Sustainable Development MSc – 2022 entry

Key information

Start date: February 2022

Full-time: 1 year (maximum course length)*

Part-time: 5 years (maximum course length)*

Start date: October 2022

Full-time: 1 year (maximum course length)*

Part-time: 5 years (maximum course length)*

Start date: February 2023

Full-time: 1 year (maximum course length)*

Part-time: 5 years (maximum course length)*

Why choose this course

Our MSc provides you with the knowledge to help organisations move towards a greener future. It examines the societal transformations required to tackle the climate emergency, protect the environment, and shift towards sustainable consumption and production – as outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. 

This course is run by our Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES) – an inter-disciplinary hub for forward-thinking environmental and sustainability-related research and postgraduate teaching. 

Sustainable development graduates are equipped to tackle the strategic challenges being faced by companies, individuals and governments, and implement the changes required to protect our planet. 

Five reasons to study for a masters in environment and sustainability at Surrey

What you will study

Questioning what you thought you knew about sustainability and the environment, we’ll inspire you to face some of society’s biggest sustainability challenges. 

We’ll provide insight into the latest thinking in numerous important areas, covering the essentials needed to analyse the relationship between environmental issues and human society. As part of this approach, you’ll evaluate political, socio-economic, ethical, cultural and regulatory frameworks, and acquire an understanding of the theory and application of sustainable development, while developing a sensitive appreciation of the issues surrounding it. 

This course will enable you to hear from external speakers from industry, government and non-governmental organisations who are active in establishing sustainable development. It also provides a route to the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment graduate membership. 

Course length

This MSc is normally completed in 1 year on a full-time basis or 2-5 years when completed on a part-time basis. 

Guest lecturers

High-profile guest lecturers assist with the teaching of some modules. We make maximum use of guest lecturers, drawing on the practical skills and experience of important experts from government and industry to complement the theoretical components of the modules offered. 

The extensive expertise of CES academics and researchers is also drawn upon in modules.  

Professor Tim Jackson, adviser to the government and international bodies and author of the seminal book, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, lectures on CES modules. 

Industrial placement

Some full-time students complete an industrial placement as one of their elective modules. This enables you to spend 6 to 12 weeks working for a company or a non-governmental organisation, doing the type of work you’ll aim to find after graduation. 

Examples of organisations at which recent industrial placements have taken place include: 

  • AECOM 
  • Coates 
  • Diocese of London 
  • GAP 
  • LC Energy 
  • Minimise Solutions 
  • NUS 
  • Portsmouth City Council 
  • The Radisson 
  • Solar Aid 
  • Wates. 

Professional recognition

MSc - Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA)
Accredited by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) for the purpose of eligibility to apply for associate membership.

Careers and graduate prospects

We offer careers information, advice and guidance to all students whilst studying with us, which is extended to our alumni for three years after leaving the University. Our graduates have lifetime access to Surrey Pathfinder, our online portal for appointment and events bookings, jobs, placements and interactive development tools.

Graduates of this course go on to pursue a diverse range of careers, implementing sustainable development and dealing with the real environmental challenges facing humanity. 

You could work as an energy efficiency officer for a local government or an environmental officer in a multinational chemical company. Studying this Msc could also lead to a career as a sustainability adviser for a national television or radio station, or working as an environmental consultant for an engineering consultancy. You could become a programme officer with a sustainability charity, too. 

Other graduates use the research skills they develop to study for PhDs. 

Academic year structure

Both full-time and part-time students must complete five compulsory modules and four elective modules by the end of their MSc. The dissertation forms one of the compulsory modules. 

You can start this course at the beginning of either the first semester in September or the second semester in February.  

The academic year begins with an induction week when students are introduced to the University and full-time students choose their elective modules. If you’re a part-time student you can enrol in modules closer to the time you wish to take a module. 

During Semester 2, you’ll begin to focus on your dissertation, with a series of seminar events held to help you refine your ideas and make a start. You’re free to choose your own dissertation topic. Most choose topics related to issues or ideas encountered in the taught modules, or in a professional context, which relates to environment or sustainability. You’ll be allocated a dissertation supervisor to help guide you through the dissertation process. 


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps.

The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45, 75 and 120 credits, and additionally for some masters dissertations, 90 credits.

The structure of our programmes follows clear educational aims that are tailored to each programme. These are all outlined in the programme specifications which include further details such as the learning outcomes:


Each module on this course is taught on an intensive modular basis. There is pre-reading to do for each module and, on occasion, a pre-module assessment, followed by the intensive taught week with several hours of classes each day, Monday to Friday for one week. Post-module coursework is to be completed over the four-week period after the intensive week. 

Course timetables are normally available one month before the start of the semester. View our Timetabling Policy (PDF).

Contact hours

Contact hours can vary across our modules. Full details of the contact hours for each module are available from the University of Surrey's module catalogue. See the modules section for more information.

Entry requirements

A minimum of a 2:2 UK honours degree, or a recognised equivalent international qualification.

Relevant work experience may also be considered.

International entry requirements by country

Do I meet the requirements for this course?

We require you to submit a full application so that we can formally assess whether you meet the criteria published. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an outcome based on an enquiry (via email, webform enquiry, phone or live chat).

English language requirements

IELTS Academic:  6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in each other element.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Credit transfer

The University of Surrey recognises that many students enter their higher education course with valuable knowledge and skills developed through a range of professional, vocational and community contexts. If this applies to you, a process called recognition of prior learning (RPL) may allow you to enter your course at a point appropriate to your previous learning and experience, or to join the start of a course without the formal entry requirements. This means that you may be exempt from certain elements of study in the course for which you have applied and be awarded credit based on your previous qualifications/experience. There are restrictions on RPL for some courses and fees may be payable for certain claims.

Please see the code of practice for recognition of prior learning and prior credit: taught programmes (PDF) for further information. Please email Admissions ( with any queries.


Start date: February 2022

Full-time - 1 year

UK £10,600

Overseas £21,700

Part-time - 5 years

UK £1,200*

Overseas £2,400*

Start date: October 2022

Full-time - 1 year

UK £10,900

Overseas £22,400

Part-time - 5 years

UK £1,200*

Overseas £2,400*

Start date: February 2023

Full-time - 1 year

UK £10,900

Overseas £22,400

Part-time - 5 years

UK £1,200*

Overseas £2,400*

* per 15 credits

Please note:

  • *The dissertation module is charged as a 15-credit module for fee purposes.
  • These fees apply to students commencing study in the academic year 2022-23 only. Fees for new starters are reviewed annually.
  • If you are on an unstructured self-paced part-time course, the fee shown is per 15 credits for the 2022-23 academic year. The fee payable in subsequent years will be reviewed annually.

View the list of fees for all postgraduate taught courses.

Additional costs

There may be associated costs with this programme: 

  • Commuting (local travel expenses): Unable to specify amount - Potential travel costs for the dissertation if the student’s topic requires travel to case study sites. 


You may be able to borrow money to help pay your tuition fees and support you with your living costs. Find out more about postgraduate student finance.

Admission information

Our postgraduate admissions policy* provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students. You can also read our postgraduate applicant guidance.

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View an example of our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) as a guide as to what to expect.

Please note: our offer terms and conditions will generally be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course and changes for the specific academic year.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases, the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the academic year 2022/23. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach during 2022/23.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions
Contact Admissions Team

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH