A photo of Smithfield area of DublinRelatedMsc in Urban Environment Full and Part-time options.
Got a question about our Geography Masters Programmes? Email geography@ucd.ie

Sustainability in our Urban Environment

Sustainability is a word now prevalent across all areas, not least our urban environment. It is something we are advised to be more conscious of when planning for the future. How does this relate to the urban environment around us though? What does it mean when we hear phrases such as sustainable urban planning or sustainable growth? What opportunities are there for you and future careers within this sphere?  

Dublin is one of the most lively and dynamic cities in Europe. However, sustainable residential development in urban areas continues to present challenges both here and abroad. Cities are the central hubs of a global economic network channeling the flow of people, goods, food, finance and energy, among much more. Today more than half of our planet’s population lives in cities. By 2050 the United Nations forecast that this will have increased to almost 70%.  Although cities account for less than 1% of Earth’s surface, they radically transform the natural environment around them and act as the main geographical drivers of environmental change at a local, regional and global scale. 

A picture of slum dwellings

As of 2015, 828 million people were living in slums, a figure that the United Nations says grows by 6 million per year. Basic services such as drinking water and sanitation facilities are missing. They also witness social instability due to the increasing inequalities and unemployment, pollution, traffic congestion, urban violence and crime.

Cities are social constructions that can be changed and managed through human intervention. Recently, Associate Professor of Urban Governance and Development Niamh Moore-Cherry, from UCD School of Geography spoke with Newstalk Breakfastsharing her views on the question of whether Dublin docklands should be moved to make room for housing. Activities such as environmental risk assessment in urban development can enhance the well-being and liveability for its citizens into the future. Niamh believes a debate on Ireland’s urban centres is missing from our discourse on the topic.  

Training for Your Future

The MSc in Urban Environment with UCD School of Geography examines how cities work. It views cities as the combination of physical systems such as atmosphere, the effects of climate change or water with social systems such as urban planning and cultural, national or social identity.

Dublin is a city witnessing a rapid change with new development across the city and redevelopment of a significant scale including the Dublin docklands. It acts as an ideal urban laboratory for your studies. Due to this dynamism, our programme has a core interdisciplinary project-based module entitled ReImagining Dublin. Led by Sean Harrington Architects and A Playful City, alongside our academic team. You will develop and work on ideas for ‘live’ projects within the city and have the opportunity to present your research and proposals to industry professionals, developing your professional network and enhancing your employability prospects thereafter.

UCD Geography Students exchanging ideas in a computer lab

An international educational experience is an ever-increasing demand from our students. It adds an additional layer of experience to your training, further enhancing your employability and intercultural competency. International Fieldwork is a required module in this programme and is of 1-2 weeks duration usually in trimester 2. In the past, our students have traveled to work on partner projects In Vietnam, to visit policymakers in a range of European cities, and to engage with policymakers and academics in these contexts. You will be strongly encouraged through our curriculum, diverse student body, and field experiences to internationalise your thinking and practice.

An image of Copenhagen

Below is a list of core and elective modules available during the course, subject to change. 

MSc in Urban Environment


  • Research Design I and II
  • International Urban Fieldwork
  • Applied GIS
  • Physical Geography of Cities
  • Reimagining Dublin: Interdisciplinary practice-based project


  • Governing Nature
  • Environmental Risk and Behaviour
  • Development in Asia
  • The Urban Environment: Risk, Resilience and Sustainability

Unrivalled Career Preparation and Support

Also, UCD Careers Network is a department dedicated to helping you get the best in your career search.  In addition to hosting a range of careers fairs, workshops and college-specific employment presentations, you can avail of one-to-one consultations with a career professional specialising in your area. All of this is free for UCD students. As of 2020, for the fourth year in a row, University College Dublin is proudly ranked number one in Ireland for graduate employability by QS World University Rankings and 78th in the world.

Got a question about our Geography Masters Programmes? Email geography@ucd.ie