Sustainable Development Agri-Food & Co-operatives

University College Cork

Sustainable Development Agri-Food & Co-operatives

Course Outline
Our MSc in Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Co-operatives is offered by the Cork University Business School (CUBS) at University College Cork. Our focus is on a deeper understanding of co-operatives, sustainable development, and the agri-food systems.

Our MSc programme is the only course of its kind in Ireland that fully integrates co-operative approaches into the study of sustainable development and agri-food. The programme was recently recognised by The Education Awards 2023 where we were shortlisted for the 'Best Masters Programme' in Ireland.

This is a unique course, with a very strong practical emphasis and will equip participants with the organisational and management skills needed to make innovative contributions to the development of local economies, with particular emphasis on co-operatives, social enterprises, and food businesses in Ireland and overseas. It is aimed at graduates from a wide range of disciplines who wish to pursue careers in sustainable development and innovative practice leading to positions in the food sector (ranging from local food enterprises to large multi-nationals), local and international rural development, shared and collaborative economy, NGOs, innovative community businesses including co-operatives and social enterprises, local and regional enterprise development, corporate social responsibility, policy formulation and analysis.

Course Practicalities
This is a full-time 12-month programme. In Part I, you will need to be available to attend classes and seminars from Monday to Friday (inclusive). During Part II of the programme, you will complete a Practice-Based Research Project which will include supervision from an academic mentor.

Why Choose This Course
This is the only one-year Masters of its kind which fully integrates cooperative approaches into the study of sustainable development and agri-food. It is especially practical, both in work placements and in the skills you learn. It will prepare you to work in organisations that deal with current and future socio-economic and environmental challenges including climate change, collaborative economies, and sustainable rural communities.

Placement or Study Abroad Information
Participants can complete their Practice-Based Research Project either in Ireland or abroad, depending on their interests.

Subjects taught

The MSc Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Co-operatives is delivered over 12 months and includes a placement opportunity.

Part I (60 credits)

Core Modules (55 credits)

FE6303 Sustainable Rural Development (10 credits)
FE6304 Co-operative and Collaborative Responses (10 credits)
FE6305 Contemporary Socio-Economic and Environmental Issues (5 credits)
FE6306 Marketing and Communications for Sustainable Food Production and Consumption (5 credits)
FE6507 Economics of Agri-Food Markets and Value Chain Analysis (5 credits)
FE6512 Sustainable Food Systems (5 credits)
FE6515 The Sharing Economy (5 credits)
FE6902 Global Food Policy Issues (5 credits)
MG6315 Project Management (5 credits)
Electives (choose 5 credits)

FE6506 Food Branding and Digital Media Marketing (5 credits)
AG3002 Soil Science and Soil/Land Management (5 Credits)
NE3003 Sustainable Energy (5 Credits)

Part II (30 Credits)

FE6308 Practice-Based Research Project (30 credits): Students complete a practice-based research project in collaboration with a relevant partner organisation.
See the Postgraduate Calendar (Sustainable Development, Agri-Food & Co-operatives) for more information on this programme.


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

A minimum Second Class Honours in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent, in a wide range of disciplines. Consideration under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) may be given to applicants who do not hold a second class honours degree but who have sufficient relevant experience, subject to approval by the Cork University Business School (CUBS).

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Please visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland
Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure 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.

Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.

Application dates

The closing date for non-EU applications is 30 June 2023

How Do I Apply
1. Check Dates: Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

For Irish and EU applicants we operate a rounds system and you can check the rounds closing dates here.
Note that not all our programmes are subject to the rounds system so check the opening and closing dates for your specific programme in the fact file boxes above.

2. Gather Documents: Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply Online: Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? 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:

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.
In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning, and professional training relevant to this programme.
Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.
Please upload your CV.
Please enter the names and email addresses of two referees.


12 months full-time.

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
Graduates of this programme can expect to work in a variety of areas: our graduates are employed in co-operatives and other third sector organisations (e.g. social enterprises, voluntary organisations, charities); international, non-governmental (NGOs) and business development organisations; Rural development policy and support; consultancy (in agri-food, rural development, third sector); local economic development/enterprise development staff through local authorities and consultancies; local food marketing and branding; corporate social responsibility roles in food and other industries such as local development agencies (e.g. LEADER).

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider