Planning & Sustainable Development

University College Cork

Planning & Sustainable Development

Course Outline
The Master's Degree in Planning and Sustainable Development (MPlan) 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.

Having graduated from the MPlan course 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 and the Irish Planning Institute.

Why Choose This Course
The MPlan at UCC is known for the high quality of its graduates and its broad-based approach to learning. With a core teaching team of experienced professional planners, the course sits at the meeting point between the rigour of academic thought and the effectiveness of real-world practice.

Our MPlan has an international focus (with two study visits outside of Ireland) and a disciplinary ethos that straddles the physical sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. This makes our programme especially interesting for English-speaking graduates from North America, Asia, and the global South who are interested in furthering their education in a progressive European university.

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)
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)
PD6115 Global Planning Practice and Issues (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)
35 credits as follows:
PD6120 Landscape Character, Context and Change (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)
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)

Plus any 10 credits from the following:
PD6105 Housing, Social Change and Community Needs (5 credits)
PD6116 Urban and Metropolitan Spatial Planning (5 credits)
PD6117 Regional, National and Transnational Planning (5 credits)
PD6122 Planning and Design for Built Heritage (5 credits)

Plus an additional 15 credits from the following:
PD6215 Planning Dissertation/Research Project (15 credits)
PD6209 International Planning systems and Approaches (5 credits) and
PD6217 Expanded Planning Research Paper (10 credits)

Note: All electives are to be chosen in consultation with the Programme Director, subject to availability and timetable requirements (in any given year or semester) and individual module requirements. Subjects/modules already completed may not be taken a second time.

For full course content and learning outcomes see the Academic Calendar (MPlan Planning & Sustainable Development).

Further details on the modules listed above can be found in our book of modules. Any modules listed above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar
You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

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 honours, 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, written expression of interest, an interview and any relevant work experience.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university approved English language requirements.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland:
Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements.

International/non-EU applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above.

For more information please contact the International Office.

Application dates

Closing Date: 13 April 2022.

How Do I Apply

1. Choose Course
Firstly choose your course. Applicants can apply for up to two courses under one application. Details of taught courses are available on our online prospectus.

2. Apply Online
Once you have chosen your course you can apply online at the online application portal. Applicants will need to apply before the course closing date. There is a non-refundable €50 application fee for all courses apart from the Education - Professional Master of Education - (Secondary School/Post-Primary Teacher Training) which has a €100 application fee.

Applicants for the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health Nursing must apply on the PAC website when the programme opens for applications.

3. Gather Supporting Documents
Scanned copies of the following documents will need to be uploaded to the online application portal in support of your application. Applicants may need to produce the original documents if you are accepted onto a course and register at UCC.

- Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC

- Any supplementary items requested for your course.

Please log into the online application portal for more details.

4. Application processing timeline
Our online application portal opens for applications for most courses in early November of each year. Check specific course details.

5. Rounds
For courses that are in the rounds system (Irish and EU applicants), please check the rounds closing dates.

Questions on how to apply?
Please use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)
Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.

Please enter the names and email addresses of two referees.

The closing date for non-EU applications is 13 April 2022.

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: 7 September 2020

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 M.Plan 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. The President of the Irish Planning Institute announced at the 2015 National Conference that recent research had indicated that in the light of the upturn in the economy there is likely to be a shortage of planners in Ireland. In addition, the M.Plan 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