Sustainability in the curriculum

We're committed to delivering course programmes, academic initiatives and research projects focused on sustainable development

Education for sustainable development

LSBU is committed to delivering courses, other academic initiatives and research projects focused on sustainable development. Examples of LSBU's education for sustainable development (ESD) initiatives are now discussed.

Starting to integrate sustainability into the curriculum

In the academic year 2016/17, LSBU undertook a major review of its courses to determine the prevailing provision of sustainability in the content of the university’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Course content was reviewed from the perspective of economy, society and biosphere/environment – in line with the three “pillars” of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Set out in the global declaration, “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", the UN SDGs set out the road map (2015- 2030) that nations, and in this context, universities, can navigate in their efforts to meet the 17 aspirational ‘Global Goals’ (supported by 169 targets).

The assessment considered all 241 courses on offer during 2016/17 – 140 undergraduate and 101 postgraduate courses. The summary findings were:

  • 130 of LSBU’s or 92% of the 140 undergraduate courses contained some references to sustainability
  • 88 of the university’s 101 postgraduate courses (87% of the total) contained some references to sustainability.

In summary, 218 courses (or 91% of the total of 241) offered at LSBU in 2016/17 contained some references to sustainability.

Follow-up action to verify the level of sustainability content within our courses, for example, whether this was ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’ in each case, as well as to make recommendations for further embedding of sustainability thinking into the courses, where practical, were priority activities for academic year 2017/18. These would validate the on-going integration of further sustainable development content into the LSBU curriculum.

The review in 2016/17 built on previous work which had been undertaken in 2015 by Gail Langley to identify Education for Sustainable Development activity across teaching and learning in LSBU. Prior to that, Dr Deborah Andrews had also undertaken a review of the status quo of the coverage of sustainable development within the curriculum in LSBU. Thus, LSBU can demonstrate that its efforts to embed sustainability into its curriculum has a long history.

Sustainable Development Goals in the undergraduate curriculum

The Corporate Strategy 2025 set out these key provisions for the design, delivery and structure of courses in the academic programme of the LSBU Group:

  • An inclusive curriculum framework: appropriate, accessible and meaningful approaches to academic learning and teaching;
  • Credit-bearing workplace learning as standard;
  • Apprenticeship/employer-sponsored education;
  • Enterprise embedded in the curricula using the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework – Entre-Comp;
  • Social capital development that increases social mobility;
  • 25% of students and staff engaging in a global experience; and
  • Learning in support of social good, and focusing on the UN Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).

In the academic year 2020-21, in the Portfolio and Curriculum Review, LSBU restructured its undergraduate offer in accordance with a framework which includes Carbon Literacy. The impact the review sought to make was in these areas:

  • UN SDG Targets – Contribute to the UN Goals around education, health, equality, climate and economic impact, particularly amongst local communities.
  • Social mobility – increase access to higher education for disadvantaged groups, and for enable these students to complete their degrees and gain work
  • Positively impact 1 million lives, through education or research and enterprise
  • Increased research and enterprise outputs, as the Group strategy targets trebling research and enterprise income by 2025
  • Above sector average for student experience and student outcomes, measured through the NSS, GO, awarding gap and progression.

One of the seven principles of the Curriculum Framework was: Learning in support of social good, and focussing on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainability was expected to be a thread running through all the years of every course. The eight knowledge and professional skills students were to be enabled to develop was Carbon Literacy.

The curriculum framework includes a compulsory module for all Level 4 courses linked to the SDGs.  40 Level 4 credits must focus on addressing business and societal challenges while building interdisciplinary student communities. Many of these would be based around one or more of the nine SDGs identified in the Corporate Strategy 2020-2025 and/or the development of academic, employability and professional skills.

Integrating sustainability into the curriculum

In a Group with an academic programme of technical and professional education, many of the courses are accredited by professional institutions and/or registered by statutory agencies. These organisations increasingly include sustainability in the prescription of subjects which the courses should map against. Thus, covering sustainability is not an issue the organisation can ignore. The LSBU Business School submits a report for the PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) providing an update on progress or summary of activities which the school and the wider university community, has taken, or completed, relating to the SDGs over the past two years.

The list of criteria the Engineering Council expects accredited courses to satisfy is in AHEP4. AHEP4 is a new requirement and its expectations of learning achievements emphasise sustainability; about one quarter of the standard is on Sustainability. The extensive standard also covers Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and “The Engineer and Society”. All courses in the School of Engineering are to be mapped against particular sections of AHEP4, citing the codes in the document.

A final example is the built environment. It is well acknowledged that buildings and infrastructure contribute to negative impacts on the environment. In the materials extracted, processed, transported and used; and in the use of energy to enable the buildings to operate. The portfolio and syllabus of the LSBU's courses on the built environment respond to the need to address this concern, with the provisions of the accrediting institutions providing a useful framework. The university educates 60 percent of Building Services Engineers in the UK. Most of the presidents of the institution have also been graduates of LSBU.

Supporting academic staff

Prof. Ros Wade had facilitated a sustainability session at a Faculty Meeting for staff, and was promoting the sustainability agenda in her capacity as Director of the London Regional Centre of Expertise.

