Smart & Sustainable Cities

Trinity College Dublin

Smart & Sustainable Cities

Projects for smart cities involve the regeneration of existing urban areas as well as the creation of large new settlements, and have a major positive impact on the many environmental, social and economic systems that underpin the planet. Meanwhile, and with a strong overlap with smart city initiatives, cities around the world are reacting to broader environmental challenges, such as climate change through measures aimed at developing sustainable solutions. The global scale of such challenges has been recognized within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) under the heading of ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’. Here, the promotion of safe, inclusive and sustainable cities is outlined as a central pillar of creating a sustainable urban future. Smart-city initiatives have a multi-dimensional nature. As projects that are aimed at improving urban spaces, they are deeply connected to issues of urbanisation and urban planning. Moreover, projects for smart cities involve the production of a number of technologies such as wireless sensor networks designed to produce data on how the city operates, and innovative efficient or low-waste electrical grids. Therefore, because of their focus on technological innovation, the development of smart cities goes beyond the science of the city and is also the product of studies in computer science and engineering. Finally, once implemented, smart interventions take place not upon a blank canvas, but rather within complex ecological and social systems whose dynamics must be taken into account, in order to avoid environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.

Particularly in terms of sustainability, the multi-dimensional nature of smart-city initiatives can be understood only through an interdisciplinary approach. This new MSc in Smart and Sustainable Cities approaches the study of smart and sustainable urbanism by drawing from the research-based expertise of leading scholars from Trinity’s Energy, Environment and Emerging Technologies Institute (E3). The programme, which is the first dedicated programme of its kind, will provide students with an in-depth understanding of smart and sustainable cities, using (a) the tools of urban geography and planning to examine the spatial formation of smart cities; (b) methods in engineering and computer science to analyze the functions and applications of smart technologies, and (c) insights from ecology to explore the environmental impact of both ‘smart-city projects’ and wider transformations of contemporary cities. The programme is thus of interest to a wide range of students from different backgrounds. Career options after graduation include working in urban planning and in the private sector engaged in smart city initiatives.

The programme draws upon existing modules within the Schools of Computer Science, Engineering and Natural Sciences as well as introducing new, core modules exclusive to this masters. For some of the optional modules, pre-requisites apply and admission is dependent on getting the module coordinator’s approval, based on prior education and experience.

The course will have a mandatory field trip to one of three alternating European cities. This allows students to gain insights into the ways in which different approaches emerge within specific social, political and economic contexts in which they are embedded. The fieldtrip will alternate between: London, as exemplifying the connections between global transformations and urbanization; Amsterdam as a prototype of sustainable urban living, and; Brussels as a city that provides insights into the connections between urban governance and sustainability

The course will incorporate a mandatory industrial in-company placement module. The placement is designed to allow students to link their in-class learning to hands-on approaches within a particular sub-area of smart cities and urban sustainability. This will be achieved both through the experience of the work placement itself and through the completion of a report, which will form the majority of the coursework on this module (80%). Students will be expected to seek out and secure their own placements. However, students will be given assistance in finding relevant organizations.

Subjects taught

Course Structure
The M.Sc. in Smart and Sustainable Cities will be delivered full-time over one year. The course comprises 8 compulsory modules, carrying 5 ECTS credits each, and a Dissertation module carrying 30 ECTS credits. In addition, students also take a total of 20 ECTS of optional credits to give a total 90 ECTS for the course, as outlined below:

Core (compulsory modules)
• Urban Governance
• Smart Eco-Cities of the Future
• Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
• Urban Sustainability
• Introduction to Machine Learning
• Research Method
• Fieldtrip
• Placement
• Dissertation

Options (choose 4)
• Transportation Policy
• Transportation Modelling & Planning
• Energy Policy & Building Energy Demand
• Urban Computing
• Artificial Intelligence
• Machine Learning
• Environmental Policies
• Human Interaction with Biodiversity
• Climate Justice, Climate Change & Development

Entry requirements

Admission Requirements
Admission to the course is competitive. Applicants will be expected to have an Honours Bachelor degree at 2.1 or above in a social science or science-based course such as Engineering, Sociology, Computer Science, Economics, Geography or cognate fields.

In case of heavy competition for places or concerns regarding a particular applicant’s suitability, applicants may be interviewed or asked to submit a written sample for assessment.

Non standard applicants may be considered by the Dean of Graduate Studies in exceptional circumstanced based on workplace experience or other criteria relevant under the Recognition of Prior Learning policy.

Application dates

Closing Date: 31st July 2023


1 year full-time

Enrolment dates

Next Intake: September 2023

Post Course Info

Career Opportunities
This course is designed to meet the learning needs of students who want to enter an expansive but demanding employment market, preparing them for professional work in institutions and public or private companies, in the field of Smart and Sustainable Cities. Graduates have pursued careers in urban planning and in the private sector engaged in smart city initiatives.

More details
  • Qualification letters

    M.Sc. / P.Grad.Dip.

  • Qualifications

    Postgraduate Diploma (Level 9 NFQ),Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider