2 Years part-time, flexible learning, suitable for working professionals

Course Overview

Sustainability is a leadership imperative in today’s world, as organisations face increasing pressure to respond to complex global problems such as climate change, labour exploitation, and persistent inequality. This programme will equip students with the leadership skills to address the challenges, risks, and opportunities that environmental sustainability and social responsibility present for contemporary businesses and organisations. Participants will learn to value the importance of preserving relationships with communities, employees, and the environment, therefore ensuring responsible business models. Through a holistic consideration of environmental, economic, and social resources, students will develop the expertise to lead organisations through the transition towards a sustainable planet and society.

The part-time, flexible approach allows for industry’s skills needs and training requirements to be met in a flexible manner. The curriculum will include an international study trip to a highly ranked European university partner. The curriculum is strongly integrated with industry through a combination of guest speakers, company site visits, real-life case studies and applied sustainability projects. Organisations are grappling with managing the transition towards a sustainable planet and society.  The programme addresses a gap in the market and will enable participants to develop sustainability leadership expertise.

Skillnet Ireland’s recent report on Talent for Ireland’s Green Economy, undertaken in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), reports the following:

  • Leadership is essential to provide strategic direction for enterprises and to encourage employees to engage with climate action and sustainability issues.
  • The top skill sets needed to lead companies’ transition to a low-carbon economy include climate change and corporate sustainability strategy skills.
  • Such skills currently have a high demand but low supply/ high recruitment difficulty.

This new MSc programme directly addresses the identified gap in sustainability leadership skills.

The key strength of this programme is that it will equip students with the leadership skills to address the challenges, risks, and opportunities that environmental sustainability and social responsibility present for organisations.

Learning outcomes:

  1. Identify, analyse, and solve business, public policy, and societal problems within a global context.
  2. Make a positive societal impact through critical thinking, innovation, and collaboration.
  3. Appraise the wider economic, societal, and environmental systems in which organisations operate.
  4. Investigate responsible approaches to organisational leadership.
  5. Formulate strategies to effectively drive sustainable business transformation.

Unique selling points:

  • University of Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development for a second year in a row, and we are also ranked 34th in the world by Times Higher Education THE Impact Rankings 2023
  • Flexible delivery, online, evenings, can be studied from anywhere in Europe, with only four in-person block requirements over two years
  • Our MSc Sustainability Leadership students complete an immersive international study visit to Bologna Business School. As part of the trip, the class will visit companies in the local region who are leading on sustainability transition, learn from industry thought leaders in the sustainability space, and collaborate with students on the Masters in Sustainability Transition Management at BBS. The course fees for the programme include the costs of the international study visit. 

Scholarships: (Closing date extended to 26th July, 2024)

University of Galway is offering scholarships to cover up to 50% tuition fees for the MSc Sustainability Leadership. One scholarship is available for each of the following sectors.

  • Non-profit
  • Manufacturing SMEs
  • Agriculture and Food
  • Tourism

These scholarships are available for candidates who demonstrate the capabilities and ambition to drive sustainability in their respective sector. Candidates must have applied and accepted their offer by Friday, 26 July, 2024 to be considered for these scholarships.

30% Club Scholarship for Female Leaders

The 30% Club partners with higher level institutions to provide professional women with scholarships to pursue executive education in their chosen field. The aim of the scholarship is to address the under-representation of women pursuing post-graduate management education, by offering scholarships aimed at women.

One scholarship is available for the programme to cover 50% of the tuition fees. 

Closing Date : 26 July 2024

Scale Ireland Scholarship

University of Galway is pleased to offer one 50% tuition fee scholarship for the MSc Sustainability Leadership to members of Scale Ireland. Scale Ireland is an independent not-for-profit organisation who supports Irish tech start-up and scale-up companies, to create the most advantageous conditions for them to succeed.

