Institution / University College Cork
City scape

Planning & Sustainable Development

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.

Entry requirements

To apply for this course you need to have a 2:2 (Hons) degree 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.

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

For applicants whose first language is not English, evidence of proficiency in English will be required.

If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please see course webpage (link below) to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.


2 years full-time

Careers or further progression

What can I do after I graduate with a Masters in Planning and Sustainable Development?

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 an range of skills which include creative problem solving, environmental evaluation, analytical and research skills, policy development, physical planning, community engagement, team work 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 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.

Further enquiries

Ms. Tina McSweeney
Programme Administrator
T: +353 (0)21 490 4356

Programme Coordinator: Mr. Johathan Hall

Subjects taught

Modules will cover topics including:
-place-making and design
-community engagement
-spatial planning at various different scales
-environmental awareness
-development and growth in rural and urban areas
-legal and political know-how
-technical competence and a deep understanding of the realities of sustainable development.

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.


Unique Aspects of the 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 effectiveness of real-world practice. It has an international focus (with two study visits outside of Ireland) and a disciplinary ethos which straddles the physical sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. This makes it especially interesting for English-speaking graduates from North America, Asia and from the global South who are interested in furthering their education in a progressive European university.

Course Practicalities
This programme is taken on a full-time basis over 2 years across two twelve-week teaching terms. Lectures will be scheduled on two to three days per week and there will also be up to three afternoon studio sessions or tutorials each week, all supported by individual study / reading time.

There will be mandatory residential and day fieldtrips, both within and outside Ireland in both years, and students will be asked to contribute towards the cost of these.

Assessment method

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 may exit the programme and be conferred with the Postgraduate Diploma in Planning and Sustainable Development.

Application date

Applications for 2017-18 intake are now open.

While UCC operates a rounds system for Postgraduate Taught courses (detailed below) we would advise you to apply as soon as possible.

Deadline for receipt of Applications: Offers will be made:

For all completed applications received by January 16th 2017 Offers will be made by January 30th 2017

For all completed applications received by March 1st 2017 Offers will be made by March 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by May 1st 2017 Offers will be made by May 15th 2017

For all completed applications received by July 3rd 2017 Offers will be made by July 17th 2017

Late applications may be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for any courses that have remaining capacity for places.

Non-EU Applicants:

Please visit the following page for further information for Non EU applicants

Course fee

2017/2018 Irish/EU Fee: €6,700 (there will be a similar level fee payable in year 2 of the course)

Students will be asked to contribute towards the cost of field trips. First Year bursaries are usually available through the Royal Town Planning Institute, and we are hopeful this will continue for the 2017 intake.

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: 11 September 2017

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!