The MSc in Sustainability is an interdisciplinary masters degree designed to explore sustainability issues in both developed and developing societies. It addresses critical global challenges, including; enabling population health and wellbeing in an increasingly stressed planet; delivering food, water and energy to an urbanising world; understanding the present and future development impacts of patterns of settlement, land use and land cover change; understanding the inter-dependencies between people and the planet; preparing for the impact of climate change and weather extremes on people and places.
The course offers a solid foundation for developing careers in the public, private and third sectors as well as national and international agencies such as the United Nations and the Department for International Development.
Taught across three faculties, the MSc Sustainability will allow you to flourish within the interdisciplinary arena of sustainability. The three pathways of Consulting, Population and Remote Sensing & Geographical Information Systems, plus a wide variety of optional modules allows for a program of study that is tailor-made to your requirements and aspirations. A constant focus on applied research and field- based methods will leave you well equipped to tackle sustainability challenges in the real world after your studies.
Teaching is delivered by research-active academics from multidisciplinary backgrounds and equips students with applied and critical thinking skills and specialised problem-solving skills in tackling sustainable development issues.
The opportunity to work with external organisations working on sustainability issues
Participation in field-based research methods courses
Immersive interdisciplinary environment with focus on the application of theory and knowledge
Flexibility of pathways
Applied modules giving opportunities to develop and practice skills
Tailored study plan accessing wide range of modules across the University
We encourage prospective applicants to apply as early as possible. Places are limited to 15-45 students per academic year. Applications can be made using the University's on-line application form. Applications can be submitted at any time, although we would encourage applicants to apply before the end of May. Prospective applicants will be asked to write a personal statement to explain their motivation for wishing to take the course and to indicate their future career plans. For all applications, two academic references are required.
Professional RGS-IBG (Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers) approved CPD training through the GeoData Institute which has been awarded ‘Provider status’ from the RGS for all of its current GIS courses. The Association of Geographic Information (AGI) – the professional body for the discipline – has also accredited GeoData as a training provider.
The standard PGDip/MSc Sustainability programme is normally studied over 1 year full-time or 27 months part-time. The taught component consists of 30 study weeks divided into two semesters. Students who successfully complete the taught component undertake a three-month period of supervised research for a Master’s dissertation (six months for part-time students).
The MSc is modular and once students have taken their core modules they can take any combination of optional modules. The recommended pathways, Remote Sensing and GIS, Consultancy and Population, can be undertaken through any of the MSc Sustainability degree options. For those with a particular interest in GIS, you may also find our MSc in Applied Geographical Information Systems and Remote sensing of interest.
For all options, in Semester 1 students will take two core modules in Sustainability, and one compulsory module in their pathway. In Semester 2 students will take one core module in Sustainability, and one compulsory module in their pathway. The remaining modules can be selected from those available for the relevant pathway.
The MSc Sustainability (Research) incorporates a more substantial compulsory research methods training element.
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Typical entry requirements
The usual entry requirement for the MSc programme is an honours degree (usually 2:1 or above) or equivalent qualification. Students with lower or not usual entry qualifications may be admitted on the basis of relevant work experience or professional qualifications with the requisite approval.
Mature applicants without formal qualifications, or those who fail to meet minimum entry requirements, but with relevant experience are also welcomed. Such applications will be considered on an individual basis depending on experience and background and will be assessed by the Admission Team.
We welcome applications from international students.
Qualifications: Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent approved by NARIC [National Recognition Information Centre]
English requirements: IELTS or equivalent score [6.5 average, minimum of 6 in each individual component]
The University runs a number of English language courses to prepare international students for study.
An important feature of the Sustainability degree is the ability for students to tailor their program by selecting optional modules from an extensive cross-faculty list. Students work with their Personal Academic Tutors (PAT) to select these optional modules. They will work closely with their PAT to develop the topic for their sustainability dissertation. Students may exit earlier with a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainability [30 ECTS] or a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainability [60 ECTS].
Below shows an example for the MSc Sustainability - Consultancy pathway. Please see the ‘Pathways’ tab for full module list for each pathway’.
GEOG6098 Introduction to Sustainability Science ENVS6028 Environmental Impact Assessment
GEOG6036 Sustainability Research Project/Dissertation
Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the
programme and the learning outcomes that a typical
student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage
of the learning opportunities that are provided.
More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide
Fees & funding
Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are
listed for UK,
EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course
Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you
through your course.
Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or
your country of origin.
These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.
Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such
essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the
academic requirements for each programme of study.
There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the
Approved Calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
Where a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source.
Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Clothing: You will need to wear suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source.
Printing and copying
In the majority of cases, coursework such as essays; projects; dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/isolutions/services/copying_for_students_and_visitors/faq.php.
E.g. Accommodation, Insurance, Travel costs, Immunisation/vaccination costs: Any costs associated with conducting fieldwork as part of the dissertation research must be covered by the student.
In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated
with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also
ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and
Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.
Learning & Assessment
Learning and teaching
The programme is interdisciplinary, taught across three faculties (Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, and Faculty of Business, Law and Art). We adopt a teaching approach that enables students to relate their learning to real-life problems and situations. Further, the campus will be used as a 'living laboratory' where students will learn about resource management, community relationships and local economic impacts.
Experiential and interactive modes of learning will encourage students to develop and reflect on their own and others' values and experiences. Critical reflection on values and assumptions supports ‘transformative learning'. Prior knowledge and attitudes are taken into consideration in planning teaching and learning activities. Participatory learning approaches, peer-learning and collaboration - within and beyond the classroom - are promoted, allowing students to be exposed to multiple perspectives and enabling creative responses to emerge.
We will ensure that:
Divergent views can be shared and explored in a safe environment
There are opportunities for deep and critical reflection on students' own perspectives and what has influenced their thinking and practices in this area
Participatory learning is encouraged
Interdisciplinary approaches, systems and holistic thinking are employed
Teaching, learning and assessment activities are linked to real-life concerns
A number of teaching and learning methods that are particularly effective in supporting more traditional teaching and learning methods include:
Experiential project work
Assessment provides opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement of graduate outcomes in the core areas of sustainability, notably: 1) Citizenship, stewardship, justice and wellbeing; 2) Complex social-ecological systems; 3) Future thinking; and 4) Co-production of knowledge.
Assessment will involve:
Formative tasks that enable the development of critical thinking and problem-solving
Opportunities to apply these skills to real-world problems
Synoptic assessments that explore the relationship between the pathways in the programme and wider issues of sustainability
Activities that encourage affective learning in the domains of values, attitudes and behaviours