Key Information

Taught 100% online, study Sussex’s world-renowned MSc Sustainable Development at a time and place that suits you.

  • 1st in the world for Development Studies QS World University Ranking 2017-2022.
  • Connect with students working in government, NGO, manufacturing, banking and agriculture sectors.
  • Join students from over 80 countries.

Course start dates:
There are six start dates every academic year, providing maximum flexibility for our students;

January | March | May | July | September | October

Course fee:  £12,240

Course overview

In September 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Aiming to end poverty and hunger while achieving gender equality, peace, responsible production and consumption, urgent climate action, as well as caring for life on land and below water, the Goals are challenging and ambitious.

Meeting the SDGs requires extensive transformations in the way markets, civil society and states work in much of the world. These sustainability transformations will need to be impassioned and practical, bridging different socio-economic sectors, knowledge disciplines and policy silos. They will need knowledgeable social entrepreneurs, engaged scholars and committed political activists, equipped to work across silos and sectors, with suitable interdisciplinary skills.

It is such entrepreneurs, scholars and activists that this distinct Masters aims to empower. You’ll benefit from expertise drawn from three of the most proficient research units in this area, the Science Policy Research UnitSchool of Global Studies and Institute of Development Studies. This interdisciplinary Masters will help develop conceptual and constructive skills based on interrogating knowledges across multiple disciplines. It will enable you to contribute effectively to the realisation of the SDGs through widespread sustainability transformations.

The University of Sussex has been ranked 1st in the world for Development Studies for the past six years (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022).

This course is part-time and can be completed in a minimum of two years. You have the opportunity to step on and off the course, pausing your studies if your work or life commitments require, providing you complete the course within four years from enrolment.

You can also study an on campus version of our Sustainable Development MSc on a full or part time basis, find out more.

Download the course leaflet. 

Ranked 1st in the world for Development Studies*, the University of Sussex is at the forefront of teaching and research in sustainable development.

Studying the Sustainable Development MSc (online), you’ll learn to analyse the politics of sustainable development policies and practices, using different conceptual perspectives and methodological approaches, cutting across a wide range of social science disciplines. You’ll focus on real-world issues such as transforming energy production and consumption, climate-related disasters, agricultural intensification, waste and pollution. You’ll learn how social power and inequalities are implicated in processes of technological development and environmental change. And you’ll explore the conditions under which sustainability transformations are achieved, to tackle social inequalities and environmental degradation.

Teaching is interdisciplinary, incorporating perspectives from economics, political science, science technology and society studies, international relations, anthropology, economics, innovation studies and human geography. Engaging with Sussex lecturers and with fellow students from around the world, you will critically and constructively analyse the work of government, business and civil society actors in sustainable development.

With employability firmly in mind, you’ll take part in both independent and group work, studying sustainable development policies and strategies for international agencies, NGOs, public and private organisations.

*(QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)

In order to graduate on this course, students must successfully complete all 11 core modules plus one of the optional modules below.

  • Sustainable Development: Politics and Policies
  • Science, Technology and Innovation
  • Policy Analysis
  • Understanding the Policy-Making Process
  • Key Perspectives in International Development
  • Democratising Science and Technology
  • Globalisation and the Environment: Capitalism, Ecology and Power
  • Perspectives, Methods and Skills
  • Innovation for Sustainability
  • Market-based Solutions for Sustainable Development: Pitfalls and Possibilities
  • Decolonising knowledge for Sustainable Development

Students have the opportunity to tailor their learning by choosing between one of two modules below.

  • Critical Issues in Sustainability: Environment, Agriculture, Health
  • Sustainability in Business Operations and Supply Chains

Each module lasts for 7 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 assessments methods to assess students’ knowledge, competence development and engagement through individual and groupwork exercises, such as written reports, simulations, essays, project reports, MCQs, and portfolios. An indication for the likely assessment methods of this module is given, though this may be subject to change.

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Dr. Divya Sharma

Deputy Course Director: Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Lecturer In Sustainable Development (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit)

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Professor Steve Sorrell

Professor Of Energy Policy (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit)

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Lucila Newell 

Lecturer (International Relations), Associate Tutor (International Relations), School Tutor (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit)
School of Global Studies

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Dr. Saurabh Arora

Course Director: Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Senior Lecturer In Technology And Innovation For Development (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit)

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Professor Peter Newell 

Professor Of International Relations

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Dr. Katerina Psarikidou

Lecturer In Sustainable Development (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit)

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

Further information on applying for online Masters courses. 

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).

Masters 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, with students required to 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 on funding for your studies. 

20% Alumni discount

If you have previously graduated from an undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD course with the University of Sussex you will be eligible* for a 20% discount on this online course.

Find out more about the alumni discount and eligibility criteria.

*T&Cs apply.

Our online Sustainable Development MSc empowers students to contribute effectively to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through widespread sustainability transformations.  

Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Walusungu Lulukile Ngulube, Field Coordinator, United Nations Development Programme from South Sudan has shared her experience of studying online and networking with students around the globe. Learn more about her story here.

Niall Readfern

Niall Readfern, one of our online students who is the co-founder of Kuokoa, an NGO operating in Uganda and helping to create sustainable fisheries. Niall shares his experience of studying online and helping his community here.

Richard Alexander Spence

Richard Alexander Spence, one of our online students who a former British Army Officer and is now a Stabilisation Consultant for the UK Government’s Office for Conflict, Stabilisation and Mediation (OCSM). Read Richard’s experience here.

Science, Policy and Research Unit (SPRU)

University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) – Masters courses