Planning & Sustainable Development

University College Cork

Planning & Sustainable Development

Course Outline
Our Master’s in Planning and Sustainable Development (MPlan) programme is offered by the College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences (CACSSS) at University College Cork (UCC). This is an internationally-recognised, professionally-accredited master’s course in spatial planning and development for cities, regions, towns, rural areas, and neighbourhoods.

As chartered professionals, MPlan graduates tackle real-world sustainability and environmental challenges in public, private and community settings throughout the world.

The MPlan is a comprehensive, two-year course compatible with European standards and with international professional training models for planning. Our graduates come from many different disciplines, so our course offers a rich learning environment for people to fine-tune their areas of interest into a practical, ethical and effective field of action with relevance in the contemporary world.

The degree, which has a strong theoretical and ethical foundation, develops a wide range of skills and abilities leading to a strong capacity for making real-world, imaginative and balanced proposals and recommendations about the future of places.

On graduation, you will be able to make a genuine and enduring contribution to society. The course content and learning progression of the MPlan has been designed around the professional accreditation requirements of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Irish Planning Institute (IPI).

Subjects taught

This is a full-time taught programme running for 24 months over two academic years from the date of first registration. You will take a total of 120 credits over two academic years as follows:

Year 1 (60 credits total)
PD6105 Housing, Social Change and Community Needs (5 credits)
PD6106 Infrastructure and Transport in Land Use Planning (5 credits)
PD6110 Foundations in Planning and Sustainable Development (5 credits)
PD6111 Contemporary Concepts in Planning Theory (5 credits)
PD6112 Drawing, Communication and Observation Skills (5 credits)
PD6113 Information and Engagement Skills in Planning (5 credits)
PD6114 Planning Processes, Administration and Participation (5 credits)
PD6116 Urban and Metropolitan Spatial Planning (5 credits)
PD6117 Regional, National and Transnational Planning (5 credits)
PD6118 Principles of Urban Design and Place-making (5 credits)
PD6205 Planning and Management of Natural Resources (5 credits)
LW6101 Introduction to Planning Law (5 credits)

Year 2 (60 credits total)
PD6120 Landscape Character, Context and Change (5 credits)
PD6122 Planning and Design for Built Heritage (5 credits)
PD6206 Property, Sustainable Growth and Enterprise (5 credits)
PD6207 Spatial Planning and Landscape for Rural Environments (5 credits)
PD6208 Applied Discourses in Planning and Sustainable Development (5 credits)
PD6209 International Planning Systems and Approaches (5 credits)
PD6211 Plan-making and Forward Planning Skills (5 credits)
PD6212 Planning Skills in Development Management and Assessment (5 credits)
PD6213 Research Methods and Proposals in Planning (5 credits)
PD6215 Planning Dissertation/Research Project (15 credits)

Entry requirements

To apply for this course you need to have a Second Class Honours Grade II in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or higher in arts, social science, architecture, engineering, science, commerce, or law (or equivalent). In exceptional circumstances, and subject to the approval of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, candidates who have a primary degree other than an honour, and who demonstrate a high level of relevant work experience, may also be eligible for entry to the course under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Selection will be based on academic achievement, a written expression of interest, an interview and any relevant work experience.

Application dates

Closing Date Rolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.

Assessment Info


MPlan modules are assessed almost entirely through coursework: essays, designs, field journals, tutorials, team projects, written reflection, individual presentations and research projects/dissertations. Around 25% of the modules also have a short written examination at the end of the relevant teaching period, making up 30-40% of the marks available for the module.

Postgraduate Diploma in Planning and Sustainable Development – Candidates who pass modules to a value of 60 credits in the First Year may exit the programme and be conferred with the Postgraduate Diploma in Planning and Sustainable Development.


2 years full-time.

Enrolment dates

Start Date 9 September 2024

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
As the programme is a professional masters and fully accredited by the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the most usual employment for graduates is in the planning industry. Traditionally conducted within the public sector at all levels of government, planning is now carried out in a wide variety of professional environments across the public and private sectors and across the housing, transportation, environment, retail, energy, heritage sectors.

The accreditation from the RTPI is internationally recognised and many of our graduates have found work across the globe. Students graduate with a range of skills which include creative problem solving, environmental evaluation, analytical and research skills, policy development, physical planning, community engagement, teamwork and design techniques and appreciation. This applied skill set is particularly attractive to the public sector, businesses and third sector employment situations.

Occupations associated with an MPlan degree
Working in central/regional/local government preparing spatial plans, managing development, protecting our heritage and countryside, working with communities and delivering regeneration;
Working in a planning/design consultancy, preparing development proposals, advising clients and assessing environmental impacts;
Working for yourself in your own planning consultancy.

Other environmentally based occupations
Working with the third sector, promoting sustainability and regeneration, supporting essential development in the third world and campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of jobs, communities and places;
Working in transport, housing, recycling, property development, energy, community development and economic development.

Research and further studies
Working for a PhD, teaching and academic research;
Carrying out environmental and property research.

Unlike most postgraduate options, an MPlan qualification leads directly to a professional career in planning or related fields. The MPlan has an extremely strong reputation in Ireland and abroad for the quality of their graduates and this is reflected in their employment rates and early career progress. Demand for planners is increasing rapidly in Ireland and across the globe. A 2019 survey of almost 200 MPlan graduates shows that 35% work abroad (mainly in the UK, USA and Australia) with the remaining 65% having established professional careers in Ireland in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. In addition, the MPlan team have developed strong relationships with employers and specialist planning recruitment agencies which has helped secure positions for graduates of the programme.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider