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National University of Ireland, Galway, Full Time MA Degrees in Geography

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Global issues of environment, security and development have never been so important. Read more

Programme Overview

Global issues of environment, security and development have never been so important. A long war on terror with no end in sight, ongoing structural economic inequalities on a global scale, and the threat of climate change have brought questions of Western interventionary practices, neoliberalism and environmental sustainability to the fore. The MA in Environment, Society and Development is designed to enable students to synthesize both theoretical and practical concerns in bringing critical thinking to these vital challenges. The programme involves engagement with a number of core areas in critical human geography, including issues of geopolitics, development and political ecology, and exposes students to global concerns that encompass a complex and dynamic mesh of environmental, social and economic processes.

Field-Based Learning

Running through the MA is an overarching aim to impart understanding of how different philosophical and ideological approaches to environment-society relations influence policy formulation and implementation. In this context, our hope is to empower students to become critically informed by, and ethically engaged with, the various geopolitical, social, economic and environmental processes that shape the world in which we live. The practical emphasis of the MA is reflected in a field-based learning module in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where students intersect with the development work of UN agencies, and range of CSOs and NGOs. In connecting with the work of UN agencies like the United Nations Development Programme, a key challenge for students involves thinking through the scalar nature of all forms of development, in which initiatives on the ground are framed by broader geopolitical, economic and institutional structures that both enable and hinder development in complex ways.

Career Opportunities

The programme will prepare students for a range of workplaces including government departments, non-governmental organizations, planning and environmental management agencies and specialist research and policy institutes. The transferable and problem-solving skills gained from the field-based learning practices embedded in all modules are a particular strength for graduates. Each year, students gain vital experience working on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a variety of international development practitioners and local community leaders. Since its inception, the programme has had ICOS and other international students from a range of countries, including Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, 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.

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This Masters Programme is extremely timely as it comes when there is increasing attention being placed upon the role and function of rural economies and societies. Read more
This Masters Programme is extremely timely as it comes when there is increasing attention being placed upon the role and function of rural economies and societies. The development agenda for rural areas within a rapidly-changing context for agriculture and the broader countryside sees pressures to achieve economic competitiveness and efficiency balanced with concerns relating to food security, environmental protection and climate change, and where questions of equality, social inclusion, quality of life and the public good are central. Reflecting particularly the globalizing nature of agriculture and rural development processes, the MA in Rural Sustainability addresses the nature of rural and agricultural change not only across a range of dimensions (economic, social, political, cultural), but also scales (local, national, global), locations (Europe and beyond), and interfaces (e.g. human and non-human). As such, it situates itself within the context of leading contemporary and emerging thinking and research on the rural, drawing on concepts and theories, as well as methodologies and practices that critically engage with these varied dimensions of the rural.

€3000 Award for Best Student Performance in MA in Rural Sustainability

The Dr. Patrick Commins Rural Research Award, valued at €3,000 per annum, for the best overall MA student performance was announced at the official launch of the MA in Rural Sustainability in December 2012. Dr. Maura Farrell, Director of the MA, spoke of her delight at the announcement of this prestigious award, and praised Teagasc for their generous sponsorship and their support of the programme. Dr Farrell described the award ’as a considerable incentive for current and future students interested in rural studies and a real vote of confidence in the quality and importance of the Masters programme’. In particular Dr Farrell felt that in these economically stringent times, the award was a statement about the importance of rural issues in broader global economic recovery and the need to develop well-informed and educated leaders who understand the complexities of rural economy and society. The award is a tribute to Dr. Commins who was a leading academic and researcher in rural issues and had a long and distinguished career with their organisation. His reputation as an expert on rural affairs extended well beyond Ireland, and his knowledge and experience was regarded as key to informing EU and wider international academic and policy debates.

Launch of the Master of Arts in Rural Sustainability

NUI Galway has officially launched a new Masters Programme in Rural Sustainability. The full-time, one year postgraduate programme is being co-ordinated by the Discipline of Geography within the School of Geography and Archaeology, and it already has a full complement of students in place for the first year of its operation. The Programme has been devised in response to increasing attention nationally and internationally on the role and function of rural economies and societies. NUI Galway holds a distinguished tradition of rural research and teaching. As a European University that is itself situated in a rural and peripheral location, it seeks to continue its leadership role in rural affairs through providing a postgraduate career path in rural studies. The Programme was officially launched by Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc. This association with Teagasc, particularly with its own strong leadership in rural research, is an important component of the programme as it unites expertise in rural theory, research and practice, ultimately benefiting the student experience and future employability.

Why Choose this Programme?

If you are interested in rural sustainability, rural innovation, multifunctionality and agriculture, and you wish to contribute in a meaningful way to rural affairs and potentially influence the contribution rural areas can make in revitalizing the economy at national and European level, this MA Programme can support such an ambition. This MA will enable students to develop theoretical competencies and independent research capacities, with the ability to transfer and apply these to real world contexts and settings.

The programme is delivered by a team of dedicated and highly respected academics and researchers from the School of Geography & Archaeology and by motivated contributors from other associated Schools, from other Universities and from Research Institutions; by individuals drawn from policy and practice-based domains.

This MA situates itself within contemporary and forward-looking perspectives on the rural; however, it also builds on a long-established track record of rural studies and rural research conducted at NUIG, with strong networks of collaboration at national, European and wider international levels across academic and research institutions, as well as the Institutions of the European Union.

In particular, this MA expands on a highly successful EU-funded Framework 7 research project (DERREG), exploring contemporary and future challenges facing rural areas in an era of globalization. It thus represents an important transfer of knowledge from research that has been built on relevant international case-study examples from 6 EU member states and which has informed critical theoretical discussions and policy debates on the rural at EU level. This development to a taught programme offers students an opportunity to benefit from such knowledge and expertise drawn from widely differing rural contexts.

Career Opportunities?

As a graduate of this programme, you will possess a depth of rural-specific knowledge combined with a host of transferrable skills. This combination will equip you to work in a selection of contexts that require the ability to think at conceptual levels about rural-related issues and transfer this knowledge into practical applications and solutions in policy, management and consultancy domains. Among the potential employment settings are national and international organizations and agencies with a rural development remit, groups and consultancies related to a range of government programmes, government departments and other public sector organizations concerned with the rural sector.

The MA is Rural Sustainability is also designed to enhance students’ prospects for undertaking further research at PhD level, with our students being well placed to pursue PhD studies in universities nationally and internationally.

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