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MSc Sustainable Development

Course Description

A growing global concern

Sustainable development, defined as "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"1, is now one of the key policy drivers in many societies. Sustainability pervades decision making at the global, national, regional and local levels and is becoming embedded politically in all layers of government. Both public agencies and private organisations need to appreciate the sustainability agenda and what it means for them and their employees.

Our MSc Sustainable Development is designed to respond to this emerging agenda, approaching the subject from a holistic and multi-disciplinary perspective. This approach is critical: sustainable development covers inter-related economic, environmental and social issues. Understanding the connections between issues is key to tackling complex sustainability challenges and developing the joined-up thinking required in today’s policy environment.

Relevant, research-informed foundations and practical applications

This Masters provides a practical and problem-based approach to learning focused on both the study of sustainable development and its implementation in a range of professional contexts. Taught by experts in the field, staff who are active researchers in sustainability, you will gain insight into the latest research findings plus training in research methods for sustainability. You will develop a thorough grounding in the principles that underlie sustainability and the means by which to implement these in a range of settings across the globe.

We cover the outcomes of recent policy making, eg, the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development; specific policy areas such as biodiversity, climate change and forests; and social enterprise and sustainability. In addition, a range of option modules allow you to cover wider debates in fields of climate change, energy policy and human geography.

A perfect environment in which to study sustainable development

This Masters is based on the Cornwall Campus, home to the University's Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI, http://www.exeter.ac.uk/esi/) – a £30 million centre leading cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research into solutions to problems of environmental change and enhancing people’s lives by improving their relationship with the environment. As a student you will benefit from the programme’s close relationship with the Institute and exposure to its cutting-edge research.

Cornwall is an exceptional place in which to study issues related to the environment and sustainability. The county is a perfect living laboratory which offers a diverse range of marine and terrestrial habitats, a wealth of natural resources and creative and resilient communities.

We also offer MSc Sustainable Development (Climate Change and Risk Management), which has a different emphasis of compulsory modules focusing more on the science of climate change and its influence on climate, environment and energy policy (http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/taught/geography/sustdevccrm/).

Programme structure

The programme is made up of compulsory and optional modules, which may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme. The modules listed here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching.

Compulsory modules

The compulsory modules could include the following; Dissertation; Understanding Environmental Change; Governing Sustainability and Key Skills.

Optional modules

Some examples of optional modules are as follows; Statistical Modelling; Environmental Sustainability in Practice; Independent Study; Independent Work-based Learning; Introduction to Energy Policy and Sustainability; Climate, Hazards and Risk Assessment; Themes in Climate Change; Nature, Health and Wellbeing and Research Methods for Practice.

Visit the MSc Sustainable Development page on the University of Exeter website for more details!

Student Profiles

Funding for Postgraduate Study - 20+ Awards

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships and studentships for talented students. For 2016 entry, the total value of scholarships for taught postgraduate programmes exceeds £500,000. This is in addition to over 100 PhD studentships we make available each year.Students who reside in England and are interested in our Masters programmes can now take advantage of the UK government's postgraduate loan scheme which offers loans of up to £10,000.

Value of Scholarship(s)



Varies, but most awards are competitive and merit-based.

Application Procedure

Please see the details of each scheme as listed in our search: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/studying/funding/search

Further Information


Entry Requirements

All applicants are considered individually on merit, although we usually require a Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline.

Course Fees

See our web site for information (click on "Finance") View Website

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