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Programme Overview: Addressing Vital Global Development Goals

Are you interested in developing a critical approach to understanding intersecting global issues of environment, society and development? Would you like to acquire the field-based learning skills essential to addressing the most vital environmental and societal challenges of international development today? Would you like to gain the experience of working with the United Nations and a range of NGOs in the challenging international development context of Bosnia and Herzegovina? If so, the innovative and award-winning Masters in Environment, Society and Development is for you.

Engaging the world’s foremost environmental, societal and security challenges

Global issues of geopolitics, security, development and the environment have never been so important. Growing structural economic inequalities, the threat of climate change and international migration crises have brought questions of neoliberalism, environmental sustainability and Western interventionary practices to the fore. The MA in Environment, Society and Development is designed to enable you to bring critical and applied thinking to these vital global challenges. The programme will engage you on a critical exploration of the various practices of development and security that define our contemporary world, and ultimately how that critique can enable more informed and transformative interventionary practices. A core 'field-based learning' element of the MA programme will involve you working in the challenging international development context of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through partnering with the United Nations Development Programme, and a range of other NGOs, government agencies and communities on the ground, you will gain vital experience of civic and community engagement in bringing critical thinking to development practice.

Student-centred teaching excellence and international reputation

Our students bring passion and new perspectives to urgent overlapping questions of environment, security and development. Coming from every continent across the globe, they mirror a commitment on the programme to a postcolonial concern for the production of nuanced global knowledges that are crucial to envisioning and actioning a better world. Students benefit especially from our reputation for providing one-to-one support. The programme director and teaching team have received a number of accolades for teaching excellence, including: the NUI Galway President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2011; the National Academy Award for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning in 2012; and the NUI Galway’s President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018.

Award-winning programme

Winner: NUI Galway President’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2018)

Winner: Irish National Academy Award for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (2012)

Winner: NUI Galway President’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2011)

Winner: NUI Galway Learning and Teaching Innovation Award, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (2010)

The Neil Smith Research Award

Launch of the Neil Smith Graduate Research Award—please see here.

The Neil Smith Graduate Research Award is annually given to the best overall student on the MA. It is supported by a National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning award received by the programme director. The award is designed to celebrate the legacy of the late Neil Smith, the inaugural external examiner for the programme, by encouraging graduate research in the areas of geopolitics, development and social and environmental justice.

Career Opportunities

The MA in Environment, Society and Development prepares you for a range of workplaces, including government departments, non-governmental organizations, planning and environmental management agencies, and specialist institutions. Many of our graduates have gone on to work in a range of governmental and NGO roles, and research and policy institutes globally. In addition to engaging you on the most cutting-edge theoretical work from the interdisciplinary fields of development studies, critical geopolitics and political ecology, the programme has a strong emphasis on problem-solving skills, reflected in the focus on field-based learning practices. You will gain enormously from the experience of working on the ground in Bosnia with a variety of international development practitioners and local community partners. Since its inception, the programme has had international students from a range of countries, including Canada, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Liberia, Malawi, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam. Many have gone on to work in NGOs and UN agencies and, in addition, to pursue PhD research in leading Geography Departments across the world. In terms of a critical human geography Masters, the depth and breadth of the programme puts students in a very strong position in applying for PhDs, and post-MA we strongly encourage applications, internationally, nationally and here at NUI Galway, where Geography has strong research clusters in Geopolitics and Justice and Planning and Sustainability.


Visit the MA in Environment, Society and Development page on the National University of Ireland, Galway website for more details!

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