Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc)
3 years full-time or 4 years full-time with intercalated year spent either studying abroad or on work placement
27 September 2021
Department of Study
Department of Global Sustainable Development
Location of Study
University of Warwick
The United Nations describes Global Sustainable Development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, 1987).
Our innovative undergraduate programme challenges you to think critically about some of the world’s Big Questions and to consider practical solutions to these problems.
- Want to identify solutions for global inequalities in food, education, work, and justice?
- Agree that our environment and societies are becoming increasingly unstable and volatile?
- 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 (GSD) course is for you. On this degree you'll 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.
GSD students are aspiring global citizens with social consciences. They’re flexible, adaptable and broad-minded. By studying GSD, you’ll take a transdisciplinary 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, Monash University, home to the world-leading Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Alternatively, 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).
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.
Core GSD modules
You’ll undertake three core modules designed to provide you with a critical understanding of the ‘three pillars of sustainable development’ (45 CATS in total):
- Economic Principles of Global Sustainable Development (15 CATS)
- Environmental Principles of Global Sustainable Development (15 CATS)
- Social Principles of Global Sustainable Development (15 CATS)
You’ll also take the core Global Sustainable Development Project module (15 CATS), giving you the chance to see how the principles of GSD apply to a real case affecting a local community.
Your remaining workload (60 CATS) will consist of approved optional modules with a GSD focus from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies.
We offer a range of unique certificates outside of the curriculum as a way of continuing your professional development. Find out more about the certificates. In your first year optional certificates in Digital Literacy, Sustainability and Professional Communication with Work Placement will be available.
Your second year will consist of 50% optional core modules and 50% optional modules.
Optional core GSD modules
As you begin to apply the perspectives you were introduced to in Year One, you'll have the opportunity to engage with a key issue in sustainability, studying two optional core modules from the following (60 CATS in total):
- Health and Sustainable Development (30 CATS)
- Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System (30 CATS)
- Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All (30 CATS)
The remaining half of your workload provides flexibility, allowing you to specialise your interests. You'll choose optional modules with a GSD focus totalling 60 CATS, either within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies.
Optional certificates including the Certificate of Professional Communication with Work Placement and the Certificate of Coaching Practice will be available.
Year Two (with Terms Two and Three abroad)
If you opt to travel abroad in your second year to Monash University, you'll take 50% of the course load outlined above at Warwick during Term One. The other half will consist of modules with an approved sustainability focus at Monash University.
During the first term at Warwick, you'll study two optional core modules from the following (30 CATS in total):
- Health and Sustainable Development (15 CATS)
- Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System (15 CATS)
- Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All (15 CATS)
Your remaining workload (30 CATS) for your first term at Warwick will be made up of further relevant second year optional modules with a GSD focus from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies.
Term Two and Three
Whilst abroad in Terms Two and Three, you’ll continue your studies by taking relevant units offered by the partner institution. These modules will be pre-approved by the GSD Department at Warwick, and will be subject to the approval of your GSD-based personal tutor.
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).
Core GSD module
There is one core module during your final year: a dissertation (30 CATS).
You'll take 30 CATS worth of optional modules from within GSD. You'll also take further relevant modules with a GSD focus from within or outside the School for Cross-faculty Studies (totalling 60 CATS).
How will I learn?
You'll attend lectures and take part in seminars, workshops and tutorials and work with other students in teams on controversial, topical problems that pose significant sustainable development questions. You'll undertake fieldwork, archival research and engage in peer discussion to propose alternative solutions. You'll review the work of other students too.
You'll be taught by a range of academics from different disciplines who'll 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.
If you’re interested in finding out how you’ll learn in each of the GSD modules, please see our module webpages.
Core GSD modules
Core first year GSD modules have between 20 and 25 hours of contact time. Each module is made up of lectures, workshops and, for the Global Sustainable Development Project module, group supervision sessions.
In the second year, optional core GSD modules have between 45 and 50 contact hours each for the 30 CATS versions and half this for the shorter 15 CATS versions.
