Sustainability MSc

Postgraduate taught ( full-time, part-time)


September 2017

Course duration: 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time.

Please note that this course is unavailable for students on Tier 4 visas. International students can apply for a short-term study visa as your study in the UK will be less than 6 months.


This course is run by our Global Sustainability Institute in partnership with the Eden Project and Change Agents UK. You’ll learn first-hand from sustainability researchers, experience inspirational practitioners and apply your new skills and knowledge in a work placement. Our course will help you become an agent for positive change.

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Full description


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Our course will prepare you for many roles, including sustainability consultant to businesses, governments or NGOs, education, or founding your own sustainable business. You’re also in the perfect position to continue your academic career and move up to our Sustainability PhD.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Introduction to Sustainability and Systems
    Sets the scene for the rest of the course. And addresses the questions; 'What is sustainability?', 'What are its components?' and 'Why is it so important?' The importance of a systems-based approach to addressing sustainability and its epistemology will be discussed and you will examine a range of current concepts and models of sustainability (including 'circular economy', 'five capitals', 'natural step', 'one planet living' etc) and their usefulness in increasing our resilience to environmental, social and economic change.
  • System Pressures
    Focus on the scientific underpinnings of some of the main global challenges we face. You’ll assess the approaches we can use to address these risks, including mitigation, adaptation and resilience and the potential outcomes of these interventions, including positive outcomes. You’ll cover the major global challenges of climate change, resource use and population growth. We change some of our topics from year to year, in response to global events. Our topics may include energy use and biodiversity loss, social inequality and the links between environmental resource use and the performance of global and local economies. We’ll also share with you some of the most recent data and thinking coming from the GSI and Eden Project on topics such as resource constraints, conservation and behaviour change.
  • Measuring and Monitoring
    This module addresses the importance of a quantitative basis for the informed management of sustainability in a number of contexts and at global and smaller scales. A number of specific techniques will be discussed including measures of resource use (Hubbert Peaks, Life Cycle Analysis) and consumption (Footprinting), indicators, benchmarks (biodiversity indicators) and audits, (e.g. Environmental and Energy Management Systems). The aim is not to explore individual techniques in depth, but rather to understand how they function, and their advantages and shortcomings in managing sustainability in their respective context. These techniques will also be reviewed in the context of resource waste and energy hierarchies (reduce, reuse, recycle/ demand reduction, energy efficiency, low carbon production). Teaching is delivered via a blend of face to face and supported online learning. It will include two week-long intensive residential sessions which will focus on discussion and critique, and provide an opportunity for an examination of good practice and case study. You'll be expected to come to these sessions prepared for this discourse. Each week long session will run concurrently with a 'sibling' module providing an opportunity to explore the linkages between modules, in particular the application of metrics to key system pressures.
  • Governance and Behavioural Change
    You'll consider how and what can be done to deliver the changes required. You'll explore the drivers for behaviour change and assess some of the top-down (eg legislation, incentives and deregulation) and bottom-up approaches to governance using global (eg Avaaz), national (eg Cuba and Costa Rica) and local (eg Transition Towns, indigenous action, etc.) case studies as well as evaluate what it takes for an individual to become a successful change agent.
  • Better Business
    Focus on the growing business case for sustainability and examine the role of leadership, purpose, innovation and culture to create an organisation which 'does business better'. You'll chart progress and examine good practice towards more environmentally, socially and economically responsible business practice and the emergence of social enterprises and values-led businesses and its articulation through concepts such as cradle-to-cradle, biomimicry and circular economy. We'll examine The Eden Project itself, to help you understand its characteristics, culture and ethos and you will assess the transferability of some of key principles to other organisations - for example, the power of vision, collaboration and effective engagement techniques.
  • Working Towards Change
    Test and reflect upon the material covered during your class based modules by undertaking practical and supported work-based learning. Your work placement will combine your knowledge and understanding of sustainability with the practicalities and compromises of a business, as well as your requirements for personal learning and development. You’ll gain an insight into the challenges and opportunities of learning and driving change and critically analyse your own strengths and weaknesses through a programme of reflective learning and feedback. During your placement you’ll also be developing a range of work-based skills, recognised as vital by employers.
  • Research Methods
    Gain support and foundations in the research skills needed for your Masters level dissertation. You’ll investigate research activities including project management, research project design and analyses, ethical considerations and dissertation preparation.
  • Masters Project
    You'll chose an independent research topic from an area of expertise within our department (subject to availability of suitable supervision) and will conduct a significant research project in that area which may involve a literature review, data collection, analysis and a write-up. The final piece of work should be equivalent to a maximum of 12,000 words.


You’ll be assessed through reports, essays, journal articles, presentations, outline plans and designs, and your dissertation.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Technology is one of the largest of five faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full- or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, to a BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate. 

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science and technology fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

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Specialist facilities

Our course mixes online learning with week-long residential workshops at our campuses in Cambridge and Peterborough, and at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Work placements

Change Agents UK will help you arrange a suitable placement and support you in the workplace. It’s the opportunity to put your growing knowledge into practice, promoting sustainable change in a real-world environment.

Residential dates for a September 2016 start

Trimester 1

Welcome week: 19-23 September, Cambridge
Week 5: 24-28 October, Cambridge
Week 10: 24-26 November, Peterborough

Trimester 2

Welcome week: 23-27 January, Eden Project, Cornwall
Week 6: 6-10 March, Eden Project, Cornwall

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year part time)


International students, 2016/17 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year part time)


International students, 2017/18 (per year)


Important fee notes

The part-time course fee assumes that you're studying at half the rate of a full-time student (50% intensity). Course fees will be different if you study over a longer period. All fees are for guidance purposes only.

How do I pay my fees?

Paying upfront

You won't need to pay fees until you've accepted an offer to attend, but you must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter/financial guarantee. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

It’s important to decide how to fund your course before applying. Use our funding guide for postgraduate students to learn more about the following:

  • The Government’s new £10k Masters loan
  • Applying for our scholarships
  • Additional funding options and support
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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

Loading... Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online