Global Development & Sustainability

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How to Apply

Apply on UCAS's site

This three year course enables you to learn more about the environmental, social, economic and geopolitical issues and challenges facing the developed and developing world today. 

The course includes the opportunity to undertake an extended work placement with a relevant organisation, a volunteer placement, and overseas fieldwork, currently in Northern India. These experiences will help you develop relevant skills and knowledge, to prepare you for a career in the sector.

The course approaches development and sustainability through the underpinning of geographical concepts and the application of geographical methods and techniques to the study and solving of real-world problems. During the course you will study theory and practice in the development field, with particular emphasis on third-world development and environmental sustainability. The curriculum is broad, exploring topics including development theories, sustainability in a variety of contexts, globalisation, food supply, inequality, environmental issues, natural hazards, education, and renewable energy options. This broad curriculum enables you to specialise in areas of particular interest.

Why study Global Development & Sustainability?

This course is designed to appeal to students with an interest in contemporary environmental and development challenges, and who may wish to pursue a related career. If you are interested in 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, then this course may be for you. 

Course structure

You will study geographical concepts and principles in physical and human geography throughout your degree, to enable you to apply these to the study and solving of real-world development issues. However, the course is designed so that 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. Fieldwork is also an integral part of your learning and underpins our commitment to a relevant, interesting, and useful degree. Fieldwork helps you to put your learning into practice in the 'real world', 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 in Northern India and Spain.


During your degree, you will take a combination of compulsory and optional modules. The optional modules at all levels enable you to personalise your own degree and specialise further in areas in which you are particularly interested. 

Here is a list of compulsory and optional modules for 2015-16. Please note that this list is indicative. Some modules may be replaced from year to year in response to, for instance, changes to staffing and expertise, vocational developments, national or university policy and student demand.

Level 4 modules (first year)

  • Environment, People and Place (Compulsory)
  • Global Development (Compulsory)
  • Sustainability in Life and Work 
  • Investigating Earth Environments 
  • Visualising Society 
  • Economics and Globalisation
  • Global Food Matters
  • Peace and Conflict
  • Introduction to International Education

Level 5 Modules

  • The Enterprising Geographer (Compulsory)
  • Climate Change and Sustainability (Compulsory)
  • Work Placement (Compulsory)
  • Geographical Fieldwork 
  • Global Cities
  • Environmental Hazards 
  • Education and Development 

Level 6 Modules

  • Dissertation or Extended Work Placement (Compulsory)
  • Development and Disasters (Compulsory)
  • Advanced Geographical Fieldwork 
  • Community Engagement 
  • Identities and Inequalities
  • Climatology
  • Global Mobility, Risks and Environmental Justice
  • Globalisation and Work
  • Enterprise: Creating your Business
  • Managing Sustainability 
  • Comparative Education 
  • International Perspectives of Early Childhood

Course assessment

You will experience a variety of different assessment methods throughout your degree. These include essays, industrial project reports, scientific project reports, presentations, posters, 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.

Each module will have a different set of assessment items, and not all will include an examination. These assessment items enable you to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcomes.

This degree offers you the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge required to tackle some of today's most pressing issues, preparing you for your future career. Skills include computing (such as Geographic Information Systems), laboratory and field-based work, research and use of data to aid decisions, working alone and in teams, executing a field investigation, and clear communication, both written and oral. Through the degree you will also develop 'people' skills such as communication, team work and critical thinking - skills that are highly valued by employers.

Teaching methods

Throughout your degree, you will experience a range of learning environments and methods of teaching. These include 'traditional' lectures with a maximum of 90 students, small seminars where topics are discussed between approximately 20 students, practical exercises in laboratories, small tutorials, and fieldwork outside the classroom.

Fieldwork is central to the Bath Spa learning experience and most modules have a field day. You will have the opportunity to visit places and landscapes such as Mendip, Bristol, the Somerset Levels, the Royal Geographical Society in London, the Lake District, the Dorset Jurassic Coast, Spain and India.



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 Rebecca Schaaf, Subject Leader for Geography:

Telephone: (01225) 876336.

Typical offer range for UK / EU applicants

260-300 UCAS tariff points with a minimum of 80 points in Geography or a related subject.

We welcome applications from mature students with an Access to HE qualification. If you have non-standard qualifications we will consider any prior learning and professional experience in your application.

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:

Newsletter 2013

Newsletter 2014