Award Winning Green Consultants Programme

Curriculum and research

We are committed to providing all students with the opportunity to learn about the scientific, human, social and cultural issues which are involved in the vital field of sustainability and to equip them with the skills for a ‘greener’ economy and the imagination to provide solutions for a sustainable society. Acknowledging that there are many different interpretations and definitions of ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Sustainable Development’ (SD), the University of Exeter chooses to define environmental sustainability as a state where human activity does not degrade the natural environment beyond self sustainment. Sustainable development is the process that enables humanity to move towards an environmentally, socially, economically and culturally sustainable world.

In 2019, the University launched its new Education Strategy; building on our established strengths to develop our students as agents of change both within the University, as co-creators of Knowledge, Societal Engagement, Impact Generation, Industrial Engagement, and beyond, as Global 21st Century Citizens. The priorities outlined in this strategy are defined in the context of key challenges facing the world as defined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

A number of  flagship ‘sustainability’ focussed programmes and modules exist at all Colleges. Under the enhanced modularity scheme students have the opportunity to take additional sustainability focussed modules to compliment and enrich the programme of study. These sustainability modules range from broad knowledge in the areas of politics and anthropology to applied disciplinary knowledge such as renewable energy and environmental law.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course)

University of Exeter’s MOOCs, which are available to everyone, including members of the public, have been available via FutureLearn since 2016. Users have limited access to the courses and content for free, with additional purchase options if they wish to receive a certificate of achievement after passing the course. The University is in the process of transferring our MOOCs from FutureLearn to our own site - LearnExeter. This includes a number of courses relating to sustainability and the SDGs - you can read more about these here:

University of Exeter MOOCs

Living Labs and Sustainable Development

The institution has a large focus on delivering living lab opportunities. 

We work with a wide range of partners across sectors to develop solutions to the environment and climate emergency and stand ready to work with all organisations to achieve net zero together, based on science, evidence and experience. Please visit the following sites for further details:

Green Futures website

Living Systems Institute

Global Systems Institute, including the Pivot Project with the Global Systems Institute


Green Consultants

Run by the career zone, the Green Consultants extra-curricular programme is composed of three elements:

  1. Online training (including sustainability working as consultants, and technical skills such as Environmental Impact Assessments, BREEAM, ISO14001 and BCorps).
  2. On-campus projects, students work in groups for the Sustainabilty Team on real projects related to the university's own Net Zero policy. Recent projects have included 'Anthropogenic impact on biodiversity and wildlife on campus' and 'Devising a methodology for monitoring sustainable transport provision'. These projects have a real impact on the work of the institution. 
  3. A week-long internship with an external organisation, designed to improve the sustainability of the host organisation and vary according to need. This experience not only enables students to develop their commercial awareness and sustainability consultancy skills in a real world setting, it is an important way that the university engages with the local community. 

Green Consultants modules for UG in Penryn and MSc Global Sustainability Solutions have developed the Green Consultants model and adapted it for in-curricular delivery. 


Grand Challenges

Running since 2012 undergraduates focusing on some of the most challenging problems faced by humanity. The week-long programme, where students select which global issue they want to address, with the wide range of topics mapped to the UN SDGs. 


Create Your Future

The University of Exeter has a unique personal and professional development programme that helps students plan and prepare for their future after university and helps all first-year undergraduates (c. 7,500) reflect on their motivations, values and goals. Create Your Future introduces students to the university's commitment to sustainability; online learning activities are aligned to SDGs 3, 8, 9 and 10 and during workshops, students work in groups to critically evaluate employers' sustainability practices. 


The Exeter Award - Sustainability Theme

Enabling students to use the framework to develop their employability, test ideas and progress their career thinking. By using the sustainability theme, students can see whether a career in the sustainability sector is right for them. Here you can have a huge impact on the bottom line of organisations by reducing waste, changing consumer purchasing habits, impact energy consumption, and researching new technology to increase efficiency and influence strategy. Sustainability also covers sustainable working practices such as workforce resilience, wellbeing and corporate social responsibility. 


Transformative Education

The Transformative Education Framework was introduced (as part of the implementation of the Success For All Strategy, a major strand of one of the university's Sovereign Strategies - the Education Strategy) in 2021 to: 

  • Enable all students to see the challenges associated with the climate emergency, inequality and social injustice in their fields of study;
  • Promote the application of critical thinking skills in learning, generally, and research-inspired, inquiry-led learning contexts specifically, with an aim to innovate and improve current approaches to education and address challenges facing our society; 
  • Foster collaboration with peers and educators, drawing on the strength of our community's diversity of experiences and areas of expertise;
  • Create a learning environment that fosters a culture of compassion and promotes respect by embedding inclusivity and cultural competence. 

Visit the Transformative Education webpages to find out more about the aims of the framework, including a video from our Vice Chancellor and the principles of transformative education (sustainability, inclusive education and racial and social injustice).


Future17: Stewart Barr

Future17 is a new global partnership being led by the University of Exeter with QS to enable students to meet the challenges posed by the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Students work in inter-institutional, interdisciplinary teams to provide solutions supplied by leading global companies, NGOs and governments. Future17 uses Design Thinking approaches to develop three core skills and competencies for tackling 21st Century sustainability challenges: inter-cultural learning, interdisciplinary working and digital collaboration. 

In its pilot phase (Spring 2022), Future17 has involved 126 students from four universities (University of Exeter, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Stellenbosch University and University of Sao Paulo), supported by 48 academic mentors from the four universities, and 9 commercial and NGO project partners. This has resulted in the production of 16 deliverables that will make an impact for organisations across the world. For our students, it provides the opportunity to collaborate globally on real-world challenges, and how to learn to work effectively in an inter-cultural, interdisciplinary team environment. 

See our website here.