UCC Adult courses

Environment, Sustainability and Climate - Dip

About This Course

Fact File

Course Outline

Springboard + Image

Springboard New Logos 2022

Adult Continuing Education (ACE) at UCC is delighted to offer this revised course (formerly the Diploma in Environmental Science and Social Policy) as an innovative Diploma based in UCC campus, at outreach and online.

Today's world is one which is rapidly changing: global warming and the related environmental and social issues raise serious concerns for the welfare of our current and future generations. Such changing developments requires business to be responsive, agile and capable of developing new approaches and solutions to address these key issues in order for their businesses to remain sustainable. The Diploma in Environment, Sustainability and Climate will introduce students to key theories and skills related to the environmental and related sustainable and societal issues within their own organisations. Environmental issues such as climate change, sustainable development and planning, use and misuse of natural resources, environmental conditions and the protection of human health are now high on the agenda of all government departments, resulting in more stringent regulations and standards. This in turn has created a greater need for an environmentally aware, knowledgeable and appropriately trained workforce.

Course Details

This is an interdisciplinary programme across both science and social studies and links the UN SDGs across all its teaching.

Students will complete 30 credits as follows in Year 1:

  • Introduction to Earth Science (10 credits)
  • Perspectives on Climate Change and Sustainable Development (10 credits)
  • Environmental Monitoring, Assessment and Social Impact (10 Credits)

Students will complete 30 credits as follows in Year 2:

  • Ecology and Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Environmental Protection and Eco-Social Policy
  • Practical Environmental Management

Course Queries

For Academic Queries and Course Content Queries please contact the Programme Coordinators 

Online programme: Samantha Sullivan, ssullivan@ucc.ie
Skellig Cri Outreach centre: Belinda Gascoignebelinda.gascoigne@ucc.ie

For Online Application Support please click here. 

If you require further assistance with your online application please contact the Programme Administrator Julianne Moynihan at j.moynihan@ucc.ie. 

Additional Teaching Mode Information

Students applying from the Skellig Coast region please contact the Course Co-ordinator, Belinda Gascoigne prior to applying at belinda.gascoigne@ucc.ie


Lectures will be delivered entirely online via UCC’s Canvas virtual learning environment. Lectures will be delivered using a blended online approach with pre-recorded material released on a weekly basis prior to a live interactive discussion class with the subject lecturer on Thursday evenings from 7pm to 8pm. Lectures can be viewed at any time, from anywhere, and as often as desired. Detailed lecture notes will accompany each lecture as well as recommended reading. Weekly learning activities will be provided to the learner which will focus and foster active learning directly relevant to the weekly topic and the discussion forums enable peer-to-peer engagement which ensures collaborative and enhanced learning for all. Field work will resume when guidelines allow.

Course commitment: An ability to manage and allocate time to course content each week is necessary. Students are expected to participate in the weekly live class and to engage with the discussion forum to interact with course lecturers, tutors, and other students, where they can discuss content and engage in module material.

Course Practicalities


All work is continuously assessed. The course is evaluated through a combination of essays, journal reviews, case studies, oral presentation, poster presentation, field reports, practicals 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 the environment and related societal issues and policy, as a stand-alone qualification or as a springboard to further study and employment. The course gives students the knowledge and experience of the key inter-related concepts of the environment and society  through subjects such as geology, ecology, sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, environmental monitoring, eco-social policy, law and conservation. The course also offers the students an insight into how these subjects can be assessed and analysed using technology such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and through practical applications. The role of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that will help shape the world we live in is also central to this long established and highly regarded programme at UCC.

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 and looking for direction to an area of specialisation.

Graduates of this course have found employment in local authorities, environmental, health and safety positions, the pharma-chem sector, “green teams” and sustainability teams in many sectors (as listed previously and including retail, hospitality, sectors). Many students have also continued their studies in specialised areas such as Planning and Development, Environmental Science/Studies, Environmental Management and Protection, Government Policy…


  • 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 a Leaving Certificate or FETAC Level 5 but are over 21 years of age may be deemed suitable. Applicants will have at least 2 years prior experience in a suitable area (environmental studies, social studies) and will be asked to submit a Personal Statement detailing their motivation to take this course and any work or life experience relevant to the subject.
  • On successful completion of the second year of the course, participants will be awarded a Diploma in Environment, Sustainability and Climate
  • 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

€1,500 per academic year for Diploma students.

