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MEng Mechatronic Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Creating a Sustainable World: 21st Century Challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals

Course unit fact file
Unit code UCIL20311
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
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 as 10 or 20 credits.


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

In addition, for 20 credits:

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


10 Credits

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 can then choose six of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal modules shown below. Support and advice will be given about which goals to choose based upon your degree.

Core Modules

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

Core Module 2: Sustainable Development Goals

Teaching and learning methods

The unit is delivered entirely online via Blackboard (with one face-to-face session). It 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. All students will study 2 core modules and will then choose their learning pathway, studying either 6 modules (10 credit) or 16 modules (20 credit unit). Students will engage in weekly discussions drawing upon material they have studied that week.

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


Assessment methods

  1. Ongoing module assessment (20%)
  2. Sustainability analysis exercise . 250 word(20%)
  3. Inform the world about a sustainable development issue in choice of format. 1500 words (60%)

Feedback methods

Via Blackboard

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
eAssessment 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 92

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jennifer O'Brien Unit coordinator

Additional notes

The unit is led by Dr Jennifer O¿Brien (School of Environment, Education and Development) and features over 50 expert contributors including Professor David Hulme (Global Development Institute), Khalid Malik (The United Nations), Professor Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research), Professor Amanda Bamford (Division of Evolution & Genomic Sciences), Dr Susie Miles (Manchester Institute of Education) and Professor James Evans (Manchester Urban Institute)

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