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MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility

Course Description

This lively part-time MSc programme will challenge you to engage with the growing international debate and practice around sustainability, business and responsibility.

Get to grips with areas as diverse as environmental and ecological economics, ecology and living systems, sustainable development and design or human rights and social justice and the way in which they affect the global supply chain, business practice and planning for the future.

During the programme you will:

Explore sustainability and corporate responsibility from multiple perspectives
Engage with leading-edge practitioners and organisations featuring values-based practice
Develop skills and apply disciplined action research and action learning
Develop and apply your capacity as an informed and self-aware individual contributing to organisational and social change
Inform the growing world-wide debate on the purpose and responsibilities of business
Benefit from strong peer support, shared learning and a dynamic learning environment

This programme is intended for people working in businesses, consultants, activists, public sector managers and NGO professionals.

Programme facts:

Two years part time
Six 3-day residential classes plus online learning
Action research approach that helps you integrate theory and practice
A learning community which will support and challenge you
Extensive alumni network of informed professionals

Participants use this programme to make meaningful and lasting shifts in their ability to act effectively as leaders, change agents, pioneers and provocateurs in their chosen fields. Participants grapple with leading edge theory and best practice and ask deep questions of themselves and others in service of the work they really want to develop in the world.The result is a learning approach that creates genuine shifts in confidence, understanding and the ability to respond through your work to the key challenges of our time.

Central to the programme is the use of Action Research as a disciplined approach to learning, research and change. Simply put, Action Research asks you to become an active researcher into your own life, work and organisation. You will be encouraged
to experiment with your activities and approaches at work, in response to the topics raised on the programme. Each workshop includes some time in small peer learning groups and in the whole group, helping you become clearer about the questions that lie at the heart of the work you wish to do in the world. You will be supported by tutors and programme colleagues to reflect on your purposes, strategies, actions and on the feedback you get as you try to create change. Our experience is that this combination of an Action Research approach, sustainability and responsibility topics, and theories of learning, change and leadership is what makes this such a powerful and practical learning opportunity.

Meet the Ashridge faculty:


Find out more about the programme:


This programme is under review

Visit the MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility page on the Ashridge website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Daniella Vega

1583.gif Why did you decide to do the Masters in Sustainability and Responsibility programme?
I had worked in the field of sustainability for a long time and was looking for new ideas and inspiration from outside corporate sustainability practitioner circles. I heard a colleague speak about his experience working in the field of sustainability and he talked of the Masters programme at Ashridge. It had a huge influence in shaping his vision of a sustainable future.

Did you have any reservations before starting?
I thought that the programme might be too technical in terms of environmental content and I also thought that the attendees would all be sustainability practitioners from corporate backgrounds. Happily, I was wrong on both counts!

What did you learn from the programme?
I discovered how inextricably connected everything is in our world. I questioned my own values and ways of seeing the world and experimented with different ways of knowing. I was enriched, challenged, perplexed and at times overwhelmed with the content and methodology.

How have you applied this to your work and organisation?
The programme has connected me with my purpose which flows through all areas of my life. Professionally, my leadership style has shifted to be focussed on relationships, process and to be open to broader contexts.
This shift has empowered my team and allowed me to influence more effectively. Systems thinking and action research have given me a rigorous practice and confidence to explore, experiment and reflect. I am using new collaborative processes within my organisation, such as future scenario planning as an approach for strategy development.

What would you say to someone considering joining this programme?
I have heard many corporate leaders on sustainability speak of ‘crossing the chasm’ to more sustainable business. On this programme you will face the lows of realising just how deep that chasm really is but you will also explore the highs of envisioning a whole new paradigm.
I would call it transformational.

Daniella Vega
Head of Corporate Responsibility
BSkyB Ltd

(Student Profile)

Robert Atkinson

1584.gif Why did you decide to do the Masters in Sustainability and Responsibility programme?

For some years I’d been looking to find a Masters programme that would further my career by building on the work I’d done, by refreshing my knowledge and to try out new directions. I considered the more traditional programmes, like MBA’s, but the blend of AMSR’s sustainability, change and leadership content as well as it being part-time satisfied my requirements. It enabled me to continue working and to study at the same time.

Did you have any reservations before starting?

At the beginning of the programme the only reservations were whether it would be able to live up to my expectations and how I would be able to attend to its emphasis on action research. Early on there was also an emphasis on placing learning into the ‘personal sphere’, something very different from any education I’d experienced before. But now I am more than convinced of its intrinsic value.

What were the programme highlights for you?

Throughout the programme a wide variety of highly relevant issues were covered - although, refreshingly, it was very much up to us to determine which areas we found most important. Certainly I have left with many solid outputs and new methods relevant to my work. I feel the main benefit to me has been a ‘re-galvanisation’ of my career purpose and releasing the stagnation I had felt in my work.

How have you applied this to your work and organisation?

On a practical level I have applied a number of practices learnt through the programme in my workplace and in my projects. The reaction of clients has been overwhelmingly positive and I consider that much of what I have tried to apply has brought a new quality to my work. It has been challenging to provoke change in my organisation, but AMSR helps to arm you with an attitude of looking for a way through the difficulties.

What would you say to someone thinking of doing this programme?

I would say to someone who is considering joining this programme that if you are determined to build sustainability in your organisation and are prepared to ask tough questions of yourself and your own career then this is where you should look.

Robert Atkinson
Senior Advisor, Sustainability and Strategy
Prospect Consulting & Serivces


Entry Requirements

First degree or equivalent or significant professional experience without an undergraduate degreeIdeally you will have a degree which was taught and assessed in English and/or significant professional experience of using spoken and written English. You may be asked to satisfy IELTS/TOEFL standards (minimum spoken and written scores of IELTS 7.0 or TOEFL IBT 100 or Pearson Test of English Academic 60).The programme is anchored in practice and you will be expected to reflect on and explore activities in your organisation, community or professional activities between workshops.

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