In the final year, the core GSD dissertation module involves eight lectures and eight supervision sessions across three terms.
Optional GSD modules
Optional modules in the GSD Department are available with between 25 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 may include field trips.
Optional modules from across the University
Module offerings in other departments may involve more or less formal teaching time per week than the GSD modules.
- The Certificate of Digital Literacy involves attendance at a weekly hour-long workshop for ten weeks of the first term.
- The Certificate of Sustainability involves attendance at two workshops in the third term.
- The Certificate of Professional Communication involves 20 workshop hours over a one week period in the third term. This certificate also involves a work placement completed over four weeks in the summer (the work placement can be longer).
- The Certificate of Coaching Practice involves ten workshop hours over five weeks of the second term.
Seminar groups in GSD comprise of around 20 students.
How will I be assessed?
We continually review our assessment methods in light of feedback. Therefore assessment criteria are subject to change annually.
In the first year, two of the core GSD 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, including essays, online quizzes, presentations, and a group research project.
In the second year, optional core GSD modules and optional modules in GSD do not have traditional examinations. Depending on your module choices, you may be assessed on case studies, research papers, essays, log books, projects, presentations, quizzes and critical policy reviews.
The final year core GSD module is a Dissertation/Long Project and so is assessed via coursework, including a research proposal and presentation or other means of dissemination.
You can find out about assessment methods for individual GSD modules on our module webpages.
Modules from across the University
The methods of assessment will vary according to the optional modules that you choose each year from across the University.
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%.
Your university experience could be a truly global one by studying overseas. You can access study abroad opportunities via two routes:
1. Study abroad for part of your second year
Spend the second and third terms of your second year studying at Monash University.
Your time at Monash will be part of your degree, so you’ll graduate in three years. You’ll therefore gain the benefits of studying abroad without extending the length of your course. Your academic achievements abroad will count towards your degree awarded by Warwick, meaning your studies will be both rewarding and rewarded! This is a unique opportunity exclusively available to you as a GSD student.
You’ll have the chance to enhance your global outlook as you experience Monash’s approach towards issues of global sustainable development. You’ll learn to appreciate that different corners of the world have different concerns and priorities for sustainable development, as well as different ways of tackling issues. You’ll be able to broaden your learning in new and exciting ways by taking modules beyond the ones offered at Warwick.
2. Year-long study abroad
If you want to extend your learning and broaden your perspective by studying abroad for a year, Warwick has partnerships with universities across the world. You’ll spend your first and second years at Warwick, studying abroad in your third year. You’ll then return to Warwick for your final year. Your year abroad won’t count towards your overall final mark (but it will be recorded on your Higher Education Achievement Report), giving you the freedom to take chances with your module choices and push yourself outside of your comfort zone with your learning. Depending on your destination, you’ll have the opportunity to learn a new language and immerse yourself in a new learning context.
We encourage you to undertake a work placement as part of your study programme. This will enable you to engage in the world of work and learn about the professional environment. It’s an opportunity for you to apply theory to practice, develop skills, learn from industry professionals as well as explore a future career path. This ultimately supports you in developing your employability skills and prepares you for future employment.
As part of your degree you’ll have the option to take part in both short and long work placements which are formally recognised on your Higher Education Achievement Report.
The two work placement options are:
Intercalated year-long work placement: You’ll complete a four-year degree and your work placement will take place in your third year. The work placement can take place in the UK or globally and after completion, you’ll return to Warwick for your final year.
Short work placement: As part of the Certificate of Professional Communication, you’ll undertake a short four-week work placement which takes place during the summer. We’ll also support you in sourcing your own work placements outside of the short work placement attached to the Certificate of Professional Communication and the intercalated year-long work placement.
