MA History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Creating a Sustainable World: Interdisciplinary Applications of the Sustainable Development Goals

Course unit fact file
Unit code UCIL60312
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” - Robert Swan, Author

“We have 12 years to save the planet” - United Nations

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)are a call from the United Nations for all countries to tackle, by 2030, the global challenges faced by humanity. The SDGs cover a wide range of challenges, with 17 goals backed up by 169 indicators. The goals include poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The SDGs are designed for everyone to be able to play their part, including The University of Manchester and you, our students.

This online unit will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to address the SDGs. It presents the concept of sustainable development and explains the basis of partnership working that underpins the SDG approach. Each SDG is explored through its own module, drawing on cutting-edge research carried out by world-leading experts across the University of Manchester, together with input from external experts and international policy-makers and practitioners.


If we are to successfully achieve the SDGs by 2030, then we need to be able to work across traditional disciplines and in more collaborative ways. This unit offers a unique opportunity to engage with multiple real-world challenges and develop applied knowledge and skill-sets that are highly prized by employers from the public, private and third sectors.

The unit is available for 15 credits. It is delivered online via Blackboard. We will have online seminars via discussion boards and there will be live (optional and recorded) additional lectures. Our learning is highly interactive and adopts a blend of approaches including video inputs, discussion space and case studies. Students will have a choice of assessment formats. We use the SDGs as pedagogy, so work in partnership respecting diverse knowledges and leaving nobody behind. Our collaborative interdisciplinary lens brings new light to old problems of sustainable development whilst enriching your learning. Throughout the course we will invite you to construct the learning going forward which will effect change for sustainable development through your expertise.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit you will be able to:

• Describe the key interlinked, interdisciplinary concepts and theories that underpin sustainable development, as presented by the SDGs

• Analyse diverse ways in which sustainable development plays out across different
spaces and scales, including policy spheres, everyday lives, and infrastructures

• Identify and defend your own social positioning in the world and feel empowered to make positive change

• Apply your knowledge to a specific problem, devise an action plan and communicate this in a well-argued report


You will take the two core modules. The first is about Sustainability and Goal 17 -

Partnerships to achieve the goals. The second is about the Sustainable Development

Goals. You then choose eight of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal modules shown
below. Support and advice will be given about which goals to choose based upon your
studies and prior knowledge. To find out more about each of the 17 Goals go to:

Core Modules

Core Module 1: Sustainability and GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goals Core Module 2: Sustainable Development Goals

SDG Modules

Teaching and learning methods

The unit is delivered entirely online via Blackboard. All students will study 2 core modules and will then choose their learning pathway, studying 8 SDG modules.

Each module is led by a leading researcher from across The University of Manchester and features leading contributors from around the world.

The unit is highly interactive and uses case studies, imagery and video to deliver the learning material.

Online seminars facilitate interdisciplinary discussions about your learning. There will be optional (live but recorded) additional lectures.

Assessment methods

Outline how SDGs could be incorporated into your discipline using a choice of format,

policy paper, blog, report etc. 1000-1500 words (40%)

Sustainable Development Applied Research Project set by external organisation (individual task including project proposal of 500 words) 2000 to 2500 words (60% including 10% for the proposal) Students' will apply their understanding of the SDGs to their chosen applied research project which are set by external organisations. We share the completed research with the organisation so that
they can effect change for sustainable development. In four years of trailing this
assessment, student research has been used to change policy, it has been presented at the Rockefeller Centre in New York and two students have been employed by the

organisations that they did their research for.

Feedback methods

2 Core Modules and a choice of 8 from 16 Goal Modules. Modules will be released at intervals.

Students have the opportunity to engage in asynchronous seminar discussions drawing upon material they have studied.

Further support is offered via weekly optional drop in sessions with GTAs

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 100
Lectures 100
Independent study hours
Independent study 200

Additional notes

UCIL units are designed to be accessible to students from all disciplines. Students who completed the UG version of this unit will not be able to take it at PGT level.

UCIL units are credit-bearing and it is not possible to audit UCIL units or take them for additional/extra credits. You must enrol following the standard procedure for your School when adding units outside of your home School.

If you are not sure if you are able to enrol on UCIL units you should contact your School Postgraduate office. You may wish to contact your programme director if your programme does not currently allow you to take a UCIL unit.

You can also contact the UCIL office if you have any questions.

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