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BASc Design and Global Sustainable Development

Bachelor of Arts & Science (BASc)

Three years full-time programme

Joint honours degree
Study abroad & work placement opportunities

Warwick's innovative Design and Global Sustainable Development degree challenges you to think critically about important problems such as human rights, environmental impact, technological and digital advancement and consider practical, design-led solutions. Study with us and prepare to make a real difference in the world.

On this page:

1. Course information

2. Course structure

3. Teaching

4. How will I be assessed?

5. Study abroad

6. Placements and work experience

7. General entry requirements

8. Core modules

Course information

On this unique and exciting new course, you will explore current issues of global significance from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and examine how positive change can be achieved through the application of the theory and practice of design. This is a future facing programme which aims to develop a new generation of designers as holistic, strategic, and agile interdisciplinary practitioners. By studying this degree, you will acquire the knowledge and skills to become a responsible and ethical designer able to tackle society’s major challenges in order build a sustainable and regenerative society. 

You will work with design industry experts and regional communities to co-design products, processes and solutions. You will have the opportunity to enhance your skills and studies through optional work placements, study abroad, and certificates. 

Course structure

The course is structured on a 50/50 basis with half of the modules each year being taken in each half of the course.  

In the first year, core modules will provide a critical understanding of the ‘three pillars of sustainable development’ and the core principles of design theory: 

  • Economic Principles of Global Sustainable Development 
  • Environmental Principles of Global Sustainable Development 
  • Social Principles of Global Sustainable Development 
  • Introduction to Design 
  • Introduction to Design Practice 
  • Service Design with UX for Social Impact 
  • Visual Practice and Curiosity 

You will also study the core Global Sustainable Development Project module, giving you the chance to see how the principles of GSD apply to a real case affecting a local community.  

The second year will consist of a combination of core and optional core modules. The GSD optional core modules provide you with the opportunity to engage with a key issue in sustainability either: 

  • Health and Sustainable Development 
  • Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System 
  • Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All 

You will also choose optional modules with a GSD focus from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies. 

In the core Design modules you will learn different methods of approaching design: 

  • Systemic Design 
  • Social Design  

And the optional core modules offer the chance to apply those approaches to either Materials, Space or Society. 

You may choose to study abroad for part of your second year at Monash University. During Term One at Warwick you will study 50% of the workload outlined above. In terms two and three at Monash University you will study modules with an approved sustainability and design focus. These modules will be pre-approved by the GSD Department and will be subject to the approval of your Warwick personal tutor. 

In the final year you will take the core Dissertation and Major Project modules as well as modules that examine The Business of Design and Design Research. You will also study optional modules from within the GSD Department and optional modules with a GSD focus from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies. 


Your GSD modules will be taught by a range of academics from different disciplines. They will communicate their expertise on a specific issue and describe their methodology for addressing it. We expect you to bring together these various approaches and to develop your own informed stance on each issue. 

Your Design Studies modules will be taught by our expert staff in our dedicated Design Studio which provides facilities and materials to enable to you develop and hone your creative design skills. You will learn to work through practical, project-based design assignments that will range in their nature from working with hand constructed materials, plans and curation to digitally developed designs that simulate physical and virtual environments. Throughout your course you will work with live briefs from communities and employers in preparation for a successful career in the design industry. 

Class sizes

Seminar and studio practice groups consist between 20-25 students.

Typical contact hours

First-year core modules have between 20 and 25 hours of contact time. Each module consists of lectures, workshops, practical classes and fieldwork. The Global Sustainable Development Project' module, includes group supervision sessions. The core modules in Design Studies which include a significant proportion of practice-based teaching have up to 60 hours of contact time.  

Second-year core and optional core modules typically have between 30 and 40 contact hours. 

The final-year cores modules involve lectures, tutorials and supervision sessions. 

Optional modules in the GSD Department are available with between 25 and 50 hours for scheduled contact time, depending on the module. Some modules have lectures, workshops, film screenings and research supervision, whereas others only have lectures and workshops. Some GSD modules may also include field trips. 

How will I be assessed?

