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M.Sc. in Smart & Sustainable Cities

M.Sc. in Smart & Sustainable Cities Course brochure

M.Sc. in Smart & Sustainable Cities Course Handbook

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The growth and development of cities in the 21st Century presents significant challenges, including sustainable development, the planning and design of urban space and social wellbeing. With thousands of smart-city initiatives around the world, smart urbanism is now one of the dominant models of urban development. Projects for smart cities involve the regeneration of existing urban areas as well as the creation of large new settlements, and have a major positive impact on the many environmental, social and economic systems that underpin the planet. Meanwhile, and with a strong overlap with smart city initiatives, cities around the world are reacting to broader environmental challenges, such as climate change through measures aimed at developing sustainable solutions. The global scale of such challenges has been recognized within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) under the heading of ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’. Here, the promotion of safe, inclusive and sustainable cities is outlined as a central pillar of creating a sustainable urban future.

Smart-city initiatives have a multi-dimensional nature. As projects that are aimed at improving urban spaces, they are deeply connected to issues of urbanisation and urban planning.  Moreover, projects for smart cities involve the production of a number of technologies such as wireless sensor networks designed to produce data on how the city operates, and innovative efficient or low-waste electrical grids. Therefore, because of their focus on technological innovation, the development of smart cities goes beyond the science of the city and is also the product of studies in computer science and engineering. Finally, once implemented, smart interventions take place not upon a blank canvas, but rather within complex ecological and social systems whose dynamics must be taken into account, in order to avoid environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.

Is this course for me?

In terms of sustainability, the multi-dimensional nature of smart-city initiatives can be understood only through an interdisciplinary approach. This new MSc in Smart and Sustainable Cities approaches the study of smart and sustainable urbanism by drawing from the research-based expertise of leading scholars from Trinity’s Energy, Environment and Emerging Technologies Institute (E3). The programme, which is the first dedicated programme of its kind, will provide students with an in-depth understanding of smart and sustainable cities, using (a) the tools of urban geography and planning to examine the spatial formation of smart cities; (b) methods in engineering and computer science to analyze the functions and applications of smart technologies, and (c) insights from ecology to explore the environmental impact of both ‘smart-city projects’ and wider transformations of contemporary cities. The programme is thus of interest to a wide range of students from different backgrounds. Career options after graduation include working in urban planning and in the private sector engaged in smart city initiatives.

Scholarships available

How much is the scholarship worth:

Scholarships of up to €4,000 are available.

Who can apply:

Applicants who hold an offer letter for a Postgraduate Taught Masters programme in the School of Engineering or the School of Computer Science and Statistics, or the School of Natural Sciences or the MSc in Energy Science and the MPhil in Environmental History.

How to apply for a scholarship:

To be considered for a scholarship, please submit your scholarship application by clicking here. Note that you will need to include a 200-word statement on “How I will contribute to the E3 Initiative and provide Balanced Solutions for a Better World at Trinity College Dublin.”
The E3 Recruitment and Admissions Team will inform you if you’ve been selected for a scholarship and will inform you for the process to formally accept the scholarship. 
Application deadlines and announcement dates:

Application deadlines and announcement dates: 

1st Batch application deadline: 1st February 2024
1st Batch announcement date: 1st March 2024

2nd Batch application deadline: 15th March 2024
2nd Batch announcement date: 15th April 2024

3rd Batch application deadline: 1st May 2024
3rd Batch announcement date: 31st June 2024

Please e-mail if you have any questions regarding the E3 Scholarships or the application process.

Course Structure

The M.Sc. in Smart and Sustainable Cities will be delivered full-time over one year. The course comprises 8 compulsory modules, carrying 5 ECTS credits each, and a Dissertation module carrying 30 ECTS credits. In addition, students also take a total of 20 ECTS of optional credits to give a total 90 ECTS for the course, as outlined below:

Core (compulsory modules)

  • Urban Governance
  • Smart Eco-Cities of the Future
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Urban Sustainability
  • Introduction to Machine Learning
  • Research Method
  • Fieldtrip
  • Placement
  • Dissertation

Options (choose 4)

  • Transportation Policy
  • Transportation Modelling & Planning
  • Energy Policy & Building Energy Demand
  • Urban Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Environmental Policies
  • Human Interaction with Biodiversity
  • Climate Justice, Climate Change & Development

The programme draws upon existing modules within the Schools of Computer Science, Engineering and Natural Sciences as well as introducing new, core modules exclusive to this masters. For some of the optional modules, pre-requisites apply and admission is dependent on getting the module coordinator’s approval, based on prior education and experience.


The course will have a mandatory field trip to one of three alternating European cities.  This allows students to gain insights into the ways in which different approaches emerge within specific social, political and economic contexts in which they are embedded. The fieldtrip will alternate between: London, as exemplifying the connections between global transformations and urbanization; Amsterdam as a prototype of sustainable urban living, and; Brussels as a city that provides insights into the connections between urban governance and sustainability


The course will incorporate a mandatory industrial in-company placement module. The placement is designed to allow students to link their in-class learning to hands-on approaches within a particular sub-area of smart cities and urban sustainability. This will be achieved both through the experience of the work placement itself and through the completion of a report, which will form the majority of the coursework on this module (80%).  Students will be expected to seek out and secure their own placements. However, students will be given assistance in finding relevant organizations.

