SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

PGDip in Sustainable Development

Distance Learning Programme

2 - 5 years

2017 Entry requirements

  • A degree or a technical or professional qualification and experience considered appropriate and relevant by the University.

Featured events

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
  • Apply


Start of programme: February / May

Mode of Attendance: Distance Learning

The rationale for this innovative programme of study lies in the global environmental and development challenges that have been articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals. It is clear that solutions to the challenge of sustainable development require holistic, integrated and co-ordinated actions across a very wide range of sectors, and will increasingly require a multidisciplinary approach. This programme aims to provide students with a broad grounding in the main concepts associated with sustainable development, but also provides the opportunity to specialise in one area in greater depth.



For the Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Development students will take:

  • 3 or 4 core modules
  • 4 or 5 elective modules: with at least 3 from one specialism and 1 free choice from all specialisms. This can also include the Research Methods module, and will be required for those students who continue their studies from PGDip to MSc.

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
Development Management
Environmental Economics
Environmental Management
Natural Resource Management
Rural Development and Change


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

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.

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 Diploma Postgraduate Certificate
Minimum registration period 2 years 2 years 1 years
Maximum registration period 5 years 5 years 5 years

For illustrative purposes, if you are intending to complete a PGDip in three years, your recommended progression pathway is as follows:

Study Period Year 1
(February / May)
Year 2
(February / May)
Year 3
(February / May)
Modules 2 core modules 2 core modules
1 elective module
3 elective modules

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).

When can I study?

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

How many hours a week?

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


How you will be assessed

The final assessment for each module is a two-hour unseen examination held on a specific date in late September or early October. This exam is worth 80% of your total module mark.

The remaining 20% of your mark is determined by an Examined Assignment. This assignment is submitted during the study year and marked by your tutor. Assignments are submitted to CeDEP electronically via the virtual learning environment.

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 (excluding London) are the responsibility of the student.

Fees and funding

MScPGDipPGCertSingle Module
£9,450 £8,400 £4,200 £1,050
Pay as you Learn

Our distance learning programmes can be paid in full at the time of enrolment or on a pay as you learn basis. Pay as you learn means you only pay for the module you are enrolling on.

Postgraduate loans

If you have been a resident in England for 3 years you may be eligible. Click here to learn more.


Click here for a list of postgraduate scholarships.

Alternatively, we recommend students approach their local British Council, British High Commission or British Embassy, for information on local funding.

Dependent on nationality, employment circumstances and other factors, funding and sponsorship sources can include:

  • United Nations (UNESCO, FAO, UNDP, UNEP etc)
  • Bilateral Aid Agencies (SIDA, GTZ, etc)
  • European Union
  • British Council
  • UK Department for International Development / Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • NGOs
  • Educational and other charitable trusts


Find out more

  • Contact us
    By phone:
    +44 (0)20 7898 4098
    By email:
  • Got a question?

    If you still have questions about this programme or studying at SOAS get in touch.

    Ask a question

  • Apply

    CeDEP distance learning applications should be made through our online application form.

    Start your application