Course modules and project work

LSBU offers some courses which are wholly on sustainability and climate change. An example is the MSc Sustainable Engineering Systems course. Students on this course consider the broader implications of what is covered in modules such as Energy Resource Use and Analysis which measures Life Cycle impact, as well as considering the use of renewable energy systems.

Many other courses also cover sustainability and climate change. Some examples are now outlined.

Our second year Chemical and Mechanical Engineering students also cover sustainability and sustainable engineering.

  1. Sustainability is embedded into the Product Design and Engineering Product Design courses in the School of Engineering. The elements include a Design for a Sustainable Society module assignments under which have covered Design for Dementia, Reducing Food Waste, and Reusing Waste from the Hospitality Industry. Many of the design projects on the course address topics on sustainability and/or climate change.
  2. The module on the Masters in Engineering Management course entitled Energy, the Environment and Product Life Cycle introduces students to sustainability, enabling them to develop their thinking about the engineering, design and current practice in these fields.
  3. On the BSc Chemical and Mechanical Engineering course, students also cover sustainability and sustainable engineering
  4. The National Bakery School covers sustainability in the following modules on its course: Business/Environmental Management and QM Best Practice; Food Regulations and Sustainability; and Food Control and Sustainable Practice.  The expertise of some LSBU academic staff members in the area of sustainability is recognised internationally. For example, Dr Delia Ojinnaka gives an annual lecture on Food Security and Sustainability at the University of Valencia in Spain.

Many student projects also feature significant elements of sustainability. Some rrelevant recent student projects have included:

  • Product Design: a roof garden for growing fruit and vegetables for students, staff and the local community
  • Digital Design: developing posters and graphics for a new recycling bin
  • Informatics: analysis of complicated electricity consumption data
  • Engineering: students are involved with the charity, Engineers Without Borders.


A list of undergraduate and post-graduate courses that LSBU offers that feature sustainability in one or more of their modules, arranged under the schools where they are based, is now presented.

Arts and Creative Industries

Events and Entertainments Management

Built Environment and Architecture

Architectural Technology
Building Services Engineering
Commercial Management
Construction Management
Property Management
Sustainable Energy Systems


International Business Management


Chemical Engineering
Engineering Product Design
Petroleum Engineering
Product Design

Law and Social Sciences

International Commercial Law LLM
Professional Doctorate in Education with special focus on sustainability, equality and diversity - EdD
Urban and Environmental Planning

Embedding sustainable action

LSBU encourages and engages students and staff members to get involved in sustainability initiatives across campus. This helps us make continual improvements in what we do as we seek to contribute to delivering the long-term change that is required in order to address the challenges society faces. Fundamentally, this engagement has the most significant impact when a student or staff member embeds these values into their lives.

With this in mind, the LSBU has developed a number of curriculum-based sustainability projects that give students 'real world' experience in addressing sustainability challenges. Some examples of these projects are now outlined.

The Elephant free-cycling app

LSBU has supported a student to develop a free-cycling app for students and staff members to offer and exchange items for free on campus in order to reduce the amount sent to landfill each year. Find out more about the Elephant app.

Designing a rooftop garden

The Sustainability Team works with Product Design students to assess opportunities to develop roof spaces into gardens. The students' designs are then assessed as part of their coursework.

Recycling communication

As part of their coursework, Product Design students develop posters and campaign ideas to improve recycling rates and visibility across campus.

Selling free-cycling

MSc Marketing students have developed a marketing plan for a free-cycling app and identified innovative ways to help reduce waste on campus.

Travel survey

LSBU supported an Engineering student to create, deploy and analyse a university-wide travel survey for their dissertation. This provided crucial information on the travel habits of students and staff members, and the associated environmental impacts.

Using art to talk about climate change

Photography students take a tour of the heating and hot water systems in our buildings, led by LSBU Estates Maintenance engineers. Their photographs tell the story of LSBU's investment in energy efficiency and capture the strange beauty of this hidden but very important network.

Short Courses on Sustainability

Retrofitting course

The university has also been active in education on retrofitting of the nation’s building stock to enhance its sustainability performance. It covers the topic in relevant courses. In addition, it hosted a workshop to examine the prospect of forming a Trailblazer group to create a Retrofit Apprenticeship programme. In 2022, LSBU developed the programme in Building Retrofit. The four new Net Zero Level 4 to 6 short courses are taught over a year and are funded by a £150,000 grant from the Office for Students (OfS). The courses are being run in partnership with leading employers in the housing and green sectors including: London Energy, Ashden, Clarion Housing Group, Building Services Research and Information Association, Lambeth Council and Southwark Council.[1] Up to 180 students a year who are currently working in the building, housing or green sector would be trained on these four LSBU Net Zero courses:

  1. Designing Net Zero Buildings
  2. Operating Effective Net Zero Buildings
  3. Procurement for the Net Zero Built Environment
  4. Net Zero Leadership and Management.

The course participants will be able to learn at a pace that fits in with their lives, with support from loans from The Lifelong Learning Entitlement. The new Net Zero courses support LSBU’s strategy to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. They enable students to learn the work-ready skills they need to enhance their employability and contribute to the efforts to address the climate change challenge.