UCD Graduate Diploma in Design Thinking for Sustainability.
(Level 9 | Full-Time | In Person at UCD Campus)
13 Sep 2021 - 21 Apr 2022

Are you interested in designing a better future for yourself and the planet? 

The Design Thinking for Sustainability Graduate Diploma is an accredited Level 9 qualification with University College Dublin (UCD) at the Innovation Academy. 

You will learn by doing! Hands-on, real world exploration of: Sustainability | Creativity | Entrepreneurship | Innovation | Design Thinking | Leadership 

This is a full-time, in-person course, starting 13th September 2021. On campus, at the Innovation Academy, you will be the first to experiment with our Sustainable Living Lab and newly revamped Makerspace. 

This course is offered free or 90% subsidised rate of €630 for eligible applicants through the Government of Ireland Human Capital Initiative. See below for further information. 


"what an opportunity to create real world solutions to real world problems with people who are passionate about sustainability. I’ll never look at the world the same way again after this course - a game changer."

Keara H., class of 2020

Who is this course for?

Recent Graduates (2020 or 2021)

This is a graduate conversion course and so is open to recent graduates who are seeking to augment their recently acquired undergraduate degree towards a career in sustainability and / or innovation. It is open and relevant to graduates of any academic discipline.

Professionals who want to pivot career

Sustainability and Innovation are growth areas across all sectors and industries. This course can enable early and mid-career professionals who are seeking to pivot towards a sustainability and or innovation focused role.

Current / Prospective Entrepreneurs

This course is also relevant for individuals who have aspirations to develop their own sustainability-focused business or not-for-profit or to augment their existing venture to offer a sustainability-focus service.

Returners to the workforce

For anyone who has taken time out of their career to raise children or look after a loved one and are now ready to rejoin the work force, this course offers an opportunity to establish a platform to relaunch your career in a growth area.

Stellar feedback from our students!

Con Bartles

Recent Graduate

"I learned more, had greater connection with classmates and lecturers and was better equipped to start my career after 7 months of DT4S than I was after 4 years of my undergraduate. I can only imagine the extra benefits to come for next years in person class."


Mid Career Professional

"A wonderful learning experience..hugely impactful, insightful and collaborative.The course is designed to equally suit graduates or those further along in their career journey. I loved the content and had great fun learning as part of a diverse group of classmates."

Jean Cox Kearns

Chief Sustainability Officer, TES

"I highly recommend this course to anyone already in, or looking for, a career in Sustainability."

Develop a sustainability & innovation mindset
through 7 interactive modules.

IA40310: Creative Thinking and Innovation

(5 ECTS)

Learn to see with fresh eyes and develop your teamwork skills.

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IA40470: Entrepreneurship: Application & Mindset

(5 ECTS)

Gain the mindset of an entrepreneur; a bias towards action

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IA40350: Innovation Sprint

(5 ECTS)

A hands-on & immersive deep dive into the Design Thinking process.

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IA40620: Sustainability: Systemic Approaches, Interdisciplinary Solutions

(15 ECTS)

Explore global problems in sustainability & consider interdisciplinary and systemic solutions through seminars, fireside chats with guest speakers, hands-on activities & project work, and more.

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IA40340: Leadership Development

(5 ECTS)

Develop a leadership practice to cultivate a culture of innovation and sustainability in a future workplace or venture.

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IA40610: Design for User-Centric, Sustainable Solutions

(20 ECTS)

Apply the skillset, toolkit, and mindset gained in the first trimester to solving a real-world sustainability problem for an organisation. The module ends with a showcase event.

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IA40460: Design Thinking for Life

(5 ECTS)

This module provides an approach in which you will reflect upon your learning, consider your life and career goals, and make plans to reposition your career for the emerging green economy.

Learn More

Employers who have contributed to this course.

What you will gain:

Meet your facilitators.

Dr. Eileen Diskin


Eileen started her career as a wilderness guide in the Alaskan wilderness, and became a conservation naturalist with the Missouri Department of Conservation before working as a field archaeologist. Eileen founded BiodiversityInOurLives.com, an initiative whose pilot project was a set of biodiversity beermats that featured in pubs across Dublin.


Dr. Colman Farrell


Colman Farrell co-founded the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and Suas, the educational charity. He was Vice Chair of Dóchas (the association of Irish NGOs).From 2004 to 2012 he was CEO of Suas. Previously he was Development Manager at Enterprise Ireland, before which he a software development manager leading a team at General Electric Global exchange Services.  



How will I learn?

How to apply for a place:

UCD Academic Criteria

All applicants must hold a minimum of an honours degree (Level 8) in any discipline – OR – in the absence of a degree applicants who have 5 years or more of relevant employment history can apply under UCD’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy.

Applicants who are applying under RPL must submit their CV and any transcripts, certificates. We also ask that RPL applicants provide two professional/employment references recently dated and on headed paper or from official email addresses which include name, role and email address along with referees contact details.If you are applying under RPL, please review your CV to ensure that it:-

1) demonstrates where you have shown leadership and self-direction 
2) describes management or entrepreneurial experience 
3) Describes responsibilities in the areas of eg. employees, budgets, clients..

Criteria to avail of a free or 90% subsidised place through the Human Capital Initiative 

If you are applying for a fully or partially funded place on this course funded by the Government Human Capital Initiative you must satisfy the following criteria depending on your status. Please CLICK HERE for full eligibility criteria to apply for a place under the HEA Springboard+ / HCI Pillar 1 initiatives.

UCD English Language Criteria

If English is not you first language, you must meet the English Language Requirements for UCD. Click here for the list.



As part of your application to this course, you will be required to complete an online form and upload the following information.   

  1. Your CV and a 1 page Letter of Motivation.
  2. Academic transcripts of your results or a copy of your academic parchment 
  3. Your status verification. This will vary depending on whether you are employed, unemployed, a returner or previously self-employed. 
  4. A copy of the photo page of your passport
  5. English language certification in line with the criteria above.. 



The deadline for applications is the 13th of July 2021. 

Places on UCD Innovation Academy courses are in high demand. If you like the sound of this course, we encourage you to register your interest now and begin your application.

If you don’t have all the required documentation to hand, we would encourage you to begin your application and upload these at a later point before the deadline.

We often run online information sessions for anyone who has registered their interest in a particular course with us. 

Contact our admissions team.

Mary Saunders | Karina King | David Nevin


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