Sustainable Tourism MSc

This innovative programme combines our expertise in tourism with a focus on the environment, sustainability and responsibility. It is run in partnership with the University’s Centre for Environmental Strategy and Explore Worldwide, the UK’s leading adventure travel company.

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 and the Centre for Environmental Strategy.

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 importance of industry collaboration in this programme is demonstrated by its association 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, and is taught through a series of intensive, week-long modules, consisting of eight compulsory modules, one elective module and a dissertation. The modules are taught by both the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Centre for Environmental Strategy and 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:

  • Social Research Methods
  • Environmental Science and Society
  • Sustainable Development Applications
  • Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility
  • Transitions to a Low Carbon Energy Economy
  • Sustainable Tourism Operations
  • Environmental Auditing and Management Systems
  • Travel and Transport for Sustainable Tourism

Elective modules:

  • Environmental Law
  • Sustainable Tourism in Practice
  • Integrated Assessment

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.

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.

Environmental Science and Society

This module introduces basic environmental science concepts including thermodynamics of ecosystems and human systems, ecology and biodiversity, pollution science, the science of climate change, and environmental policy and human behaviour. During the module, students learn how to undertake environmental risk assessments.

Transitions to a Low Carbon Energy Economy

This module provides a broad understanding of the role of energy, and the range of economic, human and environmental impacts associated with energy systems. Specialist knowledge of the energy field is placed within a more general environmental/sustainability framework, allowing students to analyse strategic energy issues and carbon management.

Sustainable Development Applications

This course provides an introduction to sustainable development for students primarily concerned with industrial ecology, and a consolidation and deepening of understanding for students focusing on sustainable development and corporate environmental management.

Environmental Auditing and Management Systems

This module enables students both to understand and develop appropriate environmental politics and to appreciate and work with environmental management systems (EMS).

Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility

This module evaluates and discusses how environmental concerns have affected organisations in the private sector. It will also examine how organisations have affected the content, shape and direction of the environmental debate.

Social Research Methods (non-credit bearing)

This module develops students understanding of the contribution social research makes to MSc dissertations. It provides students with an insight into quantitative and qualitative social research methods, an appreciation of ethical considerations within research projects, and provides them with the skills to successfully plan research at MSc level.

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.

Integrated Assessment

This module explores the interface between scientific evaluations of environmental impacts and their use in policy decision processes. Case studies will be important to demonstrate examples.

Environmental Law

This module introduces the structure of key environmental laws in the UK and EU. Regulations covering waste, water and atmospheric pollution will be an important element.

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 director

Dr Jason Chen

Find out more

General Enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

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Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

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

Start date:

Sep 2015

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.

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 2015 £10,600 £17,700
Part-time Sep 2015 £1,200 * £2,000 *

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2015/16 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.

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