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Sustainable Development - MSc

Course Description

This programme is run by the Centre for Environmental Strategy (CES) – a leading centre for environmental and sustainability-related research and postgraduate teaching.

CES accommodates a wide range of disciplines dedicated to resolving environmental problems, and this Masters programme prepares a new generation of environment and sustainability professionals for the challenges and opportunities ahead.


This programme equips you with the tools essential for analysis of the relationship between environmental issues and human society, in order to make informed decisions. As part of this approach, you will evaluate political, socio-economic, ethical, cultural and regulatory frameworks.

You will acquire a sensitive appreciation of issues surrounding sustainable development and an understanding of the theory and application of sustainable development.

This programme provides a route to graduate membership of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.


This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time students must study at least two taught technical modules per academic year. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation. The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.
-Life Cycle Thinking and the Circular Economy
-Ecological Economics
-Environmental Science & Society
-Foundations of Sustainable Development
-Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility
-Energy Policies and Economic Dimensions
-Energy-Consumer Goods in the Home
-The Energy Market from the Purchaser’s Perspective
-Corporate Energy Management
-Environmental Law
-Industrial Placement
-Integrated Assessment
-Environmental Auditing and Management Systems
-Sustainable Development Applications
-Transitions to a Low Carbon Economy
-Psychology of Sustainable Development
-Energy in industry and the built environment
-Risk Management
-Emissions Trading
-Life Cycle Assessment
-Renewable Energy and Sustainability
-Transport Energy and Emissions


Full-time students are able to undertake an industrial placement module which enables them to spend six to twelve weeks working for a company or NGO, doing the type of work they will aim to find on graduation.

Examples of organisations at which recent industrial placements have taken place include:
-Minimise Solutions
-Portsmouth City Council
-Diocese of London
-The Radisson
-LC Energy
-Solar Aid


Graduates go on to a diverse range of careers implementing sustainable development and dealing with the real environmental challenges facing humanity.

Recent examples include working as an energy efficiency officer for a local government, an environmental officer in multi-national chemical company, a sustainability advisor for a national television / radio station, an environmental consultant for an engineering consultancy, and a programme officer with a sustainability charity.

Other graduates use the research skills they developed to go on and do PhDs.


-To provide participants with a thorough conceptual framework and the skills necessary to understand the concept of Sustainable Development, and make judgements about Sustainable Development policies and their implementation
-To equip participants to evaluate existing political, socio-economic, ethical, cultural and regulatory frameworks to inform decisions regarding Sustainable Development
-To encourage participants to develop a sensitive appreciation of the significance of the contextual settings of sustainable development, especially as they relate to developing countries
-To develop and enhance participants' research and data handling skills


The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, qualities and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding
-The concept of sustainable development, and awareness of current debates
-Ecological principles and processes and how they are affected by human activities
-How to integrate sustainable development into the day-to-day management and functioning of organisations, and on-going performance monitoring
-Accessing and using environmental data

Intellectual/cognitive skills
-Absorb complex information and communicate them effectively through logically constructed arguments
-Critical reading and analysis of sustainable development principles
-Learn the value of teamwork to solve problems that require multi-disciplinary engagement
-Independent learning and study through self-directed assignments and dissertation
-Inductive reasoning: using specific examples/observations and forming a more general principal
-Deductive reasoning: use stated general premise to reason about specific examples

Professional practical skills
-Evaluate technical, social, environmental, economic and political aspects of sustainable development
-Adapt economic and social assessment tools to support decision-making
-Incorporate ethical dimensions to project design and implementation
-Give coherent presentations
-Lead discussions on complex subject areas
-Competently handle environment information
-Self-motivation, self-regulation and self-assurance

Key/transferable skills
-Independent learning capacity
-Deliver a structured and successful presentation
-Team work (group)
-The use of analytical approaches appropriately in different decision-making situations
-Write effectively as a means of communicating important ideas
-Communication of findings and presentation of research to a non-specialist audience
-Lead discussion of small/large groups
-Organise and manage a research project
-Basic to advanced IT skills


We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

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

(Student Profile)


Cheyvonne James, from Trinidad and Tobago, studied her MSc in Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey. She now works as an Implementation Coordinator at the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development.

“Having grown up in a developing Commonwealth nation, I always had a desire to pursue tertiary level studies in the United Kingdom,” she says. “I was attracted to Surrey’s postgraduate taught programme at the Centre for Environmental Strategy (CES) because of the manifold modules it afforded.”

