Global Development & Sustainability

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How to Apply

Apply on UCAS's site

Learn about the environmental, social, economic and geopolitical challenges facing the developed and developing world.

  • Friendly, supportive team of lecturers, who are excellent teachers and active researchers
  • Opportunity to undertake various placements as well as overseas fieldwork, currently in Northern India
  • The grounding in geography enables development of practical skills, highly valued by employers

Why study Global Development & Sustainability?

How we can live in a more sustainable way, with a good quality of life for all, without jeopardising the environment and the lives of future generations?

This course is for individuals with an interest in contemporary environmental and development challenges, and who may wish to pursue a related career. You’ll explore topics including development theories, sustainability in a variety of contexts, globalisation, food supply, inequality, environmental issues, natural hazards, education, and renewable energy options. Our broad curriculum enables you to specialise in areas of particular interest.

Course structure

Studying Development and Sustainability at Bath Spa University, you’ll examine relevant geographical concepts and apply geographical methods and techniques to real-world problems.

You’ll learn principles in physical and human geography throughout your degree, which you’ll apply to the study and solving of development issues.

The course is designed so you can specialise in areas of particular interest, by choosing specific modules. There is a strong vocational focus to the course, with opportunities to undertake an extended work placement, a volunteer placement and an industry-relevant project.


  • Year 1
    The first year of this course introduces you to the theories and realities of development and sustainability issues globally. You’ll acquire the foundational geography skills to equip you to develop your interests and skills in these fields.

    Beyond these compulsory elements, you’ll have a choice of modules covering a range of topics, which may include:
    • social and economic inequalities
    • development organisations and structures
    • migration
    • social exclusion
    • economics and globalisation
    • global food issues
    • activism
    • international education

  • Year 2
    This year you acquire more specialist knowledge and skills in relevant topics and research methods relevant to professional practice. Your research skills are developed through an extended research project where you will apply your growing mastery of your subject to real-world problems and issues. You will also start to further explore career options and planning, with opportunities to do a work placement or volunteering overseas.

    Optional topics include:
    • environmental hazards
    • climate change and society
    • the use of geotechnologies
    • migration and citizenship
    • education and development

    The field trip to India offers a unique opportunity to explore development and sustainability themes in a real-world context. On this trip you will examine environmental hazards and development, wellbeing and social inequalities, and the legacy of colonialism.
  • Year 3
    This year you’ll specialise your interests further. You’ll develop your skills as an independent scholar by undertaking primary research that will enable you to demonstrate the your academic and transferable skills. Alternatively you can undertake an extended work placement with a relevant research report. Optional topics include:
    • development and disasters
    • identities and inequalities in society
    • globalisation
    • environmental justice
    • business enterprise
    • managing sustainability
    • international education

    An optional field trip to Barcelona examines urban regeneration, social inequalities and urban sustainability. There is also the opportunity to undertake a community placement and project as part of your studies.

Course assessment

You’ll experience a variety of different assessment methods throughout your degree. These include essays, project reports, presentations, posters, video-clips, field-craft assessments, reflective items, time-constrained tests and examinations. These will give you a rich and diverse skills learning experience, be of real benefit in the search for a good career, and be useful in your professional activities.

Study abroad

You’ll have the opportunity to study in a wide range of locations around the world. Our students have completed Erasmus+ and Exchange programmes in a variety of countries including Australia, Finland and the USA.

Field trips

'Field trip opportunities have been brilliant and a really valuable experience' – Geography graduate, 2015

We’re committed to giving you a relevant, interesting and useful degree; fieldwork is integral to this. Fieldwork helps you to put your learning into practice and gives you experience of working in teams and in unfamiliar environments.

There are various field days during modules as well as residential fieldwork opportunities overseas, currently to Northern India, Zambia and Spain. Please note that you will have to make a financial contribution towards these residential study visits.

Work placements, industry links and internships

There are opportunities to undertake work placements in your second and third year – this is an excellent way to gain experience in the workplace.

Guest speakers from industry contribute to the learning experience throughout the course. This engagement with potential employers will help you make those all-important career decisions when you graduate.


There are prizes awarded each year in recognition of excellence in the core modules. This culminates with the Excellence in Global Development and Sustainability Prize, recognising the best overall performance in the compulsory modules in the final year of study.

Teaching methods

Good teaching is important to us; our graduates highly rate the quality of teaching on the course. In our friendly department you’ll benefit from small classes, specialist expertise, and up-to-date technologies, including ArcGIS and GPS survey instruments. You’ll experience lectures and workshop or seminar-based teaching, with small groups to enable discussion about specific topics.

Application method

Full-time applications are through UCAS.

International students should visit our international pages for more information about our entry requirements, fees and scholarships, and student support.

Course enquiries

Want to know more about Global Development and Sustainability at Bath Spa? We have Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year. If you can't make any of those, we are also happy to arrange individual visits for you to have a look around at the facilities and ask any questions you may have. You can get in touch using the contact details adjacent. We hope to see you here soon!

Please contact Dr David Simm, Subject Leader for Geography:

Telephone: (01225) 876336.

Typical offer range for UK / EU applicants

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - Grades BCC - CCC preferred with Grade C in Geography, Sociology Economics or Science
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades Merit, Merit, Merit (MMM) preferred in a related subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - A minimum score of 26 points required.
  • Typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher).

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Career opportunities

There is a strong vocational focus to the course, and it draws on expanding links to a network of related employers in the UK and overseas. These include Oxfam, African Initiatives, Our Future Planet, Soil Association, Wherever the Need, Send a Cow, and Concern Universal. Throughout the three year course, you will gain a range of skills, a wealth of knowledge, and experience of range of opportunities to put your skills and knowledge into practice in the field and in the workplace.

There are various career opportunities available to BSc GDS graduates from careers in the development charity sector, humanitarian relief, natural resource management, disaster management, development planning and public service provision, to careers in business, education, tourism, marketing, retail and further study. This course aims to give you the theoretical knowledge, practical training, and vocational and problem-based learning to give you the best chance of securing a good career.

What students say...

We take the views of our students very seriously, and evaluations of each module are undertaken each year, incorporating feedback from all students. You will also have the opportunity to represent your peers at committee and board meetings that meet regularly to discuss the shape and evolution of your course.

Find out about the activities of staff and students in our annual newsletter: