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New online MSc in Sustainable Development

Published: Monday, 19 October, 2020

UCD launch new online Masters with the UN's SDG Academy

UCD has just launched a new, global, fully Online Masters programme in Sustainable Development in partnership with UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and its SDG Academy. The Masters is led by Prof Patrick Paul Walsh of UCD’s School of Politics and International Relations and Prof Jeffrey Sachs of SDSN.

Why study Sustainable Development?

Our world faces multiple challenges, some new and many enduring, including pandemics, rising global temperatures, unemployment, and inequality. In 2015, all member nations of the United Nations adopted Agenda 2030 to mobilize the world to build a future where economic prosperity, planetary health, and the well-being of its people are assured. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set to achieve this bold vision. UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was established to bring together the world’s academic and scientific institutions to support the SDGs. The SDG Academy was set up to create and curate online learning materials on the SDGs in partnership with leading global experts in sustainable development. Studying Sustainable Development in UCD and in partnership with these UN Institutions uniquely prepares students for implementing solutions to the big challenges of our times, providing them with the tools, skills, and knowledge to build a fulfilling and challenging career.

UCD’s MSc in Sustainable Development

UCD’s M.Sc. in Sustainable Development in partnership with SDSN’s SDG Academy offers cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary, and trans-disciplinary learning for the SDGs. Both UCD and SDSN have mandates to support the UN System through consultative status and provide students with a unique experience in virtual classrooms with leading academics and global thought leaders. There are also opportunities for excellent placements and careers in sustainable development. The core elements of the Masters require students to study the SDGs at the national level, city level, and through an SDG project. The program will include a wide range of electives to cover the SDG agenda, such as social justice, climate change, industrial economics, food systems, and public health. The Master’s is a one-year, full-time program, but can be taken part-time over two years or more.

The programme offers rigorous, comprehensive curricula focusing on the pressing issues of our time (e.g. economic development and growth, hunger and food security, public health, education), taught by leading academics. It is fully online and uses the power of technology to combine live teaching with self-paced materials. The programmes are accessible from anywhere in the world, and give students the flexibility of learning from the safety of their homes without compromising on the quality of the academic experience. In addition, this new Masters is significantly more affordable than similar available programs.

By collaborating with the SDG Academy and SDSN, students gain access to a carefully curated set of global leaders from the worlds of science, policy, academia, the United Nations, civil society, and business. These experts provide global perspectives, cutting-edge knowledge, real-life lessons, and real-time engagement through live webinars, in addition to pre-recorded lectures.

Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Lecturers teaching these modules are drawn from many diverse Schools in UCD, reflecting the need for multi- and interdisciplinary responses to the huge challenges facing the world today. Many academics teaching on the Programme are members of the Earth Institute and include;

Jeffrey Sachs (SDG Academy) - SDSN COVID 19 and the SDGS

Patrick Paul Walsh (School of Politics and International Relations) SDG Agenda – Nation States

Graham Finlay (School of Politics and International Relations) Poverty, Development and Global Justice

Conor Galvin (School of Education) - Development & Societal Transition in Complex, Post-Conflict situations

Andrew Jackson (School of Law) - Climate Change Law and Policy

Paddy Mallon (School of Medicine) - Global Health

Enda Murphy (School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy) - Sustainable Cities

Cliona O’Sullivan (School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Sports Science) & Aifric O'Sullivan (School of Agriculture and Food Science) - Health in A Global Society

Emmanuel Reynaud (School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science) - Environment Sustainability

Frank Walsh (School of Economics) - Labour Economics     

Ciara Whelan (School of Economics) - Competition & Industrial Policy for Sustainable Development

The first intake of students took place in September 2020. Admissions are open now for January 2021 part time and September 2021 full time. All disciplines can apply. 

If you are interested in applying to the programme, write to Prof Walsh at

Or Apply Here