a combination of written examinations and assignments. Each module is subject to separate assessment.

Subjects taught

The Programme is structured to provide a first semester of modules which ensure that all candidates are exposed to the most current thinking about the core topics of local development and innovation – such as: Cities, Regions and Development; Economics of Public Policy; Place-making and Community Planning, etc – while a techniques module ensures that candidates are aware of the research and writing standards necessary for participation in an MSc programme.

The first semester is also used to prepare the candidate to select a Dissertation topic – largely though the 'Research Conference'.

The second semester consists almost entirely of optional modules that provide the candidate with exposure to subjects they feel will develop an expertise in a particular aspect of Local Development and Innovation.

In the first semester of the programme students have an intensive and in depth introduction to and review of local development and innovation as applied in Irish, European and global economies.

In semester 2 students develop an element of specialisation. Students are asked to select 3 modules worth 5 credits from the suite of modules available to the programme.

CORE MODULES DT121 MSc in Local Development and Innovation

These modules run in the first semester unless indicated otherwise.

Communities, Development and Change (5 credits): Provides an introduction to concepts of community, theories of community development, trends in Irish community development policy and examines the relationship between community development, planning and development and urban and rural renewal.

Cities, Regions and Development (5 credits): Provides those involved in planning and policy management with an overview of the diverse challenges facing cities and regions and the policy tools available to develop a comprehensive and integrated set of policies aimed at achieving urban competitiveness, social cohesion and effective governance.

Economics of Public Policy (5 credits): Introduces the learner to the study of public policy and the role of the state in principle and in practice. The rationale for state involvement in the economy is explored, distinguishing between equity and efficiency reasons, and the extent to which such objectives are met and if, and when, they conflict are examined.

Place-making and Community Planning (5 credits): Focuses on the dual activities of the management of the competing uses of space and the making of good quality places that are valued and have identity. These activities focus very much on the spatial consequences of social, economic and environmental change. The role of the community and sustainable development expert in place-making is explored. What are the essential physical ingredients of a healthy neighbourhood and vibrant community? How can communities be empowered within the process of place-making?

Society and Sustainable Development (5 credits): Introduces the learner to the socio-political and ethical issues integral to the study of sustainable development. The module introduces the learner to the key concepts and theories of politics, ethics, sociology, social policy and evaluates the role of social equity for the practice of sustainable development.

Local Governance, Development and Innovation (5 credits): Introduce the learner to the theory and practice of new local governance arrangements as well as the processes of institutional challenge, transition and reconstruction that are associated with major reform programmes. The module utilises contemporary examples in Ireland and internationally to illustrate these and provides a context for policy evaluation (delivered in semester 2).

Spatial Planning and Sustainable Communities (5 credits): Explores how communities are formed and changed by the interaction of environmental, social and economic forces. It explores Irish planning legislation and its strengths and weaknesses in shaping communities.

Research Techniques (5 credits): Provides the skills to understand sources of information, data analysis and computation relevant to research. It also prepares the student for writing the dissertation.

Sustainability and Public Policy in a European Context (5 credits): This module is a forum for exploration of contemporary issues in sustainability and regional development through site visits in Europe.

Dissertation (25 credits): This is a self directed learning module which is reported in a dissertation between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The dissertation will be an original piece of work by the student on a research topic relevant to the theme of Local Development and Innovation (delivered in semesters 1 and 2).

Progress and Placement (5 credits): Each student is required to spend a minimum of 14 hours per week for 16-20 weeks in an approved and monitored work placement (semesters 1 and 2).

Work Placement: Each student will spend a minimum of 14 hours per week (Monday and Tuesday) over a minimum of 16 weeks in an approved and monitored work placement. The dissertations are generally based on his placement.

For information on some of the host organisations who have participated in the work placement programme please click Sample Placement Organisations for DT121A. This list is by no means exhaustive as the placements change from year to year to reflect the student's interests.

Elective Modules in MSc in Local Development & Innovation

Students select 3 of these modules for semester 2:

Project Appraisal and Management: The module has two components. The first component introduces students to project management tasks and situations in the local development sector. The importance of successful delivery of key project areas to specific deadlines, to budget and within quality control remit is emphasised. The second component offers a practitioner's perspective on the application of project appraisal methodologies as part of the project life cycle in the local development environment. Here the focus is on the contextual and relational features of local development actor interaction for successful project partnerships.

EU Policy: The module establishes the context for examining the impact of European Union policies on Ireland. It provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the EU and the development and rationale for EU policies including EU Regional and Cohesion Policy, the evolving role of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Energy, Climate Change and Transport Policies, and Community Initiatives such as LEADER. Case studies and guest lectures are used to illustrate how EU policy interacts with national and local policy processes.

Law and Local Development: The aim of this module is to give students a practical knowledge of the role and operation of a company and the legal context in which Irish local development, social inclusion and anti-poverty policies are implemented.

Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development: This module introduces the learner to the study of entrepreneurship, the role of enterprise development agencies and importance of entrepreneurship to sustainable local economic development.

Management Studies: The module provides an introduction to managerial effectiveness and behaviour which will assist the student improve their organisational performance through the better use and the management of human resources.

Urban Regeneration and Public Policy: The module provides students with an understanding of the development of Irish and International urban regeneration policy, by exploring the main theoretical perspectives of urban regeneration against the background of wider social, economic and political changes

Housing: The key aim of the module is provide students with a comprehensive understanding of Irish and international housing policy. It explores the evolution of public policy for housing provision, forms of and reasons for government intervention in housing, and the development of housing policy since the nineteenth century, including issues of housing tenure and market-led development. The module also examines current policy issues including homelessness, the housing needs of excluded groups, unfinished developments, the role of NAMA and the affordability of home ownership.

Transport. Mobility and Healthy Neighbourhoods: This module aims to equip students with an understanding of the complexities involved in developing transport solutions with respect to social, economic and environmental sustainability. The module introduces students to various policy tools and provides an overview of the obstacles and opportunities present in exercising such tools. Students are encouraged to think strategically and innovatively in developing dialogue around sustainable transport solutions. The module prepares the community and sustainable development professional to contribute effectively to the development of transport plans for healthy, connected and sustainable neighbourhoods. Students will discuss the role of communication and the interface between citizens, stakeholders and transport planners.


1 year full-time
2 years part-time

The MSc Local Development and Innovation is a full time course that runs over 15 months at the TU Dublin. Lectures take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays in semesters 1 and 2. Mondays and Tuesdays are allocated to work placement.

15 months: 3rd week in September to mid-October

Structure: Lecture programme 30% of total annual hours allocation.

Work Experience: 20% of total annual hours allocation.

Study hours: 50% of total annual hours allocation.

Enrolment dates

Commencement Date 01/09/2020
Location City Centre: Bolton Street

Post Course Info

Graduates are eligible to take up positions where they will have specific responsibility for local development objectives as graduates and will often work with high degrees of autonomy within larger structures. The programme is not intended to produce narrow local development specialists but rather to equip graduates to critically engage with a wide variety of disciplines and sectors and facilitate and manage the place making agenda, i.e. the shared development of better places.

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    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

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