The course uses a variety of assessment methods which are intended to reflect the types of outputs required in the professional environment. In this way, the course prepare you for the working world. Across the course, you will produce practical work that is both material and digital in nature, sketchbooks and visual research, research papers, reports, policy briefings, posters, portfolios, critical commentaries, presentations in public fora, EPortfolios; blog posts; design dialogues (viva voce); video presentations, pitches, manifestos and you will also write traditional academic essays.

Study Abroad

Although it is not compulsory, we encourage you to study abroad during your degree.

Option 1: Part of your second year abroad

Spend part of your second year at Monash University, home to the Monash Sustainable Development Institute. You will learn to appreciate the different concerns and priorities for design for sustainable development including different approaches to tackling global issues and the associated challenges for designers. 

Your academic achievements abroad will count towards your degree awarded by Warwick. 

Find out more about studying abroad for part of your second year.

Option 2: Year abroad

You may choose to apply for an intercalated year spent either studying abroad or on a work placement (subject to you meeting departmental academic requirements). This will mean extending your course to four years. 

Warwick has partnerships with universities across the world. You will spend your first and second years at Warwick, studying abroad in your third year before returning for final year. 

Your year abroad will not count towards your overall final mark, giving you the freedom to choose modules outside of your comfort zone. 

Learn more about spending a year abroad.

Placements and work experience

We encourage you to undertake a work placement as part of your degree. 

You will have the opportunity to take part in short and long work placements. These support you in developing your employability skills and prepare you for future employment. 

  • Apply theory to practice 
  • Explore a future career path 
  • Learn about the professional environment 
  • Learn from industry professionals 

We will also support you in sourcing your own work placements outside of the options below. 

Year-long work placement

You can complete a four-year degree and your work placement will take place in your third year. The work placement can take place inside or outside the UK. 

Short work placement

As part of the Certificate of Professional Communication, you will undertake a four-week work placement during the summer. 

Transferable skills

You will learn valuable transferable skills that will help you with your employment prospects, including: 

  • Analysing and problem solving: Through your study of economic principles and models, you will learn how to extract the essential features of complex systems, providing useable frameworks for evaluation 
  • Systems thinking and application: You will learn how to investigate and assess systems and apply this in practice  
  • Critical thinking: You will assess arguments, make judgements, formulate reasoned debates and generate feasible solutions 
  • Communication: You will develop advanced visual, textual and verbal communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings 
  • Research: You will undertake an integrated programme of research skills training, teaching you how to source, evaluate and use different forms of information and data 
  • Organisation: Through a rigorous assessment schedule and a compulsory dissertation module in your final year, you will learn the essentials of time management, prioritisation and how to be well organised 
  • Collaboration: You will have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude 
  • IT: You will have received foundational software training 
  • Design Skills: You will have acquired creative design skills in a range of areas 
Helping you find the right career

We have a dedicated Employability and Placement Manager who will provide you with one-to-one careers guidance. They work in collaboration with employers, so you will be supported in securing appropriate work placements. You will have access to specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, as well as on-going support during your placement.

You will also have access to the University’s Student Opportunity resources (including careers counselling, employment advice, and job fairs).

Find out more about careers support at Warwick.

General Entry Requirements

A levels
A level typical offer

AAA GCSEs - Grade 6/B in Maths and English Language A level contextual offer.

A level additional information

While we do not require applicants to have formally studied subjects in art and design prior to application, we do look for a clear demonstration of applicants’ interest in Design as well as Global Sustainable Development. Interest and experience should be described the students support statement, but it can also be supported by visual materials submitted as additional evidence. 

A level contextual offer

Applications from candidates who meet the contextual eligibility criteria and whose predicted grades are close to, or slightly below, the contextual offer level are welcomed. The typical contextual offer is AAB. 

General GCSE requirements

The typical contextual offer is 34 with grade B in GCSE Mathematics or need grade 5 in Higher Level Mathematics or 

6 in Standard Level Mathematics. 

IB typical offer

36 to include English and Mathematics. 

