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Online study

MSc Global Sustainability Solutions (Online) - 2024 entry

Please note: The below is for 2024 entries. Click here for 2023 entries.
UCAS code 1234
Duration 2-5 years
Entry year September 2023


Discipline MSc Global Sustainability Solutions

Web: Enquire online
Programme Director: Dr Alasdair Jones

Typical offer

View full entry requirements

A 2:1 with honours in any discipline from a recognised university

Contextual offers


  • Apply your learning to real-world challenges and operate in a complex problem space wherever in the world you choose to work, at times that fit your busy schedule
  • Receive training in systems thinking that can be applied to a wide range of subject, topics, and real-world problems
  • Your learning is informed by the latest research undertaken by world-leading scholars and the Global Systems Institute community
  • Enhance your employability by developing the skills necessary to become an agent of change for a sustainable future

View 2023 Entry

Register your interest


Web: Enquire online

Phone: +44 (0)1392 72 72 72

MSc Global Sustainability Solutions (Online)

Top 20 for Geography and Environmental Science

The Complete University Guide 2023

Top 25 in the world for Geography

QS World University Subject Rankings 2022

6th in the UK for world-leading research in Geography and Environmental Studies

Based on 4* research in the Research Excellence Framework 2021

7th in the world for Geography 

ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021

Entry requirements

We usually require a 2:1 degree.

We will, however, consider all applications individually on merit, and will in particular consider applications where there is evidence of exceptional performance in modules relevant to the programme of study, significant relevant work experience or professional qualifications.

The programme has been designed to allow students from a wide range of backgrounds to immerse themselves in a transformative educational experience. No science, mathematics, or engineering prerequisites are required.

Entry requirements for international students

English language requirements

    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.

Please visit our entry requirements section for equivalencies from your country and further information on English language requirements.

Course content

Please note that programme structures may be subject to change. The modules listed here are indicative. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on your point of entry, staff availability and research interests, new topics of study and student demand.

Our impacts on the Earth system are at such a scale that we have become a geological force. If we are to not just survive but flourish, we urgently need to create robust and practical solutions to a set of interacting global challenges (e.g. energy security, declining biodiversity and climate change) that span countries, regions and disciplines. While diverse, the common thread linking these and other challenges is that they are all challenges of systems. 
The online MSc Global Sustainability Solutions will introduce you to these complex challenges, and provide you with skills to analyse them, critically evaluate proposed solutions, and formulate new solutions through intense periods of academic exploration. The interdisciplinary programme has been designed to allow students from a wide range of backgrounds to immerse themselves in a transformative educational experience. Upon graduation, you will have the skills to become an agent of change for a sustainable future.

Fees and funding

September 2023 entry:

£15,000 in total


The fee shows the total amount it will cost if you complete the degree if you take the minimum time of two years. If you take longer than two years, for example, because you take one or more breaks between modules, the total fee you pay may increase slightly due to inflation.

Pay as you study

To make it easier to budget, you don’t need to pay the total fee upfront. Instead, you can pay for each module as you are about to start studying it. You can pay for the whole year if you prefer, but the minimum payment is at least the cost of the module you are taking that term. Please note that if your payment has not reached us by the end of week one of a module, you will have to wait until the next term to start.

How to pay

You can pay online using a credit or debit card. We are unable to give you access to your study materials before your payment reaches us so it’s important to have your finances in place and pay when prompted to ensure you can access your studies at the start of each term.


We want to ensure that online postgraduate study remains accessible to the brightest minds of the future. The University of Exeter Global Sustainability Solutions Online Programme Scholarship amounts are £5,000 for MSc Global Sustainability Solutions (Online) applicants and £750 for those studying individual online modules. These awards are available to UK and International applicants who already hold an offer to study the MSc Global Sustainability Solutions Online programme or online module beginning in 2023. Find out more information about how to apply.

Other costs to consider

As well as your fees, there are some potential additional costs to be aware of to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of success. These include a suitable computer or device to study and work from, an adequate internet connection to access your learning materials and connect with others, and a comfortable place to study.

While our online programmes do not require any attendance on campus, as a student of the University of Exeter you are always welcome to visit. You may also be offered the chance to attend a graduation ceremony in person, for which travel costs and gown hire will apply.

Help with paying for your studies

If you are struggling to afford your chosen programme of study, some help may be available from either the government or the university. This includes:

  • Postgraduate student loans. If you live in the UK, you may be able to access a loan to help pay for your online degree fees and living costs while you study. To be eligible, you must not already have a Masters degree (or above). For information on how to apply and your student finance entitlement, please visit the following links depending on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

    If you are awaiting the approval of a postgraduate loan to pay for the course and evidence is provided through the Admissions application gateway, access to learning material will be provided prior to receipt of payment.

  • Disabled Student Allowance (DSA).
    Most UK students with a physical disability or mental health difficulty, long term health condition or specific learning difficulty will be able to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance which can help towards the cost of specialist equipment, one-to-one support and other costs associated with your condition. If you feel this applies to you, you are encouraged to apply as early as possible as the whole process can take up to 12 weeks. If you complete an application and are not eligible for DSA, please make an appointment with the AccessAbility Team to discuss alternative funding and support. This step-by-step guide to applying for DSA will give you all the information you need on applying.

