Climate Change and Development (MSc, PGDip and PGCert)


Study for a prestigious MSc in Climate Change and Development by distance and flexible learning.

The level of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere means that some climate change is now inevitable. Dealing with climate change is critical for the prospects of development and is being prioritised by governments, development agencies and NGOs around the world. As such, anyone working in these organisations will benefit from a thorough grounding in the adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change.

The MSc Climate Change and Development will enable employees of these organisations to drive towards change more effectively. The programme covers key issues within climate change and development, such as energy access, poverty, social protection, gender and social justice. The modules draw from a wide range of disciplines, concepts and methods, including economics and political economy, environmental science and law, human geography, and social development.

Programme aims

The core aims of this programme are:

  • To offer critical insight into how current development models produce environmental problems, like (but not limited to) climate change, which themselves threaten the objectives of development.
  • Asking what magnitude of change is required to confront the problems of climate change: do we need reform or revolution?
  • Helping you to develop the analytical skills to solve adaptation problems and identify low carbon development options.
  • Providing the skills to progress towards PhD studies for anyone interested in research.

Programme details

  You study Study period Cost (2017-18)
MSc 4 modules, plus dissertation 2-5 years £9,500
Postgraduate Diploma 4 modules 2-5 years £7,600
Postgraduate Certificate 2 modules 1-5 years £3,800
Individual Professional Awards Individual modules are ideal for updating your knowledge or sampling the programme. If you later register for the MSc or Postgraduate Diploma, you will receive credit for modules you have completed. For 2018, the fee per module is £1,900. Further information.

Career progression

This programme is designed to assist both existing and future professionals working within the environment and development fields. As an existing professional, you can update and underpin your expertise with up-to-date theory and literature.

Graduates will be well-prepared for roles in the public sector, international organisations, NGO's, consultancies and development projects involved in:

  • policy analysis and implementation for disaster risk reduction;
  • climate and broader environmental issues;
  • local and national climate change strategies;
  • energy and development;
  • poverty reduction.

You will also be prepared for roles within social enterprise and corporate social responsibility organisations and departments whose area of focus encompasses environment and development.

Comprehensive study materials and support

For each module, we send you detailed study guides, textbooks and supplementary study materials which may include computer software. Most study guides are now provided in electronic format, but may also be printed if required.

Tutorial support is via an online learning environment and the study forum. This allows for a range of contacts and peer-learning possibilities that will help to enrich the distance learning experience.

Your time commitment

You take modules one at a time over 16-week study sessions, which begin in April and October. We recommend studying around 15 hours per week during these sessions, and making additional time for exam revision after the study term has ended.

Summary of key dates

Climate Change and Development
Application deadline 13 September 2017 13 March 2018
Start of session 17 October 2017 17 April 2018



Core modules

Climate Change and Development

Provides a multi-disciplinary understanding of climate change processes and of their direct and indirect interactions with development. It describes the main climate change processes, scenarios and vulnerabilities, and international and national policy responses. Different sectors’ contributions and sensitivities to climate change (and to mitigation and adaptation responses) are identified, with their implications for policies and outcomes for different economies and for people’s livelihoods within them.

Elective modules

Climate Change Adaptation

This module provides a multi-disciplinary understanding of climate change processes and their direct and indirect interactions with development. It describes the main climate change processes, scenarios and vulnerabilities, and international and national policy responses. Different sectors’ contributions and sensitivities to climate change (and to mitigation and adaptation responses) are identified, with their implications for policies and outcomes for different economies, and for people’s livelihoods within them.

Low Carbon Development

This module explores the main issues around climate change mitigation and low carbon development. Global climate change poses a serious threat to international development efforts. Developing countries -and especially the poor- have historically contributed very little to climate change. However, they are often the most vulnerable to climate change due to their limited resources and limited capacity to adapt to climate change. At the same time, developed countries and emerging economies are struggling to mitigate emissions that lead to climate change. To mitigate the emissions leading to climate change and achieve human development, there is a need for serious global commitment to low carbon development. Low carbon development is a new development model, which aims to achieve these two goals simultaneously.

Energy and Development

This module explores the main issues around energy and development. As 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity and 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass for basic needs such as cooking and heating (World Bank, 2014), access to energy is a key development issue and is a prerequisite to achieving development goals. At the same time, energy use is closely intertwined with environmental challenges such as climate change, fossil fuel resource depletion, air pollution and natural resource management (land, water, forests).

This module elaborates the key issues and concepts in the field of energy and development; it addresses policy responses such as the energy issues underlying the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the United Nations’ (UN) target of universal energy access. The module further outlines various options for delivering energy access (both low carbon and fossil fuel based) and their environmental, socioeconomic and technological implications, and how this links to contemporary global challenges in the fields of environmental management and sustainable development.

Biodiversity, Conservation and Development

This module is about the relationship between conservation and development, with biodiversity as the material and conceptual phenomenon that binds them. Since at least the 1700s, it has been s a distinctly unhealthy and inharmonious relationship in many ways. Indeed, it has now come to the point that the environmental implications of predominant development trajectories are so profound, that we are said to be living in the Anthropocene, an era in which the biggest single influence on Earth systems is human activity. How we treat biodiversity is one of the fundamental determinants of the nature and society in which we and future generations will live.

At the core of the module is a focus on three themes. The first theme is how and why it is not possible to understand conservation and development in isolation from each other. The second theme is the environmental impacts of economic activity and what that says about the current relationship between conservation and development. The third theme is what to do about environmental problems; in particular, what we are currently doing about them, and what our current activities mean for the future of conservation and development.

