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Sustainable Development

MSc / PGDip / PGCert

This programme provides a theoretical basis for understanding the evolution, meanings and use of the concept of sustainable development and it will help you to gain practical research experience. You will also acquire the skills needed to understand current environmental, development and sustainability issues and debates.

A wind turbine
This MSc provides a theoretical basis for understanding the evolution, meanings and use of the concept of sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development programme combines core modules in sustainable development, environmental science and management, climate change and development and ethics with electives in a range of areas, including rural management and environmental economics policy.

Develop an extended knowledge of contemporary economic theory and analytical skills to address problems concerning choice and resource allocation in national and international markets.

Course details

  • MSc: You study four modules (one core, three elective) plus dissertation.
  • PGDip: You study four modules (one core, three elective).
  • PGCert: Your study two modules (one core one elective).

View Modules

The programme is offered online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You study at a time and pace that suits you (subject to course-specific deadlines) using the study materials provided and support from a dedicated tutor.

Study materials

We will send you study materials developed by academics at SOAS. These include a detailed subject guide for each course; a study calendar; textbooks and key readings; and various supplementary materials.

Online support

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) enables access to course materials, resources, and activities.     
  • CeDEP tutors are allocated to each module for you to contact with queries.
  • The University of London Online Library holds thousands of journal articles which you can access free of charge. A dedicated helpdesk is available if you have any difficulties in finding what you need. You will also have access to the SOAS library. 

Time commitment

We recommend studying, on average, 15 hours per week during this time. These hours can be broken down into three main tasks:

  • Reading the unit materials and key readings on each of the 15 topics covered in the unit
  • Preparing for and submitting the written assignment, worth 40-50% of the module mark
  • Contributing to online discussion and activities.

Additional time is then required for exam revision, which happens around two weeks after the 16-week study term is completed.


Each module is assessed by a written assignment (40-50 %), a hand-written examination (50%), and in some modules, online participation in regular learning and discussion exercises (10%).

The dissertation module will be assessed by submission of an assessed proposal of up to 3,000 words and a written dissertation of 10,000 words. The proposal and written dissertation are weighted on a ratio of 20:80.

More about exams.

What qualifications do you need?

  • MSc: You will need a good degree in a relevant discipline from an institution acceptable to the University.
  • PGDip/PGCert: A degree or technical/professional qualification plus experience that we consider appropriate and relevant.
  • Individual Awards: Without the requirements above, we may consider your application if you provide evidence of your ability to undertake postgraduate study.

If you have a qualification in an unrelated subject or an unconventional career path with diverse work experience, we will consider your application on its own merits.

English Language requirements

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the iELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. Certain courses may have additional requirements, such as software to manage spreadsheets and run macros.

See more about computer requirements.

The fees below apply if you begin during the 2018-19 session. These may be increased by up to 5% per year.

Academic year2018
Module fee (including IPA)£ 1,900
Total Postgraduate Certificate£ 3,800
Total Postgraduate Diploma£ 7,600
Total MSc£ 9,500

Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams and any customs duties/taxes on educational materials (e.g. USB/CDs).

Method of payment

Please contact:

For the MSc in Sustainable Development, the following career paths and opportunities have been identified:

  • Multilateral organisations (e.g. UN system – UNEP, UNDP, FAO; World Bank, OECD)
  • Donor agencies (e.g. DfiD, USAID, JICA, GIZ, DANIDA, SIDA, NORAD etc)International NGOs
  • Government ministries of sustainable development, environment and energy both in low and middle income country contexts and in high income countries
  • World Bank
  • Private sector consultancies working for the above or large corporations

What do employers think of our graduates?

This programme is developed by the SOAS Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP), a merger of the former Imperial College Distance Learning Programme at Wye with Public Policy and Management at CeFiMS (SOAS).

CeDEP is now one of the largest international postgraduate distance learning portfolios in the field. It currently has over 1,000 students working in a range of NGOs, governments, businesses and other organisations spread over more than 160 countries.

Programme Director

Dr Ben Daley is Lecturer in Environmental Management in the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP). He is Academic Director of the MSc Sustainable Development programme. His research interests include environmental change and environmental history, with a particular focus on changes in coastal and marine environments.

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

More on funding your study.

Can I get sponsored?

If you're employed, your employer may be willing to cover part/all of the programme fees if you can make a compelling case as to how this programme will boost your contribution to the workplace.

Our courses are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.

How can I get sponsored by my employer?