General entry requirements
- You will also need grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
- We make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances at AAB, plus grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
- 38 to include English and Mathematics
- We welcome applications from students taking BTECs alongside one or two A levels
- You will also need grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
Second personal statement: If you meet (or are predicted to meet) the minimum entry requirements, we will invite you to submit a second personal statement to Warwick, addressing your reasons for applying to the course. We will contact applicants directly to request the second personal statement and provide guidance at that time.
You will also need to meet our English Language requirementsThis course falls under Band C.
We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.
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).
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. We will also consider your second personal statement when making offers.
Why and how do economists address issues of global sustainable development? In this module, you’ll learn about the relationship between economic activity, social justice and environmental sustainability, 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 fundamental economic principles to the analysis of global sustainable development 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.
This introductory module examines in depth the concepts that allow you to analyse and interpret the social and political issues related to global sustainable development. You’ll learn to understand and evaluate the most pressing social and political dimensions of sustainability at national and international levels.
Upon completing this module, you’ll have acquired the knowledge and understanding to be able to offer a well-informed evidence-based explanation of the social and political dimensions of key challenges such as: inequality, environmental harm, health, and food. You’ll also be able to explain the threats to social cohesion caused by forms of economic development, reflect critically on the reasons why some countries are considered developed while others have stayed poor, and understand and write critically about the continuing challenges of attempting to provide “Education for all” and “Health for all”.
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 safe operating space for human development. We focus on the natural science of these environmental issues – covering well known topics like climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as less prominent problems, such as biochemical flows. We evaluate existing governance and management efforts, and develop innovative 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 decision-making audience. Then, you’ll convert your brief to a policy pitch: a two minute ‘sell’ of your proposals. By the end of this module, you’ll possess key knowledge of environmental principles and also skills valuable for creating meaningful change in the world of work, governance and/or activism.
This is an innovative and practical module designed to give you crucial research and analysis skills linked to the important issue of sustainable transport. The module is taught by a number of experts in the field and working on your own and as part of a team, you’ll be required to carry out research that will advance your understanding of the application of theories you’ll have studied in your other first-year modules.
A choice of two modules from:
Viable and equitable solutions in health and sustainable development require interdisciplinary and critical thinking. The first part of the module will introduce you to fundamental concepts of global health governance and health systems, and acquaint you with key global health priorities like drug resistance and mental health from the perspective of GSD. The second part of the module will focus on issues that relate to policies and behavioural change, and are also applicable beyond health, for example in areas like education or technology transfer. Alongside the module content, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your analytical skills to make independent, critical, and constructive contributions to Health and Sustainable Development.
This module focuses on how inequalities shape our societies, economies, environments and politics. Starting with the question ‘does inequality matter?’, you'll critically reflect on the UN's decision to integrate inequalities into the Sustainable Development Agenda. You’ll 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’ll appreciate the challenges faced by today’s policy makers who aim to address issues of inequalities while taking into consideration all three pillars of sustainable development.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed in 2015, commit the international community to a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity. Of these, Goal 2 specifically aims to end hunger, end all forms of malnutrition, and ensure sustainable food production systems by 2030.
The pressing need for such initiatives is stark: we inhabit a world where at least 800 million people are chronically undernourished. The world population is projected to increase to a staggering 10 billion people by 2050, yet who will be responsible for ensuring all these mouths are fed? And can we ever produce and consume food for so many people without causing an unsustainable impact on our environment?
Food security, sustainability and sovereignty are thus crucial issues confronting the world today, and it is these issues which this module seeks to introduce and evaluate. The module is taught in collaboration with active researchers from across various disciplines at Warwick, especially those involved in the University’s Global Research Priority on Food.
In this final-year module you’ll bring together all of your learning and experiences on the course – the theoretical concepts and principles and your practical know-how – in order to address a specific sustainable development problem of your own choosing. This will be a problem that concerns you most and which you’d like to tackle.
You’ll be supported by an academic supervisor to devise a suitable project and to undertake research to explore the issue, taking a transdisciplinary approach to your investigation in order to produce an original research output. This may be a concept paper, a practical project, a film production, a long essay, an advocacy campaign etc. – use your creativity!
