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Individual Sustainable Business Project - ENV00093M

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Matthew Archer
  • Credit value: 20 ECTS
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
  • Notes: This is an independent study module

Module summary

This module will challenge students to undertake an advanced piece of research on sustainable business/ change management or lead a change management project within an organisation based on a well thought-through proposal. Throughout their projects students will be supported by an academic supervisor and business partners (where relevant). Projects can be academic or undertaken as placement with an external organisation, and completed in York, Maastricht or elsewhere in the world. The outcomes of the projects will be communicated via a written dissertation, blog post and presentation at the programme conference with business partners and stakeholders in Brussels.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aims of this module are to give students the opportunity to mobilise their skills, knowledge and values to lead on the design and undertake an applied or academic independent sustainable business project.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will be able to:

  1. Examine and question complex, real-world sustainability problems.

  2. Formulate and test possible solutions to real-world sustainability problems.

  3. Use relevant theoretical framework and research methods, in order to recognise and discuss the socio-economic systems and/or organisational issues at the root of sustainability problems.

  4. Present and communicate independent research on organisational issues linked to sustainability.

Module content

Students will be supported to undertake their independent academic or applied business project through meetings with the academic supervisor and the business partner (if undertaken as placement). It is expected that there will be 8 hours of meetings per student total. 2-hour workshops in the first two weeks of the course will help support students with the initial stages of project design. These workshops will be focused on academic research skills: epistemology, how to build a research question, different types of research (qualitative vs. quantitative, interventionist vs. non-interventionist), how to build a contribution, critical approaches, etc.

Teaching programme/organisation of learning:

  • Lectures: 0

  • Workshops: 16 hours

  • Supervision meetings: 8 hours

  • Assessment: Dissertation (70%), Research Project Proposal (15%) & conference presentation (15%)

  • Private Study: 576 hours


Task Length % of module mark
Essay plan : Research Project Proposal
N/A 15
Graduate/Postgraduate Dissertation
Essay : Dissertation/Thesis
N/A 70
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation : Conference presentation
N/A 15

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment consists of:

• Bi-weekly meetings with thesis supervisors will enable students to receive feedback on their research.

• The research project proposal also acts as formative assessment for the thesis.

• Students will receive feedback on their ongoing research during the conference presentation, which they can exploit for their thesis.

• Finally, they will receive feedback on a blog post they will write about their research.

Summative assessment consists of:

• Thesis (70%). An academic work, 8.000 words long, to hand in before the end of the academic year.

The thesis will be written in the format of a scientific article and students will receive guidance and a typical structure for the thesis. Students can choose to either work in collaboration with a business partner on a sustainability issue, or adopt a more traditional research approach; in both cases, the output will be a scientific thesis typical of what is expected at the Master’s level (including literature review, research question, methodology, data collection, results and discussion).

• Research project proposal (15%). This is an abstract of the thesis, handed in early in the process. This helps ensure that the student is going in a right direction and serves to address deficiencies in the thesis before it is too late to correct them.

• Conference presentation (15%). Students will present their ongoing work during the summer conference in Brussels. This will follow the traditional format of presentations at academic conferences.

This is a module delivered in partnership with Maastricht University: York-Maastricht Partnership rules apply.



Module feedback

Formative feedback will be provided in bi-weekly meetings with thesis supervisors. Summative feedback will be provided on written feedback sheets.

Indicative reading

Bansal, P., & Corley, K. (2011). The coming of age for qualitative research: Embracing the diversity of qualitative methods. Academy of Management Briarcliff Manor, NY.

Filho, W. L., Marans, R. W., & Callewaert, J. (Eds.). (2018). Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research. Springer International Publishing.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.