Masters Students FAQ

If you need to speak to someone in the School running your programme then please check out the contact information for the School which can be found on the Contact Us page of our website or alternatively find contact details about your module co-ordinator on our About Us page.

Taught Masters FAQ

All our Taught Masters programmes are offered full-time and part-time. 

The full-time programmes are one-year in length beginning in September and finishing in the following August. Students must accumulate a total of 90-credits, of which 30-credits are associated with an independent research thesis. In semester 1 of the programme, students will develop a formal research proposal and be assigned a supervisor to oversee the completion of the research project.

The part-time option is taken over 2 years and students must accumulate a total of 90-credits, of which 30-credits are associated with an independent research thesis.

Additionally, the MSc Urban Environment and the MSc Geospatial Analysis are offered as 60-credit diplomas. The Diploma option runs from September to the end of May, involves two semesters of taught courses and there is no final thesis. This may be particularly suitable for those returning to study or who wish to undertake Continuing Professional Development to support their personal, academic or career goals.

For further details - please click here where you can also find copies of our downloadable flyers.

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UCD recognises that in order for a student to successfully complete a programme of study they may need to take a Leave of Absence from the programme. A Leave of Absence is an approved extended period of time away from the programme e.g. a Leave of Absence should be taken for a period of semester (s). No work on the programme can be done during this period.  More information on the UCD Leave of Absence policy and how to apply can be found here

UCD recognises that for a variety of reasons a student may need to withdraw from their programme and the university. Before you make your final decision, please ensure you speak with your programme co-ordinator or School office to investigate if there is any means that you can continue in the programme.

To apply to withdraw please see

Research Masters FAQ

Research degrees are ideal for anyone interested in pursuing further in-depth study in a specialist area relevant to their primary degree. Research degrees involve students carrying out their own research and academic study under the one-to-one supervision of an academic supervisor. The precise focus of research is agreed between the supervisor and the student. Research can be carried out at Masters or Doctoral level.


What is the difference between a Masters (MSc) and Doctoral Studies (PhD)?

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Research Masters Degree (MSc) - Level 9 - 90 to 180 credits

Research Masters degrees provide education and training in a particular subject through original exploration and research. Work for a Research Masters usually takes one to two years full-time study or two to four years part-time. The research culminates in a thesis which sets out the conclusions of the research undertaken. The assessment and award of the degree is on the basis of the thesis. Acceptance on to a Research Masters programme usually requires attainment of at least a 2nd class honours level, or equivalent, in your primary degree.

Doctoral Studies (PhD) - Level 10 - 270 to 360 credits

The PhD is a 3 or 4 year full-time (6-year part-time) programme which provides the opportunity to do advanced, independent scholarly research under the direction of a supervisor. A PhD is required for anyone seeking a career in academia and, more recently, for many non-academic careers in the knowledge economy. Assessment for the award of a PhD is on the basis of a thesis and viva-voce exam.

Acceptance to a PhD programme usually requires attainment of at least a 2:1 honours level, or equivalent, in your primary degree.

Working Hours

Due to the range of disciplines across the College, there is no such thing as an ‘average PhD week’ and how a PhD student’s week is arranged will depend on a number of factors including:
  • Subject area (very different work patterns will emerge if you work in a lab or do fieldwork for example)
  • Learning style
  • The stage of the PhD: the week will be structured very differently when you are writing up and there will be peak times in activity
  • What you have agreed with your supervisor
It is recognised that graduate students are not paid employees and therefore do not have contractual working hours; however, students should bear in mind that a public servant’s standard working week is 37 hours. A PhD student should be self-motivated to work such hours as are necessary to achieve their objectives over the course of 3-4 years. In cases where a student is funded, there may be additional obligations required by the funding agency in relation to meeting certain milestones that must be taken into consideration when working hours are agreed.
In consultation with the supervisor(s) it is the student’s responsibility to decide the appropriate working structure for them as early as possible in their programme so that a plan can be agreed that suits everyone. Students are expected to develop a professional approach by attending all meetings and other relevant activities that are advised by their  Supervisor and/or beneficial to their programme/research.

