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MA / M Sc in Environment, Society and Culture

The 'At a Glance' section below is indicative only.

Available: Full-time/Part-time

Level: 9

Duration: 1 yr FT/2 yrs PT

Location: MIC Limerick/online

Delivery Mode:

Face-to-face and/or online


Theoretical essays, technical projects, oral presentations, consultancy reports, research proposals, and dissertation.

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question

Programme Overview

The MA/M Sc in Environment, Society and Culture focuses on the interplay between natural environment and human society, and covers a range of advanced topics across human and physical geography, drawing heavily on MIC staff research expertise. This programme is highly flexible, for instance allowing students to choose, principally via their dissertation research, whether to pursue an Arts or Science Master’s qualification.

Key Features

The scope of the programme is relatively broad, mirroring the integrated nature of this subject in the real world, and incorporating themes from both the social and physical sciences (i.e. in disciplinary terms, from both human and physical geography). The subject material covered in the programme draws on the expertise of the staff base, which, while maintaining a general focus throughout on the relationship between environment, society and culture, enables specificity and depth of study on themes related to individual staff members’ research interests.

The interplay between human society and the natural environment is one of the most pressing issues in the world today. Anthropogenic activities are now firmly understood to be causes of global heating, yet environmental governance and management continue to be highly contested subjects due to conflicting human interests. Irrespective of the relative success of governance, there is an unquestioned and ongoing need for knowledge on the relationship between human society and culture and the environment, and significant economic potential and job opportunities in this area.

Click here to download the programme brochure.


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Professional Skills

There are important environmental, and also moral, reasons to study this programme, but there are also strong professional reasons. This is a busy and growing employment sector, and this programme enhances provides both subject-related and transferable skills that are sought after by employers. To ensure our students are ready for the world of work, the programme includes a novel Environmental Consultancy module, where student groups undertake real-world projects commissioned by external organisations.

Master of Arts or Master of Science?

The Environment, Society and Culture Masters programme has both Arts and Science routes, and students choose a route to pursue depending especially on their dissertation research. It is necessary to enrol on one or other degree – MA or M Sc – at the outset, but there are no barriers to students switching their preference later in the programme.


Professor Paul Aplin


T: + 353 61 204210

Programme Content

For full-time students, the curriculum is structured into three 30 credit semesters, where students take three foundational modules in the Autumn semester, three more advanced modules in the Spring semester, and the dissertation module over the Summer period. For part-time students, the taught curriculum (first six modules) is spread out over two years (four semesters), followed by the dissertation.

Environment, Society and Culture: Framework and Mapping
Autumn Semester; 12 Credits
Module Coordinator: Professor Paul Aplin

This module forms a central pillar of MA/M Sc in Environment, Society and Culture, acting as an introduction to the programme as a whole and providing a mechanism to link topics from the different subjects/disciplines (arts, social and physical sciences) around the society/environment interface. The module has three main purposes. First, as stated, it provides a context-setting introduction to the Masters programme as a whole, covering big issues such as climate, environment, management, society, culture, heritage and sustainability, and investigating how they interplay.

Second, the module provides a research-lite showpiece of contemporary developments in the field, as practiced by the programme team. That is, each member of staff delivers a session presenting their current research in the context of human-environment interaction. This ensures coverage of a broad range of topics .g. palaeoecological analysis of long-term climate change, environmental monitoring from satellite imagery, investigating urban heritage via oral histories – but also enables depth of study. Additionally, and usefully, this introduces students to the personalities and interests of the staff teaching them, seeding possible dissertation ideas from the outset of the programme.

Third, a portion of the module will be dedicated to geospatial analysis, using for instance remote sensing data and geographic information systems to integrate social and physical information in combined investigation. Mapping, and the spatial domain generally, provides an essential medium for integrating disparate content. Thus mapping, and more broadly Geography, is central to both this module and the programme as a whole.

Climate Change: Causes and Consequences
Autumn Semester; 9 Credits
Module Coordinator: Dr Angela Cloke-Hayes

This module examines the topical issues associated with climate change. It is well documented that climate change operates over both long- and short-term timescales. However, anthropogenic activities, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, have caused significant changes to the Earth’s climate systems, through the increased production of greenhouse gases. The subsequent rise in average global temperatures has undeniably impacted many aspects of Earth’s systems with potential implications for the future of our planet.

The module examines several aspects of climate change under the broad themes of Causes and Consequences. The first part of the module discusses the fundamental concept of climate change and how this has culminated in the emerging climate crisis. This is supported by examining the techniques that allow us to investigate past climates while also focusing on predicting future climate change. The second part of the module focuses on identifying the indicators of climate change through a range of applied case studies and examining the physical impacts on both the environment and our society.

