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Online study

PGCert Global Sustainability Solutions (Online)

UCAS code 1234
Duration 8 months
*Please note the course could take longer if you take a break between modules.
Entry year January 2024


Discipline PGCert 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


  • Develop a wide range of skills needed to understand, create and communicate strategies for addressing contemporary sustainability challenges
  • Learn about key sustainability concepts and approaches in relation to real world challenges, with a focus on systems thinking and environmental economics
  • Conduct your learning wherever in the world you choose to work, at times that fit your busy schedule
  • Experience teaching that is informed by the latest research undertaken by world-leading scholars from the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute (GSI) and Business School

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

1st in Europe for Climate Action

UK Business School of the Year

Times Higher Education Awards 2022

Entry requirements

For postgraduate programmes we usually require students to have a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent.

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 content of the PGCert, evidence of significant relevant work experience and/or applicants hold relevant professional qualifications.

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.

I love that the course has an interdisciplinary approach and together across a range of subjects we can work to create sustainability solutions.

Each of our lecturers are the best in their field.


MSc Global Sustainability Solutions student

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.

The online PGCert Global Sustainability Solutions is the flagship online education programme of the University of Exeter’s thought-leading sustainability solutions-oriented institute, the Global Systems Institute (GSI). The PGCert has been designed by experts from the GSI and the University of Exeter’s award-winning Business School.

The modules on this PGCert will give you a foundational grounding in key concepts and skills relevant to a career related to sustainability and will empower you to become a problem-solving agent of change for a more sustainable future. The programme focusses on key sustainability solution issues, including:

  • The importance of systems and how they can address sustainability challenges, including reaching net zero
  • Developing and applying skills to communicate sustainability research and concepts to different audiences, and to influence and enact meaningful sustainability-oriented change
  • A focus on environmental economics, with a particular emphasis on the role of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics for businesses and other organisations.

Fees and funding

September 2023 and January 2024 entry:

£4,000 for full PGCert

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.

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.

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Teaching and learning

The online PGCert Global Sustainability Solutions is the flagship online programme of the Global Systems Institute (GSI). The GSI is a thought-leading sustainability-oriented research institute which brings together researchers, students, citizens, and partner organisations to solve contemporary sustainability challenges, with a view to creating a flourishing future world together, through transformative research and education.

The University of Exeter is now home to more than 1,400 researchers working on the environment and climate and is a world-leading research institution in these fields. Multiple pieces of University of Exeter research featured in Carbon Brief’s list of the most talked-about climate papers of 2022, for instance, and a range of GSI-affiliated scholars featured in Clarivate’s highly cited researchers list for 2022. Your learning will include content created by some of these leading researchers, who will be introducing you to cutting edge sustainability, climate, and environmental research.

On the PGCert GSS (online) you will study one 30-credit module per term. Over the course of the programme, you should expect to engage in structured 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, please visit our ‘Why study online’ webpages.

Overview of research in the Global Systems Institute (GSI)

The GSI is home to a wide range of transdisciplinary research activities with a shared focus on developing real-world applications that deliver tangible and sustainable social and ecological benefit, and which have been mapped onto the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many of these activities apply a systems thinking approach – an approach that will be covered by a systems expert, Dr James Dyke, in the first module. A major strand of research at the GSI concerns how we can trigger a cascade of ‘tipping points’ to accelerate the net zero transition, and this will be covered in the PGCert through content developed by Professor Tim Lenton, one of the most prominent tipping points thinkers and researchers globally.

Overview of research in the University of Exeter Business School (UEBS)

Having a good understanding of economic principles, metrics and levers is central to securing a flourishing future for humanity, and in the PGCert you will also complete a module dedicated to environmental economics which has been developed by the University of Exeter’s award-winning Business School. Environmental sustainability is one of three core research themes of the Business School, and the environmental economics module draws on the Business School’s expertise in understanding how organisations embed environmental sustainability into their operations and decision-making, and in training students accordingly.

Programme assessments

Your progress on the PGCert will be assessed entirely through coursework, with smaller formative activities provided throughout each module. The coursework assignments on the programme are purposefully varied and have been designed to enable you to develop and apply a range of important communications skills (such as oral presentation skills) that are relevant to the workplace, as well as to demonstrate your understanding of the substantive content covered in the programme.

Learning support

Each module has an academic lead to direct your learning, and all online students at Exeter also have a dedicated Student Support Advisor to guide you throughout your journey with us. In addition, we have teams of professionals around the university ready to help you – from the Library Liaison team to the Wellbeing Services team. 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.

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Employer-valued skills this course develops

The PGCert programme addresses contemporary sustainability challenges, equipping graduates to apply a range of systems thinking and strategies to solve sustainability problems in a wide variety of environments and contexts.

Graduates of the programme will gain and enhance a range of skills required for sustainability-oriented careers, including being able to:

  • Communicate knowledge of sustainability challenges and solutions via a range of media and for a range of audiences
  • Apply systems thinking and environmental economics understandings, including Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) principles, to sustainability challenges
  • Operate as a critical thinker and problem-solver
  • Influence and enact meaningful sustainability-oriented change

Studying with us not only offers outstanding opportunities for career development, but also the chance to tap into the GSI’s extensive research and practice 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.

Opportunities to apply to work with organisations and peers on real-world projects

As a student on the online PGCert GSS you will be able to apply for sustainability-oriented careers programmes that provide the opportunity to develop and apply transferable skills for the workplace, and to strengthen your CV.  These include Future17, an online initiative designed to support global cohorts of students from select universities to develop the skills needed to collaboratively tackle 21st Century SDG-aligned global challenges through working on real-world challenges set by partner organisations.  They also include the Online Global Leaders Programmes available through the Global Leaders Experience, such as working the sustainability strategy program WACE Global Challenge.

Careers services

Alongside developing employability skills over the course of the PGCert Global Sustainability Solutions Online, you will be able to access a range of resources provided by the University of Exeter’s Career Zone. These include:

  • A live chat function where a member of the team can respond to your enquiries
  • A wide range of online career resources such as My Career Zone Digital, the information sections of the Career Zone website such as Help With... and What Can I Do With My Degree the Career Zone blog, Career Zone Podcast (Spotify/iTunes).
  • Support and resources to help create effective CVs, covering letters and application forms
  • Access to information about job vacancies, careers fairs, employers and alumni presentations
  • Careers guidance appointments and skills workshops that will help with career planning, job hunting and preparation for job selection processes

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