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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: 2022 (September)


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2022

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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.

The course runs on semesters from Monday 5 September 2022 to Friday 1 September 2023. The admissions deadline for York is Friday 15 July 2022.

This course is taught in English.

Gain the knowledge, skills and experiences you need to lead on sustainability initiatives and change in a business setting with a degree taught in partnership between York and Maastricht University.

Our problem-based learning (PBL) and research-led approaches to teaching mean you'll develop expertise in independent and critical thinking. Through working with colleagues in Maastricht, you'll develop strong skills in international communication and collaboration. 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.

The York Maastricht Partnership is working towards offering a Double Degree option alongside this programme. The earliest that this would be available is for entry in 2022/23, and we hope to provide an update in October 2021.

Until this programme is available as a double degree, this course leads to a University of York degree, not to a Maastricht University degree. Students registered on this course are formally registered at the University of York and you will be based in York for the majority of your studies but there will be an opportunity to visit Maastricht or Brussels for a Course Conference in the summer (location tbc).

Once this programme is available as a double degree, you will be able to opt to spend both the Group and Individual Sustainable Business Project modules in Maastricht.

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New Tapijnkazerne faculty buildings at Maastricht University

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

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. (Delivered by Maastricht academics)
  • 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. (Delivered by York academics)
  • 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. (Delivered by York academics)
  • 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. (Delivered by York academics)
  • 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. (Delivered by Maastricht academics)
  • 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. (Delivered by Maastricht academics)
  • Group Sustainable Business Project (10 ECTS)
    Carry out a group sustainable business project defined by and in collaboration with a business partner. (Delivered by York and Maastricht academics)

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

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 in the Netherlands. You can also undertake your project through placement with an external organisation either in the UK or the Netherlands. If you choose a placement, you will be supported by a dedicated Industry Liaison Officer (ILO).

(Delivered by York and Maastricht academics)

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 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,290£19,950

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 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 2022/23 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

Please bear in mind that you will be responsible for your own costs during the exchange period, but you'll be able to coincide the start of this trip with the conference.

Travel and accommodation for the conference will be covered by your course provider.

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.

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Teaching and assessment

Teaching format

This is a joint course between the University of York and Maastricht University, developed as part of the York-Maastricht Partnership (YMP). For Maastricht-based modules you will be primarily taught online with some face-to-face classes.

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. Each module comprises a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops, face-to-face PBL sessions with York students, and an online PBL session with Maastricht students, 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. At Maastricht, you will be based in the Maastricht Sustainability Institute, which is part of the School of Business and Economics.

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
Classroom at Tapijnkazerne faculty buildings, Maastricht University
Classroom at the Tapijnkazerne faculty building, Maastricht University
Study pods at the Tapijnkazerne faculty building, Maastricht University

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
  • International collaboration
  • 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 6.5, minimum 6.5 in Writing and 6.0 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 176 in Writing and 169 in all other components
Duolingo 110, minimum 110 in production and 100 in all other components
LanguageCert B2 Communicator High Pass with 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 61 in Writing and 55 in all other components
TOEFL 87, minimum 23 in Writing and 21 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Merit 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.

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