About this course
The MSc Sustainability gives you a chance to explore sustainability issues in different societies. It addresses critical global challenges including food delivery, water and energy. You’ll graduate ready for a range of careers, including national and international agencies such as the United Nations and the Department for International Development.
Become an expert in sustainability on this master’s degree at the University of Southampton. You’ll study your chosen specialism on this flexible course to meet your career or further study goals.
You could choose to focus on consultancy, population and geographical information systems (GIS) or to gain a broader experience across the disciplines.
A focus on applied research and field-based methods will leave you well equipped to tackle sustainability challenges in the real world after your studies.
Professor Craig Hutton has worked in sustainable development for 25 years. His research bridges the gap between the implications of environmental change and management for sustainable development. Visit Professor Hutton's staff profile to learn more about his work.
This course is based at Highfield.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
Changes due to COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 situation is improving, any future restrictions could mean we might have to change the way parts of our teaching and learning take place in 2022 to 2023. This means that some of the information on this course page may be subject to change.
Find out more on our COVID advice page.
You’ll need a 2:1 degree in a relevant subject.
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
We assess all applications on an individual basis.
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
Recognition of professional experience
If you don't have the exact entry requirements, but you have significant work experience in this sector we’ll assess your relevant professional experience, your subject knowledge and your aptitude for learning.
Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
This is a full-time master’s course. You’ll study for 12 months, from September to the following September.
In the first 8 months (semesters 1 and 2) you'll study the taught part of your course. This is made up of modules that everyone on the course takes and modules we’ll ask you to choose from a list of options, allowing you to fit the course to your interests and career aspirations.
You’ll also begin preparing for your research project during semester 1, and continue this work in semester 2.
For the last 4 months, over the summer, you’ll work independently on your research project. You’ll have one-to-one meetings with your supervisor during this time to discuss your progress.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
For entry in Academic Year 2022-23
Year 1 modules
You must study the following modules:
Data Collection and Research Methods for Sustainability and Environmental Science
GGES 6018, Data Collection & Research Methods for Sustainability and Environmental Science, is a module which aims to equip students on the MSc Sustainability and MSc Environmental Science programmes with the skills necessary to plan and undertake indepen...
Introduction to Sustainability
GEOG6098 is a multidisciplinary unit designed for students with an interest in sustainable development, sustainability, green growth, complex socio-ecological systems, and resilient development. Over the term we will explore the key issues and debates aro...
MSc Research Project
Within the context of your programme of study, you will undertake independent, original and critical research on a relevant topic. You will then communicate the research aims, objectives, methodology, analysis, results and conclusions effectively through ...
You must also choose from the following modules:
Advanced GIS and Spatial Analysis
Almost all environmental phenomena vary over space and time. Some examples would be the spread of a pollutant from a point source, the occurrence of an infectious disease, the global threats from earthquakes, and the incidence of elephant poaching. One of...
Climate Design of Buildings and Cities
This module strives to enable students to address climatic building design and develop the sustainable urban concepts required to achieve the significant carbon reductions required in the future. Only students enrolled on programme codes: 3081 MSc Ener...
Core Skills in GIS
This module is intended to provide foundational GIS skills for various Masters-levels programmes (such as the MSc in Applied GIS and Remote Sensing and MSc in Sustainability). It is intended to introduce Geographical Information Systems and Science to tho...
Environmental Impact Assessment
This module examines the process of assessing the potential impacts of major developments on the environment- known worldwide as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This is seen globally as major tool to help deliver sustainable development. The mod...
Environmental Law and Management Systems
This module will enable students to apply their understanding of environmental problems in business and practice, and assess potential solutions through the application of law, policy, and management. The lecture sessions will introduce and analyse the th...
Remote Sensing for Earth Observation
The module will look at the basic theory and practical application of remote sensing for monitoring the terrestrial environment.
River Basin Management and Restoration
This module is based on a professional training course for people working in River management and restoration. The course investigates how humans have modified River basins and river channels, and how these in turn have affected the rates and magnitudes o...
Sustainable Resource Management
If we are to address society’s waste problem we need to fully understand the environmental, occupational, public health, technical, fiscal, social, cultural, demographic and political influences on waste collection, reuse, recycling, minimisation and prev...
The Sustainability Professional (MSc)
The Sustainability Professional is a high-level skills practical module delivered in partnership with a range of contributors from local and regional environmental and sustainability consultancies and other organisations. This module aims to provide stude...
Transport, Energy and the Environment
The transport sector is currently heavily fossil fuel dependent and, in advanced economies, accounts for around one quarter of carbon dioxide emissions. This module will provide you with a systematic understanding of the inter-relationships between transp...
An understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes involved during contamination of water is essential if society is going to effectively monitor and control the effects of pollution using modern technology and engineering practices. A hu...
