A group of fishermen standing in the water, one throwing a fishing net. © nitinai2518
MSc Sustainable Development (online)
Sustainable develOpment requires transformations in the way markets, civil society and states work in much of the world.
Key information

Taught 100 per cent online, study the University of Sussex’s world-renowned MSc Sustainable Development online at a time and place that suits you.

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. Delivered by three of the most proficient research units in this area, the Science Policy Research Unit, School 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 seven years (QS World University Rankings by Subject).

If you’d like to find out more about Sussex’s bespoke Virtual Learning Platform and what it’s like to learn online with us, register now to attend our next Sustainable Development webinar and see a live demo of the platform and take a tour around. You can also book a call with one of our Admissions Advisors to ask any questions you have about the course or joining Sussex as an online student.

Download the course leaflet


This course is part-time and can be completed in a minimum of two years and maximum of four. Students have the opportunity to step on and off the course, pausing their studies if their work or life commitments require*.

*Maximum study break times apply to this course

Course start dates

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

July | September | November | January | March | May

Course content and structure

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.


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

Core and optional modules

  • Sustainable Development: Politics and Policies (core)

  • Science, Technology and Innovation (core)

  • Policy Analysis (core)

  • Understanding the Policy-Making Process (core)

  • Key Perspectives in International Development (core)

  • Democratising Science and Technology (core)

  • Globalisation and the Environment: Capitalism, Ecology and Power (core)

  • Perspectives, Methods and Skills (core)

  • Innovation for Sustainability (core)

  • Market-based Solutions for Sustainable Development: Pitfalls and Possibilities (core)

  • Decolonising knowledge for Sustainable Development (core)

  • Critical Issues in Sustainability: Environment, Agriculture, Health

  • Sustainability in Business Operations and Supply Chains

I have found the teaching very interactive and the academic and non-academic (support) teams very responsive. The organization is such that you never work alone and interactions with fellow students have been high, contributing to a lot of cultural and academic learning and networking opportunities.
- Ibrahim Mustapha, Sustainable Development MSc (online)

Key information

Full time duration
Not applicable
Part time duration
Two to four years
Home fees (UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
£11,750 or £980 per module
Overseas (including EU)
£11,750 or £980 per module

We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described in this prospectus. However, we may need to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to Covid-19.