MA Education for a Sustainable Environment / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Dual teaching at The University of Manchester

The MA Education for a Sustainable Environment provides you with knowledge, insights and competencies to become effective and creative practitioners, policy makers, researchers and communicators in the field of sustainability education. 

Situated in the School of Environment, Education and Development, the course offers an environment for interdisciplinary exploration of the interconnected ecological, economic, political, historical and social dimensions of local and global sustainability challenges. It will enhance your critical awareness and knowledge of the relationship between education and a sustainable environment to support learning and research in communities, ethically and responsibly. 

This MA has been designed for educational practitioners and policy makers, addressing the need to integrate sustainability education as a learning outcome in formal, informal and professional education settings. You will become part of a research-oriented international community, working with expert tutors, practitioners, and 'movement makers' equipping you with the skills to realise this integration in practice.

Special features

This MA programme employs a creative blended pedagogy to encourage sustainability and flexibility. In this unique MA, on-campus and distance students attend classes together and at the same time using video conferencing tools. For on-campus students this is not only a Manchester-based programme, with physical classes to attend, but also an opportunity to interact directly and in real-time with students located in other parts of the world. Distance students attend the same scheduled classes, using online tools, and this provides opportunities to interact with Manchester-based students and teaching staff directly and in real-time. All while benefitting from our long-standing heritage - Education has been a discipline of study at Manchester since 1890.

Teaching and learning

The course is taught by world-leading researchers who focus on the realities of professional practice through social sciences, including but not limited to:

  • Susan Brown (co-Programme Director): Sustainability and Ecological Literacies; Digital Sustainability, Literacies and Ethics;
  • Dr Juup Stelma (co-Programme Director): Ecological and Systems Theory; Language Education; Professional Development;
  • Dr Sandra Ajaps : Environmental Education; Civic Engagement; Indigenous Knowledge Systems;
  • Prof Julian Williams : Sociocultural Activity Theory; Community Activity; Mathematics Education;
  • Dr Ivy Taslima:  Sustainability education in context; Indigenous research methods; Educational technology in developing contexts;
  • Dr Marcellus Mbah: Climate change adaptation education, community engagement, service learning and indigeneity.

The MA programme is taught using a blended model that allows each student to decide whether they will study online or onsite. For the core units, the blended model includes:

  • All substantive content is provided in the form of self and group-study electronic accessible materials;
  • Students, wherever they are located, will 'attend' the same classes. Digital technologies, such as live video conferencing, will be used to facilitate these blended classes. Since online students are expected to engage synchronously (in real time) with the onsite students, they need to be available (online) at scheduled times;
  • Staff-student 'contact time' which will consist of 'F2F' sessions made up of a combination of lectures and reflective activities designed to extend knowledge and understanding.

Elective units also have all substantive content available in electronically accessible materials, and students gain access to sessions through video-conferencing technology. The opportunities to interact with onsite students and staff will be dependent on the particular pedagogy employed by the elective unit.

Course units are delivered through lectures, tutorials, group work, case-based approaches, and enquiry-based learning. Comprehensive training is provided in the use of electronic resources.

We encourage both individual and co-operative learning and research and hope to foster an ethos of lifelong learning.

We aim to build on the expertise of our students, many of whom are experienced education professionals, and who bring with them a wealth of knowledge and practical experience from a range of different countries.

Coursework and assessment

Assessments will be real-world oriented, will emphasise real-world impact and communication of results. Assessment of the core course units will encourage group-based work, including the dissertation stage. Students will have the opportunity to choose from options for each assessment as they build a portfolio that can help them in their future work. 

The form of assessment varies by course unit and may include written assignments (reports and/or critical reviews), portfolios, presentations and practice-oriented activity. The MA values formative feedback from tutors, peer-peer feedback, and feedback from professionals in the field.

The dissertation element of the MA is worth 60 credits and may be completed as a traditional 60 credit dissertation, and this may have an empirical, conceptual, evaluation, or professional focus. Alternatively, participants may satisfy the dissertation requirement through the completion of two linked parts, each one addressing one of the four listed foci. Indicative dissertations, or dissertation parts, include: 

  • a research project and report (building on the earlier completed 'Planning and Piloting Research in Sustainability' course unit) (Empirical);
  • theorising an aspect of sustainability education in a particular context, or more broadly (Conceptual);
  • an evaluation of the current state of sustainability education practice, policy and/or research in a particular setting (Evaluation);
  • a context-specific and/or client-based sustainability education project (Professional).

Course unit details

MA Education for a Sustainable Environment students are required to take the following four core units:

  • An Introduction to Sustainability Education
  • Policy and Community in Sustainability Education
  • Approaches to Sustainability Education
  • Planning and Piloting Research in Sustainability Education

Students will further take three elective units in other areas of Education, and one elective unit from other disciplines within the School of Environment, Education and Development (Geography and Planning) or the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL).

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Introduction to Sustainability Education EDUC70661 15 Mandatory
Community and Policy in Sustainability Education EDUC71321 15 Mandatory
Approaches to Sustainability Education EDUC71342 15 Mandatory
Planning and Piloting Research Sustainability Education EDUC71352 15 Mandatory
Dissertation: Education for a Sustainable Environment EDUC79100 60 Mandatory
Blended Learning in a Digital Age EDUC70032 15 Optional
Language Education as Intercultural Practice EDUC70041 15 Optional
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in International Education EDUC70322 15 Optional
Educational Leadership and Diversity EDUC70372 15 Optional
Education Policy EDUC70531 15 Optional
Higher Education in International Contexts EDUC70552 15 Optional
Intercultural Communication in Education EDUC70621 15 Optional
Internationalising the Curriculum EDUC70732 15 Optional
School Improvement EDUC70882 15 Optional
International Development and Education EDUC70891 15 Optional
Intercultural Engagement at Work and in Communities EDUC71232 15 Optional
AI Perspectives on Learning EDUC71242 15 Optional
Issues in Environmental Policy GEOG70912 15 Optional
Key Debates in Environmental Governance GEOG70921 15 Optional
Political Ecologies GEOG70952 15 Optional
Planning for Environmental Change PLAN60771 15 Optional
Creating a Sustainable World: Interdisciplinary Applications of the Sustainable Development Goals UCIL60312 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 22 course units


The course is taught by the Manchester Institute of Education (MIE) which has its own Student Hub. Here you'll find all your teaching staff and support staff as well as a place to relax with fellow students.

MIE is based in the University's Ellen Wilkinson building, which is centrally located on the University's Oxford Road campus, close to the Main Library, Alan Gilbert Learning Commons and the Students' Union.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: