Global Sustainable Development (BASc)
Global Sustainable Development is ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’*. Our innovative new undergraduate programmes challenge you to think critically about some of the world’s Big Questions and to consider practical solutions to these challenges.
*United Nations Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, 1987
Do you want to identify solutions for global inequalities in food, education, work, and justice? Do you agree that our environment and societies are becoming increasingly unstable and volatile? Do you want to expand your knowledge of the social, economic, and environmental injustices that are unsustainable and demand change throughout the world? If you’re keen to search for the answers and make a difference to our world, our Global Sustainable Development course will help you to explore how we can work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations.
Our students are aspiring global citizens with social consciences. They are flexible, adaptable and broad-minded. By studying GSD, you’ll take an interdisciplinary approach and confront issues from a diverse array of perspectives. You’ll need to be ready to think creatively and embrace new opinions from your peers from across the world. We’ll challenge you to become an active participant in your own learning and help you to develop professional skills through certificates you’ll complete as part of the course. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend part of your second year studying abroad at our partner institution in Australia – home to the world-leading Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Alternatively, you may choose to apply for an intercalated year abroad or a work placement.
Students are automatically enrolled on the three-year course, however you have the option to change to a four-year course with an intercalated year in the third year. During the intercalated year, you may pursue a study abroad programme or a work placement (subject to you meeting departmental academic requirements).
Year 1: 100% required core modules. You will undertake four required core GSD modules, three of which focus on providing you with a critical understanding of the ‘three pillars of sustainability’: economy, environment, and society. Your fourth required core module will be a GSD Project. The remaining work load will consist of approved required core optional modules from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty studies, with a global sustainable development focus. Optional Certificates in Digital Literacy, Sustainability and Professional Communication (with a work placement) will be available.
Year 2: 50% optional core modules, 50% optional modules. As you begin to apply the perspectives you were introduced to in Year 1, you will have the opportunity to engage with a key issue in sustainability, studying two optional core modules from the following: 'Health and Sustainable Development', 'Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System' and 'Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All' (50% of workload). The remaining 50% of your work load provides flexibility, and allows you to specialise your interests, choosing optional modules with a sustainability focus from either within the GSD Division of the School for Cross-faculty Studies, or from other departments across the University. Optional Certificates are available – the Certificate of Professional Communication (offered alongside a work placement) and the Certificate of Coaching Practice.
Year 2 (with Terms 2 and 3 abroad); If you opt to travel abroad, you will take 50% of the course load outlined above at Warwick during Term 1, and the other 50% at Monash University where you will continue to study modules with an approved sustainability focus.
During Term 1 at Warwick, you will study two optional modules from 'Health and Sustainable Development', 'Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System' and 'Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All'. Your remaining workload for Term 1 at Warwick will be made up of further relevant second year modules from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies, with a global sustainable development focus.
Year 2 (intercalated year - study abroad or work placement): You could opt to spend a year studying abroad at one of Warwick's partner institutions, or completing a work placement. This year will not contribute towards the overall grade of your degree, however, it will be recorded on your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).
Final Year: There is one core GSD module during your final year, a dissertation (worth 25% of your workload). An additional 25% of your final year will be comprised of optional modules from within the GSD Division. The remaining 50% of your modules will be made up of further relevant modules from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty studies, with a global sustainable development focus.
You will attend lectures and take part in seminars, workshops and tutorials and work with your fellow students in teams on controversial, topical problems that pose significant sustainable development questions. You will undertake fieldwork, archival research and engage in peer discussion to propose alternative solutions. You will review the work of your fellow students.
You will be taught by a range of academics, from different disciplines, who will communicate their expertise on a specific issue and describe their methodology for addressing it. Your role is to bring together these various approaches and to develop your own informed stance on each issue.
Core first year GSD modules have 23 hours of contact time each made up of lectures, workshops and, for the 'GSD Project' module, group supervision sessions and a field trip. In the second year, optional core GSD modules have around 45 contact hours each for the 30 CATS versions and half this for the shorter 15 CATS versions.
