ProfDip Foundations of Sustainable Development

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 20)

Please note there is also a September start date for this programme Click Here

The stability of the Earth as a system is currently at risk as five of the nine planetary boundaries - describing the environmental limits within which humanity as a species may continue to thrive - have now been exceeded. The practice of sustainability is crucial to our management of life under water, life on land, the environment, and for societal health and wellbeing now and in the future. Utilising the digital resources of the SDG Academy and the sustainability expertise of UCD academic staff, the Professional Diploma in Foundations of Sustainable Development is taught through the lens of the SDGS and has the unique ability to address the large range of issues covered by the 2030 agenda. Ultimately, it will equip students to solve some of the most pressing issues of our times. Students who complete the programme will emerge with a holistic understanding of the core tenets of sustainable development across the four pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals —economic, social, and environmental, and governance.

Key facts

  • The programme is flexible and delivered online and it provides students who complete the programme with a pathway for entry onto UCD’s online MSc Sustainable Development programme.
  • This programme can be completed over 1 trimester (Sept start only) or over 2 Trimesters (Sept & Jan start) giving the student lots of flexibility.
  • Lectures for module 'Global Classroom' is available as live and also recorded. The second module 'Fundamentals of Sustainability' is on demand, this gives the student a lot of flexibility to learn.
  • The programme utilises the best available online sustainability education resources from global experts and is delivered in partnership with the UNSDSN SDG Academy (
  • Assessments are through continuous assessment. 
  • Once they complete the Diploma, students can continue into UCD’s online Master’s of Science (MSc.) in Sustainable Development—offsetting 20 academic credits.

Module Information:

Under the "What modules can I take?" section below you will see general module information, for a more detailed description including module selection rules click here.

Curricular information is subject to change

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

  • A primary degree with at least Second Class Honours Grade II  or equivalent in a relevant subject such as planning, political science, international relations, social science, sociology, history, geography, economics, global studies, public policy, development studies, EU studies, law.
  • English language requirements: standard university requirements.

Course Content/Structure:

The Professional Diploma in Foundations of Sustainable Development is a 20-credit programme consisting of two core 10-credit modules:

  • POL42080 Global classroom, a module specifically designed to introduce students to sustainable development issues in developed and developing nations across the globe.
  • PLAN40550 Fundamentals of Sustainability, a module comprised of three SDG Academy MOOCs that will be delivered and delivered as an on-demand educational offering via the edX platform (

The programme is a fully online programme ensuring a flexible learning environment for students.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understanding core concepts of sustainable development
  • Understand the role of sustainable development in the economy, society, environment and governance
  • Gain knowledge of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) and relevance to public policy

Applying knowledge and understanding

  • Apply knowledge of the inter-connectedness of the SDGs to policy diagnosis and associated solutions for practical implementation
  • Apply knowledge and understand the relationship between sustainability/SDGs and global challenges
  • Gain knowledge of appropriate tools and techniques to inform evidence based sustainable development driven policy decision

Making judgements

  • Evaluate the range of sustainable development solutions available for public policy implementation
  • Determining the appropriateness of different theoretic and/or analytic approaches to a variety of problems
  • Selecting appropriate concept/theories and empirical techniques to investigate sustainable development issues

Communication and working skills

  • Develop presentation, research and writing skills throughout their time on the programme
  • Enhance communication skills via the interaction with academics, peers and non-specialists
  • Develop a series of transferrable skills that will be important for future employability in the broad area of sustainable development practice

Learning Skills

  • Assess, review, extend theories and practices of sustainable development and the SDGs

Career Opportunities for graduates:

  • As a sustainability expert in corporate entities
  • Almost all NGOs now require expertise in sustainability
  • Environmental corporate governance (e.g. ESG)
  • Education for sustainable development careers
  • Sustainability consultant

View All Modules Here

This section links to general module information, for a more detailed description including module selection rules click here.

ProfDip Foundations of Sustainable Development (T394) Part Time
EU/NONEU    fee per credit - € 131.2

***Fees are subject to change

A primary degree  with at least Second Class Honours Grade II (2H2) (NFQ Level 8 or international equivalence) in a relevant subject such as planning, political science, international relations, social science, sociology, history, geography, economics, global studies, public policy, development studies, EU studies, law.
If English is not your native language, proof of English will also be required  -please see the University minimum English language requirements.

Module Coordinator, Prof Patrick Paul Walsh, VP of Education at SDSN and Director of its SDG Academy

"The global labour force needs to re- and upskill at speed to put the world on a pathway to sustainable development, and professionals need to understand the intersection of science, policy, and practice. That's why University College Dublin and the SDG Academy have created this innovative online Master’s pathway for all learners across government, corporates and civil society to earn a Professional Diploma in Foundations of Sustainable Development. You can enter the pathway with or without professional experience in the field of sustainable development, and emerge ready to take part in the transition to a sustainable future."

The following entry routes are available:

PD Foundations of Sustainable Development Jan PT (T394)
9 Months
Part Time