MSc Sustainability

Postgraduate Degree

Immerse yourself in the key sustainability issues of our time, develop your expertise, fuel your passion, and make a difference with our online master's degree.

  • Supported online learning gives you the flexibility to study around your schedule
  • Learn from experienced and passionate sustainability professionals
  • Develop the knowledge and skills sustainability leaders need to influence and drive organisational change
  • Open up career opportunities in a wide variety of roles and sectors

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About your MSc Sustainability

Our online masters in sustainability is perfect if you want to develop the skills, knowledge, and critical thinking to be an agent of change for sustainability. It's ideal if you're looking to build upon your existing knowledge, advance your career in public and private sectors, or start a career or business specialising in sustainability initiatives. You'll be part of our Global Sustainability Institute and learn in partnership with the Eden Project with access to sustainability researchers from a wide range of backgrounds. Successful completion of this master's degree will open up opportunities to make positive change in a wide variety of roles and sectors. Studying this online sustainability course allows you the flexibility to develop your career in an ever-growing field, fuel your passion, and make a difference around your other commitments. This course includes five one-week online residentials - you can find more about these in the 'How you'll study' section below.

Course highlights

  • Become an agent of change with a strong understanding of contemporary global sustainability issues
  • Learn in partnership with the Eden Project in Cornwall, a world-class attraction and social enterprise with sustainability at its heart
  • A 200-hour work placement allows you to put your knowledge into practice in a real-world environment
  • Choose to study over 1 or 2 years depending on your other commitments
How to apply

How you'll study

Study online with five one-week online residentials

Course lengthChoose to study over 1 or 2 years
Start dates

Start in September

Application deadlineOur next deadline is

31st October 2023

UK Quality Assured

Course overview

Our Sustainability MSc will empower you with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking tools to lead the way to a more sustainable future in business, government, and society.

With this MSc Sustainability, you’ll develop leading-edge knowledge of the key sustainability challenges we face and the scientific and policy issues that underlie them. During the course you’ll develop your understanding of the role of complex environmental, economic, and social systems and acquire the tools and methods to investigate them. This new knowledge and your skills will enable you to help create a more sustainable future. Key topics include Sustainability concepts, system resilience, tools and methods for sustainability, and sustainability leadership for individuals and organisations.

This sustainability masters degree is delivered in partnership with the Eden Project in Cornwall and the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) at ARU. This collaboration brings together sustainability expertise in theory and practise. The GSI delivers teaching by academics at a world-leading research institute, committed to developing practical solutions to complex global issues. The Eden Learning team delivers first-hand experience from a world-renowned visitor attraction and educational centre, an innovative vision built from the ground up, with sustainability at its core. You’ll explore the latest academic studies as well as practical application of the theory from a sustainable business model, with additional insight from a host of expert guest speakers.

As part of the MSc Sustainability, you will undertake a 200-hour work placement which is a fantastic opportunity to put your developing skills into practice, promoting sustainable change in a real-world environment. We will help you arrange a suitable work placement, if you do not already have one, and support you in the workplace. The work placement takes place between February and July.

Towards the end of the course, you’ll undertake your own piece of research, a Major Project on a sustainability topic of your choice. This is a great opportunity to produce a piece of work focused on an element of sustainability that you’re particularly interested in or passionate about.

Our online sustainability course is open to graduates from all disciplines and attracts students with backgrounds in the arts, science, health, finance, and business. The course is also designed for students of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

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Introduction to Sustainability and Systems

Sets the scene for the rest of the course. And addresses the questions; 'What is sustainability?', 'What are its components?' and 'Why is it so important?' The importance of a systems-based approach to addressing sustainability and its epistemology will be discussed and you will examine a range of current concepts and models of sustainability (including 'circular economy', 'five capitals', 'natural step', 'one planet living' etc.) and their usefulness in increasing our resilience to environmental, social, and economic change.

Methods and Tools for Complex Systems

Sustainability challenges are characterised by their complexity and uncertainty. They are often described as ‘wicked’ meaning they have no single or permanent solution. In this module you will be supported in developing methodologies, tools and techniques to address this complexity and uncertainty while creating practical ways to positively address these challenges. This module also acknowledges that many sustainability challenges also have a temporal aspect. In this module you’ll also develop future thinking skills allowing you to consider potential futures through the exploration of trends and drivers of change. You’ll apply your new knowledge and skills to a specific sustainability ‘challenge’, assessing its various current and future factors and agents to create a practical proposal for positive change.

Leading System Change

In this module you will focus on the growing business case for sustainability and examine the role of leadership, purpose, innovation, and culture to create an organisation which 'does business better'. You will examine The Eden Project itself as a social enterprise, to help you understand its characteristics, culture and ethos and you will assess the transferability of some of key principles to other organisations in Cornwall and internationally. You will also have the opportunity to develop your own plan for a social enterprise.

Working Towards Change

This module is linked with a 200-hour work placement where you will undertake practical and supported work-based learning. Your work placement will combine your knowledge and understanding of sustainability with the practicalities and compromises of an organisation, as well as your requirements for personal learning and development. You will gain an insight into the challenges and opportunities of learning and driving change and critically analyse your own strengths and weaknesses through a programme of reflective learning and feedback. During your placement you will also be developing a range of work-based skills, recognised as vital by employers.

Masters Project

During your final research project, you will choose an independent research topic from an area of expertise within the Global Sustainability Institute and Anglia Ruskin University (subject to availability of suitable supervision) and will conduct a significant research project in that area which may involve a literature review, data collection, analysis, and a write-up. The final piece of work should be equivalent to a maximum of 12,500 words.


You’ll be assessed through reports, essays, presentations, outline plans and designs, and your dissertation.

How you'll study

Our Sustainability MSc is studied 100% online.

You are required to attend five one-week compulsory online residentials between 12-4pm (GMT), with additional work undertaken around these times.

The residentials for 2023/24 Academic year are as follows:

Trimester 1

  • 25-29 September 2023
  • 23-27 October 2023
  • 20-24 November 2023

Trimester 2

  • 12-16 February 2024
  • 11-15 March 2024

The remainder of your online study for this course is fully flexible. We do also encourage attendance at webcasts to ask questions and be involved as and when these take place. Group work is an important part of the course and students can work together to agree on suitable times depending on their time zones.

You’ll study through Canvas, our world-class online Learning Management System (LMS), which can be accessed from your phone, pc or tablet at home or on the move. Canvas provides instant access to study materials, forums, and support from tutors and classmates, as well as enabling easy submission of your assignments.

You can choose to study our MSc Sustainability over 1 or 2 years. Please note that if you choose the 1-year option this is the equivalent of full-time study and may be a challenge if you’re employed full-time or have other life commitments. Our advisers will be happy to talk through your options in more detail.

On successful completion of your studies, you’ll be invited to attend a graduation ceremony on campus. If attending the ceremony in person is not possible then we’ll arrange to have your certificate sent to you.

Supported distance learning

We understand that distance learning is different to traditional campus study and if you’re new to online study you may have concerns or apprehensions about studying your MSc Sustainability online, and that’s natural.

To help put your mind at ease we have a dedicated Distance Learning Support Team to help you achieve your learning outcomes and support you throughout your time at ARU, starting with your first online induction and staying with you right through to graduation. In addition, you’ll also be supported by specialist course tutors who are well experienced in teaching distance learning students.

Once you start your MSc Sustainability, we encourage the creation of online communities and many of our learners find these connections with others invaluable, helping them to stay motivated, share concerns or make new friendships.

Contact us to talk through any questions or concerns.

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What could a Sustainability MSc do for my career?

Due to the ever-changing world that we live in, as well as the growing threat of climate change, sustainability is becoming an increasingly important issue for companies of all industries and sizes. They are having to work harder on their corporate social responsibility and adapt their business models to a changing physical world, changing consumer expectations, whilst communicating their sustainability credentials. This means that sustainability experts are in high demand, both as consultants for smaller firms, and in house advisors at larger companies.

Our MSc Sustainably gives you the option to tailor your studies to your own location in the world, and topics that you are passionate about, meaning that you’ll be better placed to secure a career, or boost your existing career close to home if you so wish. This will perfectly place you to support both national and local projects that not only benefit your local community, but in turn have a positive impact on the global stage.

