Professional course Sustainable Development: Principles and Practice

Entry year
Course code
Professional/Short Course
School of Architecture and Environment
Five to 10 sessions scheduled over multiple weeks, including reading group sessions
Through interactive workshops and presentations
Course Director
Dr Georgina Gough

Page last updated 23 April 2024


This course can count towards a postgraduate qualification in Sustainable Development in Practice

The School of Architecture and Environment offers a portfolio of short courses that focus on the urgent challenges faced by organisations, communities and government in effecting sustainable change in individual behaviour, business practice and wider society.

The courses are suitable for professionals in existing sustainability roles who need to update their knowledge and skills, as well as career changers and recent graduates who are looking to build and differentiate their CV in the highly competitive sustainability sector.

This course goes to the heart of what it means for anything to be considered sustainable, whether we are talking about a product, a service, an organisation, or even a whole society. The aim is to give you a grounding in robust definitions and concepts of sustainable development and challenges you to engage with some of the most well known approaches to, or frameworks for, developing sustainable strategies. The knowledge and tools that you engage with through this course will give you a firm foundation from which to embed sustainability in an informed and structured way in any context in which you might find yourself.

Entry requirements

Participants are expected to have a first degree at 2.2 level or above (or equivalent), or alternatively have industrial experience.

If you are a non-UK student you will need to show your valid passport on entry to the UK. Please check your eligibility to visit and study in the UK here. If you are a non-Irish EU national currently resident in Ireland please contact us for further advice.

If English is not your country's first language, you will be required to provide evidence to show you meet the UK Border Agency and the University's minimum English Language requirements.

We strongly recommend that you speak to the course tutor prior to the course if you are unsure about your suitability to complete the assessment.

Careers / Further study

This course (module) is part of the MSc Sustainable Development in Practice. Modules may be taken separately or combined to build towards a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc Award if desired.



You will explore the fundamental nature, causes and consequences of sustainable and unsustainable development. Practical exercises and projects will give you first hand experience of putting key concepts, frameworks and tools for implementing sustainable development into practice.

What do I get out of it?

You will learn to develop:

  • A critical understanding of the nature, causes and consequences of sustainable and unsustainable development and the ability to communicate effectively about these issues.
  • The ability to explain and critique some of the key definitions and frameworks that are used to explain and implement the concept of sustainable development, and demonstrate an ability to utilise them in response to real-world challenges.
  • The ability to explain and critique theories that attempt to explain the relationship between human beings and the natural environment and to demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship between environmental sustainability and meeting fundamental human needs.
  • The ability to critique and apply commonly used methodologies and tools, for integrating sustainability in a range of contexts, for example, places, policy, products and service delivery.

What does it cover?

This course is structured around three themes:

Sustainable development - key concepts, frameworks and tools: This topic introduces some of the defining concepts of sustainable development including systems thinking, environmental limits and interconnectedness of human health and well-being and environmental sustainability. Through interactive lectures and workshop sessions students will apply and critique some of the most commonly used sustainability frameworks and strategies including The Natural Step, Five Capitals, One Planet Living, Permaculture Design and Cradle to Cradle. 

Sustainable design: Taught through examples and case studies, this topic looks at the role of design thinking and design tools for sustainability. Students will examine the key elements of strategic sustainable design and have the chance to try out key tools such as lifecycle analysis and sustainability impact analysis to develop a concept for a redesigned sustainable product or service.

Alternative socio-economic systems: This topic examines the shortcomings of the existing economic system and looks at potential alternative models. Students will consider how the economic system affects social and eco-systems, and consider whether sustainability is best pursued through the reform of capitalism  or the establishment of different systems altogether.

Each of these themes is taught by a team of expert practitioners in the field, thereby ensuring students benefit from both theoretical and practice-based insights.

Learning and Teaching

The courses are taught through a mixture of face-to-face and independent learning, comprising weekly lectures, workshops and group discussion.

The pattern of contact sessions (five continuous Thursdays, all day) is highly accessible for those who wish to study part-time.

This is a highly participative course. Delivery methods are primarily experiential and participant centred, engaging you in practical exercises, personal study, and critical reflection upon the relationship between theory and practice.

Study time

The course is structured around five contact days. Students undertake a significant amount of directed and independent study between and after the contact sessions.

To complete the module and assessment, if taken, we recommend students allocate approximately 150 hours including taught sessions and personal study time. This is only a guideline and will depend on the participants' motivation and learning abilities.


Participants who wish to receive credit for their learning can undertake the assessed project at the end of the course. On successful completion, the module credits may then be used towards the masters qualification in Sustainable Development in Practice or UWE's range of postgraduate qualifications in Integrated Professional Development.

To achieve accreditation for this module, you will be required to carry out a project in which you apply key sustainability concepts and tools to a real world challenge such as developing a strategy for making a product or service sustainable.

Formative assessment will be carried out throughout the module by setting regular tasks for students that will assess their grasp of the material covered. Tasks will be reviewed as part of the sessions.


Study facilities

UWE Bristol is superbly equipped with libraries and computer labs, and an excellent campus environment.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.

Get a feel for the Geography and Environmental Management facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

Course dates


Cohort May 2024TimeLocation
Thursdays 23, 30 May, 06, 13, 20 June 202410:00-17:00Frenchay Campus


Cohort September 2024 - TBC*TimeLocation
Five to 10 sessions scheduled over multiple weeks, including reading group sessionsTBCFrenchay Campus


*This course is planned to run again in 2024. Course dates, updated fees and online booking forms will be published here in the summer of 2024. Please complete our online enquiry form below to be notified once these details are made available.

Course fees

All prices are VAT exempt.

CohortsMay 2024
UK participants£792
International participants£1,333

For information on fees, managing your money and determining your fee status, please go to our fees and funding pages.

Course location

UWE Bristol, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY.

How to find UWE Bristol

How to apply

How to apply

To book your place please click on the Apply Now banner

To make an enquiry: Enquire Now

As this module carries university accreditation, please note that once you have submitted your booking form, you will be required to provide the following supporting information for the Programme Leader to review and formally accept your application as required by the university:

  • An up-to-date copy of your Curriculum Vitae (including contact details of a work or academic reference)
  • A brief personal statement to support your application
  • A copy of your highest qualification certificate and transcript of modules studied
  • For UK students, copy of your photographic proof of ID (i.e. driver's licence/passport.
  • For non-UK students, a copy of your passport. Please note you may need a Visitor Visa to come to the UK to study. Visit UWE's Visas website for more information.

Extra information

If you would like further information about this course or about the postgraduate qualifications in Sustainable Development in Practice, please email the Programme Leader, Dr Georgina Gough or telephone +44(0)117 32 87139.

For further information

  • Email: For specific questions in relation to the course, i.e. content, suitability, assessments, etc. please contact the Programme Leader, Dr Georgina Gough ( For queries regarding administration aspects of registration, i.e. dates, fees, etc. please contact us using the online enquiry form link or telephone number below.
  • Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 81043 (option 1, then option 3)