Heritage Management and Sustainable Development
Autumn Semester; 9 Credits
Module Coordinator: Dr Helene Bradley Davies

This module approaches heritage landscapes from a sustainability perspective, taking its cue from the definition of sustainable development as 'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' (UN, 1987). Heritage management is commonly associated with preserving sites, objects and the information they contain for the future. Heritage practitioners often take for granted that the remains of the past are inherently valuable and deserve to be preserved in perpetuity. However, the long-term sustainability of this preservation paradigm has been called into question because of the increased awareness of the potential impact of environmental, social, cultural and political change.

The module examines heritage management challenges in times of accelerated change. It also explores the paradoxes of the paradigm of preservation and the emergence of alternative approaches to heritage management that recognize the inevitability of loss in certain contexts. In doing so an assessment will be made of (i) the changing relationship between heritage conservation and environmental sustainability, (ii) the significance and value of heritage landscapes (the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of heritage conservation), (iii) the role played by heritage in developing resilient and sustainable societies, (iv) the types of heritage stakeholders, and (v) the approaches to preservation that are underpinned by sustainability.

Sustainability Transitions and Transformations
Spring Semester; 9 Credits
Module Coordinator: Dr John Morrissey

This module provides a foundational understanding of the key concepts of transitions and transformation as they relate to socio-ecological systems in the Anthropocene. Transitions concepts have become central to scholarly understandings of societal sustainability in the past two decades. The module introduces, develops and critiques understandings of transitions processes and dynamics and learning is firmly grounded in the burgeoning body of scholarship on sustainability transitions. Students engage critically with the supposition that transitions toward more sustainable and resilient socio-ecological systems require a fundamental and radical transformation of existing socio-technical systems. The module equips students with the understanding, skills and vocabulary to engage with the ‘big questions’ of the 21st century: how can sufficient levels of development and poverty alleviation be delivered while simultaneously reducing unsustainable levels of ecological destruction? How can prosperity by maintained or increased on a degraded planet? What are the roles for innovation, civil society and government in sustainability transformation?

Environmental Consultancy
Spring Semester; 9 Credits
Module Coordinator: Professor Paul Aplin

This module provides an opportunity for students to undertake real-world environmental consultancy projects with external partner organisations. Local/regional organisations with interests in environment/sustainability devise project briefs, in consultation with MIC academic staff, and student groups carry out these projects throughout the academic semester. The module thus bridges the gap between theory, as taught in class during the Masters programme, and practice and application in the real world. The students gain valuable workplace experience and strong subject-specific and key/transferable skills, enhancing their employability and raising their awareness about the world of work.

Geographical and Geospatial Methods
Spring Semester; 12 Credits
Module Coordinator: Dr Julian Bloomer

This module provides an overview of research methods in the social and environmental sciences. Students learn how to carry out independent research. They are introduced to the research design process, how to formulate research questions, and then how to address these questions conceptually through theory and practically by employing research methods, such as sampling, data collection and analysis. The importance of research ethics is discussed, as well as recognising limitations in the research process. The module explores both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, as well as geospatial approaches (e.g. using geographic information systems). On completion of the module, students can choose to adopt social or physical science research methods, or a mixed-methods approach, in pursuing independent dissertation research.

Summer; 30 Credits
Module Coordinator: Dr John Morrissey

This module is the end goal of the Masters programme, where a student draws on the knowledge, experience and skills gained throughout the taught curriculum to formulate, undertake and present a dissertation research project. The student is the principal investigator, leading every aspect of the project, such that the dissertation represents their own singular and very significant achievement. However, careful and appropriate support is of course provided by a supervisor from the academic team who is a subject specialist in the chosen topic.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will be considered for entry on the basis of a primary degree in Geography or a cognate discipline at a minimum of 2.2 honours.

Potential students who do not meet the normal entry requirements may be considered for admission and should contact the Programme Director for information.

Click here for English language requirements.

How to Apply

EU Applicants

Applications for the MA/MSc in Environment, Society & Culture are now open.

To apply, please complete all the steps below:

  1. Download and complete the application form here (application fee Payment Ref Number required).
  2. Please pay the non-refundable €50 application fee here using Stripe, and return the completed application along with the supporting documents below by email only to

What to include with your Application

You will be required to send:

  1. University transcripts and certificates
  2. If English is not your first language/language of qualification, you will require:
  • English translation of transcript/qualification
  • Your English Language Competency Certificate (Academic IELTS or equivalent)

Applications will close at 5pm on Monday 29 July 2024.

Non-EU Applicants

You are advised to contact the MIC International Office before applying:

E: or T: +353 61 204988 


For Postgraduate Fees click here.

US Students please note that you can apply for Federal Aid.

EU Applicants
061 205160 / 204348
Non EU Applicants
+353 61 204988 / +353 61 774787

Ask a Question

  • Programme Overview
  • Programme Content
  • Entry Requirements
  • How to Apply
  • Ask a Question