Professional course Sustainable Development: Principles and Practice

Entry year
Course code
Professional/Short Course
Geography and Environmental Management
Five one-day sessions, scheduled over five continuous Fridays
Through interactive workshops and presentations
Programme leader
Dr Georgina Gough

Page last updated 2 April 2020


This course can count towards one of our postgraduate qualifications in Sustainable Development in Practice

The Department of Geography and Environmental Management 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.

Overseas students need to have, in advance of application, either a valid student visa or evidence of residency status in the UK.

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 forms one module of the MSc Sustainable Development in Practice. They may be taken separately or combined to build towards a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc Award if desired.

Please note that if your enrolment in this course is with the aim of completing  a Sustainable Development in Practice Award, you will also need to complete the online booking form to be enrolled on the framework. Please see link under 'How to Apply'



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 Fridays, 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.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

This course runs once a year. The next module run is programmed for the last week of September 2020 and likely to follow the same delivery pattern: 5 sessions, scheduled over 5 continuous Fridays (10:00-17:00).

As an indication, the cost of this course was £625 UK/EU and £1083 for International participants in the last academic year, so there might be a small increase for 2020.

Exact course dates, updated fees and online booking forms will be published here in early September 2020. Please complete our online enquiry form below to be notified once dates are available.

Course Location

UWE Bristol, Frenchay Campus. BS16 1QY

How to apply

How to apply

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 to the administration team for the module tutor to be able 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
  • A copy of photographic proof of ID (i.e. driver's licence/passport). For non UK students, this must be a copy of your passport

Overseas participants will be required to provide evidence of visa status once accepted onto the course, before they can be fully registered and attend.

Sep 2020Enquire Now
SDiP Framework*

*If your enrolment in this course is with the aim of completing a Sustainable Development in Practice Award (SDiP Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc), you will also need to complete an online booking form for the framework.

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 any 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 86927