  • Success for All fund. Some financial support may be possible through our Success for All fund as assessed on a case-by-case basis providing eligibility criteria are met. Fully online students are not automatically eligible for an IT bursary, but exceptions may be made in some circumstances. However, please note the University would expect students to have made reasonable provision to support themselves during their studies prior to enrolling on a module.

  • Employer sponsorship. Your employer or another organisation you are associated with may be happy to pay all or part of your fee. If you are getting financial support in this way, we can invoice them directly for the value that they have agreed to support before you start your studies. You will have to pay any balance so that the module you are studying is paid in full before you start. 

  • Student discounts. Our online students are fully registered students of the university, and therefore can ask for an Exeter Unicard, which can be used to access a wide range of student discounts on everyday items including food and clothing. You can also apply for student discounts on products and services through the UniDays card*.

*Please note: these discounts may only apply to purchases made in the UK.

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Teaching and learning

At Exeter, we use a 30-credit-per-term, three-term-per-year structure. This means you will study one 30-credit module per term.

Terms start in January, May and September. The majority of assessment will take place towards the end of term, after which you will have time to recharge, to reflect on how your module and assessments went, and to consider the next module.

You should expect to be engaging in structured teaching and learning activities for 10-15 hours per week on average, plus additional time spent on self-directed learning (such as further reading or preparing for assessments).

For more detailed information on what studying online with the University of Exeter looks like, visit our ‘Why study online’ pages.


The programme comprises a diverse mix of carefully designed modes of assessment that go beyond essay-writing, including quizzes, online posts/reflections, project reports, policy documents, and short films.  The assessments will focus on the application of your learning, and they are all coursework-based.

Support with online study

We understand that balancing study with other commitments in your life may be tricky at times. Our modules are designed to stand alone (with the exception of the ‘Research Skills and Solutions Project’ module), meaning that if life gets in the way you can take a break and re-join the programme at a later point. We have resources to help you manage your time, and our Study Zone staff can help you with the academic and planning skills you need to make your time with us as successful as it can be.

Each module has an academic lead to direct your learning, with substantive multimedia content across the programme provided by experts from the GSI and elsewhere in the University of Exeter. All online students also have a dedicated Student Support Officer (online), there to guide you throughout your journey with us. In addition, we have teams of professionals around the university ready to help you – from staff in the Library to those in Wellbeing Services.

Global Systems Institute

The online MSc Global Sustainability Solutions (GSS) is the flagship online programme for the Global Systems Institute (GSI). The GSI is an institute that brings together researchers, students, citizens, and partner organisations to solve global challenges, and to help create a flourishing future world together, through transformative research and education.

The Institute unites a transdisciplinary group of researchers, educators and partners to look beyond single ‘environmental’ issues to a truly systemic view of coupled global changes in the human socioeconomic sphere and in the biosphere. As a student on the online GSS programme you will become part of the GSI community, with opportunities to participate in the Institute’s activities.

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Employer-valued skills this course develops

The programme addresses global sustainability challenges, equipping graduates to apply systems thinking to solve complex problems in a wide variety of environments and contexts. Key features of the programme are the innovative teaching and the diversified formative and summative modes of assessment. In assessments for the programme, emphasis will be placed upon applying learning to real-world challenges with a view to enhancing the employability of graduates.

In the course of the programme you will have the training and opportunity to apply your academic work to wider social, economic, environmental and policy debates. Upon graduation you will have the experience and skills required to become agents of change for a sustainable future across a range of fields and roles.

Future 17: Sustainable Development Goals Challenge

As a student on this course, you can also apply to take part in the Future17 programme (as a non-credit-bearing module) in addition to your core online GSS programme modules. Future17 is a unique programme developed by the University of Exeter, QS and a selection of universities around the world.

The programme gives you the opportunity to solve challenges that are related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and that have been pitched by a global pool of organisations. Successful applicants undertake a 12-week module, teaming up with students from at least two other universities and guided by two academic mentors, to solve these challenges.

In terms of employer-valued skills, Future17 aims to develop the collaborative, intercultural and innovative skillsets required for tackling global interdisciplinary challenges in the 21st Century. Participating students also receive a certificate of completion from QS as well as feedback from challenge partners, with whom they gain continuous exposure throughout their participation in Future17. 

Through completing this programme, graduates can gain and enhance the attributes required to be:

  • Imaginative critical thinkers and problem solvers
  • Active global citizens
  • Engaged and participative agents of change
  • Confident, resilient and adaptable individuals

Studying with us not only offers outstanding opportunities for career development, but also the chance to tap into a worldwide peer and research network. Additionally, learning in a virtual environment both enhances and demonstrates vital skills that employers are seeking in the modern workplace, such as communication and time-management skills, the ability to self-motivate and self-direct, and competencies in digital technologies.

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