Teaching is via workshops. Optional GSD modules are available with between 20 and 50 hours for scheduled contact time depending upon how the module is taught. For example, some modules have lectures, workshops, film screenings and research supervision whereas others have lectures and workshops. Some modules include field trips.
Seminar groups comprise between 10 and 15 students.
In the first year, two of the GSD core modules have an exam worth 40%. The remaining 60% of these modules and the other core GSD modules are assessed by methods other than formal examination. In the second year GSD optional cores and options do not have traditional examinations. The final year core Dissertation/Long Project is assessed via 'coursework', including a research proposal and presentation or other means of dissemination. The overall percentage of the course that is assessed by coursework depends upon the external options taken.
The final degree classification is determined by your second and final year marks and each contributes 50%.
There is an option to spend Terms 2 and 3 of the second year abroad studying at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Students may be based at either the University’s Melbourne campus or at its campus in Malaysia.
Students spend the first term of their second year studying at Warwick, and will travel to Australia in February to join Monash for the start of its second semester (which spans Warwick’s second and third terms). This arrangement is the integrated terms abroad variant of the course.
During their time abroad students study approved modules/units with a sustainability focus, and will undertake assessments. The credit gained from this study is used to contribute towards the final degree classification awarded by Warwick. Students may also choose to spend a year studying or working abroad (e.g. as part of the ERASMUS scheme).
Marks gained from such study do not count towards the overall Warwick degree but recognition of the time spent abroad is recorded on the Higher Education Achievement Report.
A level: AAA as well as Grade B/Grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
IB: 38 to include English and Mathematics (at Higher Level or Standard Level 5)
Additional requirements: You will also need to meet our English Language requirements.
Contextual data and differential offers
Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in the Realising Opportunities programme, or who meet two of the contextual data criteria. Differential offers will be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer (to a minimum of BBB).
- Warwick International Foundation Programme (IFP)
All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only). For full details of standard offers and conditions visit the IFP website.
- We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications. For more information please visit the international entry requirements page.
Taking a gap year
Applications for deferred entry welcomed.
We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.
Second personal statement
We ask applicants who meet, or are predicted to meet, the minimum entry requirements to submit a second personal statement to Warwick which addresses their reasons for applying to the course.
Economic Principles of Global Sustainable Development (GSD)
What is economic development, what does it look like and how can it be measured? These are questions that are explored in this module. You’ll learn about the relationship between economic activity and social and environmental development, the economic theories that underpin sustainable development policy interventions, and how those theories impact upon policy design. After studying this module, you’ll be able to apply the economic principles that you’ve learned to the analysis of GSD problems. You’ll also understand how economic policies intended to address those problems are developed and be able to offer informed critiques of such policies.
Social Principles of GSD
This introductory module examines in-depth the most crucial concepts that allow you to analyse and interpret the social and political issues related to GSD. You’ll be considering complex, topical issues that allow you to understand and evaluate the most pressing social and political contexts of sustainable development at national and international levels. Upon completing this module you’ll have acquired specific knowledge and understanding that allows you to offer a well-informed evidence-based explanation of the key challenges that face our world, focusing on the social and political contexts.
You’ll also be able to explain the global social threats that are caused by economic development, consider and reflect critically on the reasons why some countries developed while others stayed poor, engage critically with various strategies that have been suggested to end extreme poverty, understand and write critically about the continuing challenges of providing “Education for all” and “Health for all”, and write critically about the notion of goal-based development.
Environmental Principles of GSD
This module is structured around an emerging global consensus that humans are compromising the global biosphere by transgressing nine Planetary Boundaries: the result of which will be fundamental and unrecoverable change that significantly compromises the operating space of human development. We focus on the natural science of these environmental issues – covering well known topics like climate change and biodiversity loss, but also lesser realised problems, such as biochemical flows. We evaluate existing governance and management efforts, and try to develop responses of our own. You’ll be taught how to write a Policy Briefing and will prepare one on your chosen subject, aimed at a specific key decision maker. Then, you’ll convert your Brief to a Policy Pitch: a two minute ‘sell’ of your research. By the end of this module, you’ll possess key knowledge of environmental principles and also skills valuable for creating meaningful change in the real world of work, governance and/or activism.
