Global Environment and Sustainability

MSc, PGDip, PGCert

The MSc Global Environment and Sustainability degree offers students modules covering pressing global contemporary environmental problems including climate change and environmental hazards, global food systems and health, water and energy resources, waste and pollution and biodiversity, biosecurity and conservation.

A man and woman working in a greenhouse.
Students will examine how environmental sustainability policy and management can effectively contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

By studying this programme, students will:

  • be able to critically evaluate the complex drivers and consequences of global environmental problems for different societal groups, applying academic concepts and theories.
  • develop in-depth knowledge in particular specialist areas of environment and sustainability through designing and executing a substantial independent research project.
  • gain critical and creative thinking skills and the ability to apply theory to practice.
  • be able to assess the effectiveness, equity and trade-offs of different sustainability goals and policies at global, regional and local levels and over time.

Students will engage with real-world practical examples to examine drivers, concepts, and contested ideas related to environmental problems in diverse global, national and local contexts. Providing students with a holistic and interdisciplinary understanding of the causes and consequences of these urgent environmental issues, these programmes will examine how environmental sustainability policy and management can effectively contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Through a substantial independent research project, students will develop in-depth knowledge in a particular specialist area of interest.

Programme details

Programme structure, modules and specification

The MSc Global Environment and Sustainability consists of: 

  • five core modules (30 credits each); and 
  • one Project module (30 credits)

To be awarded the PGDip, you must successfully complete four modules (30 credits each).

To be awarded the PGCert, you must successfully complete two modules (30 credits each).

All of the modules from the MSc Global Environment and Sustainability, excluding the Project module, are available to study on a stand-alone basis, subject to module availability.

View modules for MSc Global Environment and Sustainability.

View module release and running schedule.

Key dates

This programme has two intake dates per year: April and October.

April 2022 intake
Applications open 01 December 2021
Application deadline 07 March 2022
Registration deadline 21 March 2022
Programme starts 04 April 2022
October 2022 intake
Applications open 27 June 2022
Application deadline 12 September 2022
Registration deadline 03 October 2022
Programme starts 10 October 2022

How you study

The programme offers a variety of highly engaging learning materials and activities. Your learning experience will be enhanced with an accessible and attractive learning platform, opportunities for self-assessment so you can understand your own progress and enhanced online student support.

Online support

This postgraduate programme is delivered online and there is no requirement to come to the UK as part of your studies. Our flexible online programme allows you to work around your own schedule and leads to a globally-recognised qualification.

When you register, we will give you access to the Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources including:

  • The Student Guide provides information which is common to all students and gives useful information about your relationship with the University of London through to graduation.
  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which offers online learning support, access to the student café and discussion areas, and other study materials.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library. All registered students have free access to the University of London’s Online Library via  
  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.

Online academic support 

All students receive online module leader support while studying this programme. Module leaders introduce the modules, respond to queries, monitor discussions and provide guidance on assessments.

Study materials 

All essential resources, activities, videos, discussions and support are provided through the VLE. This allows you to fit your studies around your work commitments. There is no need to purchase additional textbooks.

Time commitment

The flexible approach to learning allows students to complete the MSc Global Environment and Sustainability in a minimum of two years (subject to module availability) to a maximum of five years. 

You can study at your own pace, adjusting the intensity of learning to suit your needs. Modules are offered over a 20-week session each academic year.

Student support

We are committed to delivering an exceptional student experience for all of our students, regardless of which of our programmes you are studying and whether you are studying independently or with a Recognised Teaching Centre.

You will have access to support through:

  • The Student Advice Centre – provides support for application and Student Portal queries.
  • TalkCampus – a peer support service that offers a safe and confidential way to talk about whatever is on your mind at any time of day or night.


The following modules are assessed by two assessments: one online multiple choice question test (25%) and an end of term coursework assessment / online examination (75%): 

  • Climate Change and Environmental Hazards 

The following modules are assessed by an end of term coursework assessment / online examination (100%): 

  • Biodiversity, Biosecurity and Conservation
  • Global Food Systems and Health
  • Waste and Pollution
  • Water and Energy Resources  

The Project module is assessed by one independent research project (100%). 

All coursework and project items are submitted through the VLE. You can sit exams at any of our exam centres worldwide.

Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?

Entry requirements for the MSc, PGDip and PGCert 

Entry route 1 – Direct Entry   

  • Applicants will need a bachelor’s degree which is considered at least comparable to a UK second-class honours degree or a postgraduate qualification from an institution acceptable to the University.
  • Directly related professional work experience and/or directly related professional qualifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Entry route 2 – Performance based admissions route  

  • If applicants do not meet the requirements for Direct Entry, they can apply for the MSc via the Performance Based Admissions (PBA) route.
  • To qualify for entrance via the PBA route, applicants will need a bachelor’s degree or Aegrotat (certificate) from an institution acceptable to the University.
  • Students on the PBA route may transfer to the MSc on successful completion of one module (30 credits).   

Full details of all entry routes are in the Programme Regulations.

If you do not meet the standard requirements, we will consider each application on its own merits. Our Admissions Panel will consider whether any alternative qualifications or work experience you have are suitable for entry to the programme.

Entrance requirements for stand-alone individual modules  (Available April 2022)

  • To qualify to register for a stand-alone individual module, applicants will need a bachelor’s degree or Aegrotat (certificate) from an institution acceptable to the University.

English language requirements

You  need a high standard of English to study this programme. You will meet our language requirements if you have achieved one of the following within the past three years:

  • IELTS: at least 6.5 overall with 6.0 in the written test
  • Pearson Test (Academic): at least 59 overall, with 59+ in reading and writing and 54+ in speaking and listening.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (grade C or above).
  • TOEFL iBT: at least 92 overall, with 22+ in reading and writing and 20+ in speaking and listening.
  • Duolingo: must achieve an overall score of at least 120.
  • If you do not meet the English language proficiency requirements but believe that you can demonstrate the requisite proficiency, the University may, at its discretion, consider your application.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly.

More about computer requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

If you have studied material as part of a previous qualification that is comparable in content, level and standard to our MSc Global Environment and Sustainability modules, you might be exempted from the equivalent module of our degree. This process is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Exemption. You will not need to study or be assessed in the module(s) to complete your award.

To be considered for RPL you should make a formal request within your application when applying online. Alternatively, this can be done through an online enquiry, once you have submitted your application.

If you are registered for the MSc or PGDip, you may apply for Recognition of Prior Learning mapped against modules to a total of 60 UK credits. Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning for the PGCert or Project will not be accepted. We will not recognise or accredit prior learning for a module later than 14 days after the module start date. You will be deemed to have started a module once you have been given access to the learning materials on the VLE.

More about RPL and the application process

Your qualifications will need to be assessed by specialist academics on a case by case basis, before we can approve recognition and accreditation of Prior Learning. This is called discretionary RPL and involves a non-refundable application fee.

You will need to be eligible to study the programme and will need to provide the following for your RPL application to be considered: a completed RPL request form, the supporting documentary evidence (normally a transcript and syllabus of your previous studies) and the fee payable.

Note: All discretionary RPL requests must be submitted by the dates specified for the April or October intake in the year that you apply. Once submitted, we must receive all required supporting evidence by the deadline stated.

October 2022 intake
Submit RPL request by 14 September 2022
Submit supporting evidence by 16 September 2022

Further information on rules regarding RPL is covered in the Recognition of Prior Learning section of the appropriate Programme Regulations and Section 3 of the General Regulations.

RPL and Performance based admission 

If you wish to enter the programme via the Performance Based Admissions (PBA) route, you may apply for recognition of prior learning at the point of application. Any approved RPL will be formally applied to your record once you have been successfully admitted onto the full MSc programme. 

To enter the MSc via the Performance Based Admission (PBA) route, you must first register for and pass any one module from the MSc programme structure, excluding the Project module.  

You may not register for a module which we have recognised and accredited as prior learning unless you withdraw your request for recognition of prior learning. 

If you do not successfully pass one module from the MSc programme structure (excluding the Project module) and therefore are not admitted onto the full MSc programme, any application fees paid for discretionary RPL are non-refundable. 


The programme fees below refer to the October 2022 and April 2023 sessions only and are effective from 1 June 2022.

The fees depend on whether you live in a developing (Band A) or developed (Band B) nation. See the list of Band A and B countries [PDF]

    MSc Global Environment and Sustainability full programme fee* 2022-23
    Band A countries 9000
    Band B countries 12000
    MSc Global Environment and Sustainability indicative totals** 2022-23
    Band A countries 9300
    Band B countries 12400
    Pay per module (MSc, PGDip, PGCert, Individual Modules) 2022-23
    Band A countries:
    30 credit module fee 1500
    Band B countries:
    30 credit module fee 2000
    Other fees 2022-23
    Assessment resit fee 375
    Application fee for recognition of prior learning (per 30 credit module) non-refundable 119

    Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

    More about programme fees.

    *The full MSc programme fee is payable when you first register on the programme and includes access to study materials and your first entry into the assessments. It does not include resit fees, the module fee when repeating a module, applications for Recognition of Prior Learning and fees payable to a University of London Recognised Teaching Centres, if applicable. By paying in full at the beginning of your programme, you avoid any annual fee increases to module fees. With pay per module, you pay for each module as you register for it.'

    **The indicative totals given represent the amount you would expect to pay if you commence study in October 2022 and then complete the MSc degree in the minimum period of time (as per when modules become available), without resits, and paying per module with a year-on-year increase of 5%. These totals do not reflect the cost of any additional tuition support you may choose to take, resit fees or the fee when repeating a module, or applications for Recognition of Prior Learning.

    Please note: student fees shown on our website are net of any local VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other sales tax payable by the student in their country of residence. Where the University is required to add VAT, GST or any other sales tax at the local statutory rate, this will be added to the fees shown during the payment process. For students resident in the UK, our fees are exempt from VAT.

    Further information on Sales Tax.

    How to pay your fees.

    Your payment provider may apply additional transaction fees (if in doubt, please check with them before making a payment).

    Further information about fee payment options can be found in the “How to pay your fees” link above.

    Some fees are non-refundable. Please see the refund and compensation policy for further details.

    Career opportunities

    The programme provides career development opportunities for a wide range of individuals, including those with practical experience in environmental management and sustainability who are seeking to further develop their theoretical understandings in these topics, as well as those with a more limited knowledge of the subject who wish to develop their understanding and pursue a career in environmental sustainability. 

    Possible professions include sustainability manager, nature conservation officer, climate policy specialist, or environmental consultant. This degree can also be useful in waste, energy and/or water management and planning roles.

    In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register.

    Academic leadership

    Academic direction for the programme is from Birkbeck, University of London, which was founded in 1823 and joined the University of London in 1920.

    Over 90% of Birkbeck academics are research-active across of range of disciplines and regularly contribute to public debate and publish in leading academic journals. Academics from Birkbeck’s Geography Department actively participate in research and regularly contribute to public debate and publish in leading academic journals.

    Programme Director

    Dr Izabela Delabre undertakes research examining the intersection of forest and biodiversity loss, sustainable agriculture and supply chains, with a focus on global-local governance interactions. Other areas of expertise cover the politics of sustainability transformations and the use of technologies and data in environmental management.

    Izabela has an MSc in Environmental Management and BSc in Environmental Sciences and a PhD in Human Geography. She has also worked in sustainable business consultancy. She has published articles in a number of academic journals, including Science Advances, Global Sustainability, Sustainability Science, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space and Society & Natural Resources.

    Funding your study

    Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

    More on funding your study.

    Apply to Global Environment and Sustainability