MA International Education (Curriculum and Pedagogy)

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Sustainability Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC70661
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit responds to the imperative, across formal, informal and professional educational contexts, to introduce and integrate a focus on sustainability in meaningful ways into learning contexts and activities.

The unit consists of three components:

An exploration of themes and concepts central to understandings of sustainability and sustainability education. This will include introductions to: 1) diverse understandings of sustainability and rationales for sustainability education 2) values, ethics and competencies associated with sustainability learning 3) Policy and practice in formal and informal education related to sustainability

Authentic case studies and enquiry based activities to consolidate and contextualize themes outlined in the first weeks of the unit;

Participant-led 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 course unit provides an introduction to Sustainability education

It aims to:

  • develop understandings of themes and concepts central to sustainability.
  • develop understandings of themes, concepts and how they underpin models related to sustainable/sustainability education.
  • explore the rationale for sustainability education in the light of socio-environmental emergencies.
  • begin to develop competencies in critically reflecting on current educational policies, learning communities, and teaching and learning approaches and practices in view of the above.
  • begin to develop skills in effective sustainability-related teaching and learning projects, activities and materials in diverse learning contexts.
  • ecourage participants to become creative, critically reflective, collaborative and holistic educators and communicators

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit is conducted in dual-mode, including on-campus and remote participants engaging together through interactive technologies and blended mode with interrelated online materials and face-to-face work. This local-global’ way of working aims to encourage the dispositions, understandings, and activity relevant to many of the aims and ILOs of the programme, and will apply from the beginning of this course unit

The unit employs a mix of seminars and talks, tutorials and small group work, along with enquiry-based research and small group work.

Participants engage with a range of digital tools to facilitate knowledge building and discussion. Their research is facilitated by a resource bank which provides information on sustainability education projects across the World.

In this course unit, 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., via their assignments to relevant (online) communities).

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge of concepts and models associated with ‘sustainability’ and as related to key literature and thinkers.
  • Identify their own values and their import for sustainability education
  • Demonstrate knowledge of current policies and practices in realizing sustainability education in different learning environments.
  • Show understanding of the value of and challenges associated with different learning and teaching approaches to sustainability.
  • Show understanding of the challenges and complexities associated with integrating sustainability into existing models of education.


Intellectual skills

  • Critique different models of sustainability
  • 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 activities, approaches and policy relating to educating for sustainability in different educational contexts.
  • Critically reflect on apprpriate modes of assessment of sustainability education.
  • Plan and engage beyond disciplinary boundaries and in systemic and holistic ways.
  • Analyse and craft rich pictures of sustainable future.


Practical skills

  • Identify and clearly articulate the rationales for developing/integrating sustainability into policy and practice in different learning contexts.
  • Work both collaboratively with others and autonomously using an appropriate range of research and digital skills.
  • Develop learning approaches and activities consonant with sustainable education and appropriate to various learning contexts.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Practice and value ways of living and relating in the world which are sustainable.
  • Enhanced skills in academic literacies including critical reflection and communication of understandings.
  • Enhanced skills in articulating ideas both to academic audiences and to audiences beyond the academic field.
  • Enhanced skills in team work and collaborative practice.
  • An appreciation of the value of reflection in professional practice.
  • Autonomy and enhanced meta-cognitive strategies with regard to study skills.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Portfolio 40%
Oral assessment/presentation 60%

Feedback methods

Formative feedback is offered for both summative assignments (see below).

  • The blog portfolio activity is supported through tutor-run tutorials and scaffolded digital interactions with peers.
  • The group presentation is supported through poster-presentations in weeks 11 and 12 of the course and prior to the submission date. 

Summative feedback is offered via Blackboard.

Recommended reading


Sustainability Education

Corcoran, P.B., Weakland, J.P., & Wals, A.E. (Eds.) (2017). Envisioning Futures for Environmental and Sustainability Education. Wageningen, the Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Maathai, W. (2010) Replenishing the earth: Spiritual values for healing ourselves and the world. New Yok: Double day

Merrill, M.Y., Burkhardt-Holm, P., Chang, C. H., Islam, M. S., and Chang, Y. (Eds.) (2017). Education and Sustainability: Paradigms, Policies and Practices in Asia. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Murray, P. (2011). The Sustainable Self: A Personal Approach to Sustainability Education. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Nolet, V. (2015). Educating for sustainability: Principles and Practices for Teachers. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Odell, V, Molthan-Hill, P., Martin, S., & Sterling, S. (2020). Transformative education to address all sustainable development goals. In  W. Leal Filho, A. Azzul, L. Brandli, P. Özuyar and T. Wall (Eds.) Quality Education. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (pp. pp.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Practical classes & workshops 50
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Susan Brown Unit coordinator

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