Skip to main content

UCC Postgraduate courses

Sustainable Development, Agri-Food & Co-operatives

Course Fact File
Duration12 Months
Teaching ModeFull-time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Non-EU Closing DateOpen until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

Our MSc in Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Co-operatives is offered by the Cork University Business School (CUBS) at University College Cork. Our focus is on a deeper understanding of co-operatives, sustainable development, and agri-food systems.

Our MSc is the only course of its kind in Ireland that fully integrates co-operative approaches into the study of sustainable development and agri-food. The course was recently recognised by The Education Awards 2024 where we were voted the 'Best Masters Programme' in Ireland.

This is a unique course, with a very strong practical emphasis and will equip participants with the organisational and management skills needed to make innovative contributions to the development of local economies, with particular emphasis on co-operatives, social enterprises, and food businesses in Ireland and overseas. It is aimed at graduates from a wide range of disciplines who wish to pursue careers in sustainable development and innovative practice leading to positions in the food sector (ranging from local food enterprises to large multi-nationals), local and international rural development, shared and collaborative economy, NGOs, innovative community businesses including co-operatives and social enterprises, local and regional enterprise development, corporate social responsibility, policy formulation, and analysis.

The MSc Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Co-operatives is delivered over 12 months and includes a placement opportunity. 

Part I (60 credits)

Core Modules (55 credits)

  • FE6303 Sustainable Rural Development (10 credits)
  • FE6304 Co-operative and Collaborative Responses (10 credits)
  • FE6305 Contemporary Socio-Economic and Environmental Issues (5 credits)
  • FE6306 Marketing and Communications for Sustainable Food Production and Consumption (5 credits)
  • FE6507 Economics of Agri-Food Markets and Value Chain Analysis (5 credits)
  • FE6512 Sustainable Food Systems (5 credits)
  • FE6515 The Sharing Economy (5 credits)
  • FE6902 Global Food Policy Issues (5 credits)
  • MG6315 Project Management (5 credits)

Electives (choose 5 credits)  

  • FE6506 Food Branding and Digital Media Marketing (5 credits) 
  • AG3002 Soil Science and Soil/Land Management (5 Credits)   
  • NE3003 Sustainable Energy (5 Credits)  

Part II (30 Credits)

  • FE6308 Practice-Based Research Project (30 credits): Students complete a practice-based research project in collaboration with a relevant partner organisation.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

This is a full-time 12-month course. In Part I, you will need to be available to attend classes and seminars from Monday to Friday (inclusive). During Part II of the programme, you will complete a Practice-Based Research Project which will include supervision from an academic mentor.


You will be assessed by continuous assessment and examinations and will complete a practice-based research project.

Who Teaches MSc in Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Co-operatives?

The course is taught by academic staff from the Department of Food Business and Development and the Department of Management and Marketing. In addition, guest lecturers and experts with a broad range of national and international experience also contribute to this unique course.

Why Choose This Course

I chose the MSc in Cooperatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development as it casts a solution focussed lens over some of the social and environmental challenges that we all face...

Ciara Egan, MSc Graduate, Change by Degrees

Find Out More
What I love about my job is the joy that the project brings to people. It generates confidence, boosts self-esteem, and provides so many mental health benefits...

Sheila Kelleher, MSc Graduate, IRD Duhallow

Find Out More
...I’m working on farms, which is something that I have always wanted to do, on community-driven projects, and on conservation and restoration schemes...

Michael O’Connor, MSc Graduate, Agricultural Ecologist

Find Out More
I wanted to be in a position where I could return to India with ideas that lead to practical solutions...

Komal Kansagra, MSc Graduate, Environmental Research Institute

Find Out More

This is the only one-year Masters of its kind which fully integrates cooperative approaches into the study of sustainable development and agri-food. It is especially practical, both in work placements and in the skills you learn. It will prepare you to work in organisations that deal with current and future socio-economic and environmental challenges including climate change, collaborative economies, and sustainable rural communities.

We were delighted to be voted first in the 'Best Masters Programme' category.

Best Masters Programme in the Education Awards 2024

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Participants can complete their Practice-Based Research Project either in Ireland or abroad, depending on their interests.

Skills and Careers Information

Graduates of this course can expect to work in a variety of areas: our graduates are employed in co-operatives and other third sector organisations (e.g. social enterprises, voluntary organisations, charities); international, non-governmental (NGOs) and business development organisations; Rural development policy and support; consultancy (in agri-food, rural development, third sector); local economic development/enterprise development staff through local authorities and consultancies; local food marketing and branding; corporate social responsibility roles in food and other industries such as local development agencies (e.g. LEADER).


A minimum Second Class Honours in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) or equivalent, in a wide range of disciplines. Consideration under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) may be given to applicants who do not hold a second class honours degree but who have sufficient relevant experience, subject to approval by the Cork University Business School (CUBS).

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

Scholarships and Funding 

For details of available Scholarships and Funding opportunities relating to this programme, please visit our College of Business and Law scholarships page. Scholarships include:

The MSc Sustainable Development, Agri-Food and Co-operatives has been included by Irish Aid in their directory of eligible courses for Irish Aid Fellowships. Please visit the Irish Fellows Programme page for more information.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following:

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.
  • In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning, and professional training relevant to this programme.
  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.
  • Please upload your CV.
  • Please enter the names and email addresses of two referees.

The closing date for non-EU applications is Open until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact