Sustainable Development BSc (Hons)

UCAS code D453
Information line 0845 272 3600*

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 community based economic development
  • Local economic development and sustainability
  • Introduction to GIS.

Optional modules:

  • Environmental conservation
  • Society and culture in mountain regions
  • Residential field study
  • Urban-rural divide
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Community energy

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 rural pathway)
  • Sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry in the EU
  • Climate change
  • The economics of mountain regions

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 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.

How will I study my course?

  • You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)

You will have support from your tutors via email, Skype and online discussions.  The course is also available for international enrolment.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years @ 40 hours per week
  • Part-time (structured): 8 years @ 20 hours per week
  • Part-time (unstructured): variable

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Lews Castle College UHI - This course is fully online. You will be enrolled and receive support from tutors at Lews Castle College UHI

Start date

  • September
  • January


For students normally domiciled in Scotland or the European Union/EEA (outside of the UK) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £1,820 £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £645 £645
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £215 £215

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland) and with a term time address in Scotland studying this course full time, the following fees apply:

  Level Full-time Full-time
Year 1 CertHE £9,000 £9,000
Year 2 DipHE £9,000 £9,000
Year 3 Degree £9,000 £9,000
Year 4 Honours free* free*

*4th year free only for students studying full-time who have paid for the previous 3 years at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Part-time (per 20 credit module) - £1,500 (2017-18 and 2018-19).

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK and EU students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living whilst studying.

UK and EU/EEA students without a term-time address in Scotland

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland) or the EU/EEA without a term-time address in Scotland, i.e. studying from their home country, the following fees apply: 

  2017-18 2018-19
Full-time online per year (120 credit modules) £6,120 £6,120
Part-time online (per 20 credit module)*** £1,020 £1,020

This fee also applies to Scottish students who do not have a term-time address in Scotland.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK or European Union and without a term-time address in Scotland, ie studying online from their home country, the following fees apply:

  2017-18 2018-19
Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £6,350 £6,710
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year*** £3,180 £3,360
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module)*** £1,060 £1,120

***This course is not available to international students requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Further information on international course fees.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact your enrolling college for more information.

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

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress from the BSc (Hons) Sustainable Rural Development to:

Is there more information available online?

QR Code - scan to visit course page

You can use the above QR code to connect directly to the course details.

What our students, graduates and staff say

The course was perfect for me as I was very interested in working in my community, for its future. I now work for the North Harris Trust as a Project Development Officer. I am currently working on a project to purchase and refurbish the former Scalpay Care Unit into two much needed houses. Affordable housing is a real issue in Harris and so this project will help the local island community.

Karen MacRae graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Rural Development from Lews Castle College UHI.

For my current job role I work in the outdoors, however I didn’t want to complete an outdoor management course as I have other similar professional qualifications, but I did want to study a relevant subject for continuing professional development. This course is perfect, and has opened doors to some new and interesting subjects that I didn’t have prior knowledge of and have turned out to be very relevant to my job.

I have studied previously at Oxford University and through the Open University however I chose to study at the University of the Highlands and Islands because of the course content and how relevant this is to my interests and desired area of study. The fact that I could study online and remotely was a major factor too.

Isobel Oakley, 4th year BSc (Hons) Sustainable Management student enrolled at our Lews Castle College UHI campus.

I chose to study online so that I could have the freedom to study at my own pace since I also work full time. I chose UHI because of the course module content which was a huge step ahead of the generic modules offered by other universities. The course prepares you in all aspects of sustainable development (economic/social/environmental) and was well adapted to my line of work. It really helped me to gain knowledge in so many areas, including research/statistics and literature reviews. The teaching staff are of high quality and have the ability to keep you focused and enthusiastic throughout every module. As an online student, I never felt alone thanks to the teaching staff’s constant availability and frequent collaborative discussions with other students. Choosing UHI was definitely the best choice I made for my studies, in fact I am now planning a Masters degree with UHI. I would definitely recommend UHI to anybody looking for top quality online study.

Apply for Sustainable Development BSc (Hons)

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2018 or Jan/Feb 2019

International applicants should apply using the UHI International application form. Please download and print the form, complete and return using the address indicated. More information is available for international applicants at our international student page

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). UHI operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.

Search again