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MSc Sustainable Business: Leadership, Innovation and Management

Prepare to lead business through current and future sustainability challenges and opportunities with our York-Maastricht Partnership course

Year of entry: 2023 (September)
Show year of entry: 2024


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2023

Applications for 2023 entry are closed. Applications for 2024 entry will open 25 September 2023.

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Business is a crucial agent for change. Instead of the origin of sustainability problems, it can be the initiator of innovation and lead on solutions to the pressing problems of our time.

Gain the knowledge, skills and experiences you need to lead on sustainability initiatives and change in a business setting with a degree from a prestigious Russell Group university.

Our problem-based learning (PBL) and research-led approaches to teaching mean you'll develop expertise in independent and critical thinking. Opportunities to undertake projects with external organisations allow you to apply your skills to real-world problems. Dedicated placement, employability and careers support will be available with this degree to facilitate these opportunities and provide ongoing careers guidance.

On graduation, you'll be well-placed for roles in internationally orientated companies, public institutions or (non-governmental) organisations that are committed to international agreements and which strive for sustainability.

This course is taught in English at our campus in York.

The Environment Building with living wall on Campus West, University of York

The course runs on semesters from 18 September 2023 to 6 September 2024.

Problem-based learning

Modern, dynamic learning that ensures you experience and understand concepts in practical, social and theoretical contexts

International outlook and social responsibility

We believe that universities should have a positive impact at a local, national and global level

Research Excellence

We've improved our ranking to become a top 15 research department, and our research is ranked joint second in the UK for impact, according to the Times Higher Education's ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

Course content

This course is a 60 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) Masters. You should expect to spend around 28 hours of study for 1 ECTS (taught, self study and assessment activities). This equates to 1680 hours over the year.

The course structure will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to undertake an independent academic or applied sustainable business project. You'll gain multidisciplinary knowledge, including business functions, theories of intra- and entrepreneurship, and environmental, social and economic sustainability.

You'll develop skills in project design and implementation. You'll learn how to design and implement effective change management strategies including how to assess, improve and monitor the sustainability of an organisation. Through the group project you'll gain the experience of collaboration with an external organisation committed to sustainable business.


Core modules:

  • Introduction to Sustainable Business (5 ECTS)
    Study foundational topics and concepts related to sustainable business research and practice, providing the framework and groundwork for subsequent modules and projects.
  • Change Management (5 ECTS)
    Gain a critical understanding of the frameworks, principles, concepts and theories of change management, while simultaneously designing and undertaking a change project.
  • Environmental Sustainability (5 ECTS)
    Explore the relationship between environmental sustainability issues and business practice, including sustainability indicators, materiality and approaches to managing environmental impact in a business context.
  • Social and Economic Sustainability (5 ECTS)
    Explore the links between social and economic sustainability issues and business practice, featuring the importance of systems thinking to address sustainability issues.
  • Sustainable Business Innovation (5 ECTS)
    Understand the theories and advanced functions of business and topics such as supply chain management, sustainable finance and environmental psychology.
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship (5 ECTS)
    Develop and apply entrepreneurial skills to address complex social and environmental problems, exploring the role of entrepreneurial action in contributing to sustainability transitions.
  • Group Sustainable Business Project (10 ECTS)
    Carry out a group sustainable business project defined by and in collaboration with a business partner.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Research project

In the Summer Term you'll initiate, design, and implement a substantial research project. You'll have three to four months to complete a dissertation based on your original research.

You can choose to focus your research on any topic related to sustainability that interests you. It could be a chance to explore a previous topic in greater depth, or investigate an organisational challenge in an industry close to your heart.

You'll work under the guidance of a personal supervisor with expertise in the subject you're studying. Your supervisor will help you develop research questions and identify methods and theories to investigate and analyse your topic.

You have the option to undertake your project through placement with an external organisation in the UK or further afield. If you choose a placement, you will be supported by a dedicated Industry Liaison Officer (ILO).

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Discuss the scientific principles which underlie sustainability problems, and critically assess and debate their solutions in the context of business
  • Analyse complex sustainability problems using theories, concepts, models and methods from a range of disciplines
  • Conduct advanced research to inform change management planning and the development of sustainable solutions in the private and public sector
  • Identify areas of focus and priorities for change towards sustainability which take into consideration the context in which they are working (organisational, regional, national and international)
  • Design and implement effective change management and innovation strategies to assess, improve and monitor the sustainability of an organisation
  • Collaborate effectively and professionally within and across organisations and develop partnerships using face-to-face and online approaches
  • Design innovative and resilient solutions to sustainability problems linked to business which consider the linkages between environment, society and economy, risk and uncertainty
  • Communicate effectively and professionally across disciplines for specialist and non-specialist audiences using written, oral and digital media

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2023/24

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,990£22,250

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2023/24 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Other cost considerations

If you are interested in the exchange option, you should consider the implications for:

  • University accommodation – we will aim to be flexible on contract length; please indicate early that this might be an option
  • Shorter private accommodation – contracts that enable release at six months
  • Visa requirements

Travel and accommodation for the conference will be covered.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching format

Throughout the course, there is a strong focus on project work and developing your change management skills.

The first section of the course is taken up by taught modules. Programme teaching comprises a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops, and face-to-face and online PBL learning opportunities, as well as independent private study.

At the start of the group project, you'll select a broad project idea from a list compiled in collaboration with business partners.

To support project development and implementation, you'll have weekly two-hour workshops and separate one-hour weekly meetings with business partners.

For your independent project, you'll have regular one-hour meetings with the academic supervisor and business partner (if undertaken as placement) as well as weekly two-hour workshops in the first eight weeks of the module.


Our state-of-the-art building contains purpose-built labs, lecture theatre and seminar rooms.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Environment and Geography on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

All the modules you take will be assessed, and we employ a variety of forms of assessment, including:

  • exam
  • participation and contribution
  • change management plan
  • reflective writing
  • teamworking
  • case study analysis
  • group video
  • group enterprise pitch
  • essays

Your individual project will be assessed on a research project proposal, conference presentation and dissertation.

Students listening during Environment Lecture

Careers and skills

On graduation, you'll be well-placed for roles in internationally oriented companies, public institutions or (non-governmental) organisations that are committed to international agreements and strive for sustainability.

Career opportunities

  • Sustainability manager
  • Environmental consultant
  • Supply chain analyst
  • Policy officer
  • Civil Service fast streamer
  • Think tank researcher

Transferable skills

  • Time management and people skills
  • Critical thinking and evaluation
  • Analytical and technical research skills
  • Comparison and correlation of disparate data
  • Theoretically/methodologically informed decision making
  • Communication to multiple and distinct audiences
  • Teamwork

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in any discipline or 2:2 with relevant professional experience.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, with a minimum of 7.0 in Writing and no less than 6.5 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, with a minimum of 185 in Writing and no less than 176 in all other components
Duolingo 130, minimum 130 in Production and 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1: 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert International ESOL C1 Expert: Pass with 25/50 in each component
PTE Academic/PTE Academic Online 67, with a minimum of 67 in Writing and no less than 61 in all other components
TOEFL 96 with a minimum of 24 in Writing and no less than 23 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Level 3 with Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Applications for 2023 entry are closed. Applications for 2024 entry will open 25 September 2023.

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Matthew Archer, Programme Lead

Learn more

Department of Environment and Geography

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