Sustainable Urban Futures

Study options



Key facts

Stoke-on-Trent campus
Study option:
Part-time, distance learning
22 Months
Start date:
23 September 2024

Practical problem-solving

Act as an urban sustainability consultant for a real client in a European city


Explore themes through geography, business, architecture and digital technologies

Practitioner focus

Urban sustainability professionals contribute to the course delivery

Cities represent an important frontier in the battle against the climate crisis. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, cities have grown in terms of size and influence.

Urbanisation, globalisation, and technological change has created metropolitan centres which, if managed strategically, could begin to turn the tide on climate change.

Our MSc in Sustainable Urban Futures will equip you with knowledge and strategies to help shape the transition to net zero cities.

The course focuses on the role of cities in driving innovation and change, including new ways of urban living, working, and managing urban areas. The course content will draw on case studies from international cities and include a practitioner element, with urban sustainability professionals contributing to the course delivery.

You’ll develop an interdisciplinary perspective, exploring themes through geography, business and leadership, architecture, and digital technologies.

In collaboration with other students on the course, you will also be given the opportunity to act as a consultant for an external client and make policy recommendations. There’s also an opportunity to take part in a residential field school in a city overseas.

As part of the course, you will receive carbon literacy training and can become certified as carbon literate through the Carbon Literacy Project. The course culminates in a research project, which you can carry out in a work or urban environment of your choice.

The Masters is aimed at practitioners or people who want to pursue careers as leaders of urban management and sustainability in the transition towards a net zero society.

On successful completion of study, we will issue the following award: MSc Sustainable Urban Futures

Work placements

Work or study placements are not available. However, you will complete some urban sustainability consultancy work for an external client, working collaboratively with other students and course tutors to address the consultancy brief set by the client.

You will also have the opportunity to base your Sustainable Urban Futures Research Project in a workplace environment of your choice.

Course content

This is a part-time course which students complete over two years and consists of four taught modules and an independent research project module.

The course starts with An Urbanising World and Sustainable Development which provides you with an introduction to the key ideas and concepts that underpin the rest of the course. A set of activities designed to introduce you to the University and the range of academic and student support available runs alongside this module.

The next module you study is Sustainability Transitions: Delivering Just and Low-carbon Urban Economies, in which you explore the approaches that can be used to create more sustainable, low-carbon societies.

The third module that you will study is Policy into Practice - Transformational Change in the Sustainable City in which you develop your research skills by undertaking a consultancy-based project to produce policy recommendations for an external organisation.

Your final taught module is Smart and Sustainable Cities in which you will explore the concepts of the sustainable city, the smart city and the creative city and examine some of the initiatives that can be implemented to create smarter and more sustainable urban areas.

On completion of all four taught modules you will move on to complete the Sustainable Urban Futures Research Project. During this element of the course, you will develop your research, project management and technical writing skills by planning and executing a sustainability research project on a topic or problem of your choice.


The tables provide an indicative list of the modules that make up the course for the current academic year. Each module is worth a specified number of credits. Our teaching is informed by research, and modules change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline. We aim to ensure that all modules run as scheduled. If for any reason a module cannot be run we will advise you as soon as possible and will provide guidance on selecting an appropriate alternative module.

Entry requirements

An honours degree (lower second or higher), or equivalent, from an officially recognised Institution of Higher Education in an appropriate subject such as urban design and planning, political science, geography, environmental studies/ science, environmental management, public health, social sciences, law, Information and Communication Technology, civil, construction, mechanical and electrical engineering.

A Postgraduate Diploma or other qualification recognised as being equivalent to an Honours Degree or accredited professional or vocational experience in urban planning / urban design / urban or environmental management / sustainability related areas of practice will also be considered. 

IELTS 6.0 (with 5.5 in each component)

For equivalent entry requirements in your home country, please see the information on our country pages.

Choose your country

Check our entry and English language requirements for your country.




After completing the MSc Sustainable Urban Futures you will have the knowledge and skills to develop a career as an environment and sustainability professional with the ability to formulate response strategies for the management of contemporary sustainability issues and the emerging climate crisis.

There are growing opportunities for graduates with these skills across both the public and private sectors including, but not limited to:

  • Governmental bodies and organisations
  • Local Authorities
  • Sustainability and urban policy consultancies
  • NGOs and charities focused on urban issues and sustainable development Infrastructure
  • Construction and utilities companies
  • Media and communication companies
  • Environmental Education

Alternatively, if you wish to develop your research skills further, you will be ideally placed to continue further academic study at PhD level.

All students have access to Career Connect, our dedicated careers team.

Teaching and assessment


You will follow a carefully collated and organised suite of learning resources and activities that enables you to benefit from the expertise of tutors from across a range of different academic disciplines. You will study the modules one at a time and will learn using a combination of self-instructional materials and fortnightly online classes. The course takes a practical and problem-solving approach to learning. Practioners from a variety of professional backgrounds will contribute to the modules, while many of the module learning activities and assessments are designed to encourage you to draw on your own experiences and relate these to the concepts and ideas you are learning about in order to demonstrate your understanding and identify appropriate responses to sustainability issues. This focus on practical application includes working collaboratively on a live consultancy brief for an external client with the opportunity to participate in an international fieldschool. Participation in the live class sessions and use of the interactive facilities provided by the virtual learning environment (Blackboard) allows you to develop your learning by discussing ideas and learning activities with other students and your tutors, while also providing you with the opportunity to discuss aspects of modules that you have found either particularly interesting or challenging.


During your course you will complete a mixture of informal (formative) and formal (summative) assessment activities. The formative assessments are designed to reinforce the development of the key knowledge and skills introduced within your modules. They will not be graded but will form the basis of discussion activities, enable you to receive feedback on your progress, and help you prepare for your summative (graded) assessments.  To reflect the varied and multi-disciplinary nature of the course content you will be assessed in a variety of formats including essays, research reports, presentations, consultancy reports, strategy documents, research proposals and policy briefing documents. Each of the summative assessments have been carefully designed to ensure that you have achieved the module learning outcomes and the summative assessments for every module contribute to your final grade and degree classification. 

Learning support

Your course tutors will provide lots of support. But you can also take advantage of our Academic Skills team, who can help you with:

  • Study skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)
  • Written English (including punctuation, grammar)
  • Academic writing (including how to reference)
  • Research skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Revision, assessment and exam skills (including time management)

Additional support

Studying remotely doesn't mean that you will be left to study alone. We understand that having good support is crucial for your success, which is why we make sure that however you study with us, or wherever in the world you’re based, you’ll still be able to access our full range of support services, just like our on-campus students, such as: IT and study support; our online library; careers planning; and our wellbeing service. Plus we have carefully designed the learning activities to enable you to connect with the other online learners on your course and your course tutors to help you get the most out of your learning experience and feel a part of Staffordshire University.


We recognise that feedback on both formative and summative assessments is integral to your learning experience as it allows you to gauge your progress and helps you achieve your full potential. Course tutors will provide a combination of written and verbal feedback, both at the individual and module cohort level. You will be provided with the opportunity to receive formative feedback on your assignment plans and tutors usually give feedback on you summative assessments within 20 working days.

Outside of the scheduled online class sessions you will spend your time working through the self-instructional learning materials, completing formative assessments, preparing for class discussions, researching and writing your graded assessments. The self-instructional module learning materials consist of a mixture of for example pre-recorded lectures, required and recommended readings, watching videos, listening to podcasts, exploring web-sites, completing worksheets or tasks relating to the class sessions. 

Independent learning

As a distance learning student you will be expected to complete the majority of your learning activities independently. Your modules consist of a set of carefully collated learning materials and formative assessments for each topic. This material is carefully structured to help you prepare for your online class-sessions and develop the learning and skills that you need to successfully complete your graded assessments. As part of this you will be encourage to draw on you  both your own professional experience and your experience of living and/or working within urban environments. If you require any support with your independent learning activities you can contact your module tutor by email or phone.


The course team consists of tutors drawn from a variety of different disciplines across the University so that you can learn from a team of tutors with the expertise and specialist knowledge necessary for the creation of more sustainable, low carbon urban areas. This includes expertise in urban environmental issues, sustainable cities, collaborative urban governance and public engagement for urban transformation, place leadership, carbon literacy and low carbon living and working, digital technologies and the environment and, the fifteen-minute city concept. The curriculum of the MSc Sustainable Urban Futures has been carefully designed  around the course teams expertise to emphasise the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and addressing the sustainability, climate and environmental management challenges facing contemporary urban areas. 

Dr Paul Barratt

Senior Lecturer

Paul is a cultural geographer with research interests focusing on environmental engagements, low carbon living and working, and qualitative research methods.

Paul's profile

Professor Steven Griggs


Steven's profile


For the course starting on 23 September 2024 the tuition fees are:

Tuition fees for MSc-Part-time, distance learning
Study option UK / Channel Islands International
Part-time £10,260 per course £10,260 per course

If you would like to know more about the fees listed and what this means to you then please get in touch with our Enquiries Team.

Alumni discount

If you have previously completed an undergraduate degree with us, you may be entitled to an alumni discount off your course fee for any subsequent postgraduate taught course. For further information please contact

Included in tuition fees
Included in the fees:

The accommodation and local travel costs during the field course are included in the course fees.

Not included in tuition fees
Not included in the fees:

If you choose to participate in the field course you will be required to pay your travel costs to the field course location plus incidental costs such as passport, visas and some meals. Key textbooks are available from the online library but if you would like your own copy of any of these you will need to purchase them.

Accommodation and living costs
Accommodation and living costs

Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

For more information on accommodation and living costs, please see: Accommodation

Sources of financial support

Providing you are studying towards a full Masters qualification you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £11,570 to help with tuition fees, maintenance and other associated costs. Student loans are available for many of our postgraduate degrees and are provided by the Student Loans Company (SLC). The loan can cover a wide range of postgraduate study options; part-time, full-time and distance learning. 

For more information and how to apply visit masters loan.


Location Award Study option Start date Apply Link
Stoke-on-Trent campus MSc Part-time, distance learning 23 September 2024 Apply now

Rules and regulations

If you are offered a place at Staffordshire University, your offer will be subject to our rules, regulations and enrolment conditions, which may vary from time to time.

Students of Staffordshire University enter into a contract with us and are bound by these rules and regulations, which are subject to change. For more information, please see: University Policies and Regulations

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021