MDP Faculty & Contributors

Dr. Philip Lawton (Director)

Philip Lawton joined Trinity College Dublin as Assistant Professor in Geography in September, 2017. His research interests are focused on the intersection between urban economic change, urban policy making and social life in cities. Outputs from his research have included the analysis of residential preferences of creative-knowledge workers (Cities, 2013), the ideal of the 'European city' in Dublin policy making (International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 2014), and the connections between uneven development and suburban transformation in Adamstown, Dublin (European Journal of Urban and Regional Studies, 2018). Prior to joining Trinity College, Philip held positions in Maynooth University, NUI Galway, and Maastricht University. Through these experiences, Philip has sought to develop an approach to teaching that is centred on student discussion and interaction. 

Dr. Lawton is course director and the coordinator for Urban Governance, Fieldtrip, Placement and Dissertation

Dr Federico Cugurullo

Federico Cugurullo is Assistant Professor in Smart and Sustainable Urbanism at Trinity College Dublin. His research is positioned at the intersection of urban geography, political philosophy and experimental urbanism, and explores how ideas of sustainability are cultivated and implemented across geographical spaces, with a focus on projects for eco-cities and smart cities.

Federico has done extensive empirical research in the Middle East and Southeast Asia where he has investigated the sustainability performance of supposedly experimental cities such as Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. His work has been used by the United Nations and the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to foresee future urban challenges and develop preventive policies.

Building upon empirical grounds, Federico’s main theoretical aspiration (also the subject of his forthcoming book) is the development of urban equations for a sustainable urbanism. Other theoretical contributions include the concept of urban eco-modernisation, and the theory of de-composed urbanism and Frankenstein cities.

Before joining Trinity College Dublin, Federico held positions at the University of Manchester, King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Dr Cugurullo is the coordinator for Smart-eco Cities of the Future and Qualitative Research Methods.

Dr. Susan Murphy

Susan is a lecturer in Development Practice, based in the School of Natural Sciences (Geography), Trinity College Dublin Her research centres on the ethics and practice of international development in a rapidly changing world. Drawing upon her expertise in international political theory, she specializes in issues related to global and climate justice, human rights, gender justice and social inclusion. She lectures on Gender, Climate Justice, and Development Research and Practice.

Susan is the PI of the GATE project (Gender Awareness and Transformation through Education) in collaboration with Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania. She is the Chair of Oxfam Ireland, a member of the Board of Supervisors of Oxfam International and Chair of Oxfam International Governance Review Working Group. She is the co-convenor of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Ethics and World Politics working group and scientific committee member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  Susan completed her Ph.D. in 2012 on the subject of international development and humanitarian ethics. Following completion of her masters in politics and international relations (1996), she worked in Industry as a manager with Accenture for a decade before returning to academic research and teaching in 2008.

Dr. Murphy coordinates Climate Change: Science Development & Justice.

Entry Requirements

Admission to the course is competitive. Applicants will be expected to have an Honours Bachelor degree at 2.1 or above in a social science or science-based course such as Engineering, Sociology, Computer Science, Economics, Geography or cognate fields.

In case of heavy competition for places or concerns regarding a particular applicant’s suitability, applicants may be interviewed or asked to submit a written sample for assessment. Non-standard applicants may be considered by the Dean of Graduate Studies in exceptional circumstanced based on workplace experience or other criteria relevant under the Recognition of Prior Learning policy.

All applicants whose first language is not English and who have not been educated through the medium of English must present one of the following qualifications in the English language:

  • IELTS: Grade 6.5 overall
  • TOEFL: 88 internet-based, 570 paper-based, 230 computer-based. The test taken here should be TOEFL IBT
  • University of Cambridge:
    Proficiency Certificate, Grade C or better (CEFR Level C1 or C2)
    Advanced Certificate, Grade C or better (CEFR Level C1 or C2)
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE Academic: a minimum score of 63 to be eligible (with no section score below 59)
  • An award certificate with a minimum II.1 overall score from Trinity's Centre for English Language Learning and Teaching's Pre-sessional Pathway Programme

Please note that test scores are only valid for two years. For further details on these English Language Proficiency Tests, please contact the appropriate organisation directly:

An applicant whose first language is not English but who has taken a degree through the medium of English may be eligible provided they did not complete their studies more than two years prior to admission. However some courses may request applicants to present an English Language qualification under certain circumstances.

Further Information

Contact Us

Applications are now open for 2024 (September 2024 intake). Further details on the admissions process can be found at here

Philip Lawton – Course Director

Elaine Elders - Administrative Officer

Practical Information for Students

  • Fees

Please click here for M.Sc. in Smart & Sustainable Cities fees information

  • Accommodation

Students enrolled on this postgraduate programme will be eligible to apply for accommodation at both Trinity College Dublin.

For accommodation at Trinity College Dublin

  • Assistance for International Students

International Students Office at Trinity College Dublin