MA Digital Technologies, Communication and Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Educating for Sustainability

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC71212
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
Offered by Education
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


In response to increasing socio-environmental challenges, the interdisciplinary study of sustainability is of pivotal importance. This course unit responds to the increasing need across formal, informal and professional educational contexts to develop understandings of ‘sustainability’ and to integrate it in appropriate ways into learning environments and activities. 

The unit consists of three components:

i) An exploration of themes, concepts and learning & teaching approaches central to educating for sustainability. These will include: systems/holistic thinking; mindfulness; intergenerational justice and learning; global citizenship; interdisciplinary learning; place-based learning and ‘transformative’ learning.

ii) Authentic case studies (involving invited speakers) and enquiry-based learning activities. These will consolidate and contextualize themes outlined in the first weeks of the unit;

iii) Student-centred (group) projects where students write proposals for and initially develop means of integrating sustainability into informal, formal or professional educational contexts. Students can either identify contexts themselves or select from a range of previously identified options. Either option will involve related research and a presentation. The presentation will occasion formative informal peer and tutor feedback.

The unit adopts a ‘blended learning’ approach with interrelating activities in the face-to-face and online environment. Students are expected to participate both in the online and face-to-face activities and to engage in the enquiry-based learning that informs the course unit.



The unit aims to:


a) explore the rationale(s)  for educating for sustainability in the light of 21st century challenges and complexities; 

b) develop understandings of themes and concepts central to educating for sustainability; 

c) foster skills in critically evaluating educational policies, teaching and learning approaches and materials design in the light of these understandings; 

d) foster skills in developing effective sustainability related teaching and learning approaches and materials design for diverse learning contexts.


Learning outcomes


On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:


  • understand different notions of ‘sustainability’ in relation to key literature and thinkers;


  • understand  the rationale(s) for integrating sustainability into varied educational/training contexts;


  • demonstrate knowledge of key case studies relating to policy and implementation of sustainability in different learning environments;


  • understand the value of and challenges associated with different learning and teaching approaches to sustainability;


  • understand the challenges and complexities associated with integrating sustainability into existing models of education;


  • critically reflect on the rationale(s) for the integration of sustainability into education;


  • critically evaluate information sources (e.g. websites) and academic literature on sustainability education in the light of themes and experiences on the unit;


  • critically evaluate educational activity, approaches and policy relating to educating for sustainability in different educational contexts;


  • think beyond disciplinary boundaries and in holistic ways.


  • identify and clearly articulate the rationales for developing/integrating sustainability into policy and practice in different contexts;


  • work collaboratively and autonomously with others using an appropriate range of research and digital skills;



  • develop specific approaches and related (web based)  learning activities and materials which integrate sustainability into educational contexts in effective and appropriate ways;




Teaching and learning methods

The unit employs a mix of seminars, tutorials, case studies, online activities, enquiry-based group work and presentations with informal peer and tutor feedback. The online activities will particularly involve students working in groups (e.g. in a wiki area) as they research and write their proposals. Students will be encouraged to engage in critical analysis of their own group work and to engage, as critical friends, in the work of other groups.

Sustainability education is a relatively new focus in the educational field. All students will be viewed as important contributors and collaborators in building understandings of how to appropriately educate for sustainability. In that spirit, students will be encouraged to contribute their thinking (e.g. their assignment proposals) to relevant (online) communities.

 Learning Hours:





Staff/student contact


24 (Seminars, workshops & presentations)




Private study



Directed reading



Other activities 

eg Practical/laboratory work


40 Enquiry based group work 

Total hours




Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%
Portfolio 50%

Feedback methods

Written Feedback after submission

Recommended reading

 Preliminary Reading:

Blewitt, J. (2010). The Ecology of Learning: Sustainability, Lifelong Learning and Everyday Life. New York,Taylor & Francis.

Capra, F. (2014). The systems view of life. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Nolet, V. (2016). Educating for Sustainability: Principles and practices for teachers. London, Routledge.

Orr, D. (2004). Earth in mind: On education, environment, and the human prospect . Washington DC, Island Press.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Susan Brown Unit coordinator

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