[skip to content]

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

MSc in Sustainable Development

Distance Learning Programme

Overview

Featured events

Mode of Attendance: Distance Learning

The rationale for this innovative programme of study lies in the global development and sustainability challenges for this millennium that have been articulated in the Millennium Development Goals; Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit on Environment and Development; and the Declaration of the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development. These challenges have been endorsed by the International Association of Universities and the International Council for Science.

Solutions to local and global problems identified in the Millennium Development Goals require:

  • scientific research and technological innovations, access to key knowledge and technology, and appropriate application of this knowledge and technology
  • partnerships between science and society, and between universities and society, especially in shifting the nature of scientific enterprise towards contributing to sustainable development

Structure

For the MSc in Sustainable Development students will take:

  • 3 core modules
  • 4 elective modules*
  • 2 research modules

* including one free choice from across all programmes (subject to approval on the Programme Convenor)

Specialisms

If you are taking an MSc or a Postgraduate Diploma you choose elective modules within a particular specialism. This creates the opportunity for a clear focus in your studies, whereby you can develop understanding and skills relevant to specific professional interests. The name of the specialism will appear on the certificate awarded.

Core Modules 
Elective modules
Specialisms
Development Management
Environmental Economics
Environmental Management
Natural Resource Management
Rural Development and Change
Research component 

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

1. Academic level

All CeDEP programmes are taught to Master’s (Second Cycle) level, which involves building upon existing knowledge and understanding typically associated with the Bachelor’s (First Cycle) level or its equivalent. Study at Master’s level requires:

  • originality in developing and/or applying ideas, and extending or enhancing previous learning
  • application of knowledge and understanding, including problem solving in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts
  • integration of knowledge and handling of complexity
  • formulating judgements with incomplete or limited information, including reflection on social and ethical responsibilities
  • clear and unambiguous communication of conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • learning skills to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous

Prospective students should note that distance education of this kind demands a high degree of commitment, determination and self-discipline. Whilst CeDEP provides significant support through the tutorial system and by other means, students taking on programmes of this nature should possess a strong measure of self-reliance.

2. Study Expectations
How long will it take?

For students in full time employment, the MSc and Postgraduate Diploma, usually take three or four years to complete and the Certificate 2 years.

 Master of Science (MSc)Postgraduate DiplomaPostgraduate Certificate
Minimum registration period2 years*2 years1 years
Maximum registration period5 years5 years5 years

* For students wishing to complete their MSc in two years they should start the Research Component in year 1.

When can I study?

You can begin your studies in either February or June. The examinations for all students are in October. The study periods are 30 weeks for students starting in February and 15 weeks for those starting in June.

How many hours a week?

For the 30 week study period starting in February, you will need to allocate 5–6 hours of study time per module, per week. For students starting their studies in June with the shorter 15 week session, 10–12 hours per module, per week is recommended.

How many modules can I take per study year?

We strongly recommend that students should take only one or two modules in their first year, so that they can adjust to studying at a distance, whilst combining this with work and family life.

Students wishing to register for more than three modules in their first year should satisfy their academic programme convenor that their personal circumstances will allow sufficient study time for this on a weekly basis (e.g. those students not in employment or in part-time employment).

3. Assessment
How you will be assessed

For each module you will sit a two-hour unseen examination held on a specific date in October, worth 80% of your total module mark. There is also an Examined Assignment (worth 20% of the total module mark) which is submitted during the study year and marked by your tutor.

Examination arrangements

Examinations are held in students’ countries of residence, using the University of London’s network of approved Overseas Examination Authorities. Fees for taking examinations at all examination centres other than London are the responsibility of the student.

Assignments are submitted to CeDEP electronically via the online learning environment.

Assessment of the Research Component

The Research Methods module (R106) and the Dissertation (RR01) are not assessed through final written examinations. These two modules constitute the Research Component of an MSc and are assessed entirely by submitted coursework.

4. Research Component

In order to qualify for an MSc, it is mandatory for CeDEP students to pass the Research Component.

The Research Component comprises two of the nine modules necessary for completion of an MSc. These are a Research Methods module (R106) and the Dissertation (RR01). The modules are assessed as follows:

  • R106 through two examined assignments submitted during the study year
  • RR01 through a 10,000 word dissertation

The Research Component is studied over two consecutive years. The Research Methods module (R106) must be studied and successfully passed before the Dissertation module (RR01). This is because it provides skills and techniques which will assist with the subsequent development and conduct of your research and preparation of your dissertation. Students are required to enrol and pay for R106and RR01 at the same time.

The dissertation is usually carried out during the final year of registration with CeDEP. Students conduct desk- or field-based research in a relevant topic of their choice. All research topics are subject to approval and each student is assigned a personal supervisor. Background reading and preparation of the proposal take place between the October exams and commencement of the final study year in February.

Destinations

Career prospects for graduates

Graduates of this programme will have a wide range of backgrounds and will typically find work in:

  • government ministries and other public sector organisations concerned with policy analysis in the fields of sustainable development and environmental planning
  • international and non-governmental organisations concerned with the sustainable dimensions of economic change
  • consultancies and development projects concerned with issues of sustainability and analyses of the interface between environment and poverty
  • applied research and teaching in institutions of research and higher education

A Student's Perspective

When I discovered the MSc course in Sustainable Development on the internet I was thrilled because I could study part-time and work, all at the same time. The fact that the degree can be studied over a five year period is excellent especially as I have a very busy schedule.

Caroline Makasa, Zambia