Sustainable Development (MSc) 2019 entry

The MSc in Sustainable Development is aimed at students with a background in biology, economics, environmental sciences, geography, mathematics, politics or sociology who are interested in making a change to society, the environment and the economy.

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Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: 9 September 2019
  • End date: 30 September 2020

If you started this programme in 2018, you can find information about 2018 entry on the 2018 Sustainable Development (MSc) page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time

Entry requirements

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. No previous training in sustainable development is required. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

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Tuition fees

UK and EU: £9,000
Overseas: £21,990

Application deadline

Monday 12 August 2019. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date
  • covering letter or personal statement explaining why you are a suitable candidate and how the degree will help your personal development
  • sample of academic written work in English (1,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates with official English translations if applicable
  • English language requirements certificate.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The MSc in Sustainable Development is a one-year, full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Geography and Sustainable Development.

Sustainable development is now widely regarded as the most promising framework within which the challenges of clean water and adequate sanitation, energy generation and supply, human health, food production and distribution, and the threats to biodiversity can be addressed. The MSc programme will enable you to develop the knowledge you need to understand and address sustainability issues from multiple perspectives.

Highlights

  • Interdisciplinary teaching provides multiple perspectives. Students are taught by experts from disciplines across the University and beyond. 
  • Field trips (at no additional cost) explore practical applications of sustainable development. 
  • Practical experience supplements leading theory. 
  • Skills development is integral such as applications of GIS and impact assessment. 

Teaching format

During the taught portion of the programme, students typically take seven modules which are taught via lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations, student-led workshops, as well as field trips and away days. Modules are assessed through written examinations and coursework including class tests, presentations and essays.

Over the course of the programme, but with particular focus during the summer months, students will research a project area and produce an academic literature review, a professional policy brief and a reflective essay.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.

Modules

The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018-2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

  • Interrogating Sustainable Development: provides an introduction to sustainable development.
  • Introduction to Global Environmental Change: provides an introduction to the science of climate change.
  • Master Class in Sustainable Development: trains students to critically reflect on the potential and limitations of sustainable development.

Students typically choose four optional modules. With permissions from the relevant Head of School, up to 60 credits may be taken at MSc level from Schools across the University. Other modules at Masters Level from different Schools can be selected in accordance with staff availability. 

  • Being a Social Scientist: explores the fundamental skills required by all social scientists and prepares you for research and professional development.
  • Development and the Environment: introduces students to key topics in development and environmental economics, including poverty, inequality and land reform.
  • Economics for the Environment: introduces the contributions that environmental economics can make to helping us understand and manage a wide range of environmental problems.
  • Introduction to Geographical Information Science: introduces students to the basic principles of Geographic Information Science including the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mapping and spatial analysis using ArcGIS and the use of remotely sensed data.
  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, encouraging you to make connections between the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research.
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Research: offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research.
  • Quantitative Research in Social Science: covers underlying principles, terminology, research design, sampling strategies, uncertainty and missing data, computerised data management and univariate and multivariate approaches to data analysis.

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered (see the University’s position on curriculum development), but currently recommended modules include:

The summer project, unlike traditional research projects, offers a format that better suits students’ interests and career aspirations.

As the culmination of your degree, the Advanced Study in Sustainable Development module gives you the opportunity to explore an area of sustainable development that interests you. You will then produce an academic literature review, a professional policy brief and a reflective essay based on your research. Advised by a member of academic staff, you will work across the summer months on your individual project.

If students choose not to complete the advanced study project required for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitability qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc. 


The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Postgraduates

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 14 November 2018
  • Wednesday 13 March 2019

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Conferences and events

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development's vibrant research culture is reflected in an extensive programme of events including seminars, and conferences, in addition to the regular meetings organised by the research clusters and centres

Funding

Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MSc

Research degrees

Many of our graduates continue their education by enrolling in further research degrees, such as a PhD. The School offers a research Masters programme in Human Geography/Sustainable Development (MRes) for students who have already been accepted on a PhD programme in the School. 

PhD funding opportunities are available from the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

PhD in Sustainable Development

Careers

Sustainability impacts upon almost all aspects of life, and graduates from the Sustainable Development MSc pursue many different professional careers including:

  • international development
  • sustainability advisers to supra-national bodies such as the United Nations, World Bank, European Union, and the OECD
  • sustainability in business management, engineering, planning, transport, waste, energy or environmental management
  • sustainability research and policy consultancy

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Contact information

School of Geography and Sustainable Development
University of St Andrews
Irvine Building
North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2894
Email: gsd@st-andrews.ac.uk

Geography and Sustainable Development website

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB).