Sustainable Tourism MSc

This innovative programme is one of only a few sustainable tourism postgraduate programmes in the world. Working at the forefront of advances in tourism research, this programme draws on the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s expertise in sustainability, responsibility, ethics and environmentalism in relation to national and international tourism. It is run in partnership with Explore Worldwide, the UK’s leading adventure travel company, offering students first-hand engagement with academic theory and research in collaboration with practical industry applications.

Why Surrey?

Ranked number one for hospitality and tourism programmes in the UK by the Good University Guide, Surrey combines a fresh, dynamic outlook with a leading international reputation.

At our School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, you will benefit from forward-thinking degree programmes, unsurpassed connections with leading figures in the world of hospitality and tourism, and a remarkable track record in graduate employment.

Programme overview

This programme has been specifically designed to meet the needs of students who wish to further their professional development, knowledge and understanding of sustainable tourism. It fuses a focus on industry with the combined academic experience of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Surrey’s expertise in sustainable approaches to tourism is long established and, in recent years, has led to us being commissioned to undertake sustainable tourism projects for the likes of the European Commission; the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The importance of industry collaboration in this programme is demonstrated by its co-delivery with Explore Worldwide, the UK’s leading adventure travel company. Explore are recipients of several awards in recognition of their work in sustainable and responsible tourism (including, in recent years, the Virgin Holiday Responsible Tourism Award and Best Tour Operator award at the Responsible Travel Awards).

Programme structure

The programme can be taken full-time or part-time, consisting of seven compulsory modules, one elective module and a dissertation. The modules make full use of guest lecturers, drawing on the practical skills and experience of key experts from government and industry to complement the theoretical components of the modules offered.

Compulsory modules:

  • Sustainable Tourism Operations
  • Sustainable Tourism Management
  • Travel and Transport for Sustainable Tourism
  • Tourism Development
  • Tourism Strategy 
  • Research Methods
  • Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Research or Applied Dissertation 

Elective modules:

  • Sustainable Tourism in Practice
  • Tourism Social Science
  • Destinations Management and Marketing
  • Accounting & Finance for Business
  • Innovation in Tourism
  • Applied Marketing Research
  • Visitor Attraction Management

Example module content

Sustainable Tourism Operations

This module provides an insight into the operating systems of the tourism industry from the perspective of the tour operator. It explores issues such as marketing, product development, subcontractor relations, the role of NGOs, consumer relations and ethical consumerism.

The learning and teaching strategy for this module will include lectures, industry involvement through case studies, guest speakers, active learning techniques via class debates and discussions, and role play.

Sustainable Tourism Management

Tourism can only exist in the long term upon a sustainable resource base, but also faces short-term demands for profits in a challenging market. You will investigate its evolution, growth and future, and the complexities involved.

Travel and Transport for Sustainable Tourism

This module investigates the opportunities for sustainable travel and transport within the tourism industry. It identifies the opportunities and challenges facing sustainable practice in the travel industry from a range of stakeholder perspectives.

The learning and teaching strategy for this module will focus upon a series of lectures, industry case study examples, guest lectures and seminars, as well as active learning techniques such as class debates, discussions, role play and scenario generation.

Tourism Development

Examines tourism policies, tourism development plans and regulatory mechanisms in a variety of locations and political structures internationally.

Tourism Strategy

You will understand, apply and critically evaluate strategic analysis for tourism organisations and destinations. You will be able to evaluate strategies, their appropriateness and the issues that will determine whether or not they are successful.

Research Methods

Introduces the process of research project formulation and the key elements of research design, this module preparing you to execute your research study for your dissertation in a systematic and scientific manner.

Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

This module introduces students to the study of ethics and applies this to hospitality and tourism.

Within the last decade, significant attention has been paid to the issue of ethics in the hospitality and tourism industries. Issues such as corporate social responsibility, global reporting and ethical consumption, to name but a few, are becoming increasingly central to business practice. This module will offer students the opportunity to reflect upon their own understanding of ethics. It will introduce them to a range of theoretical approaches to understanding ethics and ethical responses to business situations, as well as provide the opportunity for in-depth reflection and critique on ‘real-life’ scenarios.

Sustainable Tourism in Practice

This module engages students in the practical application of existing theories of sustainable tourism. The module is centred on an international field trip provided by Explore Worldwide. Its objective is to provide students with the opportunity to experience first-hand the complex practices and processes involved in applying the principles of sustainable tourism to a tourism destination and tourism product.

The module encourages students to adopt a critical approach to analysing product and operations management and to draw on insights gained by hands-on experience in research and addressing issues of sustainable tourism operations in the field.

Tourism Social Science

Examines the contribution of social science to the understanding of tourism and develops an appreciation of the complexities of tourism as an industry and a social phenomenon.

Destination Management and Marketing

Provides you with a critical appreciation of the key principles, concepts and techniques associated with destination management and marketing, as well as an understanding of the connection between theory and practice.

