BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Development


Program Description

What is special about this course?

This BSc (Hons) Sustainable Development is the ideal course for you if you are interested in helping communities to develop in a way that is sustainable and highlights the importance of the relationship between the economic, social, political and environmental spheres.

The emphasis globally on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and more locally on community empowerment, resilience and community land ownership mean that graduates of this course are ideally situated to understand and respond to many of the key challenges in today's world.

The course takes an inter-disciplinary and forward-thinking approach, which combines the theoretical and the practical. It has a great success rate for graduate employment.  Graduates have gone on to careers in community economic development and managing rural development initiatives as well as working with key agencies.

You will have the opportunity to engage online with other students from around the world, and if you wish, to meet your fellow students, staff and practitioners face-to-face at a residential study weekend, which provide real added value to your overall study experience.

Special features

  • This is an entirely online internationally validated course that you can study from anywhere in the world.
  • The course offers the option of a dedicated rural pathway, leading to a BSc Sustainable Rural Development, which focuses particularly on working with rural communities
  • High employability of graduates
  • An optional residential weekend each year, usually in the Highlands and Islands, where you will have to opportunity to meet practitioners and other students
  • You can study full time or part-time to suit your personal circumstances
  • Individual modules and groups of modules have been developed specifically for continuing professional development (CPD)

(You may also be interested in our BSc (Hons) Geography course)

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish highers at grade C or above OR
  • 2 A levels at grade C or above
  • Applicants with other qualifications or experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Please note:

  • This course is not open to international students wishing to come to the UK to study who require a Tier 4 visa.


Year 1 - CertHE
Core modules may include:

  • Introduction to sustainable development
  • Collecting and analysing data
  • Introduction to global environmental issues
  • Economics and the state

Optional modules:

  • Climate, land and people
  • Introduction to social policy
  • The environment of mountain regions

Year 2 - DipHE
Core modules may include :

  • Economic development policy and theory
  • Empowering communities
  • Community-based economic development

Optional modules:

  • Environmental conservation
  • Residential field study
  • Urban-rural divide
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Community energy 
  • Introduction to GIS

Year 3 - BSc
Core modules may include :

  • Globalisation and sustainable development
  • Sustainable tourism and the environment (core for sustainable development)
  • Working with communities (core for rural pathway)
  • Literature review
  • Research skills and project

Optional modules:

  • Working with communities (optional for sustainable development)
  • Sustainable tourism and the environment (optional for the rural pathway)
  • Sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry in the EU
  • Climate change

Year 4 - BSc (Hons)
Core modules may include :

  • Social enterprise and small business management (core for rural pathway, otherwise optional)
  • The Consumerist Society (core for sustainable development)
  • Planning beyond growth for community projects (core for rural pathway)

Optional modules:

  • Engaging with external agencies
  • Geo-political development issues
  • Social enterprise and small business management
  • Sustainable energy and waste minimisation
  • Planning for community projects
  • Urban and regional planning
  • Conservation of Biodiversity

You must also complete a dissertation.

Access routes

Students eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP) will be able to apply for entry to BSc (Hons) Sustainable Development with a grade profile of CCC in one of the below courses:

  • Access to: Biological Science (West Lothian College)
  • Access to: Health and Life Sciences (Fife College)
  • Access to: Life Sciences (Dundee & Angus College)
  • Access to: Life Sciences (Edinburgh College)
  • Access to: Medical and Life Sciences (North East College)
  • Access to: Physical Sciences (Dundee & Angus College)
  • Access to: Physical Sciences (Edinburgh College)

Akil  Mazumder / Pexels

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed your BSc (Hons) Sustainable Development course, you might like to consider careers in:

  • Government departments and agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage, National Trust, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • European and Economic Development departments of local authorities
  • Community enterprises and community energy groups
  • Community land initiatives
  • Natural and rural heritage organisations
  • Voluntary sector development posts

Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

The University of the Highlands and Islands is an integrated university encompassing both further and higher education.

The University of the Highlands and Islands is an integrated university encompassing both further and higher education. Read less
Perth , Shetland , Scalloway , Kirkwall , Thurso , Stornoway , Dingwall , Inverness , Elgin , Kilbeg , Fort William , Oban , Dungooley + 12 More Less