Food Security and Social Protection

Considers in a unified manner two highly topical policy areas that too often are treated in isolation: food security and social protection. The basic conceptual approach centres on the livelihoods of poor individuals and households and their management of risk and shocks. Policies to help households manage risk and accumulate assets are critically evaluated and particular attention is paid to how greater complementarity can be achieved across policies for agricultural development and social protection.

Gender and Social Inequality

This module provides an overview of the major contemporary issues in gender and social inequality, which cut across all areas of policy and development practice in both the developed and developing world. The module examines definitions, concepts and theories of sex, gender and identity; it examines the historical emergence and evolution of various types of feminism; and it examines the ways in which gender inequality can be addressed - and sustainable development promoted - through policy and in practice.

Global Environmental Change and Sustainability

This module provides an overview of the major contemporary issues in global environmental change and sustainability, which has increasing relevance for environmental management and development practice in both the developed and developing world. The module examines definitions, concepts and theories of global environmental change and sustainability; it examines the historical emergence and evolution of scientific and social science understandings of environmental change; and it examines the ways in which global environmental change is increasingly entangled with notions of sustainability.

Political Economy of Public Policy

This module explores the interactions between politics and policy, seeking to understand actual policies as the outcome of interaction between rational politicians and the people and groups who help them acquire and retain power. Moreover, policy-making both faces economic constraints and generates economic outcomes that affect future distributions of power within society. Thus, political economy explores the two-way interaction between economics and politics.

Understanding Poverty

Introduces concepts and definitions of poverty. It explores trends in poverty (especially rural poverty) across and within continents, along with debates about the causes of these trends, and introduces the national and international policy architecture for poverty reduction.

Urban Sustainability

This module provides an overview of the major contemporary issues in urban sustainability, which has increasing relevance for policy, planning and development practice in both the developed and developing world. The module examines definitions, concepts and theories of urban sustainability; it examines the historical emergence and evolution of notions of urban sustainability; and it examines the ways in which urban sustainability can be promoted through policy and planning and in practice.

Water and Land Management for Sustainable Development

This module provides an opportunity to study and understand fundamental theories, concepts and tools relevant to the management of water and land resources. Management of water, land and the linkages between are key for sustainable development, and affect both the developed and developing world. The themes of climate change, poverty, gender, equity, development and sustainability are treated as cross-cutting in this module.

Study materials

How you study

This programme is based on a proven model of Distance Learning delivery that places the student experience at the centre of our collective endeavours.

The programme’s design is particularly structured to draw out the relevant working experience of students during their studies on the programme.

Students take one subject module at a time which is studied over a sixteen-week study session.

There will be two sixteen-week study sessions plus two dissertation study sessions during a calendar year. Support and feedback for students will be available from your dedicated Associate Tutor.

The programme will employ a range of innovative and engaging student-focused assessments appropriate to the distance learning mode of delivery.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

You will be able to access all learning materials through the VLE including:
  • Current module materials
  • Learning activities (E-tivities) specifically designed to meet the module learning outcomes
  • The University of London Online Library
  • A dedicated Associate Tutor to facilitate student learning.


Total MSc£ 9,500
Total Postgraduate Diploma£ 7,600
Total Postgraduate Certificate£ 3,800
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Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for

  • the fee charged to your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.


If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.


Fees are subject to annual revision and typically may be increased by up to 5% per annum. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.


Student learning is intimately linked to assessment in the programme to ensure students do as well as they can.

Each module will be assessed on one written assignment (40-50 % of the module mark), a hand written examination (40-50 % of the module mark), and in some modules, online participation in regular learning and discussion exercises (10-20% of the module mark).

Dissertation involves desk based and/or field-based research.

In the breaks between terms one and two of a typical two-year MSc programme, there is dedicated time to work on the dissertation. In year one, you will focus on learning what doing original research entails and acquiring the methods training that will permit you to go about it. In the first year, you will be required to produce:

1. a topic form, on the basis of which a supervisor would be allocated

2. an assessed proposal, an elaborated plan of proposed plan, based on learning done around research gaps, questions, research design, methods and data analysis, along with input from the supervisor.

In year two, you will move to the data collection stage and follow this up with the analysis and write-up to be undertaken, as in year one, mostly within the 8 week breaks between the two study terms. Your dissertation is assessed through two components: the assessed proposal (20% of the final module mark); and the 10,000 word dissertation (80% of the final module mark).


Academic Requirements

To be registered for the MSc Climate Change and Development, an applicant must have, either:

• in a relevant discipline, a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree from a UK university or other institution

acceptable to the University, or an equivalent international qualification (qualifications in other subjects will be assessed on their merits)


• in a relevant discipline, previous education and experience without a UK Bachelor’s degree, or international equivalent, that satisfies the University and has included suitable preliminary training.

Applications will be welcome from applicants with unconventional career paths and consideration will be given to work experience.

Language Requirements

For all of our modules you are required to have a high level of English language ability in reading and writing and in study skills.

If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to a score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

Certain courses may have addtional requirements, such as:

  • Microphone and speakers
  • software to manage spreadsheets and run macros
  • software for playing mp3 and mp4 files.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

CeDEP - Academic leadership

The Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP) is a centre within SOAS University of London. CeDEP aims to increase professional understanding of development, the environment, and related subjects by advanced research and by high quality postgraduate degree programmes.

A merging of the former Imperial College Distance Learning Programme at Wye with Public Policy and Management at CeFiMS (SOAS), CeDEP is now one of the largest international postgraduate distance learning programmes in the field. It currently has over 1,000 students working in a range of non-profit organisations [NGOs], governments, businesses and other organisations spread over more than 160 countries.

Most of these students are professionals already working in their field of study. They seek to deepen and broaden their understanding and skills to open up new opportunities and make them more effective in their careers.

The diversity within the student community and the networking facilitated by this programme provides a wonderful opportunity to learn from and share experiences with peers in many different countries. For further information please visit the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy website.