UCC Adult courses

Environmental Science and Social Policy - Dip

About This Course

Fact File

Course Outline

The Diploma in Environmental Science and Social Policy offers an interdisciplinary approach to the environment and issues related, either directly or indirectly, to our use of it. The course is designed to give you a broad knowledge and experience of the key concepts of environmental science, sustainable development, social policy and economics that shape the world we live in.

Additional Teaching Mode Information

This course is delivered through a blended learning approach in a number of locations. You can attend class or study online or both. Access to the online live recorded lectures and notes gives you the flexibility to study and/or attend class when it suits around work and family commitments. Lectures can be watched live at the class time or at another time when it suits.

· UCC: Study at UCC one evening per week (Thursday 7-10pm) from mid- September to May with some Saturdays for fieldwork. You can study on campus or from home or both using the live recorded lectures and notes which will be available online

· Cahersiveen: Study from home using the live recorded lectures and notes online. Class in Cahersiveen every 4 – 6 weeks from September to May with a course lecturer.

Course Practicalities


There are no written examinations in this course. All work is continuously assessed. The course is evaluated through a combination of essays, a journal, case studies, oral presentation, poster presentation, field reports and a group research project.

Who teaches this course

Lecturers on this course are drawn from a broad spectrum of disciplines and include academics, regulators, environmental scientists, economists, social scientists, energy sector professional, planners and policy makers.

Why Choose This Course

This is an in depth introduction to environmental science and social policy, as a stand-alone qualification and as a springboard to employment or further study. The course provides you with relevant current environmental knowledge and sustainable social solutions. You will gain a broad understanding of European and national environmental objectives and planning, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA), water and air pollution, environmental legislation, waste management, geology, sustainable agriculture, geographic information systems, sustainable and eco-tourism development, food and the social issues associated with these topics.

Skills and Careers Information

This course is aimed at people returning to education, people with an existing qualification and seeking to broaden their knowledge of environmental and social issues, people starting out in a career in environmental science and looking for direction to an area of specialisation.

Graduates of this course have found employment in the pharmachem sector, in local authorities, hold environmental, health and safety positions and have gone on to graduate with degrees in environmental science.


  • The programme will be taken part-time over a two-year period
  • Candidates must be at least 21 years of age by 1 January of the year of application
  • Leaving Certificate (or equivalent qualification)/FETAC Level 5 qualification
  • Candidates who do not have Leaving Certificate or FETAC Level 5 but are over 21 years of age may be deemed suitable, subject to the approval of the ACE Committee
  • On successful completion of the second year of the course, participants will be awarded a Diploma in Environmental Science and Social Policy
  • English Language Requirement: All applicants whose first language is not English must have attained IELTS Level 6 or the equivalent TOEFL score

Fees and Costs

€1,250 per academic year for UCC

€990 per academic year in Cahersiveen

There maybe additional costs paid directly by the student when attending fieldwork.

Students who are registered on this programme are eligible to apply for the Financial Aid Fund for Part Time Students. Eligibility criteria applies. For more information see https://www.ucc.ie/en/finaidpt

How Do I Apply

During your online application you will be required to upload the following documents:

  • Birth Cert or Passport
  • Passport Photograph 
  • English Language Test Report [if applicable]

NOTE: Once you have selected your course your application saves automatically.  If you don't complete your application in one session you can access your draft application in the "My Applications" section of the UCC360 application portal. The My Applications section will also keep you updated on the status of your application.


Year 1 Modules

  • AD1871: Environments for Living Organisms (5 credits)
    Ecology: niche, competition, tolerance, energy flow, nutrient cycling; Biomes; Biodiversity, Ocean Ecosystem and Atmosphere.
  • AD1872: The Physical Environment (10 credits)
    Earth system, Geology (rock types, minerals), Palaeontology & Earth history, structural geology, geomorphology, geohazards. Practical work - recognition of rock samples, Field trip - Geology of the Burren.
  • AD1873: Environmental Systems and Resources (10 credits)
    Groundwater; alternative energy supplies and its economics; nuclear energy; Hazardous and non-hazardous waste, types of waste treatment technologies (landfill, recycling, MBT, incineration, anaerobic digestion, aerobic composting, pyrolsis, gasification); case studies. Relevant environmental legislation.
  • AD1874: Development and the Environment (5 credits)
    Introduction to economic concepts, trade, border policies, introductino to sociology, Social Psychology and Philosophy.

Year 2 Modules

  • AD2850: Social Policy and the Environment (5 credits)
    Introduction to Social Policy; Sustainable Energy; housing, poverty; transport and planning; Introduction of the principles of conflict.
  • AD2851: Analysing and Managing Environmental Change (10 credits)
    Environmental Monitoring, Land-water-air Contamination; Environmental Quality Standards; Risk assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Mitigation.
  • AD2852: Introduction to Environmental Policies (10 credits)
    Energy legislation, REFIT and Government policy regarding renewables; statutory procedures for alternative energy (planning applications, EIS, power purchase agreements); Energy audits and energy regulations; Environmental Legislation; Waste legislation and waste management policies (European, National), regional/county waste management planning, Environmental Health and Safety. Principles of sustainabillity.
  • AD2853: Health and Human Needs (5 credits)
    Energy rating of buildings, radon, genetically modified agricultural products; European and Irish legislation regarding effluent treatment systems; Organic gardening; AIDS.

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact