UCD Professional Diploma in Innovation for Sustainability

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Key facts


Level 9 Professional Diploma (20 ECTS)

Course dates

This course is open for applications. Register your interest and we will get in touch with next steps.

How it's delivered

This course is delivered over eight months with three two-month modules followed by a four-month project in the workplace, start-up, or community.As the programme involves continuous assessment, participants must attend all class sessions.

Module 1 – Creativity & Innovation

Monday 10th Oct to Friday 14th Oct 2022
Live Online Classes take place from 9.30am to 1.30pm each day
Afternoons 2pm – 4.30pm will be a mixture of self-directed learning, reflective learning and group or individual work.

Module 2 – Sustainability: Environmental Drivers Of Innovation
Thursday 27th Oct, Thursday 3rd Nov, Thursday 10th Nov, Thursday 17th Nov and Saturday 19th Nov
Live online classes take place each Thursday from 6pm to 9pm with one class on Saturday 19th Nov from 9.30am to 1.30pm

Module 3 – Sustainability: Human Drivers in Innovation
Thursday 12th Jan, Thursday 19th Jan, Thursday 26th Jan, Thursday 2nd Feb and Saturday 4th Feb
Live online classes take place each Thursday from 6pm to 9pm with on Saturday 4th Feb from 9.30am to 1.30pm

Module 4 – Innovation for Sustainability Solutions
Project Start – Thursday 9th Mar 6pm to 9pm
First Iteration Pitch – Thursday 20th April 6pm to 9pm
Final Presentations 25th, 26th, 27th May

This module consists of
1. External project work and
2. Three mentoring sessions over the course of the module.
3. Presentations: Final action learning project presentations will take place on 25th, 26th, 27th May 2023.

Throughout the seven month duration of the program, there will be additional hours of student effort consisting of self-directed learning, reflective learning and group and individual work.

Fees and Funding

€2,600 (EU) or €5,200 (Non-EU)

100% or 90% funded for eligible applicants through the HEA Springboard+ Initiative. See https://springboardcourses.ie/eligibility for eligibility criteria.

What Industry Says

“We need to educate and arm our frontline people. Our marketing team now lead on sustainable packaging, our trading team on supply chain impact, energy usage is a key metric for our store development team.” – John Curran, Head of Sustainability, Musgraves


“Innovation and Sustainability go hand in hand.” – Cormac Madden, Environment and Sustainability Manager, ESB


Completed applications are being reviewed, and places offered on a rolling basis until the course is full.


This course is ideal for mid to senior managers across all sectors, wanting, or already with responsibility for sustainability within their team, department, organisation but without a background in innovation or sustainability.

The opportunity to work on real world projects gives a chance to up-skill and  incorporates relevant workplace projects. This course gives students the knowledge, skills and mindset to translate sustainability challenges into opportunities using innovation. It runs live online over eight months and students will gain a range of career skills including:

Key Highlights:

  • An introduction to key sustainability concepts, terms, models and policy within an Irish context;
  • Applied sustainability skills (Carbon Footprinting, Climate Adaptation Planning, Sustainability Reporting);
  • Innovation and Design Thinking;
  • Transversal skills: Creativity, teamwork, communications, learning agility;
  • A capstone two and a half month Innovation for Sustainability project in the workplace/community.

A key focus of this programme is to enable students to help organisations (enterprise and non-profit) integrate sustainability into their strategy, operations and governance, ensuring that sustainability will be grounded as a source of innovation for organisations driving social and economic change.

For example, the module Sustainability: Human Drivers of Innovation looks at the societal drivers for sustainability. Students will learn about the changes in policy, EU regulation and societal values that are requiring organisations to respond to calls to act on climate change, gender equality, diversity, poverty, and other issues. Through the programme students will learn to apply design thinking methodology to sustainability, to achieve innovation in products, processes and behaviour-changes.

Students will gain a holistic view of sustainability which includes the three pillars People, Planet, and Prosperity – to innovate in organisations and enable sustainable development

Who is it for?

This course is ideal for mid to senior managers across all sectors, wanting, or already with responsibility for sustainability within their team/department/organisation but without a background in innovation or sustainability.

You might be:

  • Working in a large corporate or an SME
  • Making the leap into leadership
  • Unemployed or formerly self-employed
  • A carer or returner to work
  • A career changer

You’ll need a minimum honours degree (Level 8) qualification.
OR applicants with 5+ years of relevant employment history can apply under UCD’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy.
Springboard+ eligibility requirements.
English language requirements.

Keen to start seeing the world differently?

Course structure

Course delivery and timings

This fully immersive learning experience is delivered remotely through a combination of live online sessions, self-directed and reflective learning, project work and mentoring sessions.

You’ll learn from Innovation Academy’s inspiring educators and leading industry guest speakers from the comfort of your home or office. Nevertheless, this is a very social course, and you’ll collaborate with your fellow innovators on practical team challenges and projects.

The course is split into 4 modules, totalling 20 ECTS –

Module 1 – Creativity & Innovation

Learners develop their innovation skills and creative mindset. They learn and apply the five stages of Design Thinking (empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping and testing) to create innovative services and products for a real-world organisation.

Module 2 – Sustainability: Environmental Drivers Of Innovation

Learners gain a broad overview of sustainability (terms, climate models, frameworks, SDGs) and explore how major environmental and social issues are shaping products and services and changing how organisations operate to create value.

