Find out about how we are embedding sustainability in our students’ education.

Our commitment 

The University’s Education Strategy 2018-22 reinforces its commitment to ensuring that graduates are aware of the future consequences of their actions on society and are confident in dealing with them.

Education for sustainable development

The University of Surrey aims to equip all its students with the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes needed to work and live in such a way that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Education for sustainable development at the University is overseen by the Sustainability in Curriculum Working Group chaired by Professor Angela Druckman, our Academic Lead for Sustainability in Curriculum. Members of the group include senior management, staff and students.

Our strategy

We are embedding sustainability in the education of all our students:

Taught degrees

All students will learn about sustainability within the context of their discipline throughout their programme. This will be specified in learning outcomes, and progress will be assessed.

Learning will be underpinned by reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


  • Existing programmes: pilot 2019–20, rollout 2020–21 to 2025–26.  
  • New programmes: sustainability embedded in all new programmes from 2019–20.

Research degrees

Students provide a statement about how their research relates to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of their formal six-month review, followed by a reflection on progress in their 24-month review.

Students are required to report against at least three SDGs; they can choose whether to report on how their research topic links to the SDGs, or on how the practices they adopt in their research contribute to achieving the SDGs.

Implementation: October 2020.

Tracking progress

During 2018–19, a number of achievements have been made in integrating sustainability in the University of Surrey curriculum, including:

  • A two-day workshop for postgraduate research students discussing the integration of sustainability in their research.
  • The inclusion of sustainability in the Multi-disciplinary Design Project, an engineering module which involves Aerospace, Civil, Chemical, Electronic, Mechanical and Medical Engineering students working in groups which contain at least three, and often four, disciplines.
  • The Undergraduate Sustainability Research Opportunities Programme enabled undergraduate students to carry out short sustainability projects during the summer. One particular project explored how other universities integrate sustainability into the Maths curriculum and recommended the best way forward for Surrey.
  • The integration of a compulsory sustainability module in the University’s Employability Award.

Reporting progress

The Sustainability in Curriculum Working Group shares progress on the implementation of the aforementioned strategy at the Executive Sustainability Steering Group chaired by Professor Graham Miller. The group reports to the Estates Building Executive Committee and Executive Board as appropriate.

Support and training

An online module is currently being developed for all staff and students to support them in  integrating sustainability in their work. The module is set to launch in 2020.

Current opportunities 

We have integrated various opportunities to experience education for sustainable development within our University:

The Global Graduate Award in Sustainability is an extracurricular module open to all students free of charge which offers the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of a wide range of issues affecting the sustainability of our planet.

The University offers postgraduate and CPD courses in sustainability. Many of these are run by the Centre for Environment and Sustainability.

There are optional and compulsory modules in sustainability available across our programmes at the University.

The programme provides funding to undergraduate students for carrying out a placement or research project in a sustainability-related topic. Selection of projects happens through an annual competition.

We work with our accrediting body, the Engineering Council, to ensure our engineering programmes meet the six principles of sustainability that all Chartered Engineers sign up to.

The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management provides training for their students in our Lakeside Restaurant and Coffee Shop, where students learn how to embed sustainability in line with Lakeside's commitment to sustainability.

View their Sustainability Policy (PDF) to find out more.