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Sustainable Development - MSc/PGDip/PGCert


SOAS University of London Centre for Development, Environment & Policy

October, April MSc, PgDip, PgCert 1-2 years distance learning

About the course

This programme is designed to assist both existing professionals working within environment and development spheres, and people moving into international and national-level organisations and agencies promoting sustainable development.

For existing professionals, the programme provides the opportunity to upgrade and update their expertise, and to reflect systematically and in depth on their accumulated experience in the light of up-to-date theory and literature.

Graduates of this programme will have a wide range of backgrounds and will typically find work in:

  • government ministries and other public sector organisations concerned with policy analysis in the fields of sustainable development and environmental planning
  • international organisations, such as UN agencies, concerned with the

Read more about this course


Entry Requirements

A good first degree in an appropriate subject area, as accepted by the University of London, and a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills


Course Content



Where is SOAS University of London


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Student Profile(s)

Caroline Makasa, Zambia

The term sustainability was often used at meetings, workshops and other forums and so I began to wonder what it really meant. The more I read about it, the more I became interested and wondered about how it could be applied to what I was doing. At that time I was working for the Zambia Development Agency, which is charged with the responsibility of promoting trade and investment in the country.

When I discovered the MSc course in Sustainable Development on the internet I was thrilled because I could study part-time and work, all at the same time. The fact that the degree can be studied over a five year period is excellent especially as I have a very busy schedule.

My study experience has been both challenging and exciting. I began my studies in 2008 and I often had to juggle between working and studying, as my work frequently involved travelling to other countries. The following year, I changed jobs and now work for UNIDO as National Project Coordinator for the Joint UNIDO –WTO Trade Capacity Building Framework Programme. In this job I have been able to apply many of the things that I have learnt, such as issues relating to sustainable development and project planning. I have realised that there are some things that can be better incorporated into a project and also the importance of continuous monitoring and evaluation.

I have a keen interest in the interface between trade, development and poverty reduction. These are wide areas with unending debates such as the Doha Round of negotiations which are still ongoing at WTO and mainly relate to agricultural subsidies that developed countries give to farmers. Development can also be viewed from different perspectives but ultimately very little can be achieved without political will and good governance. My research topic for my MSc is a case study which looks at bureaucracy versus entrepreneurship in a public sector service organisation. I will be submitting my research report in this year and look forward to graduating in December!


Luminita Cuna

I was born and raised in Romania and I obtained my bachelor degree in the US. On graduation I took on an IT project management job with Citigroup. However, curiosity and childhood dreams took me to South America. I visited and lived with a number of indigenous communities: the Quechua and Huaorani in the Amazon region of Ecuador, and the Matses in Peru. I developed close relationships with these three indigenous communities and we have built friendship and mutual trust.

These communities are confronted with incredible issues that affect their livelihoods, human rights and the environment in which they live. I started helping these communities the best I could, with modest means and at a grassroots level by providing medicines and school supplies (that had been collected from friends in the US), and by improving community initiatives such as the making and sale of handicrafts and eco-tourism. I soon realised that if I wanted to have a more significant and sustainable impact I needed to work on a different level, and acquire both knowledge and credibility.

I researched many online programs in the US, Canada, and the UK, but I found that the SOAS CeDEP Master of Science is the one that suited my needs best in terms of quality, content, flexibility and finances. It had all the characteristics I was looking for in a programme and I liked the idea of being able to study while working and I found it intriguing to be able to study from any part of the world. This way I can accommodate my studies to any schedule I want. I really enjoy the course material and the academic team goes a long way to help distance students plan their schedule (which is one of the more challenging parts of studying remotely). Also, having classmates from different backgrounds, many are currently working on relevant projects to the subjects we study is enriching my experience because we can share real life experiences that complement the course material.

In November 2011, I started Maloca, a grassroots organisation to support indigenous people in the Amazon to preserve their land, culture and environment. At Maloca I work directly with communities and we try together to build strategies to respond to their diverse needs. I hope to get a larger network of friends to help these indigenous communities establish self-sustaining strategies for their future.


Eyob Ghilazghy, Eritrea

My concerns over environmental destruction, the inequitable and unsustainable use of the natural resources and associated social injustices led me to my studies of Sustainable Development. I found this subject area interesting due its integrative and interdisciplinary approach to addressing the problems facing humanity and the environment, both today and in the future. I believe that if conducive mechanisms and conditions are created and translated it into practice, then the problem of sustainability can be addressed.

I come from Eritrea where there are no universities that offer post-graduate education and pursuing further studies abroad was not an option. Therefore, distance learning was the only way to continue my studies. I completed 80% of my studies in 2 years whilst in Eritrea but then I moved to South Sudan working for an NGO, and was able to complete my MSc by writing my dissertation whilst working.

The learning experience was exciting and interesting yet with some challenges also. I liked very much the way the courses have been designed with various forms of media particularly the electronic ones on CD. I found the tutor-marked assignments very important and useful as they provided a means of assessing the level of understanding and preparation prior to the examinations. I also liked the nature of the exam which focuses on the level of understanding of concepts and the subject rather than on memorising information.

From my studies I now find that I approach my research and reporting on human rights and humanitarian situations through the principles of sustainable development; looking at the inter-linkages of the economic, social and environmental dimensions and the consequence of an action relating to one aspect on the other. For example, I reported the effect forced resettlement in Eritrea has on the society, economy and environment.

I have also been able to apply the knowledge I gained from my studies in my employment where I have designed a food security and livelihoods programme incorporating the principles of sustainable development.



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