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Course content

Sustainability has emerged as a defining issues of the 21st century. Achieving enduring and fairer societies requires viable economies, sound science and good governance. This course provides training in theory and critical analysis along with the practical skills to facilitate the transformation needed to deliver low carbon futures.

Why study Sustainability at Dundee?

The MSc in Sustainability is being introduced in recognition of the challenges of water, food, energy and health security facing the planet. The portfolio of environmental disciplines is exceptionally strong in the University as are its traditions of cross-disciplinary collaboration and cooperation.
Along with the flagship MSc in Sustainability, there are four specialised pathways:

MSc in Sustainability and Water Security
MSc in Sustainability and Climate Change
MSc in Sustainability and Low Carbon Living
MSc in Sustainability and the Green Economy

What's so good about Sustainability at Dundee?

There is a strong postgraduate culture which Sustainability students can enjoy.
The Graduate School of Natural Resources Law, Policy and Management includes both the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law Policy and the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science (under the auspices of UNESCO) both of which have long standing international reputations. Specialist high-level speakers sourced from international organisations are invited to present throughout the year, these sessions provide a vital opportunity for students to become connected with industry so continued communication is encouraged after the events.

The School of the Environment and CECHR similarly have an extended programme of guest lectures and speakers and through xcechr there are multiple events bringing Masters and PhD students together by a common interest in environmental change research. Examples of the activities that result include Student-Supervisor-Seminar-Series, ‘change-maker workshops’ and a national show-case ‘Facing the Future’ Symposium.

Who should study this course?

This course is suitable for a wide range of graduates from;
Environmental backgrounds (e.g. geography, planning, environmental studies) looking to upskill and achieve a deeper understanding
Natural science graduates (e.g. chemistry, maths) and engineers looking to develop a more rounded understanding of environmental issues, especially in relation to regulation and policy.
Arts and social science students wishing to use their social, economic and political perspectives to take on the challenges associated with complex environmental systems and their management.

How you will be taught

The course is taught as a collection of 20 credit modules amounting to a total of 180 Masters (SHE M, SCQF 11) credits. The delivery style and assessment requirements for each module varies as we believe a diversity of practice provides strength. Nevertheless all modules combine a mixture of formal lecture, small group seminar, practical/field classes and individual tutorials depending on need and the particular learning objectives of each module. The study load corresponds to one third in each of the first two teaching semesters and one third for independent study for the dissertation the summer recess.

What you will study

There are a choice of four specialist pathways in addition to the MSc in Sustainability: See above.

Each of the five MSc pathways contains a common core comprising ‘Principles of Sustainability’ and ‘Transformation for Sustainability’, along with the ‘Research Training’ module. Each named pathway then comprises a specialised core module and then options drawn from a wide range of electives (c. 30 available from contributing academic Schools). All five MSc pathways feature a 60 credit individual research project, the weighting of which reflects the importance of independent investigation and permitting students to develop expertise in their chosen area through effectively four months of dedicated research.

Each of the MSc in Sustainability pathways is geared around the following learning outcomes:

Knowledge and Understanding:
Achieve a critical understanding of key sustainability principles and perspectives informing actions in pursuit of sustainable development, inclusive of environment, economy and equity considerations;
Demonstrate knowledge of approaches to evaluating and measuring sustainability;
Apply different concepts of transformation and change to enable individual and societal shifts towards more sustainable practices;

Ability to analyse, evaluate and critically review theory and policy debates relating to sustainability;
Ability to draw on international perspectives and examples of best practice in relation to methods of evaluation and assessment of sustainability;
Ability to design and plan interventions for creating change to promote greater sustainability across different scales;
Design and undertake a substantial independent research project to address significant areas of theory and/or practice.

Critique and synthesis theory and evidence drawing on a variety of sources;
Ability to communicate evidenced based reports relevant to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers;
Ability to work independently and as part of a team tackling complex environmental problems to tight deadlines;
Ability to design and evaluate transformative change leading to improved sustainability strategies, processes and plans

Transferrable skills, including building arguments, synthesis, reflexivity and making presentations.

How you will be assessed

Assessment follows a variety of styles including individual essays and practical assignments along with formal written examinations; to group exercises and peer group assessment – this is particularly important where oral presentations are involved. The independent research project (dissertation) is an excellent opportunity for a candidate to achieve deep insight into a topic of their own choice. Masters level dissertations can be very diverse, and include formal hypothesis-led research projects; theory or literature-based projects; case-study assessment and advanced professional practice evaluations. Choice of dissertations is negotiated between the student and his or her academic supervisor.


The environmental sector is one of the key growth areas in the global economy and in UK terms is comparable in size to the pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors combined. An MSc in Sustainability is designed to equip our graduates to take up a wide range of careers in policy, practical management, training and research across a spectrum of organisations from local to international and within the public and private sectors.

International Agencies and NGOs
Civil Service
Governmental environmental and conservation agencies (e.g. SNH, SEPA, EA)
Environmental management and policy sectors (private and public sector)
Environmental consultancy
Management consultancy
Public affairs
Built environment sustainability
Local planning authorities
Research and development
Preparation for PhD research

Visit the MSc Sustainability (and degree combinations) page on the University of Dundee website for more details!





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