The world’s biggest challenges can only be tackled with innovative, inclusive, and system-wide solutions. 

Our 100% online Masters will equip you with the interdisciplinary skills and insights you need to develop these solutions, and lead sustainable transformation in your business, sector and society at large. 

On this action-focused course, you will: 

  • explore urgent threats to humanity including issues of conflict, security, health, climate and environmental change 
  • unearth the root causes of these complex global sustainability challenges and the interconnected nature of environmental, social, political, and cultural issues 
  • critically assess the international development sector and scrutinise current systems and solutions like net zero, the circular economy, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the biodiversity protocols proposed at COP26, for example 
  • gain practical skills and apply academic concepts to real-world challenges, empowering you to make a tangible impact at a local or global level. 

Ranking 1st in the world for Development Studies (QS World University Ranking 2017-2023), the University of Sussex is renowned for its research and teaching in sustainability. 

As a Masters student, you’ll benefit from this unrivalled expertise, learning from academics across Sussex’s Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), School of Global Studies and Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The course curriculum evolves to reflect the findings and insights from these research centres, so you’ll graduate with an awareness of the very latest developments in the sector.  

Our online Sustainable Development Masters is a flexible, part-time course that can be completed in as little as two years, with the option to extend this to four if you need to pause your studies. 

What our students say

Meet some of our inspiring distance learners, hear their reasons for choosing our sustainability course at Sussex, and discover how they fit their studies into their busy lives. 


Read the transcript

Hi. I’m Helen, and I’m studying online for a Masters at the University of Sussex for Sustainable Development.

I think studying online was a really good option to kind of keep my full-time job and really study when it works for me.

The most important thing for me is really that my career has a positive impact on the world and on environmental issues in particular. So, the Sustainable Development course is giving me some great insight on the, kind of, complexity of sustainability issues and teaching me the practical skills that I’m going to need to work as an environmental professional and that could be in policy, consulting, NGOs, anything like that.

What I’ve really felt on this online course is that the learning materials are such a high quality. And there’s a really, really great online learning platform. They prepare, kind of, really consumable content for us on what we should be learning and what the key kind of concepts, issues, solutions are that we need to be aware of.

So I really appreciate all the effort that they’ve put in, you can definitely notice it. And yeah, they’re very engaged in the workshops that they offer. They often invite in guest lecturers from around the University who might not be teaching an online course so that we can get kind of more access to those world-leading academics who are all amazing.

I’m always shook when I’m writing a paper about something and I realise that the academic who wrote that theory works in my department, so that’s always really cool.

And I definitely feel like once I finish the course I’ll be in a place where I can really confidently walk into that job interview and say I deserve this job, and it’ll really be true as well.

Read the transcript

The online experience allows you to continue your studies while at work or whatever family commitments you’ve got. And definitely Sussex has got a good reputation, particularly within SPRU and International Development, and I think that was reflected in the experience we had as students.

A couple of anxieties I had before I started the course was, how does it all work? But it was all very simple. Within the first week you go on there, it’s all very easy to use and navigate. Any questions I had, I was able to ask the Student Success Team and they get back to you very promptly.

What I’ve really felt on this online course is that the learning materials are such a high quality and there’s a really, really great online learning platform. They prepare, kind of, really consumable content for us on what we should be learning.

Different methods of learning definitely helped. I found that podcasts for me were really helpful to get information in because often just reading a lot of information is quite difficult to get in but listening and visual aids really helped.

I found it great if I’m watching videos and lectures to be able to fast forward them, pause them, rewind them and to have all those materials there to refer to as and when you need them.

I think it’s really great that the cohort is international for the online course so I’ve made amazing professional connections with people working in Canada, Asia, all over Europe, as well as all over the UK.


To graduate from this sustainability course, students must successfully complete all 11 core modules plus one of the optional modules below. All have been designed to deepen your expertise in sustainable development, combining independent study with live seminars and group work. 

Each module lasts for seven weeks with the final module assessment deadline usually on the Monday of Week 8. Students should allow for 20 hours per week study time. 

Assessments will take place throughout each module and must be completed within the module teaching period for students to progress through the course/to the next module. 

The course uses multiple assessment methods to judge students’ knowledge, competence, development and engagement through individual and group-work exercises, such as written reports, simulations, essays, project reports, MCQs, and portfolios. 

An indication for the likely assessment methods of each module is given, though this may be subject to change.

Entry requirements

A lower second-class (2.2) undergraduate honours degree or above from any UK university or international equivalent. 

Follow our step-by-step guide on how to apply for an online Masters course. 

English language requirements 

Applicants whose first language is not English (and whose first degree was not taught in English) need to supply evidence of IELTS (Academic) high level (6.5 overall, including at least 6.0 in each component). 

Fees and funding

Sustainable Development MSc (online) course fee: £12,240 

Cost per module: £1,020 

Fees can be paid at the start of the course or on a module-by-module basis. Students must pay the first module fee of £1,020 to secure their place on the course. 

Course fees will remain fixed for 24 months from your initial course start date. Thereafter, the course fee will rise at a rate of 2.5% per calendar year (subject to rounding for administration purposes). 

Please visit our fees and funding page for more information. 

20% alumni discount 

If you have previously graduated from an undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD course at the University of Sussex, you will be eligible for a 20% discount on this online course. (Terms and conditions apply.) 

Find out more about the alumni discount and eligibility criteria. 

Why choose this course?

  • Sussex is 1st in the world for Development Studies, and thanks to our pioneering research and academic team, we have held the top spot for seven years running (QS World University Ranking by Subject 2017–2023). 
  • Our interdisciplinary curriculum covers science, technology, economics, social sciences, and innovation studies, helping you to develop joined-up solutions to complex global challenges. 
  • The comprehensive focus of the course will give you a broad knowledge base and skill set in sustainability, helping you access a variety of sustainability roles across sectors. 
  • Through various practical exercises, you’ll engage with real case studies, giving you hands-on experience of analysing sustainable development policies and strategies for varied organisations. 
  • You’ll meet international students from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, benefitting from their unique perspectives in group projects, and forging valuable connections that could open doors to new career opportunities. 
  • You’ll develop highly valued skills in policy analysis, research methods, and critical thinking, and enhance your employability in NGOs, government institutions, public and private businesses. 
  • You’ll study 100% online and part-time, allowing you to upskill and earn a career-enhancing qualification without having to give up work or other important commitments. 


Dr Divya Sharma

Deputy Course Director

University of Sussex Business School

Dr Saurabh Arora

Course Director

University of Sussex Business School

Professor Steven Sorrell

Professor Of Energy Policy

University of Sussex Business School

Professor Peter Newell

Professor Of International Relations

School of Global Studies

Lucila Newell

Lecturer in Human Geography (Geography), Associate Tutor (International Relations)
School of Global Studies

Dr Katerina Psarikidou

Lecturer in Sustainable Development 

University of Sussex Business School

To be ranked number one in the world for seven consecutive years is wonderful recognition of our continued commitment to excellent teaching and research for a fairer, safer, more sustainable and inclusive world. We don’t necessarily have all of the answers, but we will keep asking the difficult questions in ways that are both challenging and collaborative.”

Elizabeth Harrison Head of School of Global Studies, on Sussex’s #1 ranking for Development Studies in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2017-2023

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