Closing Date: 26 July 2024

For more information on scholarships and how to apply go to: Scholarships or contact:

Martina Huban Sweeney, 
Programme Administrator.
E: martina.sweeney@universityofgalway.ie


MSc Sustainability Leadership launch photo

Pictured at the Regional Business Summit - Engaging People and Leading on Sustainability officially launching the MSc Sustainability Leadership programme; (L-R) Prof Alma McCarthy , Prof Geraint Howells , Minister Hildegarde Naughton T.D, Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Health President Ciaran O hOgartaigh and Dr Orla Lenihan‌

MSc Sustainability Leadership first class members

On Thursday 7th September as part of their orientation, students were joined by industry guest speaker, John O'Sullivan, Environmental Advisor at SSE plc and University of Galway Sustainability Officer, Michelle O’Dowd Lohan

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

Prof Christine Domegan
B. COMM., M.B.S., Ph.D.(NUI)
Personal Professor
Marketing Discipline
J.E. Cairnes School
of Business & Economics
University of Galway
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Dr Orla Lenihan
BComm, MAcc, FCA, PhD
Lecturer Above The Bar
University of Galway
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Dr Sheila Malone
Lecturer Above The Bar
E: sheila.malone@universityofgalway.ie
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Dr Johanna Clancy
B.Comm, MBS, Ph.D
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Dr Jason Harold
Lecturer Above The Bar
School of Business & Economics
University of Galway
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Requirements and Assessment

Assessment mechanisms will include a variety of written assignments, written reports, applied projects, oral presentations, reflective learning journals, and online simulations. 

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have a minimum of two years’ post-graduation working experience, along with a primary degree in business, science, engineering or social science.


Additional Requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Applicants who do not meet the formal academic entry requirement may be considered if they have a minimum of five years’ work experience. Such candidates will be interviewed to ascertain the relevance of their work experience for the programme. Further information is available on the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning website.


Part-time: 2 academic years (six semesters)

Next start date

September 2024

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

Offers are made on a rolling basis.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting




Course code


Course Outline

Year 1 - In Person Blocks AY2024/25

Block 1: 3-day Induction Thursday 12th, Friday 13th,  Saturday 14th September 2024, (University of Galway Campus.

Block 2: April 2025 (3-4 days, Bologna University Business School)

Year 2 - In Person Blocks AY2025/26
Block 3: October 2025 (3-4 days, University of Galway Campus)
Block 4: May/June 2026 (5 days, University of Galway Campus)

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Required Core Subject
A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

There is a very strong employer demand for these skillsets with several potential career pathways identified including Chief Sustainability Officer; Director of Sustainability; Sustainability Manager; Sustainability Officer; Marketing Officer; Procurement Officer; Planning Officer; Sustainability Coordinator; Sustainability Consultant; Sustainability Projects Leader; Supply Chain Officer; Hospitality Manager; Finance Manager; Project Manager; HR Manager; Policymaker; NGO and County Council roles; General Management roles.

  • There is a need for organisations to understand the impact that sustainability will have on their supply chain, how to gain a competitive advantage and how to understand the regulatory and governance requirements.
  • Companies are constantly being asked now by their larger corporate clients to demonstrate how they are integrating sustainability into their strategy and what plans and targets they have in place to reach Net Zero, implement the Climate Action Plan etc.
  • SMEs will lose out on competitive bids if they are not demonstrating sustainability in their operations and supply chain.
  • A high level of EU funding is available for companies to advance their sustainability strategies.

University of Galway University Sustainability Rankings and Accolades

  • University of Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development for a second year in a row, and we are also ranked 34th in the world by Times Higher Education THE Impact Rankings 2023

  • In addition to its top 50 Overall Impact rank, University of Galway was ranked 5th in the world for SDG12:Responsible Consumption and Production, ranked 21st in the world in SDG 14: Life Below Water in addition to a number of other top 50 ranks in other SDGs -  See more on  University of Galway's SDG Ranking results here.  
  • University of Galway is a national Sustainable Development Goal Champion for 2023-24. We are the first University to make the list, chosen from across society as leaders in driving forward Ireland’s progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Learn More
  • University of Galway awarded a Gold (STARS) rating by (AASHE).
  • Named a top performer in the 2022 AASHE Sustainable Campus Index.
  • Fifth in the world in the Times Higher Education Societal Impact Ranking for SDG 12—Responsible Consumption and Production.
  • University of Galway 2022 Sustainability Report.

