MSc / PgDip Education for Sustainability

Mode: Full-time; Part-time; Distance


Education for Sustainability (EfS) is a distance learning postgraduate course at Masters level delivered by a team of experts. The course provides personal and professional development for those interested, or already engaged, in paving the way for a more sustainable world by way of understanding, educating or promoting sustainability. The unique structure of distance learning enables international students to gain a globally recognised qualification from the UK.

If you're looking to study in London, then we also offer a full-time option for students.

Although many of our students are educators or NGO educational, training or campaigning staff, we also draw students from many other backgrounds, including health, media, business, government, botanical and zoological work.

Did you know that we're the only university mentioned in UNESCO's good practice UK case studies in EFS?

London RCE and United Nations UniversityCommonwealth Scholarships

6 reasons to study here

Making a difference: Education for Sustainability is concerned with empowering people to bring about change towards a sustainable future
Global reach: a distance-learning course delivered through a Virtual Learning Environment
Unique: The first and only Masters programme in Education for Sustainability. Developed in response to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and introduced in 1994 and continuously updated
Extensive library: access to numerous reading materials, all-necessary resources are provided
Career development: The MSc has allowed alumni to secure new roles in NGOs, government departments and education institutions
Join a global learning community: The online nature of the course brings you into direct contact with participants in other countries; join a growing learning community of Education for Sustainability practitioners

Our passion for a sustainable future

Developed in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Oxfam and the EU, the course draws on the expertise of environmental and development NGOs as well as the educational community. It deals with the theory and practice of sustainability and enables you to explore and expand the role that EfS can play in educational, social, political and economic change.

Internationally recognised

Since its launch in 1994 this internationally recognised and innovative award has embraced and promoted diversity and inclusion. Our roots lie in the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil, and EfS, the first ever masters programme of this kind, provides a dynamic interface between theory and practice in EfS and promotes the integration of environmental and development concerns in the emerging concept of sustainability while emphasising the importance of education's role in building a sustainable world.

The EfS course at LSBU has been instrumental in the development of LSBU as a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development. It offers many unique qualities that will enhance your international experience and introduce you to like-minded professionals making a difference around the world.

Why study Education for Sustainability?

  • Develop your knowledge, skills and expertise in communicating, teaching and advocating for sustainability
  • Embed your ethics and values in effective practice and leadership for a more sustainable world
  • Apply your coursework to real world contexts and start to make the changes needed for sustainability
  • Benefit from a range of excellent on-line course materials and expert tutors with over 21 years’ experience in this interdisciplinary field
  • Join a global community of practice in education for sustainability, with students from a wide range of countries including Uganda, Sweden, China,  Australia.
  • Benefit from placement and internship opportunities with our sustainability stakeholders or the London RCE

The course is brilliantly designed to meet the requirements of practitioners like me. It’s at the cutting edge.

Suman Khdaka - Nepal
Key course information - ordered by mode
Mode Duration Start date Location
Part-time (distance learning)
3-4 years
Start Date
Full-time (distance learning)
2 years
Start Date


All modules make use of case studies and readings from a range of global regions and are designed to be applicable to any type of educational or country context.