She continues, “Coming to Surrey provided me with an opportunity to enhance my behavioural science background at the undergraduate level, whilst also obtaining knowledge and advance training in a completely new field. I also appreciate Surrey for its proximity to the diverse city of London.

“At CES, my supervisors were always very supportive and made themselves available to provide guidance, feedback and encouragement. Lecturers were always well-prepared and articulate; facilities were comfortable and the subject matter was in-depth, diverse in scope and relevant to the development issues facing modern societies.”

Cheyvonne undertook a Professional Training placement as part of her MSc. “I worked at an organisation called BIW (now Conject Ltd),” she explains. “I undertook an extensive market research of the sustainability practices of organisations in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. This industrial placement exposed me to actual practices the AEC industry could employ in order to have more sustainable operations.

“The opportunity to study at an internationally acclaimed academic institution in a developed country was really invaluable to me,” she concludes.

Now working within the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, Cheyvonne is significantly involved in research and developmental exercises, geared towards national policy formulation.

(Student Profile)


Harsheenee Doorga, from Mauritius, studied at the University of Surrey for an MSc in Sustainable Development, and is now a Sustainable Development Analyst at EcoVadis Ltd.

“I liked the fact that the MSc at Surrey was assignment-based, not exam-based,” she says. “I was also attracted by the emphasis placed on class discussion, and the international profiles of the students. My supervisors were supportive and knowledgeable in their field and the facilities and resources were very up-to-date.”

Harsheenee took up a placement whilst on her MSc, with Healthy Planet, based in London. “My internship as a project manager helped me connect with people from the charity field, as well as develop managerial, communication and organisational skills.”

Her job at EcoVadis Ltd now means that she is responsible for the analysis and rating of suppliers, as well as leading a community involvement team in Mauritius.

“Surrey really prepared me for my new role,” she explains. “I got exposure to experienced and international postgraduates whilst at the Centre for Environmental Sustainability (CES), and learnt a lot of new things.”

(Student Profile)


I am hoping to work in an environmental-related area after finishing the course, so learning more in this area is an advantage. All the academic staff are very helpful including my personal tutor and module leaders. The fact that the course is multidisciplinary has meant that I have learnt content from a variety of areas. It also means that students from different backgrounds and work experience were on the course too. Much of the course highlights how we can apply our studies to working life, so I feel prepared to go forward with this. There is a lot that the programme offers and Surrey is a great place to study. As a result of my course, I will have more opportunities in the future.


Discounts for Surrey graduates - No. of awards TBC

If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford, you could be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught postgraduate Masters programme fees. This scheme is for applicable to Postgraduate Taught entry students only and is reviewed annually.Students who graduated in 2013 are eligible, as well as alumni from previous years, on receipt of evidence of the award from Surrey and where we can identify that you actually studied in Guildford. Students from SII-DUFE are eligible for this scheme.Associated Institution students are not eligible. Not available to modular self-pacing students.

Value of Scholarship(s)

10% tuition fee discount


Self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford

Application Procedure

If you have any enquiries regarding this matter please contact the Student Fees and Funding Office on [email protected]


GREAT Surrey Scholarships India - 6 Awards

Funded by the University and the UK government’s GREAT Britain campaign, up to six scholarships worth £5,000 (paid in the form of a fee discount) are being offered on postgraduate taught courses from the following subjects:- Chemical and Process Engineering
- Chemistry
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Computer Science
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Environment and Sustainability
- Mathematics
- Mechanical Engineering Sciences
- PhysicsWHO CAN APPLY?You can apply for a GREAT Surrey Scholarship if:- You hold a high first-class degree from an Indian university (the minimum requirement is 65 per cent from a prestigious university or 70 per cent from a regional university).
- You hold an offer from Surrey to study any MSc course within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, as listed above (you must hold an offer before submitting an application for a scholarship)

Value of Scholarship(s)



The GREAT Scholarship – India programme is aimed at high-calibre Indian students who want to study for a postgraduate programme in engineering.

Application Procedure

To apply, you will need to complete the online form - http://www.surrey.ac.uk/content/great-scholarships-india-2016

Further Information


Entry Requirements

The normal entry level is a minimum 2.2 honours degree (or equivalent) in social, life or physical sciences, or engineering disciplines. Applicants without a qualifying degree, who have significant relevant experience, will also be considered. Students are accepted on our MSc programmes from a wide range of academic backgrounds, the strengths of which will be built upon during each specific course

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