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Practising Sustainable Development (MSc/PGDip)

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Course overview

Interest in development, environment and issues of sustainable development has never been so intense. UN climate change summits , Millennium Development Goals and the World Social Forum have brought environmental and development issues and problems long on local and national agendas, onto the international scene.

All sustainable development issues are a complex and dynamic web of natural, social, political and economic processes, and it is this unique interdisciplinary approach which drives the MSc in Practising Sustainable Development. This popular course has evolved and expanded in scope and appeal, and has attracted students from about 30 countries and a diverse range of backgrounds who work or are interested in development issues and the environment.

This course is also offered at Postgraduate Diploma level for those who do not have the academic background necessary to begin an advanced Master’s degree. The structure of the Diploma is identical except that you will not write a dissertation. If you are successful on the Diploma you may transfer to the MSc, subject to academic approval.

Key facts

Key facts about the course
Qualification Master of Science or Postgraduate Diploma
Duration 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
Department and Faculty Geography, Faculty of Science
Partner institution(s) --
Course director Dr Mike Dolton
m.dolton@rhul.ac.uk
+44(0)1784 443575
Contact for more information Liz Hamilton and Karen Oliver
Postgraduate Administrators
GeogPGadmin@rhul.ac.uk
+44(0)1784 443563

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online.

Further information on making an application, including the documentation that you will need to submit with the application is available in the How to apply section of this site.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.

 

Entry requirements

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in a related field (natural or social sciences).

Candidates with considerable professional experience in any agency involved in development and environment issues will also be considered.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies please see here


 

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

 

Why choose this course?

  • Our teaching staff have wide experience in different developing regions and economies in transition, including Latin America, the Caribbean, South, East and South-East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Staff have also worked with indigenous and marginalised communities in North America.
  • You will benefit from a diverse range of teaching and learning strategies including tutor-led discussions and seminars, oral presentations, role-playing, problem-solving and group work.
  • You will be well prepared for a career in the development and environment field as the course is very highly regarded.
  • The course can be used as part of an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) research training pathway for PhD study. This indicates that the content and approach of our academic research training is of a very high standard.
  • You will be provided with training in skills needed to research and assess sustainable development, such as research design, project development, environmental monitoring, geographic information systems (GIS), participatory

Department research and industry highlights

The Politics, Development and Sustainability (PDS) group consists of over 20 research-active staff, 35 PhD students and 50 Master’s students on four MSc programmes. We are committed to conducting collaborative research which seeks to understand and contribute to addressing problems of social inequality, environmental destruction and injustice. The breadth of its members’ research places it in an ideal position to contribute to theoretical and policy debates on key challenges facing Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean today.

Course content and structure

The course is divided into three compulsory elements. Students studying for the Postgraduate Diploma do not undertake the dissertation.

Core course units:

Sustainability, Development and Governance

This course will equip students with a detailed understanding of the development of sustainable development as a discourse. Students will explore key sustainability issues such as climate change, globalisation, and human responses with an emphasis on the emergence of environmental governance as a means to pursue sustainability.

Technology and Development

This course provides you with an introduction to the role of technology in development, focusing particularly on mobile phone and computer technologies. The course combines an understanding of key theoretical debates and how technologies have been applied in diverse sectors such as health and education. The course also includes training in the use of GIS (geographical information systems) within a development context.

Sustainability, Development and Society

You will develop a detailed understanding of key social / environmental relationships incorporating contemporary issues in the geographies of sustainability. These will include \'risk society\', sustainable cities, and the impacts of corporate sector activities on the environment. You will also understand the challenges to sustainable development at household and community levels, with a focus on community-based approaches to sustainable development.

Participatory research

This course combines detailed understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of participatory research and methods with practical experience of using different participatory research techniques. These include participatory diagramming, participatory video and participatory environmental monitoring.

Research Training

You will be provided with training in a range of methods to enable you to plan, carry out and complete a piece of research. There are three modules in this element:

  • Social Research Methods Training - provides a range of social science methods for field research and analysis.
  • Quantitative Methods for Graduates - provides basic statistical concepts and procedures used in empirical research.
  • Development and Environment Research Training - provides guidance for planning, developing and undertaking research in a development and environment context.

Dissertation (MSc only)

The dissertation is of between 12,000 and 15,000 words, on a topic of your choice which has been approved by the supervisor. It requires both secondary and primary research, and the demonstration of originality in integrating theoretical and practical research methods in tackling a particular problem. You will be encouraged to carry out your dissertation in collaboration with an organisation in the field of development and environment.

Community Volunteer Project

You will undertake an independent volunteer project which will give you practical experience in gaining sustainability related work experience in a non-for profit organisation. The project will enhance your employability whilst and provide an opportunity to gain practical experience of third sector organisational objectives, cultures and practices.

Elective course units:

ICT4D

This course gives you the opportunity to develop deeper understandings of cutting-edge applications of ICT4D research and practice. Topics covered include environmental change and Green ICT, open development and subversive forms of technology use, and logics of inclusion and exclusion in ICT programmes. You will also examine project planning, monitoring and evaluation in the field of ICT4D.

Business Ethics and Enterprise

The aim of the course is to equip students with the moral frameworks and critical abilities necessary to understand the role of business in society from an ethical perspective. The course will cover different types of business including large publicly traded multinationals, small and medium sized enterprises, social enterpises and family firms. Students will be expected to understand the different issues in these organizational types and to articulate moral arguments from a range of different perspectives.

International Sustainability Management

This course provides participants with an understanding of how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) informs sustainability management issues in large, transnational organisations. It will focus on issues such as consumption and sustainability as dichotomised between the apparently incompatible tensions of economic and environmental interests.

Other courses Geopolitics and Security / PIR / Management / Computer science

 

On completion of the course graduates will have:

  • an understanding at an advanced level of the relationships between, and complexities of, social, economic, political and environmental aspects of sustainable development
  • an understanding at an advanced level of how the key issues in sustainable development theory influence policy and impact on practice
  • the ability to critically analyse complex or contradictory areas of knowledge in aspects of sustainable development.

View the full course specification for Practising Sustainable Development (MSc/PGDip) in the Programme Specification Repository

Assessment

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework and a dissertation.

Employability & career opportunities

Past students of the course are now employed by international development and environment agencies, national policy making and implementing agencies, higher education institutions, private sector natural resource companies and NGOs; as environmental and development workers, activists, teachers and researchers. Many of our alumni are also currently undertaking doctoral programmes in the UK and abroad.

 
 
 
 

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