A limited number of places for year 1 of this course only are available under the Springboard+ initiative which provides fee subsidies of 90-100% for eligible applicants. Successful candidates will graduate with a Certificate in Environment, Sustainability and Climate. 

For further information on fees and financial supports please click here.

How Do I Apply

Applicants need to be aware of the IT student checklist below before applying:

  • You will need access to a laptop or desktop computer running a modern supported operating system with all software updates.
  • Some of UCC’s services (e.g. the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment) link to an external site and also have mobile apps for iOS and Android Devices that you may wish to use as part of your studies.  However, we recommend using your desktop web browser for submission of assessments.
  • You should always use the most current version of your preferred browser. In general, we recommend the Chrome Web browser (Important Note: Internet Explorer will not work with Canvas).
  • We recommend a reliable broadband connection with at least 2Mbps or more.
  • You will require an Office suite of software (Microsoft Office or equivalent) and a PDF reader. You should always use the latest version of this software.  All UCC students will have access to Office 365 which includes software such as Word/Excel/Powerpoint etc. once registered.

To Apply for this course please follow the steps below:

When you log into the Application Portal:

Click Apply Online

Select Start a new Adult & Continuing Education Application 

On the 2nd tab Academic Level 
Select the following options:
Academic Level: Adult Continuing Education (ACE at UCC)
Course Type:  ACE Part-time Courses
Academic Programme: The course title you are applying for.

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]
  • 50% of the fees are required to complete your application. 



Contact details for this course

Year 1 Modules

  • AD1084: Introduction to Earth Science (10 credits)
    Earth system, Geology (rock types, minerals), Earth history, structural geology, geomorphology, hydrogeology and geohazards. Practical work - recognistion of rock samples, chemical cycles. Field trip - geological survey of a region. Human and social impacts from geohazards.
    Teaching links to SDGs 1, 7, 11, 12 and 13.
  • AD1085: Perspectives on Climate Change and Sustainable Development (10 credits)
    Introduction to socio-economic and socio-political perspectives on the environment, climate change and sustainable development, including resource conflict and environmental inequalities.
    To introduce the approaches and role of IGOs, the state, NGOs, and civil society within sustainable development and for environmental justice.
    Students will learn in contextualised manner with relevant applied explanations and case studies, the importance and role of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • AD1086: Environmental Monitoring, Assessment and Social Impact (10 credits)
    Relevant environmental legislation. Principles of monitoring and assessment, including environmental monitoring instrumentation and techniques for physical, biological and chemical analysis of water, air and soil. Overview of environmental health and the impacts of the natural environment on human health.
    Teaching links to SDGs 3, 6, 10, 11, 13 and 14.

Year 2 Modules

  • AD2031: Ecology and Applied Geographical Information Systems (GIS) (10 credits)
    Ecology: niche, competition, tolerance, energy flow, Biomes; Biodiversity, Conservation biogeography. Marine and Forestry Environments as case studies of coastal and forest communities. Practical exercises to introduce students to spatial data, data sources and their application.
    Teaching links to SDGs 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.
  • AD2032: Environmental Protection and Eco-Social Policy (10 credits)
    Environmental Quality Standards; Risk assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Appropriate Assessment. The module also includes a detailed review of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in terms of environmental legislation, waste management and life cycle analysis. The evolution towards eco-social policy, payment for ecosystem services and carbon taxation will also be discussed.
  • AD2033: Practical Environmental Management (10 credits)
    Energy legislation and Government policy regarding renewables; Environmental Health and Safety systems. Conservation Management Practice, Flooding Risk Management, Sustainable food production practice and control on the exploitation of natural resources.
    Teaching links to SDGs 7, 9, 11, 12 and 15.

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact