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Climate Change and Sustainable Development MSc/PG Dip/PG Cert

About the course

This MSc is uniquely broad in its coverage, reflecting the range of knowledge and skills required to address the challenges of climate change and sustainable development.

It also provides depth in key areas, drawing upon the internationally recognised research expertise of the multidisciplinary IESD research team.

As the effects of global climate change are felt, the demand for professionals able to address the challenge increases. The problem of climate change transcends traditional academic boundaries and demands realistic and cost-effective solutions.

This course will allow you to understand the bigger picture of what sustainable development is, how it can be achieved, and how we can deal with global climate change. You will also learn practical skills, enabling you to gain employment putting this understanding into practice.

Due to its multidisciplinary nature, it is suitable for graduates from a wide variety of disciplines with either social or physical science backgrounds. It is also suitable for mid-career professionals with relevant experience.

The course has been approved by both the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Energy Institute for completing the educational requirements for Chartered Engineer registration.

CIBSE is an international body which represents and provides services to the building services profession, with a membership of 17,000, one fifth of which is outside the UK.

The Energy Institute (EI) is the leading chartered professional membership body for the global energy industry, supporting over 16,000 individuals working in or studying energy and 250 energy companies worldwide. The EI leads and advises the sector on careers and professional development including the accreditation of academic courses.



Key facts

Duration: One year full-time, two to five years part-time, three to five years distance learning

Start Date: September and January: full-time, part-time and distance learning

Entry and admission criteria

You should have the equivalent of a British Honours degree (2:2 minimum) in a relevant subject or five years’ work experience in an appropriate field.

We are happy to consider equivalent qualifications from anywhere in the world.

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent when you start the course is essential. English Language tuition, delivered by our British Council accredited Centre for English Language Learning|, is available both before and throughout the course if you need it.

If you do not have the normal entry requirements but can demonstrate substantial experience in an appropriate area, you can be considered for entry to the course.

If you feel you would like to talk to us about your qualifications before submitting an application please do not hesitate to call or email using the contact details below.

Teaching and assessment

Full-time students attend for two days each week and receive formal lectures from experienced researchers and teaching staff, complemented by informal seminars and group discussions. Part-time students attend one day per week. You will also be expected to undertake self-directed study. All teaching material is fully documented and available on the web-based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) before timetabled events take place.

Distance learning students follow a structured study plan provided on the VLE, supported by discussion forums with other students and email and telephone conversations with the module leader. Our course has been commended in an academic quality review for its ‘innovative and sophisticated forms of e-based learning and teaching’.

All assessment is by coursework. Each taught module has two items of coursework. The first is a smaller assignment on which prompt feedback is given while the module is being studied. A second, major assignment is submitted after the material has been assimilated.

As well as the eight taught modules, students complete either an individual dissertation or a team-based design project, and all students get to attend the annual MSc Conference where final year students present.

Course modules

The MSc has been designed to offer flexibility, with attended or distance learning study available and a range of possible awards from a full MSc to a single module.

Modules studied:

You complete the MSc by undertaking a research project on a topic of your choice, supervised by an experienced member of research staff.

Energy in Buildings

This module introduces students to how energy is used in buildings, ranging from traditional, climatically adapted architecture to modern low energy buildings.  It explains the basic physical processes and systems, and calculation methods for heat flows, overall heat losses, lighting and radiation, and conditioning of air.

The architecture of passive design adapted to local climate, both ancient and modern, is explained. Use of natural and mechanical systems for ventilation and cooling are described. Modern daylighting and artificial lighting equipment and systems are explained, with an emphasis on low energy design.

Legislation related to energy use in buildings is described and put into context, covering building regulations and codes both in the UK and internationally. This includes not just energy in-use, but embodied energy and other aspects of sustainability such as sourcing building materials, siting etc.

Sustainable Development

This module is concerned with the key concepts of sustainable development, sustainability and their application to the energy sector issues. It presents relevant definitions, indicators and various dimensions (social, ecological and economic) and related sustainability concepts. Sustainability challenges of the energy sector (particularly in the electricity industry and transportation) and the implications of climate change on sustainable development are also examined. Students are encouraged to develop a critical appreciation of the sustainable development debate, and to challenge widely held views.

Sustainable Energy

This module starts with an introduction to energy in its many forms, units used and a brief history. It then describes the sources of energy, and how they are exploited with a wide range of technologies. There is emphasis on their environmental impacts and long-term sustainability. Fossil fuels are included because they still supply most of our energy; use of them is actually increasing, and they will be around for many decades. Various renewable technologies (wind, solar, biomass etc.) are described in detail. Non-renewable but near-zero carbon energy supplies are also included, such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) linked to fossil fuel use, as they are likely to be an essential part of a low carbon future. Energy systems are also described; a systems approach is essential when studying energy, because of the many interactions (physical and economic) wherever the energy comes from.

Integrated Environmental Strategies

This module provides an overview of the need for an integrated environmental strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve quality of life.   Students will develop an understanding of the links between policies related to climate change and other policy areas.

The module examines the development of strategies for reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions as well as carbon management.

The ICLEI Local Goverments for Sustainability approach and the EU Covenant of Mayors Sustainable Energy Action Plan are  used as the basis of the strategic framework.

People Society and Climate Change

This module is concerned with the social and human dimensions of climate change –both at the individual and societal scale. An understanding of behaviour change for example is society is ever going to adapt to climate and achieve sustainable development. These dimensions are explored in relation to three key issues: human causes of climate change; human consequences of climate change and finally, an exploration of behaviour change strategies to both adapt to, and help mitigate the effects of climate change.  The module will consider each of these issues in turn, summarising theory and research in a number of fields, including energy,, transport and waste. 

An important emphasis in this module will be the development of an inter-disciplinary approach that links technical and social-psychological perspectives, recognising the validity and complementarity of each in the analysis of climate change.  To this end, there is a focus at the outset upon critical thinking and the development of a holistic view of climate change and its causes and effects.  Students are encouraged to develop a critical appreciation of the climate change debate and to challenge widely held views about human nature.

Resource Efficient Design

The aim of this module is to provide students with a grounded understanding of resource efficient design in both industrial and non-industrial contexts. Design will be seen to relate to both product and to process and resource efficiency will be intrpreted as the ability to design out waste and design in the efficient use of natural resources.

The module will adopt a 'whole systems' perspective to the introduction of students to the design process and will encourage them to analyse each stage of development in terms of its impact on resource use and overall energy consumption. Discussions will consider the role of the designer and the user when addressing the challenge of moving towards more sustainable consumption.

A number of different approaches to designing more energy efficient products, processes, services and systems will be explored and students will have the opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these different approaches across various design contexts. Through practical activities, and the use of case studies, students will develop the skills and expertise necessary, at each stage of the design process, to effectively facilitate and manage resource efficient design.

Energy Analysis Techniques

The module is designed to enable students to analyse data from buildings and industry to identify energy and greenhouse gas saving opportunities. The underlying science and mathematics is presented. Spreadsheets are used to analyse time series data and identify potential energy saving opportunities. The main opportunities are discussed potential energy efficiency measures described.

The techniques will enable students to carryout the analysis techniques of energy audit, energy survey, energy balance and to be able to establish an ongoing energy monitoring and target setting regime for a building or industry.

Research Methods

The module will provide the skills necessary to successfully complete a research project of a high standard.

The module will cover research methods, data interpretation, report writing as well as basic computing skills.  Additional information will be provided for people needing to acquire particular skills in specific areas.

The module will also cover basic statistical analysis and the design and analysis of questionnaires.

It will introduce students to a range of research methodologies and practices relevant to the successful completion of the MSc.

Academic expertise

Modules are taught by the IESD’s research and teaching staff, which provides you with a unique opportunity to learn from scientists actively involved in furthering knowledge in this area.

Graduate careers

Our graduates go on to work in a wide range of energy, buildings and sustainability roles, for example, energy and environmental consultants, non-governmental environmental organisations, central and local government (including the European Commission), and multi-national organisations. Some of our graduates stay on at DMU to continue their academic training with PhD studies.

Recent graduate destinations include:

  • The Carbon Trust
  • BMW
  • Turley Associates
  • National Energy Foundation
  • European Commission
  • Knightstone Housing Association
  • National Grid
  • Leicester City Council
  • Mott MacDonald
  • WSP Group
  • Arup
  • WYG
  • David Chipperfield Architects

Fees and funding

Postgraduate Course Standard Fees £4,500
Postgraduate Course Standard Fees £12,700
Distance learning
Per 15 credit module £TBC
Per 15 credit module £TBC

For extra information please take a look at our Funding| section.

All fees are subject to change without prior notice. Please contact the Admissions Team for up-to-date fees.

* ELQ Student definition - If you are a Home or EU status student and you already have a qualification at or above the level of the programme you wish to study from any country you will be considered as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) student. In 2008 the UK Government decided to stop funding universities for student in this situation and therefore different fees apply. Students from outside the EU are not affected by the policy.


2015/16 Vice Chancellor’s 2020 Scholarships

All DMU Home/EU graduates from the 2014/15 session, who achieved 2:1 or above, will be entitled to a 50 per cent discount in their tuition fee when enrolling onto a  full-time  master's degree*. 

These awards are part of the University’s on-going commitment to enhancing the personal and career development of our graduates. Find out more about the Vice-Chancellor's 2020 Scholarships | .

2014/15 VC 2020 Scholarship |

*Courses included in the scholarship programme may be subject to change.

International Alumni Scholarships

Find out about the international scholarships | and discounts that are available for international alumni.

International Scholarships

A number of scholarships and early payment discounts are available to help international students finance their study at DMU - Find to if you are eligible|

How to apply

Students can apply directly to study this postgraduate taught course at DMU by using our online applications portal|.

Contact details

For further information and admissions advice

Study enquiries:  +44 (0) 116  2 50 60 70

Submit an online form| to ask questions and get advice.



Technology Scholarship |



Climate Change and Sustainable Development “I spent a good deal of time looking for a course and ended up applying for, and being accepted onto, three very different master’s degrees. I chose the MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development because the multidisciplinary range of the course impressed me, and was not offered elsewhere. I have not regretted my choice.

The course is broad and the scope stimulating. The diversity of the modules gives a great grounding in the complexity and variety of ways that sustainable development can touch every aspect of life and thus acts as a potential springboard into many different career paths. Overall the course is challenging yet motivating, and has allowed me to learn skills in a number of fields, some of which I never would have thought of exploring.

I would recommend this course – it has definitely been worthwhile.”

Amanda Palmer Full-time MSc Student


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