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MSc Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Management

Gain a multi-dimensional perspective on the globally important sustainability challenge faced by businesses today, with emphasis on environmental management

Year of entry: 2020/21


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

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The challenge of building long-term value for stakeholders at the same time as embracing economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities is of growing significance on the corporate governance agenda.  

Meeting this challenge requires a fresh mindset and a toolkit of professional and research-inspired knowledge and skills.  This specialist Masters will equip you with essential theoretical and evidential foundations and help you to develop relevant practical and professional skills from which you can build or accelerate a career in the field of corporate sustainability.   

Our unique course draws on the academic expertise and professional experience of the Department of Environment and Geography and The York Management School, alongside industry-leading guest speakers working in the corporate sustainability sphere.  You will have the opportunity to combine the study of sustainability-driven business models, techniques and tools with legal, ethical, financial, governance, accountability, marketing and organisational aspects.

Our postgraduate teaching is informed by our research as well as top-level international and national level experience in consultancy, industry and professional practice.  Our research includes work in areas as diverse as corporate social responsibility, ethical marketing, social enterprises, corporate governance, international business and risk management, sustainability policy and governance, climate change, pollution, supply chains and their interface with ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation and wildlife management.

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (2014) 96% of our research activity is classified as internationally recognised. 

In the latest Research Excellence Framework (2014) the vast majority of our research is rated 3* or 4*. 

Research Excellence

96% of research activity in the department is internationally recognised (Research Excellence Framework 2014)

Links with policymakers

You'll benefit from our unique access to the Stockholm Environment Institute, an international environmental policy unit embedded in the Department

Working together

Our staff collaborate with a broad range of private and public organisations including UNEP, DEFRA, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Overseas Development Institute, Willis Global Insurance Broker

Course content

Corporate sustainability takes its cue from the convergence of environmental management and corporate social responsibility disciplines, examining connections between businesses, society and the natural world, reflected in the ‘triple-bottom-line’.

Our course combines various ‘core’ modules, which provide a solid grounding in corporate sustainability principles and practices, alongside an employability-skills focused corporate environmental management training. Optional financial, marketing and accountability modules enable you to tailor a degree to your interests. 

You will be trained in suitable research methods and relevant ethical issues, while practising your research skills through a variety of team and individual projects. In particular, as an alternative to a University-based dissertation, you can opt for a placement-based dissertation which you can carry out with a suitable organisation of your choice (eg a consultancy, industry or business, governmental body, civil society organisation), enabling you to gain valuable workplace experience while conducting research with a practical focus.


For the Masters you will need to take 100 credits of taught modules alongside a dissertation worth 80 credits.

Core modules

Option modules

Choose a total of 40 credits.

Autumn term, choose 20 credits:

Spring term, choose 20 credits:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


You will also complete an 8,000 word dissertation as part of this MSc. This dissertation can either be York based (in the Department of Environment and Geography), or as a placement with an external partner.  For the former, staff in the Department can suggest a range of possible subjects and titles, but you can also devise your own title.  For the latter, the dissertation topic will be of relevance to the external partner.

For both types of dissertation, you will have a departmental supervisor who will provide guidance and who can comment on drafts of your dissertation. If you are undertaking a placement for your dissertation, you will also be allocated a project supervisor within your placement company.

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:

  • Critically assess and explain the sustainability performance of an organisation and develop programmes of improvement (Knowledgeable and Critical).
  • Identify, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a wide range of reliable sources, and collate this information to establish current understanding and independently identify key research questions in specialised areas of corporate responsibility and environmental management (Independent Researcher).
  • Work across disciplinary boundaries to link knowledge and experience from a wide range of research areas to understand the complex interactions between humans and natural environments, and the management of economic, business and social pressures on the health and sustainability of our complex global environment (Interdisciplinary Thinker).
  • Design and critique corporate sustainability policies using the techniques and tools necessary for analysing, deploying and monitoring environmental and corporate responsibility policies and issues in real world situations (Creator of New Perspectives)
  • Competently gather, synthesise and analyse data from various sources in using both quantitative and qualitative methods (Analytical).
  • Effectively and professionally communicate knowledge, complex ideas and persuasive arguments to professional audiences using oral, written, visual and digital media (Effective Communicator).
  • Recommend sustainable solutions to environment and development problems that consider broader social, political, economic and environmental contexts, and the ethical implications of their application by applying knowledge, theories and approaches from management and environmental sciences (Innovative Problem Solver).

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2020/21

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £8,040£18,240

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

Most of your reading will be available from the University library, however you may need to purchase extra equipment such as text books. You will be responsible for the costs associated with your dissertation. These can include printing, binding, telephone calls and travel. 

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

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

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

Home/EU students

International students

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

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

We're making changes to comply with rules on social distancing. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students

Teaching format

We aim to provide a broad range of intellectually rigorous and practically challenging learning activities in a stimulating, supportive and enjoyable environment.  Employability skills training is a key element of our programme.

This Masters combines formal lectures, practical workshops, seminars and a variety of group and individual projects.  Examples include*:

  • Guest lectures from corporate sustainability professionals providing insights into the challenges of developing and implementing management systems in real world situations
  • An environmental consultancy project
  • A climate-change related workshop based on a case-study with real-world practical exercises
  • A student organised conference with poster presentations on topical corporate sustainability issues to a keynote guest speaker

You will use the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to supplement lectures, workshops and other learning activities with additional material.  Subject to annual agreement with corporate partners, the programme includes one or more industrial site visits.

* The learning activities are constantly under review and development to ensure they remain contemporary and appropriate to programme learning outcomes and as such they may vary from those listed.


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. As The York Management School contributes to this course, teaching will also be provided on Campus East. 

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

Assessments provide the opportunity for you to work on tasks with practical relevance as well as practise research skills, critical analysis and structuring an argument.  Types of assessment in this course therefore include:

  • Essays and project reports of around 3,000 words
  • Preparing practical documents (eg a management tool, position paper, board memorandum)
  • Professional presentations and posters
  • Examinations
  • An 8,000 word dissertation

Formative assessment as you study will allow you to receive feedback on your progress and understanding.

Careers and skills

This course is suitable if you are aiming for a corporate sustainability related role in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors. This role is central to industrial and business activities of all kinds, with many these days employing dedicated specialists, or teams of specialists, or allocating tasks across a range of job functions. The banking, finance and insurance sectors in particular are showing growing leadership on climate-change risks and responsible investment. As such, the range of opportunities for developing a career in this area of practice is growing.

Career opportunities

This course will be of interest if you are aiming for a career in the following areas:

  • Environmental management
  • Sustainability consultancy
  • Supply chain analysis
  • Government or policy-making
  • Think-tanks/research
  • Civil society organisations
  • International agencies


Transferable skills

You'll develop a range of transferable skills during the course, including:

  • Team leadership and team working
  • Drafting skills
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Time management and organisational skills
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Experience identifying, evaluating and prioritising "triple bottom line" issues

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 degree or equivalent in a relevant subject such as Management, Finance, Environmental Science or Geography. If you have a 2:2 degree in a relevant subject as well as additional experience, such as work in environmental management, then we will also welcome your application. You'll need a good level of mathematical or statistical ability in order to follow the quantitative and financial modules: you can demonstrate this with an element of economics, accounting or finance in your degree.
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:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum of 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 176 in Writing and 169 in all other components
TOEFL 87, minimum 23 in Writing and 21 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components
Duolingo Minimum overall score of 115

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 IELTS 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.

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Get in touch if you have any questions

Fiona Dickson

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Department of Environment and Geography

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