MSc(Agr) Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development

Academic Year 2021/2022

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

This Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) programme is offered by UCD in response to the new agenda for agriculture and rural area development. It represents a return to core values in the development of rural areas which are rooted in agricultural change as well as responding to new societal demands such as safe and ethically produced food, a healthier environment and sustainable and affordable energy. These issues are as relevant not just in Ireland, the EU and other industrialised countries, but also in countries in the developing world.

The programme draws on thirty years’ experience of UCD’s past MSc programmes in Rural Development and Agricultural Extension.

  • Equip graduates with capabilities in core analytical, conceptual, communications and research skills as well as providing the knowledge base required to develop careers in the broad arena of sustainable agriculture and rural development.

Careers & Employability

Graduates from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science respond to many of the major global challenges such as population growth, climate change, biodiversity, food security and food and health issues. Consequently, the opportunities for graduates globally in this discipline are excellent.

This programme is designed and delivered in a way that builds capabilities in core analytical, conceptual, communications and research skills, as well as providing the knowledge base required to develop careers in the broad area of sustainable agriculture and rural development. Graduates of this programme typically find employment in government, agricultural and rural development agencies, local development agencies, NGOs involved in rural development, as well as donor agencies and international development organisations.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

The Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Programme is aimed at people from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds (including humanities, sciences, business) who are interested in pursuing careers in the broad arena of rural and community development in Ireland or internationally, or in related public services or the consultancy sector.  Such roles include development managers, advisors, consultants, public servants, researchers.

The MSc in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development is offered on both a full-time and part-time basis, offering a flexible approach by which students can equip themselves with the required skills and knowledge base to develop careers in the broad arena of sustainable agriculture and rural development.  The goal of our programme is to prepare graduates for roles of leadership, advocacy and influence in local, national and international development settings.  This is achieved by strengthening their capabilities in the relevant analytical, communications and entrepreneurship skills, underpinned by the provision of an enhanced understanding of the theory, policy and practice of rural development.  The learning environment fosters individual and group-based activities, which develop students’ skills of inquiry, critical thinking, self-directed and collaborative learning. A variety of teaching and learning approaches are used including group project work, student presentations, individual assignments, field trips and case study work.   

    • Complete a research proposal related to a sustainable agriculture and rural development issue, undertaking relevant field and desk research, review and present literature and present and analyse relevant data
    • Demonstrate enhanced problem-solving skills for application to issues in agriculture and rural development and the ability to formulate/evaluate potential solutions
    • Plan and implement strategic communications campaigns in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) settings
    • Understand and interpret strategies applied in achieving the objectives of SARD in Ireland, the EU and internationally
    • Understand the nature and practice of rural diversification
    • Understand the context within which sustainable agriculture and rural development related policies are devised
    • Understand the key principles and practices that make agriculture sustainable

    MSc(Agr) Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development (X376) Full Time
    EU          fee per year - € 8875
    nonEU    fee per year - € 25600

    MSc(Agr) Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development (X377) Part Time
    EU          Year 1 - € 4490
    EU          Year 2 - € 4490 aa
    nonEU    Year 1 - € 12800
    nonEU    Year 2 - € 12800 aa

    aaSecond Year Fee applies to Students in 2nd Year in 2021 and who were a 1st Year Student on the programme in 2020/21
    ***Fees are subject to change
    Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website. Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.

    • The Masters in Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development is designed to accommodate applicants with a variety of academic qualifications such as Agricultural Science, Life Sciences, Humanities, Arts, Business, Law and Engineering Degree Programmes.
    • Applicants must hold minimum of a lower Second class Honours degree (NFQ Level 8), or international equivalent, in a relevant area from a recognised higher education institution.
      Exceptions may be made for applicants who do not hold the minimum educational requirement if they can demonstrate substantial relevant professional or voluntary experience as detailed on a CV
    • Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0 in each element), or equivalent. 
    • Students meeting the programme’s academic entry requirements but not the  English language requirements, may enter the programme upon  successful completion of UCD’s Pre-Sessional or International Pre-Master’s Pathway programmes. Please see the following link for further information 
    • These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes 

    Graduate Profile - Mary Maina

    I was working as a fertilizer market analyst at International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) Nairobi, Kenya and felt the MSc (Agr) Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development at UCD offered me an opportunity to acquire the skills needed to assist farmers in
    Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to address the challenges facing them in sustainably achieving food security.

    The MSARD programme offers a unique opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to develop their social skills, to understand sustainability along the agricultural value chain and the immense potential of rural areas beyond agricultural production. The programme is well delivered by experienced lecturers with up-to-date reading materials and well-planned field visits. It allows room for constructive criticism, is very informative and passionately delivered.

    My career objective is to enable smallholder farmers to sustainably achieve food security, improve their livelihoods and cope with shocks. This programme has provided me with the initial foundation required to drive my career in my desired direction.

    Graduate Profile - Niamh Flannely

    After completing my undergrad degree at UCD in Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management, I successfully secured a place in the MSc (Agr) Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development programme. I had developed a keen interest in food production in the final year of my undergrad. With pressing issues around climate change and food security, the SARD programme gave me the skills and knowledge needed to work within the food production industry.

    What I enjoyed most about the programme was the wide range of backgrounds of the students which brought many ideas and experiences from all corners of the world. The quality of modules and lectures were excellent along with topical material, field trips and guest speakers. The modules are valuable in developing your skill sets before you undertake your dissertation where you can focus on your own research interests.

    The following entry routes are available:

    MSc(Agr) Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development FT (X376)
    1 Years
    Full Time
    Rolling *
    MSc(Agr) Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development PT (X377)
    2 Years
    Part Time
    Rolling *

    * Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised