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Global Development and Sustainability

BSc (Hons)

Undergraduate degree - single honours

BSc (Hons) Global Development and Sustainability
School of Sciences
Campus or location
Newton Park
Course length
Three years full time, or four years full time with professional placement year. Part time available.
UCAS codes
Institution Code: B20
Course Code: LF81 or S166
Campus Code: A,BSU

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed under 'Typical offers' in the main column below. For combined courses, please check both subjects. If your qualification is not listed, please email with your specific details.

Explore contemporary global challenges and become a skilled professional who is ready to promote and implement sustainable development.

  • Learn to understand complex global challenges including sustainability, climate change, hazards, disasters, development and urbanisation.
  • Broaden your experience through work placements and international field trips to destinations such as Italy and Spain.
  • Develop the knowledge and transferable skills needed for a wide range of careers or postgraduate study.

Global sustainable development is at the heart of the environmental, social, economic and geopolitical challenges affecting the world today. Our Global Development and Sustainability degree is designed to ensure that you develop the knowledge and skills needed to manage the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development in a variety of locations and situations.

You’ll explore topics including climate change, natural hazards and disaster risks, cities and urbanisation, education and development, environmental justice and migration. Your core studies will focus on key themes and skills in geography and global development, and you'll have the option to study modules drawn from a range of relevant subject areas including geography, sociology, education, business and management, and politics.

As part of our supportive Geography community you’ll develop a real sense of belonging and benefit from small class sizes, specialist staff expertise and up-to-date technologies. You’ll be taught by our team of lecturers who have expertise in sustainability, climate change, urbanisation and disaster risk reduction, and who are engaged in international networks and world-leading research.

You’ll learn both inside and outside the classroom, in our laboratories, and at field sites on campus in Bath, across the UK and overseas.

Student stories

Find out more about Geography and Global Development at Bath Spa on Instagram and YouTube, or read all about our students' experiences:

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The course had a good balance of socially-focused disciplines like sociology or human geography, and more hard science modules around physical geography. Both were important to me to fully be able to understand the issues we face today.

Sophie Gonzalez, Bsc (Hons) Global Development and Sustainability graduate (2022)
A smiling student holds her dissertation

Similar courses

We also offer the following closely related degree programmes:

What you'll learn


This degree is designed to give you the skills and knowledge you’ll need to analyse contemporary global challenges.

In core modules, you’ll learn key principles in geography and you’ll apply these to examine sustainable development challenges and opportunities in a range of global contexts. Key case studies are drawn from staff expertise in Europe, South Asia, Latin America and Africa.

You’ll be able to choose optional modules in your second and final years, enabling you to specialise and develop your own interests. International field trips and a work placement give you the opportunity to develop practical, transferable graduate skills that are applicable to a variety of careers.

Course structure

Year one
You’ll develop a foundational knowledge of the social and environmental processes that shape global development and sustainability challenges, and you’ll acquire the basic skills needed to examine and analyse these issues.

Year two
In core modules you'll develop a more in depth understanding of sustainable development and learn critical skills and knowledge that are essential for careers in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), companies, charities and government agencies.

Optional modules enable you to specialise in topics such as:

  • climate change
  • food and nutrition
  • environmental hazards
  • social justice
  • migration.

You’ll also start to plan for your career options, with opportunities to undertake modules on geotechnologies, advocacy for change, or a work placement.

The optional field trip to Italy offers a unique opportunity to explore development and sustainability themes in a highly dynamic, real-world context. On this trip you’ll learn about a range of topics such as: earthquake disasters, flood hazards, air quality and pollution, climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, regional development, sustainability and urban geographies. You’ll also have opportunities to experience the regional diversity, food and culture of Italy. Please note that some of our field trips may incur additional costs on top of your course fees. Financial support for field trip costs may be available via the Bath Spa University International Travel Fund.

An optional Professional Placement Year between your second and final years gives you the opportunity to gain relevant and valuable experience in the workplace.

Year three
In your final year, you’ll complete an independent research project that'll enable you to demonstrate the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired on the course. Students have undertaken their final year dissertation projects in a wide range of locations across the UK, as well as in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Kenya, and Ghana.

An optional field trip to Barcelona allows you to study topics such as:

  • urban development
  • wildfires and cascading hazards
  • social inequalities
  • urban sustainability policies
  • city planning
  • coastal erosion
  • nationalism and independence movements
  • heat waves
  • Olympic legacies
  • urban flood risks.
How will I be assessed?

You’ll be assessed through a variety of engaging and challenging assessment formats designed to help you to develop key skills and to prepare for your future career or postgraduate study.

Your assessments will depend on the modules you choose, but may include a mix of essays, projects, reports, posters, presentations, video clips, field or lab-based activities, reflective commentaries or online tests.

Most modules are assessed primarily through coursework and assessment rather than tests or exams.

You'll complete many of your assessments as an individual, but there are also some group projects designed to help you to develop essential collaborative working skills.

In addition to the help provided by your subject lecturers, you can also access extensive support for your assessments through ASk, the Academic Skills Service.

How will I be taught?

You’ll be taught in lectures, workshops and seminars, with small groups that enable discussion and collaborative learning. You’ll learn in the classroom, lab and outdoors, with fieldwork on campus and at locations across the UK and overseas.

To find out more about how we teach and how you'll learn, please read our Learning and Teaching Delivery Statement.

Course modules

This course offers or includes the following modules. The modules you take will depend on your pathway or course combination (if applicable) as well as any optional or open modules chosen. Please check the programme document for more information.

Year one (Level 4) modules
  • Cities and Environment
  • Power and Resistance
  • Sustainability in Life and Work
  • Environment, People and Place
  • Social Theory and Development
  • Donor Logics and Actors in Development and Education
Year two (Level 5) modules
  • Geographical Research Methods
  • Spatial Development Planning: A Global Perspective
  • Climate and Society
  • Geomorphology and Environmental Hazards
  • Geographical Fieldwork: Hazards, Disasters and Sustainable Development
  • Geotechnologies for Society and Environment
  • Migration: Identity, Belonging, Citizenship and Security
  • Social Problems, Social Divisions, Social Justice
  • Future Food: Food and Nutrition in the 21st Century
  • Work Placement
  • Micro to Macro: Places and Spaces in Schooling and Education
  • Operations and Project Management
  • The art of persuasion: advocacy for change
  • Diaspora, Migration and Race
  • Professional Placement Year

Please note: If you are entering your first year in September 2024, the Spatial Development Planning module will no longer be available. In the 2025/26 academic year, it will be replaced by a new module called Global Development and Environment.

Year three (Level 6) modules
  • Global Development and Sustainability Dissertation
  • Advanced Geographical Fieldwork: Society, Culture and Environment
  • Identities and Inequalities
  • Coastal and River Management
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Culture, Risk and Environmental Justice
  • Global Empires
  • Global and International Education
  • Critical Approaches to World Politics
  • Managing Sustainability
  • Tourism: Contemporary Issues
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Conservation Politics in Africa


Study abroad

As part of your degree, you could study abroad on a placement at one of Bath Spa’s partner universities.


Fieldwork is an integral part of our Global Development and Sustainability programme as it provides you with the opportunities to learn hands-on skills with real-world applications.

There are optional residential field trip opportunities in second and third year. Our current field trip destinations are Italy (second year) and Spain (third year). Within modules you'll also undertake fieldwork in the local area including on our beautiful Newton Park campus, as well as in locations such as the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Royal Geographical Society in London and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.

Please note that you will have to make a financial contribution towards residential field trips.

Work placements, industry links and internships

You’ll have the opportunity to undertake a work placement in your second year and a community engagement placement in your final year, as well as the option to undertake a professional placement year between your second and final year.

Students have undertaken placements in the UK and in overseas locations such as Madagascar, Guatemala, Thailand, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and the Cayman Islands. Students have worked with public and private sector organisations in a variety of fields including local and national government, research and policy, advocacy, sustainability and conservation.

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

Competitions and awards

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.


This degree can prepare you for a diverse range of careers in sectors such as sustainability, environmental management and policy, planning and development, research, consultancy, business, education, humanitarian response, government, non-government organisations (NGOs), and charities.

The course also provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to progress to postgraduate study in related areas such as development, sustainability, disaster risk, climate change adaptation or environmental management.

Whatever your aspirations, our aim is that the real-world experience you gain on this course will set you up to take on diverse challenges, and to thrive in doing so.

Global Citizenship

If you’re a full-time undergraduate student starting your first year at Bath Spa University, you can apply for the Certificate in Global Citizenship, which you’ll study alongside your degree.

You’ll gain global awareness and add an international dimension to your student experience, and funding is available. On successful completion of the programme, you’ll be awarded a Certificate in Global Citizenship. This is in addition to your degree; it doesn’t change your degree title or results.

Adobe Creative Campus

Develop a wealth of indispensable digital skills that you can take into your future career. One of only three Adobe Creative Campuses in the UK, we provide all Bath Spa students with access to the full Adobe Creative Suite, giving you the tools to communicate creatively, whatever your course or chosen professional field.   

Professional placement year


The Professional Placement Year (PPY) provides you with the opportunity to identify, apply for, and secure professional experience, normally comprising one to three placements over a minimum of nine months. Successful completion of this module will demonstrate your ability to secure and sustain graduate-level employment.

By completing the module, you'll be entitled to the addition of 'with Professional Placement Year' to your degree title.


Before your PPY, you'll work to identify roles of interest and secure a placement. The Placements Team will support through timetabled sessions and 1:1 appointments.

How will I be assessed?

As well as completing a minimum of 900 placement hours, you will complete two assessments demonstrating your skill development, growth in professional behaviours and how the PPY has impacted your future career aspirations.

The PPY Bursary

Aiming to make work experience more accessible, we have introduced the PPY Bursary. Students undertaking a PPY can receive between £500 and £1,500 to be used towards placement costs such as travel, food, workwear or accommodation.

For more information and details of eligibility criteria, please visit the PPY Bursary webpage.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

You’ll be taught using our specialist facilities on our Newton Park campus in Bath as well as at field sites around the South West region and overseas.

  • Lectures, seminars and workshops
    Teaching takes place in lecture and seminar rooms on our beautiful Newton Park campus including in the Commons building.
  • Laboratories
    We have a number of well-equipped and recently refurbished laboratories dedicated to a variety of analytical applications spanning audio-visual data, soils/water/air and microfossils, to name a few.
  • On-campus fieldwork
    Our location at Newton Park, nestled in a parkland valley setting just outside Bath, is a beautiful and unique 'natural laboratory' in which to pursue environmental education. Make the most of this setting by studying environmental processes on-site including at our stream gauging station and instrumented landslide complex.
  • Off-campus field sites
    Day trips provide real-world learning opportunities in locations such as the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Royal Geographical Society in London and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. Optional international field trips provide the chance to visit Italy and Spain.
  • Online research lecture series
    Participate in the online research lecture series organised by our Hazard, Risk and Disaster Research Group. This series provides an opportunity to engage with leading research from all over the world specialising in topics such as natural hazards, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
  • Library
  • Commons building
  • Virtual Learning Environment
  • Specialist resources and dedicated Subject Librarian
  • Writing and Learning Centre
  • English Language Unit.

You’ll benefit from our excellent resources including laboratories, field tools, and a suite of IT hardware/software, all supported by a highly-skilled team of technicians. These include:

  • Audio-visual data capture including cameras, dictaphones and mobile projectors.
  • TourTalk audio communications system for use in field teaching.
  • Monitoring of environmental parameters including noise, light, air/gas, pH, particulates, water, metals, and volatiles; using dissolved oxygen and conductivity probes, flow meters, an atomic absorption spectrometer, a gas chromatogram, and a scanning spectrophotometer.
  • Hydro-meteorological monitoring including Automatic Weather Stations, temperature/humidity loggers, anemometers, infiltrometers, and dip meters.
  • Survey and analysis. Hardware comprising Total Stations, Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS), differential and handheld GPS and UAV.
  • Software including ArcGIS Pro and Nvivo.
  • Microfossil analysis using type collections and microscopes.
  • Soil/sediment analysis using furnaces/ovens, particle size sieving, soil augers/corers.


2024 entry
Student Annual tuition fee
UK full time £9,250
UK part time £4,625
International full time £15,750

Professional Placement Year

During the placement year, the fee is reduced to 20% of the full time fee. This applies to UK and EU/International students.

  • UK: £1,850
  • International: £3,150

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We’re looking for enthusiastic and motivated students who are interested in understanding and finding solutions to the challenges facing the developed and developing world today. We accept a broad range of traditional qualifications and less conventional routes into education – we welcome students from a wide background.

Typical offers

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

  • A Level - grades BBB-BCC or above preferred including a Grade B in Geography, Sociology, Economics or Science.
  • BTEC – Extended Diploma grades from Distinction Distinction Merit (DDM) to Distinction Merit Merit (DMM) in a related subject, preferably Social Sciences.
  • T Levels – grade Merit preferred in a relevant subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - a minimum of 32 points are required including Grade 5 in Geography, Sociology, Economics or Science at Higher Level.
  • Access to HE courses – 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, at Merit or higher) in a related subject.

If you don’t meet the entry requirements above, we may be able to accept your prior learning or experience from outside of formal education. See our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) page to learn more.

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.

Course enquiries

For further information about the programme or entry requirements, please email us at

How do I apply?

Ready to apply? Click the 'apply now' button in the centre of this page.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply webpages.

Programme leader: Dr Giovanna Gioli

Three year course
With placement year

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