IB additional information

You will also need grade 6/B in GCSE English Language or International Baccalaureate grade 5 in English A (Higher or Standard Level), grade 5 in Higher Level English B or grade 6 in Standard Level English B. 

IB contextual offer

We welcome applications from candidates who meet the contextual eligibility criteria and whose predicted grades are close to, or slightly below, the contextual offer level. The typical contextual offer is 34. If you do not have a grade B in GCSE Mathematics, you will need a grade 5 in Higher Level Mathematics or 6 in Standard Level Mathematics. See if you're eligible.


We welcome applications from students taking BTECs alongside one or two A levels. 

You will also need grade 6/B in GCSE Mathematics and grade 6/B in GCSE English Language. 

English language requirements

All applicants have to meet our English Language requirements. If you cannot demonstrate that you meet these, you may be invited to take part in our Pre-sessional English course at Warwick.

Core modules

First year
Economic Principles of GSD  This module introduces you to some of the key economic concepts and perspectives related to global sustainable development. By adopting problem-based learning approach, it examines the relationship between Economics and Public Policy in sustainable development, and the ways in which economists address real-world dilemmas linked to sustainable development. 
Social Principles of GSD  This module addresses the social and political principles of Global Sustainable Development. You will engage with theoretically complex concepts through practical activities. It is taught via a combination of lectures and seminars and involves group activities as well as online collaboration. 
Environmental Principles of GSD These modules will equip you with the capacity to engage in academically grounded and critical discussion of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, as well as associated policy responses at a range of geographical scales. You will begin to develop skills for the creation and the persuasive presentation of environmental policy to key decision makers. 
GSD Project  On this module, you will bring together the theories studied in your other first year modules and examine in depth the Economic, Environmental and Social arguments that have been advanced in relation to sustainable transport.  
Introduction to Design  This module explores the diverse theories and practices of designing, the designed world, the impact of design on people, and the challenges and ambitions that motivate designing. You will be introduced to concepts such as the globalization of design, the similarities and differences between different forms of designing, design professions, and everyday designing. You will visit various locations, where you will encounter encountering innovative designs and designers who have worked on national and international projects. 
Introduction to Design Practice

Explores design practice from holistic and reductionist perspectives, their relationship and critiques, and discovers diverse forms of thinking and making in design. You will explore design as a multi-disciplinary endeavour through considerations of impact on personal practice and methodologies, social and life-centred design as well as systemic design. This module challenges our students to consider design practices from the artefact to the system level and gain an understanding of positionality of design and innovation on a micro, meso and macro level.

You will explore how design has impacted the world, solved and created problems and how design processes evolve to respond to the world's ever more complex challenges. This is done through collaborative and individual design challenges which will allow students to explore and test diverse and inventive methods to design and system thinking. Our students undertake a journey of unlearning, experimenting, play and curiosity. This is a studio module which manoeuvres students into designerly ways of thinking, making and knowing.

