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Structure and content


…to develop leaders who have a wide awareness and deep understanding of the economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world, and to equip them to respond more effectively and lead others to achieve positive change.

Learning approach

As an applied, practitioner-oriented Master's, the programme is designed to support personal and professional development. This is reflected in the content, which includes developing a robust business case for sustainability, a focus on sustainability leadership aims and responses, and change management. It is also reflected in the learning journey (see Figure 1), which is focused on collaboration, reflective practice and applied learning, and includes peer-learning groups, extensive feedback and assignments that are focused on professional or institutional contexts.

Learning journey graphic
Figure 1: MSt Learning Journey (click on the image to see it in larger format)

Delivery model

The course is structured around 15 modules, 12 of which are explored over the course of four residential workshops over the two-year programme, and three of which are e-modules. Each residential workshop looks at three modules in particular. Students engage virtually between the residential workshops through a mix of online forum-based learning, the e-modules on specific topics (e.g. leadership, philanthropy), and virtual webinars on specific topics.

It is estimated that over the course of the Master's participants will need to set aside 360 hours, apart from the 24 days of residential workshops, to complete the programme successfully. This is an average across the whole programme for a typical student, and variations in individual approaches to scheduling and learning can result in weeks where the workload may be heavier or lighter. Students are provided with all substantive tasks and deadlines at the start of the programme, so they can plan in advance in order to help spread the work evenly across the two years.


The first workshop of the sustainability Master's provides an opportunity to engage with the broad debate around sustainability, looking at global sustainability challenges (Module 1) and the nature of these challenges as systemic and complex. Students then consider the purpose and objectives of business in response to these challenges, exploring possible leadership aims (Module 2). Finally, we explore what effective leadership for change looks like, and begin to explore examples of strategic leadership responses (Module 3).

In this first workshop – and throughout the programme – the wider context in which business operates is emphasised, as well as the many actors and stakeholders within the system with which business must engage effectively in order to bring about meaningful change.

Figure 2: The broader business context covered in the first workshop and throughout the programme
Figure 2: The broader business context covered in the first workshop and throughout the programme

The remaining three workshops provide an opportunity to explore specific leadership responses or ‘levers’ for changing the system (Modules 4–12), three modules at each workshop. 

These levers include:
  • those within an organisation's direct control, such as its operational and employment practices, or business model and strategy;
  • those parts of the wider system that business can seek to influence such as international governance or government policy and regulation;
  • or they might be cross-cutting levers such as collaboration, co-operation and partnerships or communication, advocacy and education.


Figure 3: Levers for change (modules) considered over the course of the programme


The programme also develops participants’ leadership perspectives and practices through a series of cross-cutting content over the two years: 

 Cross-cutting content

Download an outline of the Master’s modules.

Download the full module overview.