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Holidays can be taken at any time in each year, but must be agreed in advance with the supervisor(s), bearing in mind a student’s individual funding terms and any teaching or research commitments. The normal holiday entitlements should be no more than 4 weeks in one calendar year.

In the case of part-time students in paid employment, supervisors should be informed of any of the student's annual leave arrangements that impact on the research programme.

If a student feels unwell and needs to stay at home for a day or two, the supervisor(s) should be informed. If a student is unwell for a longer period of time, they should try to maintain regular email contact with their supervisor(s) to keep him/her informed of their health and they must provide a medical certificate for the period of illness. In cases where students may be requesting a ‘no-fees extension’ due to illness, relevant supporting documentation must be provided.

In some serious cases, it may be advisable for the student to apply for a Leave of Absence.

Where possible, students should apply for a Leave of Absence during their maternity leave. If this causes issues with funding, students can apply for a no fees extension for the period of maternity leave but must be aware that there is no provision for payment of stipends during this additional time.

Changes to Registration

Throughout your programme there may be changes to your registration which you need to apply for, many of which are discussed below:

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There are two types of extension:

1. Permission to Continue 

Students who are entering Year 5 FT or Year 7 PT PhD or Year 3 FT or year 5 PT for Masters by Research students must apply for a Permission to Continue in the programme. There are no extenuating circumstances with this extension. These are for a period of semester(s) and fees are payable. The student must apply for this at their School Office.

2. Extenuating Circumstances 

These requests are for a specific period (does not need to be semester length) where the student was unable to attend the programme due to extenuating circumstances and no fees are paid. Supporting documentation must be provided. Common examples of this are medical issues or bereavement. Before applying for an extension please first discuss the matter with your supervisor(s). After discussions with your Supervisor(s), the student must apply for an extension in advance of the thesis submission deadline at the School Office and it must be approved by the relevant School and Graduate School Board. A student is not normally liable for fees. There will be no additional stipend for this period.

See the Academic Secretariat webpage for further information on Extenuating Circumstances.

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If you need to borrow a thesis – you can not take the thesis out of the School – you can, however, view and read the thesis if you have sought permission to do so and this permission has been granted by your module co-ordinator.

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UCD upholds the principle of academic integrity, whereby appropriate acknowledgement is given to the contributions of others in any work. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty, where ideas are presented falsely, either implicitly or explicitly, as being the original thought of the authors. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and while it may be easy to commit unintentionally, it is defined by the fact not the intention. All students are responsible for being familiar with the University's Plagiarism Policy.

Please refer to the Plagiarism Policy

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Students are expected to meet the academic demands of their chosen programme. However, they may experience a range of serious and unanticipated difficulties, which adversely affect their ability to study, complete assessments or attend their required classes and other learning activities. The Policy on Extenuating Circumstances provides a framework through which Boards of Examiners may take these difficulties into account in a fair and equitable manner, establishing key principles and outlining the process to be followed.

Please refer to the ‌Extenuating Circumstances Policy

Forms and Supporting Documents

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This year, the School of Geography is piloting the opportunity to prepare Master dissertations in the form of a scientific article that is to be submitted to a suitable peer-reviewed journal. This is an alternative to the traditional dissertation in the form of a monograph. However, this format can only be adopted if the research proposal is of a high standard and the student has achieved high grades in relevant modules. It will be decided in full agreement with the main research supervisor.

