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Professional Development

Tel: +44 (0)117 32 81043, Option 1 for PD
followed by option: 1 for CHSS, 2 for CBAL or 3 for CATE

You can view, apply for and review your professional development courses here.

Sustainable Development: Principles and Practice

Course Details

Course/Module Code



23-24 Assessed 15 Credits



23-24 Non-Assessed



23-24 Assessed 15 Credits International



23-24 Non-Assessed International



Course Dates

Select course date below to see all attendance days and to apply.
If no course dates are shown below this could be due to high demand or no availability. If your course is being funded by your employer and they have bought places in advance you will need to contact them to be given the links to apply.




Participants who wish to receive credit for their learning can undertake the assessed project at the end of the course. On successful completion, the module credits may then be used towards the masters qualification in Sustainable Development in Practice or UWE's range of postgraduate qualifications in Integrated Professional Development.

To achieve accreditation for this module, you will be required to carry out a project in which you apply key sustainability concepts and tools to a real world challenge such as developing a strategy for making a product or service sustainable.

Formative assessment will be carried out throughout the module by setting regular tasks for students that will assess their grasp of the material covered. Tasks will be reviewed as part of the sessions.



Careers/further study

This course (module) is part of the MSc Sustainable Development in Practice. Modules may be taken separately or combined to build towards a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc Award if desired.


You will explore the fundamental nature, causes and consequences of sustainable and unsustainable development. Practical exercises and projects will give you first hand experience of putting key concepts, frameworks and tools for implementing sustainable development into practice.

What do I get out of it?

You will learn to develop:

  • A critical understanding of the nature, causes and consequences of sustainable and unsustainable development and the ability to communicate effectively about these issues.
  • The ability to explain and critique some of the key definitions and frameworks that are used to explain and implement the concept of sustainable development, and demonstrate an ability to utilise them in response to real-world challenges.
  • The ability to explain and critique theories that attempt to explain the relationship between human beings and the natural environment and to demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship between environmental sustainability and meeting fundamental human needs.
  • The ability to critique and apply commonly used methodologies and tools, for integrating sustainability in a range of contexts, for example, places, policy, products and service delivery.

What does it cover?

This course is structured around three themes:

Sustainable development - key concepts, frameworks and tools: This topic introduces some of the defining concepts of sustainable development including systems thinking, environmental limits and interconnectedness of human health and well-being and environmental sustainability. Through interactive lectures and workshop sessions students will apply and critique some of the most commonly used sustainability frameworks and strategies including The Natural Step, Five Capitals, One Planet Living, Permaculture Design and Cradle to Cradle. 

Sustainable design: Taught through examples and case studies, this topic looks at the role of design thinking and design tools for sustainability. Students will examine the key elements of strategic sustainable design and have the chance to try out key tools such as lifecycle analysis and sustainability impact analysis to develop a concept for a redesigned sustainable product or service.

Alternative socio-economic systems: This topic examines the shortcomings of the existing economic system and looks at potential alternative models. Students will consider how the economic system affects social and eco-systems, and consider whether sustainability is best pursued through the reform of capitalism  or the establishment of different systems altogether.

Each of these themes is taught by a team of expert practitioners in the field, thereby ensuring students benefit from both theoretical and practice-based insights.

Course Director

Dr Georgina Gough


For specific questions in relation to the course, i.e. content, suitability, assessments, etc. please contact the Programme Leader, Dr Georgina Gough (Georgina.Gough@uwe.ac.uk). For queries regarding administration aspects of registration, i.e. dates, fees, etc. please contact us using the online enquiry form link or telephone number below.

Entry Requirements

Participants are expected to have a first degree at 2.2 level or above (or equivalent), or alternatively have industrial experience.

If you are a non-UK student you will need to show your valid passport on entry to the UK. Please check your eligibility to visit and study in the UK here. If you are a non-Irish EU national currently resident in Ireland please contact us for further advice.

If English is not your country's first language, you will be required to provide evidence to show you meet the UK Border Agency and the University's minimum English Language requirements.

We strongly recommend that you speak to the course tutor prior to the course if you are unsure about your suitability to complete the assessment.


The Department of Geography and Environmental Management offers a portfolio of short courses that focus on the urgent challenges faced by organisations, communities and government in effecting sustainable change in individual behaviour, business practice and wider society.

The courses are suitable for professionals in existing sustainability roles who need to update their knowledge and skills, as well as career changers and recent graduates who are looking to build and differentiate their CV in the highly competitive sustainability sector.

This course goes to the heart of what it means for anything to be considered sustainable, whether we are talking about a product, a service, an organisation, or even a whole society. The aim is to give you a grounding in robust definitions and concepts of sustainable development and challenges you to engage with some of the most well known approaches to, or frameworks for, developing sustainable strategies. The knowledge and tools that you engage with through this course will give you a firm foundation from which to embed sustainability in an informed and structured way in any context in which you might find yourself.

Key Facts

This course can count towards a postgraduate qualification in Sustainable Development in Practice

Learning and Teaching

The courses are taught through a mixture of face-to-face and independent learning, comprising weekly lectures, workshops and group discussion.

The pattern of contact sessions (five continuous Thursdays, all day) is highly accessible for those who wish to study part-time.

This is a highly participative course. Delivery methods are primarily experiential and participant centred, engaging you in practical exercises, personal study, and critical reflection upon the relationship between theory and practice.

Study facilities

UWE Bristol is superbly equipped with libraries and computer labs, and an excellent campus environment.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.

Get a feel for the Geography and Environmental Management facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.


+44 (0)117 32 81043 (option 1, then option 3)

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