Sustainable Development - using your degree
A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.
The overall goal of both Sustainable Development (SD) undergraduate and postgraduate programmes is to enable students to critically interrogate the principles, practice and plurality of SD and so to contribute to the evolution of innovative, interdisciplinary thinking and action in this area. The department runs both an undergraduate (MA/BSc) and postgraduate (MSc) degree in SD. Both degrees are relatively new, 2008 being the first year of SD undergraduate graduations, and 2010 the first year of SD postgraduate graduations. As a result, information on the range of jobs SD graduates go into is very much a 'work in progress'.
'Professional bodies are beginning to recognise that sustainable development is a key issue for professional practice and the wider role of professionals in society.' Annie Hall.
'Even industries not previously aligned with environmental principles are now required to employ environmentally knowledgeable professionals... That means more jobs being created, opening up opportunities for those with an interest in the environment.' IEMA
Studying SD equips you with some very specific skills according to your particular module choice or specialisms and also encourages the development of a wide range of transferable skills. Typical employers for SD graduates, both undergraduate and postgraduate, include local authorities, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), environmental monitoring organisations, environmental consultancies, and charitable trusts such as National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts. Organisations as traditional as the Royal and Ancient Golf Club are now employing sustainable experts.
Where do our graduates go?
Sarah is a Sustainable Development graduate of the University of St Andrews. She is a Principal Consultant - Corporate Sustainability for Climate Consulting.
Read Sarah's and other sustainable development graduates case studies to hear what their jobs involve, how they got there, and how to successfully follow the same career path.
|Year of graduation||Organisation/Company||Position|
|These are some of the first roles taken on by students six months after graduation:|
|2011||University of St Andrews Estates||Sustainability Intern|
|2010||ABC News, New York||Project worker - global campaign for girls' education entitled 10x10|
|2010||University of St Andrews||Transition Project Officer|
|2010||Rydon Group||Sustainability Leader|
|2010||University of St Andrews||Sustainability Officer|
|2009||University of Oxford||PGCE Geography|
|2009||Care in the Community||Community Care Assistant|
|2009||University of St Andrews||MSc Sustainable Development Education, Policy & Economics|
|Longer term career paths:|
|2008||Community Energy Scotland||Development Officer|
|2008||Jacobs||Graduate Sustainable Consultant|
|2008||University of Strathclyde||MSc Environmental Studies|
|2008||Crichton Carbon Centre||Research Assistant|
|2008||Westlakes Scientific Consulting Ltd||Consultant In Applied Social Science|
|2008||University of Dundee||Education For Sustainable Development|
|2008||University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne||Environmental Resource Assessment|
|2008||Teach First||Geography Teacher|
|2008||Forward Scotland Internship programme||Sustainable Development graduate (Budapest)|
|2002||Environmental Agency||Senior Planning Liaison Officer|
|1998||St Leonards School Durham||Head of Geography|
Network with alumni
- LinkedIn this professional networking site can be a great way to make contact with St Andrews alumni. By joining the St Andrews alumni groups, University of St Andrews Alumni and University of St Andrews - Mentorship Programme, you are able to make contact directly with alumni with a LinkedIn profile.
- Careers Alumni Network- a database of St Andrews graduates who have volunteered to offer careers information to existing students.
In 2011, 25% of sustainable development graduates went on to do postgraduate study.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.
Summer internships/work experience
One of the key aspects that often helps graduate recruiters to differentiate between candidates during the selection process is work experience. Students and graduates who have had internships or vacation placements usually have a much better understanding of the roles they are applying for and the industry or business sector they want to join after graduation. High Fliers - The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2012.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – Sustainable Development Internship
This internships are offered on an ad hoc basis related - related to UNECE programmes of work, namely: environment, transport, statistics, sustainable energy, trade, timber and forests, housing and land management, population, economic cooperation. Further details.
Community Energy Scotland
Offer unpaid internships, send a CV and covering letter to email@example.com.Website.
This company often offer summer placements in areas such as hydrology and ecology. Website.
Bright Green Placements
Offer a variety of paid placements in small Scottish companies, past roles have included environmental and transport. Several past geography students have used these placements as springboard to a graduate role. Website.
Offer summer placements in all areas of the business. The RWE npower Energy Challenge is a team competition (winning team goes dog sledging in the Arctic) which provides another route into placements and graduate programmes – St Andrews teams have won this twice.
Environmental and Renewable Energy
Envirocruit.com Advertises internships and jobs.
Global Engineering and Development Consultancy which offer environmental science summer internships. Website.
A global corporate social responsibility consultancy which runs three internship programmes throughout the year. Website.
Summer Institute: Environmental Stewardship This funded US study programme allows you an insightful academic as well as cultural experience. Read the case study of a St Andrews student who successfully applied to the programme.
BP Summer Interns
As well as science opportunities BP offer a variety of business internships which can lead onto the offer of a graduate place. Website
Offer summer placements in various functions – Project Management, Supply Chain Planning & Control, Purchasing. Website.
Work experience examples of sustainable development students
|Year of graduation||Organisation/Company||Position|
|2013||The Urban Land Institute||Capital Markets & Real Estate Intern|
|2012||Scottish Power Generation||Business Services Intern - based mainly in the environment team|
|2012||Shell||Social Performance Technical Assistant|
|2012||Envision Solar International||Marketing Intern|
|2012||Taylor Wimpey West Scotland Ltd||Land, Planning & Sustainability Intern|
- Read a number of case studies written by sustainable development students, on our work experience case studies database.
- If you have undertaken any type of work experience, then why not inspire students by sharing your story.
Employability profile: what you can offer employers
An SD graduate can offer advanced knowledge and skills in many or all of the following:
|A graduate in Sustainable Development will typically have:||Evidence:|
|Knowledge of cultural, political, economic and environmental issues in incorporating local, regional and international perspectives.||Elements of both the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes provide such knowledge. For instance students will explore the cultural, political and economic implications of environmental change as it occurs across local, regional and international areas and/or boundaries. One example is using systems-thinking to explore how these issues may be linked over time and space, but throughout both programmes we highlight the plurality of knowledge and understandings of the world.|
|Knowledge of moral and ethical issues arising from an understanding of diversity in people and place.||All students undertaking research for dissertations are obliged to undertake training on ethical standards, and where relevant, gain ethical approval. This raises an awareness of ethical and moral issues and encourages students to consider how these may vary across people and place, as well as developing tools or processes to mitigate moral and/or ethical conflicts.|
|Knowledge of issues in globalisation, environmental sustainability, multiculturalism and citizenship||Throughout the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes students deal with concepts such as globalisation, sustainability, and citizenship. For instance, as part of the 4th year undergraduate degree, students keep a reflective diary which is used to encourage critical thinking about the world in which they live, how they live in it, how others live in it, and to link this thinking into topical debates surrounding, for example, material culture and environmental sustainability.|
|Expertise in integrating, analysing and synthesising information from a range of sources, gained by working with complex environments and issues.||The SD undergraduate and postgraduate programme have contributors from within/outwith academia and across academic disciplines. By its very nature, to be sustainable requires complex, sophisticated and creative ways of dealing with environmental, societal and economic change. All students are therefore encouraged to consider the variety of evidence and information that exists about a given topic, integrating and reflecting on this to deal with complex issues. For example, as part of the 3rd year undergraduate degree, students work in groups on a scenario planning exercise, developing a solution to a complex policy problem.|
|By routinely working in teams on laboratory, desk and field-based research, SD graduates are versed in project management including planning, execution and evaluation; this involves skills such as time management, risk- assessment, problem solving and analysis.||All students will have the chance to experience laboratory, desk and field-based research. At every level of study there is either a field-trip or involvement of outside speakers. Through formative and summative assessment our students develop and exercise skills critical to project management, problem solving and analysis. In 1st year, for instance, students develop their own behaviour change programme, working within a tight frame work, designing the programme based on literature, executing the programme, evaluating its effectiveness and writing up their results.|
|Skills relating to formulating complex problems of optimisation and interpreting the solutions in the original contexts of the problems||Students are encouraged to problematize or discuss the assumptions around a particular problem, or the assumptions that have led to a particular problem emerging. This naturally leads students to critically engage with and develop understandings, strategies and processes which can help to mitigate these problems. With input from academics in the social sciences and humanities, we encourage students to also consider important the situated nature of such problems and incorporate these understandings when developing ‘solutions’.|
|Sustainable development requires the generation and use of a diversity of data types (text, numbers, images and maps). Graduates therefore have well-developed literacy, numeracy skills and are accustomed to manipulating and presenting these various data using a range of ICT formats, including geographical information systems (GIS).||SD students have numerous opportunities to develop and use a range of transferable skills. Across both programmes, assessments, whether formative or summative, are designed to encourage their development. For example, students studying SD will routinely give presentations, write essays or reports. To do so, they will, for instance, use statistical data (and packages), policy (discourse/content analysis), academic theory, and other information such as GIS, artworks, and historical texts.|
|The complex 'real-world' nature of sustainable development requires graduates to be flexible and adaptable - they must have the confidence and initiative to be able to deal with the unexpected.||We challenge our students through the use of abstract theory and applied real-world examples. Whether it is during field-trips, assessments or interactive and participatory classes, students have the opportunity to be inventive and develop novel ways of adapting to the world around them. They are encouraged to bring to bear their knowledge and learning when thinking or talking about, or experiencing the world, and we develop this by using case studies throughout our courses.|
- The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management Careers information
- Geography Jobs - all types of jobs - Environmental, GIS, Education, Transportation, Economic Development