Online Academic Summer School

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (Online)

Key information

2 weeks
Start of programme
29 June - 10 July 2020
Attendance mode

Course overview

Since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, many countries in the world have undertaken parallel efforts to tackle global challenges – from poverty to inequality, from climate change to health, from sustainable cities and communities to peace and justice. The SDGs set ambitious albeit necessary objectives to be reached by 2030, which should be of interest to anyone concerned with the sustainability of production and consumption systems, equitable and inclusive development, and growth and prosperity of future generations. Yet, SDGs should play a more influential role in the policy process than they have actually obtained so far. Issues arise, however, concerning the role and achievement of SDGs in the context of the ‘post-coronavirus Covid-19 world’.

This course aims to provide participants with theoretical knowledge and practical tools to understand the challenges that the SDGs aim to tackle, the role that SDGs play in the policy process, and the strategies that governments can pursue to achieve them. The course will cover topics such as the design and management of stakeholder engagement, the process of strategic planning, the conduct of policy analysis, and the making of policy decisions. It will also include topics such as the role of public financial management systems and of monitoring and evaluation in the pursue of SDGs. By the end of the course, participants would gain a better understanding of strategies for pursuing SGDs in domestic policies.

For more information, please see the course handbook: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals online handbook (pdf; 147kb)

What will I achieve?

Upon completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • Understand what SDGs are and how they matter for public policy and management
  • Explain how the pursue of SDGs affects the policy-making process
  • Explain how organisational and financial resources should be aligned to the pursue of SDGs
  • Explain how the attainment of SDGs can be measured, appraised and reported

For further information on credits, entry requirements and fees, please visit our Online Learning webpage.

If you have any question, please fill out our enquiries form .


Programme Schedule

Week 1: Organising, resourcing and controlling the achievement of SDGs


  • SDGs and the policy process
  • Strategic planning
  • Engaging stakeholders
  • Developing administrative capacity
  • Strengthening public financial management systems

Week 2: Good governance and the achievement of SDGs

  • Operating performance management systems
  • Monitoring and evaluating interventions
  • Partnering with the private sector
  • Fostering innovation, science and technology
  • A global policy agenda beyond 2030

Introductory reading and sources

  • Asquer, A. (2017), Public Sector Revenue, London: Routledge.
  • Barber, M. (2015) How to Run A Government: So that Citizens Benefit and Taxpayers Don't Go Crazy. London, Penguin Books.
  • Bryson, J. M. (2011) Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations. 4th Edition. San Francisco, John Wiley & Son.
  • Cangiano, M. M., Curristine, M. T. R., & Lazare, M. M. (2013). Public financial management and its emerging architecture. International Monetary Fund.
  • Desai, D., & Schomerus, M. (2018). ‘There Was A Third Man…’: Tales from a Global Policy Consultation on Indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals. Development and Change, 49(1), 89-115.
  • Flynn, N. and Asquer, A. (2017), Public Sector Management, 7th edition. London: SAGE.
  • Joyce, P. (2015) Strategic Management in the Public Sector. Oxford, Routledge.
  • Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, S., Dahl, A. L., & Persson, Å. (2018). The emerging accountability regimes for the Sustainable Development Goals and policy integration: Friend or foe?. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 36(8), 1371-1390.
  • Lu, Y., Nakicenovic, N., Visbeck, M., & Stevance, A. S. (2015). Policy: Five priorities for the UN sustainable development goals. Nature News, 520(7548), 432.
  • Navarro-Galera, A., and M. P. Rodríguez-Bolívar (2010) “Can government accountability be enhanced with international financial reporting standards?”, Public Money & Management, 30(6), 379-384.
  • Nilsson, M., Chisholm, E., Griggs, D., Howden-Chapman, P., McCollum, D., Messerli, P., ... & Stafford-Smith, M. (2018). Mapping interactions between the sustainable development goals: lessons learned and ways forward. Sustainability science, 13(6), 1489-1503.
  • Palfrey, C., Thomas, P., & Phillips, C. (2012). Evaluation for the real world: the impact of evidence in policy making. Policy Press.
  • Schmidt, H., Gostin, L. O., & Emanuel, E. J. (2015). Public health, universal health coverage, and Sustainable Development Goals: can they coexist?. The Lancet, 386(9996), 928-930.
  • Stephan, R. M., Mohtar, R. H., Daher, B., Embid Irujo, A., Hillers, A., Ganter, J. C., ... & Sarni, W. (2018). Water–energy–food nexus: a platform for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Water International, 43(3), 472-479.
  • Xue, L., Weng, L., & Yu, H. (2018). Addressing policy challenges in implementing Sustainable Development Goals through an adaptive governance approach: A view from transitional China. Sustainable Development, 26(2), 150-158.


Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules .

Teaching and learning


The programme is delivered online through a Virtual Learning Environment (intranet page) that sets out the readings for each week, the guiding questions for discussion and hosts the discussion boards. This page provides a platform to share other material such as videos, internet links, quizzes and feedback on assignments. Students also have access to a vast amount of academic and policy-related material through the SOAS library.


Time Commitment

Courses are taught intensively over two weeks between Monday - Friday.  Students should expect to spend between 4-6 hours per day completing course related activities including video lectures, live tutorials, readings, forum discussion and assignments.  Students studying for credit will submit a 2000-2500 word written assignment one week after the course finishes.



Each course is assessed by two online assessments (‘e-tivities’*) comprising of 30%, the remaining 70% is formed of a 2,500 word essay.  The e-tivities provide formative and summative feedback to students as a means of monitoring their progress and encouraging areas in which they can improve. E-tivities will vary in format but will include article reviews, quizzes, blog posts, essay plans and more. On successful completion of the assessments, students will receive a
transcript confirming the credit awarded. Students that do not require credit are strongly
encouraged to take part in the e-tivities, but are not required to complete the assessments.

* An 'e-tivity' is a framework for online, active and interactive learning following a format that states clearly to the students its 'Purpose'; the 'Task' at hand; the contribution or 'Response' type; and the 'Outcome' (Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, New York and London: Routledge Falmer.)


Students will require regular access to a computer with a good internet connection, and the following applications installed:

  • A word processor that accepts Microsoft Word formats (.doc and .docx)
  • A PDF reader

Navigating Time Zones

Courses have been designed with varying time zones in mind.  All lectures will be recorded for access at any time and the discussion forum is open to posts from students at all times.  The limited 'live' sessions will be scheduled between 13:00 - 15:00 BST and will be recorded for any students unable to attend.


Students that successfully complete all course assessments will be awarded 15 SOAS credits.  This is normally equivalent to 7.5 ECTS or 4 US credits.  If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply.






Fees and funding


Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £40 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.


10% discount if you apply for two courses over 4 weeks

15% discount for SOAS alumni (including Academic Summer School alumni)

20% discount for our partner institutions

Other discounts are available for groups. Please contact us for more information.


Academic Summer School Ambassador Scholarship 2022

Applications for our 2022 Ambassador Scholarship are now open.

The Ambassador Scholarship programme 2022 offers 3 full tuition fee waiver scholarships for highly morivated and academically driven students. Take a look at our Ambassador Scholarship page for more information on how to apply.

Application Deadline: 2022-04-30 00:00