Module 3 – Sustainability: Human Drivers in Innovation

Learners explore how the demands of key stakeholders (communities, customers, employees, investors, government) drive innovation for sustainability and gain skills to translate insights to outcomes (inc the principles of sustainability reporting).

Module 4 – Innovation for Sustainability Solutions

Learners develop job-ready skills in sustainability and innovation and benefit their organisation or community by tackling real-world sustainability problems identified by their employer or host company and mentored ‘on the job’ learning.


The first module is delivered completely in a five-day block from 0930 to 1.30pm with self directed learning in the afternoon.

Modules two and three are run weekly in the evenings with a final class on a Saturday.

Module 4 runs over 3 months, March to May. It combines external project work culminating in the Action Learning Project presentations. Students undertake a project related to their own context and agreed with your facilitator.


As the programme involves continuous assessment, students must attend all class sessions.


  • Why choose us?
  • Learning outcomes
  • How to apply
  • Assessment
  • Who leads this course?
  • Career opportunities

UCD Innovation Academy sits at the cutting-edge of education in Ireland, and the world.

We’ve been challenging students to see the world differently since 2010, when we became one of the first universities to offer experiential learning experiences.

Our team has been innovating ever since, shaping and refining our courses with input from some of the world’s best. Thousands of students have passed through the Academy, and each one has played their part in making our courses better and better. We have countless examples of our alumni accelerating their careers and changing the world from within organisations or as entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs.

Students at the Academy also have access to the latest technology to support their creativity. The IA MakerSpace provides a playground for innovation, testing, and prototyping to bring your ideas to life.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’re a part of UCD, ranked among the top 1% of higher education institutions in the world. We’re Ireland’s global university and ranked Ireland’s best for graduate employability. And we currently have Professor Sir Mark Welland​, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge acting as our External Examiner.

Here at the Innovation Academy we have everything you need for a learning experience you’ll never forget.

By the end of the Professional Diploma in Innovation for Sustainability, you will:

  • Know key sustainability concepts, terms, models and policy within an Irish context;
  • Know applied green skills including Carbon Footprinting, Climate Adaptation Planning, Sustainability Reporting;
  • Put Innovation and Design Thinking into practice;
  • Develop transversal skills including creativity, teamwork, communications, learning agility;
  • Gain an innovator’s mindset;
  • Build creative confidence via practical challenges;
  • Build your CV with a substantial innovation project module;
  • Build a peer network of friends, contacts and collaborators;
  • Leave ready to apply your new skills to progress your career;
  • Have a Level 9 qualification from UCD.

This course is open for applications.

Below is a summary of the application procedures and funding eligibility for this course. These are subject to change. 

The full document requirements are on Springboard+. Please read them carefully.

Supporting documents

You will need to upload some supporting documents as part of your application:

  1. Current CV and Letter of Motivation. 
  2. Your academic transcript or parchment to show you have a level 8 qualification (or higher). Alternatively, you can apply through Recognition of Prior Learning. See ‘Entry Requirements’ for full details.
  3. For full or part-funded places, we’ll need to see proof of your relevant employment status as outlined in Springboard+ Eligibility Guidelines.
  4. Your passport if you are an EU, EEA, UK, or Swiss citizen. Or a Stamp 4 Visa for 3 years prior to the course start date if you are applying under a status other than ‘Unemployed in receipt of an eligible DEASP Payment’. 
  5. Applicants who are employed, formerly self-employed, self-employed or in receipt of Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, must demonstrates that you have been resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss/UK for three of the past five years.
  6. If English is not your first language an English language qualification is required. Click HERE for full English Language Requirements for UCD.


FREE for eligible jobseekers: those who have received eligible DEASP Payments.

FREE for returners to work and carers.

90% subsidised (student pays €260) for recent graduates, eligible individuals in employment or self-employment, and the formerly self-employed.

As the course involves continuous assessment, students must attend all class sessions.

The rest of the course is assessed through a combination of individual and team assignments, project reports and presentations.


All courses at the Innovation Academy are developed and facilitated by our exceptional team of educators. 

The team boasts a wealth of experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. They are international entrepreneurs, doctors (both medical and academic), robotics experts, storytellers, conservationists, campaigners, and creatives. 

What they all have in common is their love of the innovative, learning-by-doing approach to learning and their devotion to delivering a world-class student experience. 

Read more about the people behind this course.

Demand for green skills is already outstripping supply.

This course will teach you the skills you need to become your organisation’s champion in innovation for sustainability.

Real world relevance, including relevance for your career, is an integral part of this programme, supported through applied real world learning including enterprise challenges from real organisations, ongoing engagement with the world of work through external enterprise speakers, a teaching team who all bring substantial enterprise experience and a programme director with over 20 years experience in sustainability across education and enterprise.

This entire course is designed to equip participants with the job-ready skills that will help them manage innovation for sustainability with an SME, start-up, or large enterprise.

The real-world challenges that participants encounter during this course are designed to be applied to their current or future work environment, working in multi-disciplinary teams, with limited resources to prototype solutions and pitch them to senior decision-makers. If you’re in employment, this is ensures real time impact for your organisation from the programme.

The development of transversal skills is a vital part of the job readiness component of this programme: creativity, teamwork, communication skills and learning agility are threaded throughout the programme.

The Innovation Academy experience
Meet the team