You’ll design a strategy for disseminating your findings (for example at a conference presentation, via online publication or an article in a journal or at a public meeting that you’ve arranged). This provides you with an opportunity to get your voice heard in a forum where it matters and could have lasting impact.
Examples of optional modules/options for current students:
- Biodiversity and Ecology
- Debt, Money, and Global Sustainable Development
- The Energy Trilemma
- Human Rights and Social Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Challenges of Climate Change
- Multilingualism and Sustainable Development
- Surviving the Apocalypse
Across the University
- Problems in Governance: The European Union (Liberal Arts)
- Foundations of Political Economy (Politics and International Studies)
- Sociology of Gender (Sociology)
- International Education (Department of Education Studies)
- Society and Politics in Southern Africa (History)
- Global Health Law (School of Law)
- Community Engagement: Theory into Practice (Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning)
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 choose to complete a work placement or study abroad will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.
We believe there should be no barrier to talent. That's why we are committed to offering a scholarship that makes it easier for gifted, ambitious international learners to pursue their academic interests at one of the UK's most prestigious universities. This new scheme will offer international fee-paying students 250 tuition fee discounts ranging from full fees to awards of £13,000 to £2,000 for the full duration of your Undergraduate degree course.
As a GSD graduate, you have a wide range of career pathways that are available to you. This is demonstrated by the variety of work placements that our students have completed with employers from different sectors.
Our students have been successful in securing work placements with employers from the private, public, and third sectors. These include:
- Research institutions
- Governmental bodies
- Non-governmental organisations
- Intelligence agencies
- Environmental consultancies
Our students have undertaken diverse roles such as:
- Marketing Assistant
- Sustainability Officer
- Intelligence Analyst
You’ll 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: You’ll assess arguments, make judgements, formulate reasoned debates and generate feasible solutions
- Communication: You’ll develop advanced communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings
- Research: You’ll 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’ll learn the essentials of time management, prioritisation and how to be well organised
- Collaboration: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude
Helping you find the right career
We have a dedicated Employability and Placement Manager who’ll provide you with one-to-one careers guidance. They work in collaboration with employers, so you’ll be supported in securing appropriate work placements. You’ll have access to specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, as well as on-going support during your placement.
You’ll also have access to the University’s Student Opportunity resources (including careers counselling, employment advice, and job fairs).
Be the change you want to be
Hear from GSD student Luke about how he's putting into practice what he's been learning on his degree. Luke has implemented a practical solution to a problem in the local area by setting up a social enterprise to help tackle food insecurity.
"To me there are three pathways which a student can take within their lives.
The first pathway is that they can ignore the world issues, which we’re currently facing. Secondly, you can choose to acknowledge these issues but not do anything about it. And thirdly, you can recognise these issues are happening, and you can be the change you want to be.
This is what a GSD student represents. They notice these world issues and they want to make a change within our society.
One of my greatest passions is tackling food insecurity throughout the world. Millions of people are still going hungry every day and this is one of the biggest problems which our society is facing at the moment.
GSD is all about studying these problems in great detail and working to develop solutions from this, and so I’ve received a lot of support from the GSD community in starting up a social enterprise called Food Intercept.
We’re collecting edible fruit and vegetable waste from Coventry Food Market. We’re taking this fruit and vegetable waste to Mum’s Kitchen, a kitchen in Coventry which employs single minority women and provides financial and social support to them. Mum’s Kitchen are turning this edible food waste into meals, which we are now selling within the GSD common room. Using the profits which we make from the sales, we’ve been able to provide financial and social support to these single minority women within Coventry.
Therefore we have been able to make a sustainable impact within our community and use the lessons which I have learned from GSD to help solve problems in the local area.
It’s making these small changes within our society that are going to incrementally build up and make the big changes which we need in order to achieve global sustainable development.
I’m Luke, I’m a GSD student at Warwick."
About the information on this page
This information is applicable for 2021 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.