  • An Introduction to education for sustainability The module provides students with an opportunity firstly to gain a general overview of the EFS programme, setting out some of the key parameters, working concepts and the rationale for the overall approach taken.  It then enables students to engage with debates in learning and education; to develop an understanding of the concept of sustainability and of joined up thinking and practice; to engage with the emerging pedagogy of EFS and to understand and critique different models of EFS.
  • Values and participation in EFS; from local to global The module provides students with an opportunity to focus on values and participation in education and learning more generally and specifically within EFS. This educational focus is linked to a wide overview of the general issues and debates surrounding scales and elements of sustainability – from local to global and integrating ecology, economy, society and culture. Students are provided with opportunities to balance the discussion of the substantive issues of sustainability and of learning for sustainability. Students are encouraged to achieve a balance of theory and practice by linking theoretical discussion to examples of practice, but also by making the links with practice in the activities in the module.
  • Leadership, learning and climate change: the sustainability revolution In this module students are given an opportunity to develop intellectual, transferable and practical skills in the context of their personal and career development. Students will be able to develop their understanding of and to engage with the interdisciplinary elements of climate change. Further it will examine a range of leadership models in relation to EFS and enable students to engage with the organisational and behaviour change that is needed to address the challenges of sustainability.
  • Theory and perspectives on environment and development In this module students examine the connections between environmental and development issues and to deepen their own understanding of issues of sustainability. It will give students an opportunity to study a number of specific theories and perspectives and to address the relevance of theory to practice. It will include a range of perspectives from different global regions and provide opportunities for students to take a critical approach to case studies using their own work contexts.
  • Science and culture in education for sustainability The module provides students with an opportunity to engage with frameworks for relating science and culture and to distinguish between the two. It will focus on key debates and issues in science in relation, for example, to its ‘western’ origin or ‘cross cultural discovery’. It will enable students to engage with the basics of ecological science and the concept of ecological footprint. It will then explore issues and debates around culture and enable students to critically examine the relationship between culture, human development and the natural environment. It will examine the importance of psychology and spirituality and offer students a new way of thinking about the human role in the ecosphere which brings in both science and culture.
  • Researching education for Sustainability The module focuses on research ideas and techniques and facilitates students to become more critical of much that passes as truth and knowledge. The main focus of the module is preparation for Education for Sustainability research but it can also be applied to educational research more generally.
    The module acts as an important preparation for the dissertation by encouraging students to produce critical pieces of work reflecting on research approaches and methods.
  • Dissertation (MSc only) The module builds on the critical research skills developed in the Module: Researching Education for Sustainability. One of the key aims of the EFS programme is to equip students with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to work for change in education in its broadest sense. The dissertation is the opportunity to engage in critical research relating to change.


Employers have found that the programme has enabled students to develop and enhance work practices in the light of current theories and debates. This has led to a number of organisations sponsoring their staff to do the programme as a means of capacity building and staff development. Many EFS graduates have gone onto gain promotion, career advancement or have made use of the course to change their career direction.

Sustainability skills are an important career asset in the 21st century and this qualification has been recognised by employers, such as news media, National Environment Management Agencies, government ministries, schools, environmental and development NGOs.  EFS graduates have gone onto gain promotion, career advancement or have made use of the course to change their lives or career direction. Examples of graduate jobs include education adviser UNICEF, Director of Communications, Transition Town volunteer organiser, Environmental News editor, education director botanic gardens, curriculum manager, schools’ inspector.

The quality of the course has been endorsed by the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission which has awarded over 100 of scholarships. A number of organisations, such as World Wide Fund for Nature and Oxfam have also sponsored their staff to do the programme as a means of capacity building and staff development.

The course provides the following transferable skills, which are valued by employers:

  • Effective communication
  • Ability to apply theory to practice
  • Understanding and managing change
  • Problem solving and strategic planning
  • Critical thinking
  • Holistic thinking
  • Curriculum leadership skills.

I am currently working on a project that involves extractives and I intend to use some of the coursework I did on Values and Participation.

Hilda Lupiya - Malawi

I got my new job because of my association with LSBU. I work for Aga Khan development Network and my post is Programme Manager, AKDN HIV/AIDS Workplace Programme, East Africa & Mozambique.

Joshua Ongwae - Kenya

After completing the course, Aaron Mulakki took up the position of Implementation Manager in rural health at the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) Rwanda.

Aaron Mulakki - Rwanda

The London Regional Centre of Expertise EFS (RCE) is hosted by London South Bank University and closely linked with the EFS programme.  Partners are drawn from a wide range of organisations including conservation groups, development education centres, universities and colleges, ethical business organisations, community groups. This provides opportunities for placements and projects as well as the chance to be part of a global learning space with over 130 RCEs. The centre is accredited by the UN University Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability and also hosts seminars and conferences. The programme is enriched by EFS expert tutors who are practitioners in the field.

The programme runs an annual conference with recognised key note speakers in the field of EFS. Recent contributors include:

  • Ann Finlayson, education commissioner, UK Sustainable Development Commission;
  • Dr Mae-Wan Ho, director, Institute of Science in Society;
  • Alan Simpson, MP;
  • Professor Stephen Sterling;
  • Professor Charles Hopkins, Unesco Chair in ESD York University, Toronto;
  • Dr Dorcas Otieno Director Regional centre of expertise in ESD, Nairobi, Kenya.

Teaching and learning

We aim to help you become an effective agent for positive change in learning and education relevant for sustainability. We do so by enquiring into the kind of learning for change in personal, social and ecological spheres that is needed to help understand, develop and promote sustainability. When you complete our programme, you will have achieved the personal and professional development required to be an effective agent for change.

Course structure

Sessions are delivered through distance learning and web activities with optional - Monthly Saturday day schools Fast Track - Monthly Saturday day schools.

