MSc Sustainable Development (Climate Change and Risk Management) 2018/19 entry

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • Geography
LocationCornwall (Penryn)
Start date September


MSc Sustainable Development video

Staff and students discuss the MSc Sustainable Development programme at the University of Exeter. View full size.

Our MSc Sustainable Development takes a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to exploring the economic, environmental, and social issues surrounding sustainability policy. We take a practical and problem-based approach to learning, focusing on both the study of sustainable development and its implementation in a range of professional contexts. This balance between theory and its application is designed to enhance your career and employment prospects. You will discuss and analyse the outcomes of recent policy making, e.g., the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development; specific policy areas such as biodiversity, climate change, and forests; and social enterprise. Additionally, a range of optional modules will allow you to cover wider debates in fields of climate change, energy policy, risk management, and the environment.

This Masters is based on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall—an exceptional place in which to study issues related to the environment and sustainability. The duchy is a living laboratory offering a diverse range of marine and terrestrial habitats, a wealth of natural resources, and creative and resilient communities. The Penryn Campus is also home to the University's Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) – a £30 million centre leading cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research into solutions to problems of environmental change and enhancing people’s lives by improving their relationship with the environment. We also offer MSc Sustainable Development.

Programme structure 2018/19

The structure of the course has a good balance of theoretical and empirically-based work with a strong emphasis on 'real-world' problems and solutions. This is an excellent focus and training-ground for sustainability professionals (present and future).

There is an excellent range of topics for dissertations, showing innovation and creativity as well as societally-important areas for study.

Professor Anna Davies, External Examiner for the MSc Sustainable Development programmes.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

This Masters provides a practical and problem-based approach to learning focused on both the study of sustainable development and its implementation in a range of professional contexts. You will be taught by expert staff who are active researchers in sustainability and can give you invaluable insights into the latest research findings, plus training in research methods for sustainability.

Our vibrant learning environment combines traditional forms of delivery (lectures, seminars, and tutorials) with practice-based learning including work placements, expert guest speakers, and linked project work including, for example, an Environmental Impact Assessment. During the degree there are opportunities to apply your academic learning in a variety of real-world environmental contexts, including field work, consultancy, business, and social enterprise.

Throughout the programme you will engage with external agencies and employers such as Environment Agency, South West Water, National Trust, Natural England, Met Office, Eden Project, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Network Rail, farmers in Devon and Cornwall, Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve, RSPB, Riverford Organic, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, and Climate Vision.


We use a variety of assessment techniques, including essays; oral, written, and web presentations; project work; learning journals; and a written dissertation.

In the Independent Work-based Learning module, your performance will be assessed by the partner organisation.


The University of Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. The interdisciplinary and applied nature of the MSc Sustainable Development enables you to pursue a range of career opportunities once you have graduated. Through our practice-based approach to learning we aim to provide plentiful opportunities for you to engage and make professional contact with potential employers throughout the programme. You’ll also be able to access a range of training and events offered by the University's Career Zone, such as Enterprise Skills Workshops which are designed to further support you in developing enterprise skills and an entrepreneurial outlook.

In addition, the degree offers high-quality social science research training and applied expertise which could lead to careers that focus on:

  • Business and sustainability, such as those responsible for sustainable development policy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and responsible business management in a wide range of economic sectors
  • Planning for sustainability, such as professional planning careers examining the role of sustainability in the planning system and resource management; jobs aligned to this expertise would relate to energy consortia, utility companies, government departments, local planning departments, and government agencies
  • Community regeneration and development, including community support officers and community planners; at the macro planning level and micro community level, both emerging and re-developing communities require expertise to integrate sustainability into social aspects of development

Graduate destinations

Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Geography Masters programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey (2011-2016). Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Sustainability Manager
Business Development and Marketing Executive
Senior Scientist
Financial Planning Technician
Marketing Manager
Energy Trader
Junior Researcher
Program Officer
Policy Officer
Green Deal Knowledge Transfer Associate
Sustainability Consultant
Seasonal Ranger
Graduate Hydrolic Monitor
Sustainability Project Officer
Sustainability Specialist
Research Consultant
Sustainability Consultant
Project Coordinator
Energy Consultant
Regeneration and Energy Officer
Account Manager
Enterprise Projects Assistant
Officer for Town Planning
Earth Skills Network Manager
Water Resources Engineer
GIS Assistant
Social Researcher
Source Energy Ltd
Surrey County Council
Focal Research
Nuture Lakeland
E3G - Third Generation Environmentalism
Stover Country Park
University of Exeter
Lehigh Valley Health Network
Miller Research
Aran Services Ltd
Hyder Consultancy
Gestión Ambiental S.A.
Forum for the Future
Green Rewards
University of Nottingham
Devon County Council
Pod Talent
Orbit Group
City Council Prijedor
Earthwatch Institute
City of Oslo
Delcan Corporation

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a University of Exeter Geography Masters programme. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates of our Masters programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey (2011-2016). Please note that, due to data protection, the subjects of study and institutions are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Subject areaInstitution
PhD Human Geography
PhD Geography
PhD Urban Climate and Health Stress
MSc by Research
MRes Environment, Energy and Resilience
University of Exeter
Humboldt University
Durham University
Oxford Brookes University
University of Nottingham

Further information

Visit Career Zone  for more information, including podcasts and profiles, about the range of support available. 

Find out more about our career support schemes for postgraduate students.


Our Sustainable Development (Climate Change and Risk Management) graduates have completed research projects on a variety of topics, including:

  • A critical evaluation of the stakeholder engagement approach towards building flood resilience - Nigeria
  • Mapping multi-level coastal governance
  • Motivating social and environmentally responsible behavioural change - the segmentation model of dividing people in communities
  • Motivations for and barriers to promoting sustainable seafood in restaurants
  • What can historical analysis of flooding of the River Fowey tell us about possible future flooding?

Research areas

Find out more about the academic staff involved in delivering modules:

Your project work or Dissertation may be supported by staff teaching on the programme or academics from the wider Geography team who have expertise in your chosen area of interest.

Entry requirements 2018/19

All applicants are considered individually on merit although we usually require a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding 2018/19

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £10,500 full-time; £5,250 part-time
  • International: £19,800 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.


Find out about funding opportunities available to students on our taught Masters programmes.

University funding

The Scholarships, Bursaries and Studentships website has information on all available options for funding open to prospective students of taught Masters programmes. You can also use the searchable database of all Scholarships and Bursaries to find funding for which you are eligible.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2018.

Contact us

If you have any queries about this programme, please contact:

Tel: +44 (0)1326 371801

The Programme Director is Dr Caitlin DeSilvey.