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 programme leverages the interdisciplinary research strengths and capacity developed over several years within the College of Business, Public Policy & Law, the College of Science and Engineering and the Ryan Institute.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
  • Participants will undertake an immersive international study visit to one of our leading international University partners. In 2024, we plan to attend Bologna Business School, Italy*. During the tour, students 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 other international sustainability students. The course fees for the programme include the costs of the international study visit. 

* Destination and partner subject to final confirmation


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 July 30th, 2023 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: Extended to Friday 11th August 2023

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: 30th July 2023

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

Sandra Brennan, Programme Administrator sandra.brennan@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

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
NUI Galway
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Dr Orla Lenihan
BComm, MAcc, FCA, PhD
Lecturer Above The Bar
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Dr Sheila Malone
Lecturer Above the Bar in Marketing
E: sheila.malone@nuigalway.ie
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Dr Johanna Clancy
B.Comm, MBS, Ph.D
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Dr Jason Harold
Lecturer Above The Bar
E: JASON.HAROLD@nuigalway.ie
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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)


Part-time: 2 academic years (six semesters)

Next start date

September 2023

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

Click here for detailed module list and descriptors.

Click here for Provisional Timetable.

Year 1 / Semester 1

Module Code

Module Title


Module Status (Core/Optional)


Consumption and the Consumerist Society




Responsible Management and Leadership      




Year 1 / Semester 2

Module Code

Module Title


Module Status (Core/Optional)


Introduction to Sustainability




Sustainable Innovation




Year 1 / Semester 3

Module Code

Module Title


Module Status (Core/Optional)


Field Trips: Leading sustainable business transformation                                                     




Year 2 / Semester 1

Module Code

Module Title


Module Status (Core/Optional)


Corporate Governance and Taxation                




Sustainable Information Systems                    




Year 2 / Semester 2

Module Code

Module Title


Module Status (Core/Optional)


The Economics of ESG                                       




IrelandNetZero Simulator




Stakeholders, Partnership Development and Collective Action




Year 2 / Semester 3
Semester 3 is the summer semester, where the summer schools and field trips will take place—May/June.

Module Code

Module Title


Module Status (Core/Optional)


Financing Net Zero Summer School




Systems Thinking and Practice for Sustainable Leadership          



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.

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

€7,855 p.a. 2023/24

Fees: Tuition

€7,750 p.a. 2023/24

Fees: Student levy

€105 p.a. 2023/24

Fees: Non EU

€11,855 p.a. 2023/24

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

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Sustainable Development Goals Champion


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