Learning and assessment
On the master’s in sustainability we adopt a teaching approach that enables you to relate your learning to real-life problems and situations. You’ll learn about resource management, community relationships and local and global economic impacts.
A number of teaching and learning methods that are particularly effective in supporting more traditional methods include:
- case studies
- computer-based workshops and simulations
- experiential project work
- problem-based learning
- field work
Assessment will involve:
- tasks that enable the development of critical thinking and problem-solving
- problem-solving of real-world scenarios
- activities covering values, attitudes and behaviours towards sustainability
In the final part of the year, you’ll focus on your individual research work. You’ll complete an advanced research project and we’ll encourage you to work with industry and potential employers to apply your newly developed knowledge.
You don’t have to submit a dissertation but will instead write a research article of up to 7,000 words in the style of a peer-reviewed journal, for submission in September. This article contributes one-third of the marks towards your MSc degree.
You’ll have access to:
- introductory sessions for your programme
- research seminars and invited lectures from external speakers
- a personal academic tutor to help you with any personal problems and advise on academic issues
- module leaders to discuss your current modules
- module handbooks and outlines including information about learning outcomes, assessment methods, relevant background material and reading lists
- admin support from your Student Office, which deals with student records and general queries about your degree
With this degree you’ll have great career potential in local government, the private sector, national and international organisations, and public and private research institutions.
Our graduates have the skills to manage complex problems, work with diverse stakeholders and understand the challenges of interdisciplinary working. They are sought after for roles in:
- environmental monitoring
- water resource management and pollution control
- carbon management
- sustainable waste management
- sustainable energy
- wildlife conservation and ecological management
You’ll also be in demand in wider sectors such as the food, buildings, energy, telecoms and water industries.
All these sectors need to think about environmental sustainability either through choice or legislation. Employers look for graduates with skills in communication, problem-solving, leadership, and team-working, which is why they form a core part of our assessment process.
You’ll also be in a great position to continue your studies at PhD level.
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers and Employability Service will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
- our dedicated start-up incubator, Futureworlds
- a wide variety of enterprise events run throughout the year
- our partnership in the world’s number 1 business incubator, SETsquared
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £26,352.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton you get a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
Southampton Geography and Environmental Science Postgraduate International Scholarship
A scholarship of £3,000 is available to international students studying for a postgraduate master’s in Geography and Environmental Science.
Find out more about the Southampton Geography and Environmental Science Postgraduate International Scholarship, including eligibility and conditions.
Other postgraduate funding options
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
Places are limited and we allocate them on a continuous basis from 21 September 2022, until all places are filled. We advise you to apply early to avoid disappointment.
We expect to close applications for this course on Friday 7 July 2023 (11:59pm UK time).
This course may stay open after this date if places are still available.
Application assessment fee
We’ll ask you to pay a £50 application assessment fee if you’re applying for a postgraduate taught course.
This is an extra one-off charge which is separate to your tuition fees and is payable per application. It covers the work and time it takes us to assess your application. You’ll be prompted to pay when you submit your application which won’t progress until you've paid.
If you're a current or former University of Southampton student, or if you’re applying for certain scholarships, you will not need to pay the fee. PGCE applications through GOV.UK and Master of Research (MRes) degree applications are also exempt. Find out if you’re exempt on our terms and conditions page.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
You'll also need to send 2 academic references.
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We'll assess your application on the strength of your:
- academic achievements
- relevant professional experience
- personal statement
- academic references
We will aim to send you a decision 6-8 weeks after you have submitted your application.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
We may invite you to an interview, which will take place by phone if you live abroad. You'll get an email from the admissions tutor if we'd like to talk to you before offering you a place.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
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PhDs and research degrees
- Create your own research project
Find a PhD project
- A missing link between continental shelves and the deep sea: Have we underestimated the importance of land-detached canyons?
- A seismic study of the continent-ocean transition southwest of the UK
- A study of rolling contact fatigue in electric vehicles (EVs)
- Acoustic monitoring of forest exploitation to establish community perspectives of sustainable hunting
- Acoustic sensing and characterisation of soil organic matter
- Advancing intersectional geographies of diaspora-led development in times of multiple crises
- Aero engine fan wake turbulence – Simulation and wind tunnel experiments
- Against Climate Change (DACC): improving the estimates of forest fire smoke emissions
- All-in-one Mars in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) system and life-supporting using non-thermal plasma
- An electromagnetic study of the continent-ocean transition southwest of the UK
- An investigation of the relationship between health, home and law in the context of poor and precarious housing, and complex and advanced illness
- Antarctic ice sheet response to climate forcing
- Antibiotic resistance genes in chalk streams
- Assessing changes in astronomical tides on global scales
- Being autistic in care: Understanding differences in care experiences including breakdowns in placements for autistic and non-autistic children
- Biogeochemical cycling in the critical coastal zone: Developing novel methods to make reliable measurements of geochemical fluxes in permeable sediments
- Bloom and bust: seasonal cycles of phytoplankton and carbon flux
- British Black Lives Matter: The emergence of a modern civil rights movement
- Building physics for low carbon comfort using artificial intelligence
- Building-resolved large-eddy simulations of wind and dispersion over a city scale urban area
- Business studies and management: accounting
- Business studies and management: banking and finance
- Business studies and management: decision analytics and risk
- Business studies and management: digital and data driven marketing
- Business studies and management: human resources (HR) management and organisational behaviour
- Business studies and management: strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship
- Carbon storage in reactive rock systems: determining the coupling of geo-chemo-mechanical processes in reactive transport
- Cascading hazards from the largest volcanic eruption in over a century: What happened when Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted in January 2022?