Learning resources

In an emerging field like EfS the interface between theory and practice is even more important. Theory informs practice and practice in turn nourishes theory. That's why our course materials undergo continuous review and updating. Networking is an essential element for us to consolidate our premier position as a theory-practice interface in EfS. The Blackboard e-learning system used by our programme's provides a platform for students and tutors to learn, discuss and debate various aspects related to EfS, regardless of their location.

You'll receive all the materials they need for independent study within a set timescale, which includes:

  • a Study Guide to introduce the key themes, debates and theories
  • a Course Reader with specialist key texts
  • supplementary material (e.g. additional written material or DVD)
  • access to the EFS blackboard website for online learning opportunities


All assessment is through written coursework. For example, essay writing, report writing, programme design or research studies.


Entry requirements

For successful application you need an Honours degree minimum of 2:2 award from a UK, EU or International University (Bachelor degree equivalent to UK Second Class Honours Lower Division) or equivalent professional qualification/experience.

We welcome equivalent qualifications from around the world. English language qualifications for international students: IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Although our programme is primarily designed for educators and communicators striving for a sustainable world, we welcome anyone from any other background provided they are committed to becoming an agent for change for sustainability in their professional, social or cultural context. We welcome students from all parts of the world and view this rich diversity as an asset to the emerging field of EfS as well as to our programme.

Part time distance learners must apply using the Education for Sustainability form (see How to apply section) and not through UKPASS.

How to apply

Home/EU applicants

Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
Part-time (distance learning)
3-4 years
Start date
Application code
Application method
Full-time (distance learning)
2 years
Start date
Application code
Application method

Postgraduate students and research students should apply through our dedicated application system. Full details of how to do this are supplied on our How to apply section for postgraduate students and our How to apply section for research students.

See our admissions policy (PDF File 544 KB) and complaints policy (PDF File 127 KB).


Students should apply for accommodation at London South Bank University (LSBU) as soon as possible, once we have made an offer of a place on one of our academic courses. Read more about applying for accommodation at LSBU.


It's a good idea to think about how you'll pay university tuition and maintenance costs while you're still applying for a place to study. Remember – you don't need to wait for a confirmed place on a course to start applying for student finance. Read how to pay your fees as a postgraduate student.

Postgraduate Application Service

Book a session with one of our specialist Postgraduate Advisors. Over a one on one Advice Session they'll advise you on postgraduate degrees at LSBU that match your interests and experience.

Prepare to start

We help our students prepare for university even before the semester starts. To find out when you should apply for your LSBU accommodation or student finance read the How to apply tab for this course.


Before you start your course we’ll send you information on what you’ll need to do before you arrive and during your first few days on campus. You can read about the process on our Enrolment pages.

Fees and funding

Fees are shown for new entrants to courses, for each individual year of a course, together with the total fee for all the years of a course. Continuing LSBU students should refer to the Finance section of our student portal, MyLSBU. Queries regarding fees should be directed to the Fees and Bursaries Team on: +44 (0)20 7815 6181.



Year 1 DL Southwark SEPT

The fee shown is for entry 2020/21
UK/EU fee: £5513.33International fee: £9646.67
AOS/LSBU code: 5590Session code: 1DS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £8270
International £14470

Year 1 PTDL Southwark PGDIP SEPT

The fee shown is for entry 2020/21
UK/EU fee: £2756.67International fee: £4823.33
AOS/LSBU code: 2331Session code: 1DS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £8270.01
International £14469.99

For more information, including how and when to pay, see our fees and funding section for postgraduate students.

See our Tuition Fees Regulations (PDF File 160 KB) and Refund Policy (PDF File 102 KB).

Possible fee changes

The University reserves the right to increase its fees in line with changes to legislation, regulation and any government guidance or decisions.

The fees for international students are reviewed annually and the University reserves the right to increase the tuition fees in line with the RPIX measure of inflation up to 4 per cent.

Postgraduate loan (PGL) for Masters study

If you are starting a Masters course, studying either full- or part-time, you may be entitled to apply for a postgraduate study loan. Find out more at our postgraduate fees and funding section.


We offer several types of fee reduction through our scholarships and bursaries. Find the full list and other useful information on funding your studies on the scholarships and fee discounts page.

Fee status

Please check your fee status and whether you are considered a Home, EU or International student for fee-paying purposes and for our regulatory returns, by reading the UKCISA regulations.