3 Day International Study Visit

  • Our MSc Sustainability Leadership students complete an immersive international study visit to Bologna Business School. As part of the trip, the class will visit companies in the local region who are leading on sustainability transition, learn from industry thought leaders in the sustainability space, and collaborate with students on the Masters in Sustainability Transition Management at BBS. The course fees for the programme include the costs of the international study visit. 


This programme is for you if:

  • You work in any leadership, management, policy making, non-profit, technical or sustainability-oriented role
  • You have a primary degree in business, science, engineering or social science
  • You wish to build a network of contacts with shared values and a sustainable mindset

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop the knowledge and expertise to embed environmental and social factors into business decisions and projects.
  • Develop the leadership skills required to fully integrate sustainability into organisational strategy and culture.
  • Be able to communicate effectively with all stakeholders about sustainability risks and opportunities.
  • Develop the collaborative and teamwork skills required to formulate partnerships for collective sustainability action.
  • Appreciate their responsibility to serve society and the planet as good citizens.
  • Value an ethical approach to governance and management.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€8,605 p.a. (including levy) 2024/25

Fees: Tuition

€8,500 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Student levy

€105 p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Non EU

€12,500 p.a. (€12,605 p.a. including levy) 2024/25

Find out More

Programme Administrator
Martina Huban Sweeney 
E: martina.sweeney@universityofgalway.ie

Programme Director:
Dr Orla Lenihan
E: orla.lenihan@universityofgalway.ie

Quick Links


What Organisations Say


Conor O'Dowd |   CEO at The Port of Galway

The Port of Galway has and will play a key role in the renewable energy sector. The world class wind speeds off our coast and the advent of new technologies represent a huge opportunity for the region. The new MSc Sustainability Leadership programme will play a key role in developing the required skills and learnings to enable us to capitalise on this once-in-a-generation opportunity

Susan Murray |   Senior Director Boston Scientific

As Senior Director, Global Regional Transformation Lead & EMEA Environmental Sustainability Lead at Boston Scientific I am thrilled to see University of Galway launch this MSc Sustainability Leadership offering, which is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead sustainable change in organisations. With a focus on practical application and real world challenges, graduates will be well-prepared to make a positive impact on the environment and society

What Our Students Say


Jennifer Loftus |   Chief Financial & Risk Officer, Acorn Life, Galway

My passion for Corporate Social Responsibility, together with a professional requirement to upskill in ESG reporting led me to explore postgraduate options in the sustainability sphere. The MSc in Sustainability Leadership at University of Galway appealed to me on a number of levels. As a working parent, the flexible nature of the course delivery was particularly appealing. The programme, which blends individual work, group work and engaging guest lectures, has been immensely rewarding and enlightening so far. The group work element of the course has allowed me to learn from my exceptional classmates who bring very diverse career and life experiences. 30% Club Ireland aims to achieve better gender balance at all organisational levels by promoting and rewarding female leadership. This objective is very much aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality (SDG5). As a recipient of the 30% Club scholarship for the MSc in Sustainability Leadership, I am very grateful for the support of University of Galway and 30% Club Ireland. I look forward to applying the knowledge and skills I gain on this Master’s in both my personal and professional life!

Paula Leavy-McCarthy |   County Librarian Westmeath Co. Council

As a lucky recipient of the 30% Club Scholarship, I commenced my MSc in Sustainability Leadership in September 2023. One semester in and I am delighted to have chosen this course and to have been given the financial support that the scholarship offers, especially given that I also have two children attending third level! The 30% Club Scholarship places emphasis on supporting participation levels of women in executive education and building talent and skillsets aimed at career progression. The MSc in Sustainability Leadership has opened up a wealth of experience and knowledge. The peer-to-peer learning opportunities have been second to none. My classmates come from a diverse range of professional backgrounds including financial services, engineering, public service, the armed forces, retail and fashion and insurance. The unique perspectives this brings to the learning experience, in tandem with the excellent academic standards, and contributions from industry professionals really mirrors the real-world requirements for a sustainable future.

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Sustainable Development Goals Champion

University of Galway has been named the number one university in Ireland for sustainable development for a second year in a row, and we are also ranked 34th in the world by Times Higher Education THE Impact Rankings 2023.

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