Service Design with UX for Social Impact  Introduces you to the distinct yet overlapping disciplines of Service and UX Design from a digital development angle. Our students learn about common and emerging research and processes from the industry through live briefs which will guide each learning journey from research, concept, to realisation. The module will challenge you to use design methods to conceptually and visually capture the social paradigm of designing and how to navigate the needs of diverse groups who might have been at mismatch in current systems. You will develop and propose UX digital or hybrid solutions to a service problem.
Visual Practice and Curiosity Introduces you to the visual research and making methods commonly found in Graphic and Interactive Design to support visual learning journeys towards building a professional and academic design skillset and mindset. This module aims to develop your capabilities in visual reasoning, compositing, curating and rendering to support your further practice and prepare you for a specialisation process starting in year two.
Second year
Health and Sustainable Development  An in-depth examination of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (“good health and well-being”) and the broader field of global health. Equips students with a big-picture understanding of health governance and health systems and an understanding of a broad range of global health priorities within and beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. Focuses on cross-cutting issues that consistently intersect global health issues and policies. Involves a blend of conceptual foundations, case study analysis, and work with real-life qualitative and quantitative data. Teaching and case studies are interdisciplinary, drawing on medical as well as social science research.
Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability on the Global Food System  Aims to examine the relationship between Food and Sustainability using theories and methods from the sciences, social sciences and humanities. 
Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All  Focuses on Sustainable Development Goal 10 “Reduced inequalities" and aims to reflect on the UN’s decision to integrate inequalities into the sustainable development agenda and examines the relationship between inequalities and sustainability. It allows students to focus in-depth on the concept of inequalities and analyse current debates around inequality and socio-economic environmental sustainability in order to gain an understanding of the complexities of the problems and recognise the challenges faced by policy makers aiming to resolve those problems 
Systemic Design  Engages our students in the processes and methods of Systemic Design. From Systems Thinking to Practice, this module prepares you for the processes of dealing with complexity as an aspiring designer. This module introduces you to systemic practice towards understanding how to research a system and its models, how to read and scope a system, how to map and synthesise it and scope design interventions in multiple areas of leverage towards systems change. The module is linked to real life contexts of local and regional communities.
Social Design  Fosters students' development in becoming designerly agents for change through engagement with their local and regional communities. Students learn a range of approaches to participatory design, social action and entrepreneurship through investigating philosophies, methodologies, and case studies. The aims of module are to give students the opportunity to explore and test methods, approaches and frameworks relating to design and systems thinking within the context of interdisciplinary and what will be a stream of students' emerging specialist practice and methodology.  
Living with Materials 2  Explores approaches to materials through a transdisciplinary lens and an international perspective. It combines theoretical and practical approaches that call on both the sciences and the humanities to consider and interact with materials. Students can pursue a diverse series of routes assessing the lives of materials through their qualities and transformations and will learn from a range of people who work professionally with materials in their academic and professional careers. 
Spatial Agency  Aims to provide students with a transdisciplinary approach to spatial design and management that encourages them to think about geographical 'space' as a more dynamic and populated environment than it might traditionally have been considered. Students work with the understanding of agency from their own perspective but also those of others in the human and more-than-human environment. 
Future Labs  A deep dive into world building and a holistic practice-led enquiry into how society and its systems are designed. On this 20-week journey you will research, analyse and design your own future city. This module aims to develop your sense-making capabilities through design methods and practices by fostering your design mindset and skillset in contexts of designing for a sustainable and regenerative future.
Final year
Dissertation  Requires students to bring together theoretical concepts and practical approaches that they have encountered on the course in order to address a specific problem. Students should demonstrate their ability to think across disciplines and produce an original intervention in the field of sustainable development. The module encourages each student to design a strategy for disseminating their findings (present at a conference, publish online, publish in a journal, hold a public meeting) in the public space. Students are encouraged to work in teams. 
Design Research  Provides students with the opportunity to explore processes of practice-based and academic research of, for and through design. Students inhabit a range of methodological approaches throughout and are encouraged to experiment with traditional and novel methods of design research, and to understand the importance of serious play. Ethical issues are embedded throughout the module, encouraging students to consider, address and critique their own standpoints and perspectives. The module works with students to explore and understand structures for research funding. 
The Business of Design  This module explores how designers, in a variety of contexts, act entrepreneurially to negotiate a range of economic, social, and environmental factors that impact their practice. Students will explore, and compare, how different design businesses operate, the skills, mindset, and capabilities of those that lead them, the challenges that both leaders and businesses face, and how they address them. Students reflect on this knowledge, and how it can inform their own future careers, to formulate a plan for their own personal and professional development. 
Major Project  The end of course project challenges the students to bring all of that learning together, and to apply it to a significant design challenge requiring descriptive, analytical, critical and creative responses. This project is facing global challenges, focussing on systemic challenges relating to the Global Sustainability Goals, whilst using established and inventive methods. This gives the students opportunities to apply and reflect on knowledge and methods. 


Our single honours Global Sustainable Development course scored 93.3% for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2022


Our Global Sustainable Development courses (single honours and joint courses collectively) scored 87.2% in the National Student Survey 2022

IEMA logo

Our joint honours Global Sustainable Development courses are fully accredited with the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment. This means that upon graduation from the courses, our students receive a professionally recognised level of knowledge, skills and tools for working in sustainability practice.