The following conditions apply:

  • The supervisor must be fully supportive of the approach. Students wishing to explore this option should consult with their main supervisors and follow his/her advice. The supervisor's decision is final and can not be subject to appeal.
  • If there any doubts as to whether the research findings can be published (informed, among other things, by the objective and scope of the research, the anticipated findings and the overall student’s performance during the academic year and his/her commitment to the research), a precautionary approach will be adopted and the student will be requested to submit the dissertation in the traditional format.
  • If agreed with the supervisor that the research is publishable, the student shall agree on a suitable journal with his/her supervisor in the early stages of the writing process.
  • The student must be the first author of the article, drive its preparation and fully draft it. The main supervisor and any other contributor (e.g. co-supervisors, research/project partners) should provide feedback at key stages and contribute to the article as appropriate. These contributions will be duly acknowledged as co-authors.
  • The scientific article should be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal before or at the same time of the dissertation deadline when it will also be submitted as part of the dissertation programme for grading (with some additional content as described below).
  • The supervisor and the students will agree on a research plan that contains internal deadlines for submitting the various sections of the article.
  • The format of the article shall follow the instructions given by the chosen journal. It will normally conform to: introduction (succinct literature review and focused research question), research methodology (concise and brief, focused on methods/techniques applied rather than their justification), results (key data and main finding, and their interpretation), discussion (concise and supported by literature), conclusions (summary of findings and key recommendations), and references (reference list according to the journal’s specific standards).
  • When an article is proposed for submission as a dissertation, a separate introductory part is to be included in the work, in which the student describes the research approach, process and methodology and discusses the significance of the research results from a broader viewpoint than would be possible in the article. This is to follow the provided School template, which is based on the format of the research proposal and it is complemented with additional sections to report on the results and discuss them.
  • Both the article manuscript and the introduction are examined and evaluated as parts contributing to the master’s thesis.




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  • Coordinator for Masters Programmes in the School of Geography

The coordinator for Masters programmes in the School of Geography is Dr Jonathan Turner, and he is your first point of contact if you are experiencing any problems or difficulties with your studies.

  1. Staff-Student Committee
  2. Facilities

Each year, postgraduate students nominate representatives to become members of the staff-student committee. The Staff-Student Committee will meet regularly and is an appropriate place to raise general concerns.

The School provides computer facilities in the E003 Laboratory for the use of postgraduate students when the room is not in use for teaching.

The Library has some workstations available for postgraduate students in its Humanities and Social Science Research Centre: details are available at:

  1. Administrative Queries
  2. Checklist

Your first point of contact on all administrative matters should be the School’s manager, Cari Burke, who is based in E005c, Newman Building and can be contacted at /, ph: 716-8179.

In preparation for your course, you should ensure that you:

  • Register with the University and obtain a student card (which is also your library card)
  • Get a UCD Computer Account from IT Services.
  • Attend one of the free induction courses provided by UCD IT Services: Bookmark for information on where and when these are being run
  • Become familiar with the resources in the Library through its Guides by Subject, Guides to Web Resources, and How to Use Web Resources, all available at and locating Geography on the drop-down menu.
  • Apply for an ALCID card, which allows you to use the libraries of some other universities.

Details are available at:

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The student will prepare a thesis under the direction of a supervisor. The student must be a fully registered student and fees compliant at the time when the thesis is submitted for examination. One copy should be submitted in a hardbound format and one copy submitted in the softbound format. In addition, an electronic copy (.pdf or word document) should be emailed to

The following general guidelines apply, and these may be supplemented by

School-specific guidelines:

2.1 Paper Quality and Typographical Detail

2.1.1    Method of Production

  • As these are examination copies of the thesis, they shall be printed on one side of the paper.
  • Margins at the binding edge shall be not less than 30mm and other margins not less than 20mm. One-and-a-half spacing shall be used, except for indented quotations and footnotes, where single spacing may be used.

2.1.2    Layout

2.1.3 Font

  • The recommended font used shall be a sans serif font (including Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times New Roman or Trebuchet) and shall not be less than 12pt. Footnotes shall not be less than 10pt.
  • Recommendations regarding the appropriate length of the thesis shall be provided by the relevant School.

2.1.4 Length

2.1.5 Page Numbering

Pages shall be numbered consecutively throughout the substantive text of the thesis, including appendices. Prefacing pages shall also be numbered consecutively, but utilising the Roman numeral format (i., ii., iii., iv., v., etc.). Page numbers shall be right justified at the bottom of the page.