During this module, you'll collaborate with your peers on a task of investigating the issue of sustainable transport. You'll be immersed in a wealth of qualitative and quantitative data that you'll gather, examine, analyse and critique. As well as deepening your understanding of the economic case for sustainable transport, you'll be strengthening your academic research skills to deconstruct a major problem, formulate and test hypotheses, evaluate the evidence, and undertake field research, including interviews and focus groups.
A choice of two modules from the following:
Health and Sustainable Development
Your starting point on this module is the sustainable development goals for health and well-being, gender equality and reducing inequalities, with an overarching theme of how our bodies relate to various forms of development. You can expect to articulate your knowledge of major global inequalities and apply your understanding across different cultural and social norms. You'll ask provocative questions and critically engage with the way the environment is affecting health outcomes, and critique the efficacy of policy measures that aim to address health-related global crises. You’ll also improve your research skills by generating original, well-researched arguments for policies that address health and inequalities outcomes.
Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System
At least 800 million people are chronically undernourished globally, and the global population is projected to increase to a staggering 10 billion by 2050. From this challenging starting point, you’ll be working with active researchers from across various disciplines at the University of Warwick. You'll become acquainted with contrasting disciplinary approaches to the investigation of food systems, and be able to analyse scholarly concerns surrounding food security, sovereignty and sustainability. You’ll evaluate competing solutions and research, evaluate and synthesise academic and other credible research and analysis in order to respond critically to the essential topics and questions in this exciting field.
Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All
This new module focuses on issues of inequalities shaping our societies, economies, environments and politics. Starting with the question does inequality matter, you will critically reflect on the UN’s decision to integrate inequalities into the Sustainable Development Agenda. You will then explore six different dimensions of inequalities (work, politics, environmental justice, societal discrimination, automation and globalisation, opportunities and empowerment) and gain an understanding of the complexities of these problems. Finally, you will appreciate the challenges faced by today’s policy makers who aim to reduce inequalities.
Examples of optional modules/options for current students
Challenges of Climate Change; Human Rights and Social Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean; Debt, Money, and Global Sustainable Development; Managing Natural Resources; Realising Sustainable Development.
Click here for the full list of optional modules.
Our degree programmes have been developed to provide you with a set of skills that will enable you to compete for existing and emerging roles across a variety of professions. Your options are varied across a range of industries, from working in the United Nations to advising small businesses on issues that will affect the local community.
You will also 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’ll learn how to extract the essential features of complex systems, providing useable frameworks for evaluation.
- Critical thinking: Assess arguments, make judgements, formulate reasoned debates and generate feasible solutions.
- Communicating: Develop advanced communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings.
- Researching: An integrated programme of research skills training, teaching you how to source, evaluate and use different forms of information and data.
- Organising: Through a rigorous assessment schedule and a compulsory dissertation module in your final year, you’ll learn the essentials of time management, prioritisation and how to be well organised.
- Collaborating: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude.
The GSD Division has a dedicated Placements' Officer who is able to offer careers guidance, provide information about suitable placement opportunities and support you to secure appropriate work experience. The Placements' Officer gives specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, and provides on-going support for you whilst on placement. In addition, the Officer delivers the associated Certificate of Professional Communication.
Degree of Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc)
3 years full-time
4 years full-time with intercalated year
28 September 2020
Location of study
University of Warwick, Coventry
Find out more about fees and funding
Additional course costs
There may be costs associated with other items or services such as academic texts, course notes, and trips associated with your course. Students who transfer to the intercalated course and do a year-long work placement will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.
This information is applicable for 2020 entry.
Given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. It is important to check our website before you apply. Please read our terms and conditions to find out more.
What our students say...
Straight from the students themselves.