The relationships you build with your peers on this online sustainability course, along with the connection you make with experts at the Eden Project and Global Sustainability Institute, will aid in your networking as your career grows.

What job roles can I consider with a masters in sustainability?

A Sustainability MSc could lead to a wide range of career advancement opportunities within various industries. The ability to tailor many of your assignments within this course means you can decide to become a specialist in one area of sustainability, or you may choose to diversify the topics you explore and gain a more general overview of sustainability projects and systems. These are just some of the job roles that a Sustainability MSc graduate may consider, possibly with further training or experience depending on the role:

  • Environmental Consultant
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Environmental / Sustainability Manager
  • Environmental Education Officer

If you are looking for more information about these job profiles and potential salary earnings see It’s important to note that salaries can vary widely depending on the job role, employer, industry sector and location.

What skills will I get from MSc Sustainability to help my career?

You’ll enhance your CV with a higher-level award that includes both deeper knowledge of the subject, and added transferable skills and interdisciplinary knowledge such as:

  • Develop your initiative and personal responsibility
  • Advance your leadership skills
  • Work as part of a team
  • Progress your communication skills, including be able to present complex Ideas
  • Develop independent study techniques and research skills
  • Enhance your reflective self-analysis in terms of your professional development

What can I study after a masters in sustainability?

Successful MSc students, who particularly enjoy engaging with the academic environment and who wish to pursue academic careers in lecturing and/or research, may progress to doctoral study at Anglia Ruskin University or elsewhere.

Careers Advice Service

Once you become an ARU student you will be able to access our Employability service to help you at whatever stage of your career, whether that’s landing your dream job or the next progression step.

We offer:

  • careers advice, including one-to-one online and telephone appointments with our experienced advisers
  • help with your CV, job searches, applications and interview preparation
  • an online portal packed with useful careers resources
  • our Employability Programme, which helps you hone the skills employers say they want in graduates.

Entry requirements

  • You’ll need a First degree at 2.1 or above. Prospective students with non-standard entry qualifications are advised to discuss their personal position with the course tutor before applying. The University may require submission of appropriate documentary evidence before any application is considered. The diversity of the student group is an important part of the learning process and is a reflection of the wide scope of the subject material.
  • If English is not your first language you will be expected to demonstrate a certificated level of proficiency of at least IELTS 6.5 (Academic level) or equivalent English Language qualification, as recognised by Anglia Ruskin University.
  • As a distance learner, you'll also need a suitable computer with internet connection, together with sufficient IT competence to make effective use of our online learning management system (LMS) with high-speed internet and email.

Fees & funding


The full tuition fee for this masters in sustainability is £10,000.

The course fees you pay each year will be between £5,000 and £10,000 depending on how long you take to complete the course. You can choose to study our Sustainability MSc in either 1 or 2 years.

Accredited Prior Learning may reduce the tuition fees. This will be confirmed once your application has been submitted.


Your course can be fully funded by the Postgraduate Student Loans now available (subject to eligibility).

We offer payment by instalments, so you can spread the cost of studying with us.

For military students: You can use your ELCs towards this course. Anglia Ruskin University is a recognised ELCAS provider (number 1007). Please contact your Learning Centre for details of ELC, eligibility and how to apply.

For more information on how you fund your studies please see our funding page.

What our students say

Chloe - ARU Student

I wanted to do a university course that would challenge me and validate the learning so I chose this course and it turned out to be absolutely perfect for my needs.


The distance learning teaching staff are incredibly approachable, which I think is important when studying an online course. I was able to email, Skype or call and get any questions answered promptly.

Read Daniel's story

The tutors all played pivotal roles in my transition to adapt to academic work. The support I received was thorough and greatly appreciated.

Read Michael's story
Mikki - ARU Distance Learning Student

I can't recommend this course enough, honestly it has elevated my career and means I now work for myself.


Frequently Asked Questions

Next application deadline:

31st October 2023

Discover what you're made of.Apply now before the application deadline.
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Further reading

Find out more about this course and more on our blog