Accounting and Finance for Business

Provides the foundations for understanding, analysing and interpreting financial information, and enables you to apply accounting principles and financial theory across management disciplines and organisations.

Innovation in Tourism

Innovation is regarded as vital for the development of tourism organisations, destinations and the tourism sector in general. You will explore the importance and the dynamic nature of innovation in tourism. You will critically reflect on contemporary strategies, concepts and ideas that currently shape tourism practices. You will also examine the factors that facilitate or inhibit innovation, as well as future trends in tourism innovation.

Applied Marketing Research

Focuses on the critical aspects of marketing research theory and practice to support and improve marketing management practice in an international context.

Visitor Attraction Management

Applies the core learning of the programme, including management, finance and organisational behaviour, to the specifics of visitor attraction management.

Meet the staff

Whist this programme is delivered through a number of academic and industry staff members, you will be working closely with the following core members of the University who are leading experts in sustainable tourism:

Doctor Paul Hanna is a Lecturer in Sustainable Tourism and the MSc Sustainable Tourism Programme Director in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Paul is actively researching areas of: sustainable tourism and ethics; outdoor adventure activities and environmental attitudes; climate change and denial; and sustainable tourism mobilities. Paul has published theoretical and empirical insights in these areas in a range of high impact outlets including: Journal of Consumer Culture, Theory & Psychology, GeoJournal; Qualitative Research; Qualitative Research in Psychology; Ecological Economics; Australian Community Psychologist; and Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology. He also acts as a reviewer for Annals of Tourism Research, Qualitative Research, Annals of Leisure Research, and Theory & Psychology. Paul is also registered with the British Psychological Association as a Chartered Psychologist.

Doctor Scott Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Faculty Director of Postgraduate Programmes. Scott primarily researches sociological and consumer behaviour issues in tourism, transport and leisure contexts, with particular interests in sustainable mobility and in lifestyle travel. He has published more than 30 journal articles and two edited books since completing his PhD in 2009, including high impact outlets such as: Journal of Cleaner Production; Population, Space and Place; Annals of Tourism Research; Journal of Transport Geography; Journal of Sustainable Tourism; Tourism Management; Journal of Travel Research; and Mobilities. He is co-editor of Understanding and Governing Sustainable Tourism Mobility (Routledge, 2014) and Lifestyle Mobilities (Ashgate, 2013).

Doctor Albert Kimbu is a Lecturer in Hospitality and Tourism at the University of Surrey. Albert primarily researches issues of sustainability, trust, social networks & social enterprise in hospitality & tourism in emerging destinations of the global south. Albert has a number of high impact publications in journals such as: Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Tourism and Cultural Heritage, Tourism Analysis, International Journal of Tourism Research, and Revista Turismo & Desenvolvimento.

Professor Graham Miller holds a Chair in Sustainability in Business at the University of Surrey and is Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Graham is currently co-editor of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, the lead judge for the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow awards, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for the Future of Travel and Tourism; and the chair of the University of Surrey’s Sustainability Group.

Doctor Caroline Scarles is a Reader in Tourism in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey, actively researching areas of: sustainable tourism and ethics; community engagement and empowerment; media and mediation in tourism; and the visual in tourism. Caroline is Chair for the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group for the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, and an elected member of the executive committee for BEST EN (Building Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Education Network).

Professor John Tribe holds a Chair in Tourism at the University of Surrey. John is Co-Chair of the UN World Tourism Organisation Education Council, Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Tourism Research and Chair of the Editorial Board of Higher Education Academy Network Journal of Hospitality, Leisure Sport and Tourism Education. He has published a vast range of journal articles in outlets such as: Annals of Tourism Research; Tourism in Marine Environments; Journal of Marketing Management; Tourism Management; Journal of Travel Research; and Journal of Sustainable Tourism. John is also author of bestselling books including: Developments in Tourism Research; The Economics of Recreation, Leisure & Tourism; and An International Handbook of Tourism Education.

Student case study

Tamsin Crumbie is a graduate of the Sustainable Tourism MSc, and upon completion of the course, went to work for Explore Worldwide. Tamsin is now a key member of Explore’s Responsible Business Forum. In a recent interview, Tamsin talks to Explore about her time at the University of Surrey and how she came to work for Explore.

Professional recognition

The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Industry partners

This programme is run in partnership with Explore Worldwide, the UK’s leading adventure travel company.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Paul Hanna

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

Applicants should normally hold a Bachelors degree (UK 2.1 or above) or equivalent qualification from a recognised British or overseas university.

Relevant work experience could be an additional benefit where applicants have not reached the standard entry requirements, although it is not an admissions requirement for this particular degree programme. Higher level professional qualifications may also be accepted. Each applicant is assessed on their own merit.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS min overall 6.5

IELTS min by component 6.0

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £9,000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £1,000* £2,000*

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/17 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumni of Surrey you could be eligible for a 10% discount on our Taught Masters programme fees.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

Find out more

Upcoming Events

Our alumni