  1. 2 Preliminaries
  2. The title should describe the content of the thesis accurately and concisely. The title page shall give the following information in the order listed (see Appendix 1):

2.2.1 Title Page

The full title of the thesis and subtitle, if any.

The full name of the author (followed, if desired, by any qualifications). That "The thesis is submitted to University College Dublin in part

fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of... ... ".


The School(s) in which the research was conducted. Name of the supervisor of the research.

The month and year of submission.


2.2.2 Table of Contents

The table of contents shall immediately follow the title page. It should list the title of each chapter and the main sections in each chapter together with the relevant starting page numbers.


2.2.3 Abstract

There shall be a summary abstract of the thesis (of approximately 300 words) immediately following the table of contents page(s).


2.2.4 Collaborations

Where the research activity for the thesis was undertaken jointly with others, the name of such collaborators or co-authors must be listed immediately following the summary abstract page, including a short description of the nature of the contribution made by each author, including the student.

  1. 2.5 Submission

  The final submission date is the third Monday in the month of August.

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All the types of career opportunities we have outlined below are examples we have collected from our past pupil alumni data. We can not guarantee
that you will end up in these careers or fields but many students who have studied with us already have successfully gone on to do these types of roles.

MA Geography

This program will provide you with a range of academic and transferable skills that will be a benefit in many careers. Graduates of this programme may progress to doctoral study, careers in government, international aid agencies, global multilateral agencies (United Nations, World Bank, UNICEF, etc.), human rights institutions (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc.), think tanks and research bodies.

Past graduates have gone on to work as:

• Teachers at a primary and secondary level
• Researchers with government agencies and departments
• Private-sector consultants and researchers
• Aid workers in developing countries
• Marketing and business executives, following a further professional training
• Planners and local government officials
• Geographical Information Systems specialists.
• Researchers and lecturers in UCD, University of Bristol, Louisiana State University, and many other institutions.

MA in Geopolitics & the Global Economy

Graduates work in government agencies, international aid agencies, global multilateral agencies, human rights institutions, think-tanks, research bodies and private firms in roles such as researchers, lecturers, aids workers, GIS specialists, planners and local government officials.
Graduates now work in organisations such as:

  • UN
  • World Bank
  • Amnesty International
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Deloitte & Touche

 MSc Urban Environment

The MSc Urban Environment is designed to provide students with the key knowledge and practical transferable skillsets that will be a benefit in many careers.
Graduates may progress to careers in: 

• further research, academic and professional
• private sector consultancy
• professional training in related disciplines
• Geographical Information Systems and
• research careers in the private sector, public service or with community groups.

MSc Development and the Global South

The MSc Development and the Global South is designed to provide students with the key knowledge and practical transferable skillsets that will be a benefit in many careers. Graduates of this programme may progress to careers in:

  • Further research, whether academic or professional
  • NGOs focused on the Global South
  • International aid, development or humanitarian agencies or organisations
  • Global multilateral agencies (United Nations, World Bank, UNICEF, UN-Habitat etc.)
  • Uni- or multinational think-tanks
  • Private-sector research or corporate social responsibility divisions 

MSc Applied Geospatial Analysis

This programme will provide you with practical and applied GIS/remote sensing abilities as well as a range of academic and transferable skills that will be a benefit in many careers.  Graduates of this programme may progress to doctoral study or to careers in:

  • Environmental and planning consultancies
  • Government departments and local authorities
  • State and semi-state agencies (e.g. Central Statistics Office, Environmental Protection Agency, Ordnance Survey of Ireland)
  • Industry (e.g. ESRI, Google)
  • Think tanks and research bodies

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Please click here to download the Taught Master Handbook 2019-2020 - This document includes Guidelines for Postgraduate Students, MA in Geography, MA in Geopolitics and the Global Economy, MSc Geographies of the Global South, MSc Urban Environment and MSc Applied Geospatial Analysis for the current academic year.