Taught course

Sustainability, Energy and Development

Durham University · Department of Anthropology

Entry requirements

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject. References play an important part in the admissions process.

Months of entry


Course content

The MSc in Sustainability, Energy and Development focuses on the global challenges of climate change and inequality, providing you with a wide understanding of the processes and practices that contribute to these acute issues and an insight into the depth of change that is required in order to tackle them and how that is achieved.

The course emphasises the need to understand the role that can be played by local and indigenous knowledge and community-focused action as well as the contribution made through the words and actions of local and national states, corporations, agencies and international organisations in their efforts to address these challenges.

You will be taught by an active, interdisciplinary team who are all involved in world-class research on energy, sustainability and development issues. Collaborations between the Department and the wider sector mean there are opportunities to get involved in a range of exciting programmes that aim to create a world of environmental and social sustainability. These include projects for empowering climate resilience in the Global South; inclusion and equality within European countries; the role of local authorities as agents of change with research in north east England; and projects to address the social and political aspects of new technology development locally and globally.

The course is designed to develop critical, analytical, interpretative, integrative and presentation skills and is based on core modules that look at the challenges of making the transition to sustainability in a way that benefits disadvantaged areas of society and on culturally informed perspectives on newer themes such as resilience and energy justice.

Optional modules allow you to pursue your own interests while the dissertation enables you to carry out independent research under the supervision of a tutor with expertise in your chosen area.

Course structure

Core modules:

Anthropology and Development builds the subject-specific knowledge which is central to development anthropology. This is a seminar-based module requiring you to read and evaluate the latest research material and then present your findings and conclusions.

Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience introduces anthropological and other social science perspectives concerning the comparative and critical study of the relationships between humans, energy needs and uses and the environment.

Context and Challenges in Energy and Society enables you to consider energy and society throughout history and to explore the implications of energy in the modern day from a variety of perspectives, including socially, politically and economically as well as the use of energy in global geo-politics.

The Field Study provides you with an opportunity to examine the practicalities of making changes to the UK’s complex energy structure and enables you to research and analyse energy challenges, identify the key UK energy participants and to consider the realities of energy needs.

The Dissertation is an opportunity to carry out independent research in a specialist area in which you are interested, and which has been agreed with a supervisor and your degree tutor. You will be expected to write a literature review, collect data by the means of fieldwork, laboratory work or from published sources, conduct data analysis and facilitate a discussion on your findings.

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions