MA Social Change, Environment and Sustainability / Course details
Year of entry: 2024
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The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report underscores that profound social change is urgently needed to mitigate climate change and meet other sustainability goals. Understanding processes of social, cultural, socio-economic, and socio-technical change and their dynamic relations to the global environmental and climate crisis is of profound importance and urgency.
The MA in Social Change, Environment and Sustainability responds to these needs by creating a world-leading postgraduate programme to develop a generation of graduates and researchers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to contribute to and lead in these transformational processes.
On this programme, you will explore the contribution of sociological understandings of social change to addressing the global environmental crisis, and the challenges of large-scale transformations towards sustainable societies. You will develop a theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded understanding of processes of social change, and you will cover substantive knowledge of the relevant topics, issues and controversies from a social scientific perspective, such as:
- Energy use
- Climate change
- The global food system
- Green growth versus ‘de-growth’
You will also delve into cutting edge theoretical approaches to socio-economic, socio-technical and cultural change, and benefit from in-depth training in research methods and design.
Upon graduation, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to tackle complex problems rooted in the dynamic relationships between our socio-economic and socio-technical systems and the natural environment.
The University of Manchester is one of the UK’s leading universities for Sociology, and one of the world’s top universities for sustainability and global impact. Our Sociology department is ranked 5th in the UK (THE 2023), with its research achieving among the country’s top 3 universities for power and impact (REF 2021). The University is also ranked top in the UK and Europe (and 2nd world-wide) for global impact against the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (THE Impact Rankings 2023).
- Explore processes of social, cultural, socio-economic, and socio-technical change and their dynamic relations to the global environmental and climate crisis.
- Examine key debates, controversies and policy areas around societal transitions towards sustainability.
- Explore key theories of social change and how they can be used to understand the global environmental and climate crisis.
- Critically engage with potential solutions to complex socio-environmental problems.
- Support you to develop the skills to contribute to research, policies, initiatives and projects addressing social change for sustainability at a variety of scales and in a range of organisations.
- Support you to develop skills and knowledge in critical enquiry, research, analysis and evaluation, amongst other academic and employability skills such as digital literacy, teamwork, information handling, presenting and writing, in preparation for employment in a variety of sectors or PhD research.
- Explain processes of, and key theoretical perspectives on, social change.
- Identify and describe the dynamic relations between environment and society.
- Analyse substantive environmental problems, such as biodiversity loss and micro-plastic pollution, from a social scientific perspective and examine and discuss key issues of environmental justice.
- Evaluate policies and initiatives addressing societal transitions towards sustainability.
- Critically assess research, and design, develop and deliver your own research, on societal transitions towards sustainability.
Lead the way
In 2023, we ranked top in the UK and Europe, and 2nd best university in the world for our global social and environmental impact. We are the only university in the world to feature in the top ten of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for five years running, with an unrivalled commitment to, and performance against, the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Gain research expertise
Research design, strategy and management are key aspects of this programme and form part of your core modules. This at a university ranked 3rd in the UK for Sociology research power and impact, giving you the research skills boost you need for progress to a PhD or a career involving research, analysis, policy, communication, etc.
Fill the skills gap
There is a significant under-provision of social science postgraduates with the specific subject expertise of social change for sustainability. This skills gap is despite the strong emphasis in government, private and third sector organisations on behavioural, organisational, and social change. This programme is one of the few in the country that addresses this skills gap, and the only one in the UK which specifically blends Sociology with environment, sustainability and social change.
Teaching and learning
The MA will require a total of 180 credits. This is split into modules, with each module comprising between 15 and 60 credits.
We combine traditional lecture-based teaching with tutorials, seminars and workshop sessions. Students will be expected to work both individually and on group projects.
Updated timetable information will be available from mid-August 2024 and you will have the opportunity to discuss your unit choices during induction week with your Course Director.
Part-time students complete the full-time course over two years. There are no evening or weekend course units available on the part-time course.
Coursework and assessment
Course unit details
Subject to approval, core units may include:
- Sociology of Environment and Sustainability (15 credits)
- Understanding Social Change for Environment and Sustainability (15 credits)
- Research Design (15 credits)
- Research Strategy and Project Management (15 credits)
Subject to approval, optional units may include:
- Science, Sustainability and Society (15 credits)
- Environmental Activism and Advocacy (15 credits)
- Social Theory Beyond the Human (15 credits)
- Sociology of Consumption (15 credits)
- Postcolonial Theory and Methods in the Social Sciences (15 credits)
- Urban Sociology (15 credits)
- Creating a Sustainable World: Interdisciplinary Applications of the Sustainable Development Goal (15 credits)
- Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits)
- Critical Environmental Politics (15 credits)
- The Politics of Global Climate Change (15 credits)
- Anthropology of Vision, Senses and Memory (15 credits)
- Understanding Big Data for Social Research (15 credits)
Scholarships and bursaries
- Home students may be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the government to cover a significant proportion of their tuition fees.
- International students may be eligible for a number of international scholarships, such as the Manchester Humanities International Excellence Scholarship , the Global Futures Scholarship , or the GREAT Scholarship .
- Both home and international students who have studied at Manchester for their undergraduate degree and achieved a First may be eligible for the Manchester Alumni Scholarship Scheme of a reduction of £3,000 in tuition fees.