- Characterisation of cast austenitic stainless steels using ultrasonic backscatter and artificial intelligence
- Climate Change effects on the developmental physiology of the small-spotted catshark
- Climate at the time of the Human settlement of the Eastern Pacific
- Collaborative privacy in data marketplaces
- Compatibility of climate and biodiversity targets under future land use change
- Cost of living in modern and fossil animals
- Creative clusters in rural, coastal and post-industrial towns
- Deep oceanic convection: the outsized role of small-scale processes
- Defect categories and their realisation in supersymmetric gauge theory
- Defining the Marine Fisheries-Energy-Environment Nexus: Learning from shocks to enhance natural resource resilience
- Desert dune avalanche processes modern ancient environments
- Design and fabrication of next generation optical fibres
- Developing a practical application of unmanned aerial vehicle technologies for conservation research and monitoring of endangered wildlife
- Development and evolution of animal biomineral skeletons
- Development of all-in-one in-situ resource utilisation system for crewed Mars exploration missions
- Disturbance and recovery of benthic habitats in submarine canyon settings
- Ecological role of offshore artificial structures
- Effect of embankment and subgrade weathering on railway track performance
- Efficient ‘whole-life’ anchoring systems for offshore floating renewables
- Electrochemical sensing of the sea surface microlayer
- Engagement with nature among children from minority ethnic backgrounds
- Ensuring the Safety and Security of Autonomous Cyber-Physical Systems
- Environmental and genetic determinants of Brassica crop damage by the agricultural pest Diamondback moth
- Estimating marine mammal abundance and distribution from passive acoustic and biotelemetry data
- Evolution of symbiosis in a warmer world
- Examining evolutionary loss of calcification in coccolithophores
- Explainable AI (XAI) for health
- Explaining process, pattern and dynamics of marine predator hotspots in the Southern Ocean
- Exploring dynamics of natural capital in coastal barrier systems
- Exploring the mechanisms of microplastics incorporation and their influence on the functioning of coral holobionts
- Exploring the potential electrical activity of gut for healthcare and wellbeing
- Exploring the trans-local nature of cultural scene
- Facilitating forest restoration sustainability of tropical swidden agriculture
- Faulting, fluids and geohazards within subduction zone forearcs
- Faulting, magmatism and fluid flow during volcanic rifting in East Africa
- Fingerprinting environmental releases from nuclear facilities
- Flexible hybrid thermoelectric materials for wearable energy harvesting
- Floating hydrokinetic power converter
- Glacial sedimentology associated subglacial hydrology
- Green and sustainable Internet of Things
- How do antimicrobial peptides alter T cell cytokine production?
- How do calcifying marine organisms grow? Determining the role of non-classical precipitation processes in biogenic marine calcite formation
- How do neutrophils alter T cell metabolism?
- How well can we predict future changes in biodiversity using machine learning?
- Hydrant dynamics for acoustic leak detection in water pipes
- If ‘Black Lives Matter’, do ‘Asian Lives Matter’ too? Impact trajectories of organisation activism on wellbeing of ethnic minority communities
- Illuminating luciferin bioluminescence in dinoflagellates
- Imaging quantum materials with an XFEL
- Impact of neuromodulating drugs on gut microbiome homeostasis
- Impact of pharmaceuticals in the marine environment in a changing world
- Impacts of environmental change on coastal habitat restoration
- Improving subsea navigation using environment observations for long term autonomy
- Information theoretic methods for sensor management
- Installation effect on the noise of small high speed fans
- Integrated earth observation mapping change land sea
- Interconnections of past greenhouse climates
- Inverse simulation: going from camera observations of a deformation to material properties using a new theoretical approach
- Investigating IgG cell depletion mechanisms
- Is ocean mixing upside down? How mixing processes drive upwelling in a deep-ocean basin
- Landing gear aerodynamics and aeroacoustics
- Lightweight gas storage: real-world strategies for the hydrogen economy
- Long-term change in the benthos – creating robust data from varying camera systems
- Machine learning for multi-robot perception
- Machine learning for multi-robot perception
- Mapping Fishing Industry Response to Shocks: Learning Lessons to Enhance Marine Resource Resilience
- Marine ecosystem responses to past climate change and its oceanographic impacts
- Mechanical effects in the surf zone - in situ electrochemical sensing
- Microfluidic cell isolation systems for sepsis
- Microplastics and carbon sequestration: identifying links and impacts
- Microplastics in the Southern Ocean: sources, fate and impacts
- Migrant entrepreneurship, gender and generation: context and family dynamics in small town Britain
- Miniaturisation in fishes: evolutionary and ecological perspectives
- Modelling high-power fibre laser and amplifier stability
- Modelling soil dewatering and recharge for cost-effective and climate resilient infrastructure
- Modelling the evolution of adaptive responses to climate change across spatial landscapes
- Nanomaterials sensors for biomedicine and/or the environment
- New high-resolution observations of ocean surface current and winds from innovative airborne and satellite measurements
- New perspectives on ocean photosynthesis
- Novel methods of detecting carbon cycling pathways in lakes and their impact on ecosystem change
- Novel technologies for cyber-physical security
- Novel transparent conducting films with unusual optoelectronic properties
- Novel wavelength fibre lasers for industrial applications
- Ocean circulation and the Southern Ocean carbon sink
- Ocean influence on recent climate extremes
- Ocean methane sensing using novel surface plasmon resonance technology
- Ocean physics and ecology: can robots disentangle the mix?
- Ocean-based Carbon Dioxide Removal: Assessing the utility of coastal enhanced weathering
- Offshore renewable energy (ORE) foundations on rock seabeds: advancing design through analogue testing and modelling
- Optical fibre sensing for acoustic leak detection in buried pipelines
- Optimal energy transfer in nonlinear systems
- Optimal energy transfer in nonlinear systems
- Optimizing machine learning for embedded systems
- Oxidation of fossil organic matter as a source of atmospheric CO2
- Partnership dissolution and re-formation in later life among individuals from minority ethnic communities in the UK
- Personalized multimodal human-robot interactions
- Preventing disease by enhancing the cleaning power of domestic water taps using sound
- Quantifying riparian vegetation dynamics and flow interactions for Nature Based Solutions using novel environmental sensing techniques
- Quantifying the response and sensitivity of tropical forest carbon sinks to various drivers
- Quantifying variability in phytoplankton electron requirements for carbon fixation
- Reconciling geotechnical and seismic data to accelerate green energy developments offshore
- Resilient and sustainable steel-framed building structures
- Resolving Antarctic meltwater events in Southern Ocean marine sediments and exploring their significance using climate models
- Robust acoustic leak detection in water pipes using contact sound guides
- Silicon synapses for artificial intelligence hardware
- Smart photon delivery via reconfigurable optical fibres
- Southern Ocean iron supply: does size fractionation matter?
- The Gulf Stream control of the North Atlantic carbon sink
- The Mayflower Studentship: a prestigious fully funded PhD studentship in bioscience
- The calming effect of group living in social fishes
- The duration of ridge flank hydrothermal exchange and its role in global biogeochemical cycles
- The evolution of symmetry in echinoderms
- The impact of early life stress on neuronal enhancer function
- The oceanic fingerprints on changing monsoons over South and Southeast Asia
- The role of iron in nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis in changing polar oceans
- The role of singlet oxygen signaling in plant responses to heat and drought stress
- Time variability on turbulent mixing of heat around melting ice in the West Antarctic
- Triggers and Feedbacks of Climate Tipping Points
- Uncovering the drivers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progression using patient derived organoids
- Understanding ionospheric dynamics machine learning
- Understanding recent land-use change in Snowdonia to plan a sustainable future for uplands: integrating palaeoecology and conservation practice
- Understanding the role of cell motility in resource acquisition by marine phytoplankton
- Understanding the structure and engagement of personal networks that support older people with complex care needs in marginalised communities and their ability to adapt to increasingly ‘digitalised’ health and social care
- Understanding variability in Earth’s climate and magnetic field using new archives from the Iberian Margin
- Unpicking the Anthropocene in the Hawaiian Archipelago
- Unraveling oceanic multi-element cycles using single cell ionomics
- Unravelling southwest Indian Ocean biological productivity and physics: a machine learning approach
- Up, up and away – the fate of upwelled nutrients in an African upwelling system and the biogeochemical and phytoplankton response
- Using acoustics to monitor how small cracks develop into bursts in pipelines
- Using machine learning to improve predictions of ocean carbon storage by marine life
- Vulnerability of low-lying coastal transportation networks to natural hazards
- Wideband fibre optical parametric amplifiers for Space Division Multiplexing technology
- Will it stick? Exploring the role of turbulence and biological glues on ocean carbon storage
- X-ray imaging and property characterisation of porous materials
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