Sustainable Business MSc


Fact file

MSc Sustainability
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in any discipline
Other requirements
Personal statement and a list of modules being studied in the final year (for applicants who have not yet completed their undergraduate degree)
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Jubilee Campus
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course offers a unique combination of contemporary issues in social, economic, and environmental sustainability and entrepreneurship education.
Read full overview

It will provide you with the analytical skills to understand the complexity of sustainability challenges in business as well as fostering your creative thinking to generate potential solutions.

You will develop your ability to create and assess strategic responses to complex sustainability challenges by tackling real corporate problems and organisational challenges in your learning experience.

This course draws on different theoretical traditions such as political theory, international development, and critical management theory while examining the role of corporations, nongovernmental organisations and governments.

It includes a range of optional modules in management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and corporate social responsibility. You can either choose to take a broad range of these, or specialise by choosing one of following pathways:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Management
  • Supply Chain and Operations Management

Academic English preparation and support

Accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK, the University's Centre for English Language Education provides high-quality preparation and support. Our presessional courses take your English language and academic skills to the level you need to progress to postgraduate study without taking IELTS again.

Specialist five and 10-week business and management courses are available and you could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once. Students who enter via the CELE route are exempt from paying the school's £2,000 reservation fee. For more details, please contact us.

Key facts


Course details

Across the autumn and spring semesters, you will take 120 credits of taught modules. Each module typically consists of 10 two to three hour sessions.

You will complete a 60-credit 12-15,000-word dissertation over the summer, and will be allocated an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.


You will be assessed through a combination of individual essays or group projects and written exams.




Evaluating Sustainability

This module conveys an understanding of the challenge of evaluating sustainability on a process, product, organisational and supply chain level.

The evaluation of sustainability covered within the module includes defining, measuring, assessing, reporting and communicating company activities and their specific impacts on stakeholder groups and eco-systems. The critical analysis is driven both by a strong theoretical focus and the application of practice-oriented managerial decision-support tools.

The module employs case study illustrations and content analysis as well as classroom and computer lab exercises in order to provide insights into the issue of how to evaluate and report corporate sustainability. These techniques are also utilised to offer insights into managerial decision-making for enhancing environmental, social and economic performance of processes, products (along their life-cycles from design/manufacturing to disposal/recycling), organisational production systems, and the full supply chain/network.

Foundations of Sustainability

The module covers:

  • definitions and theoretical underpinnings of sustainability
  • the integration of economic, social and environmental impacts
  • evaluation of intentions, practices an outcomes of organisational sustainability initiatives in different areas of organisations and for different types of organisations
Managing for Sustainability

Sustainable companies are those that are managed in socially, economically, and ecologically responsible ways. Today's managers are expected to understand the impact of management decisions and practices on the environment and society.

This module considers how sustainability principles are applied in organisations, and how to manage for sustainability. Through use of multiple learning approaches, the module enables you to practically interact with real businesses to address some sustainability challenges faced by the organisation.

The module introduces the you to frameworks and theories use to critically assess sustainability, and to integrate sustainability into the business strategy.

The module enables you to develop an understanding of the practical dilemmas facing businesses as they seek to respond to multiple, and often, conflicting stakeholders expectations. You will be expected to critically reflect upon your practical experiences and capture these using a learning journal.

Research Methods for Sustainability

The module covers key principles of qualitative and quantitative analysis with specific application to sustainability. The introduction will explain underlying concepts, such as, ontology, epistemology and methodology, and how these form research questions and data analysis.

The section on qualitative analysis deals with the collection and analysis of qualitative data (for example, interview, observations, and texts) and introduces specific techniques for collecting and analysing empirical material. The quantitative section will provide an introduction to statistics, hypothesis testing, sample design, and techniques of data collection and analysis.

Finally, the module will apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand and evaluate sustainability issues.



Business Ethics*

This module examines businesses from an ethical perspective. In particular, it explores the existence of corporations in liberal democracies, and ethical concerns surrounding multinational corporations and globalisation. Further to this, the module examines human rights; environment ethics; consumerism; and corporations as political actors, and as sites of political action.

The main concepts and theories underpinning the business ethics field will be introduced, and you will have the opportunity to use these in understanding business related issues. Teaching will consist of a mixture of lectures, case studies, exercises, discussions, and multi-media. Considerable emphasis will be placed on student participation in class, with the aim of promoting ethical reflection on the many important issues that surround business-society relations.

Ultimately, the aim of the module is to enable you to recognise and reflect upon ethical problems with a view to enhancing your analytical and decision-making skills.

Contemporary Developments in HRM/OB**

The module examines core contemporary topics in OB/HRM to highlight theory and provide you with a business context within which to understand the topic.

Topics include:

  • challenges organisations face in creating and retaining knowledge
  • developing talent across all the major functions
  • managing multi-cultural teams at the domestic and international context
  • the impact of the global economy on employees
  • reconciling individual expectations and the exigencies of the business world
  • employment law
Creative Problem Solving

This module will introduce you to the latest thinking in the areas of creativity, the creative process, knowledge management practices and the nature of entrepreneurship.

Having established the cricual link between creativity, entrepreneurship and economic development, the module proceeds with the latest thinking in the areas of creativity, entrepreneurship and economic development and modern knowledge management practices supported by case studies and examples of successful applications.

You will be introduced to a variety of creative problem solving techniques and learn how to apply these techniques in the context of the development, evaluation and application of ideas and concepts with commercial potential.

Entrepreneurship and Creativity^

The module focuses upon developing understanding of how social theory has contributed to understanding entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is analysed from multiple disciplines (for example, psychology, sociology, and economics) to help you establish the connections between individual and group creativity, organisational emergence and institutional conditions that support entrepreneurial value creation.

The module culminates in a process when you identify, evaluate and pitch a novel entrepreneurial opportunity. Through case studies, prototyping exercises, directed reading and discussions, the module will enable you to develop your creative problem solving abilities. These are vital for the development, evaluation and application of ideas and concepts with commercial potential.

Globalisation, Business and Development

Private sectors actors are increasingly engaging in development, and are now considered development partners of governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and overseas development agents.

This module introduces you to the global context of doing business, and the impact of business activities on development. It critically considers the changing roles of business, governments, international government agencies and NGOs, and how these actors interact to foster development.

The module adopts different disciplinary perspectives drawing from international development, political economy and comparative business systems perspectives to understand the process of globalisation and the influence of business on development concerns (for example, corruption, land and water, poverty). The module critically examines the business responses oriented towards development (for example, multi-stakeholder initiatives, inclusive business models, fair trade).

Innovation Management^

The module covers the following: 

  • Introduction - What is innovation management?
  • Building an innovation organisation
  • Innovation and family firms
  • External guest speaker
  • Sources of innovation and networks
  • Innovation strategy and blue ocean strategy
  • Selecting the right idea
  • Implementing ideas
  • Capturing learning
  • Group presentations - appraisal of innovation
  • Management of an innovative firm - consider the challenges of managing innovative products, services, processes and business models that are to be delivered across different international contexts
Launching New Ventures

This module will introduce you to the more practical elements of innovation and enterprise activity across multiple contexts, including not just new venture creation but corporate and social entrepreneurship as well.

Whereas Entrepreneurship and Creativity focuses on idea generation and entrepreneurial theory, Launching New Ventures will prepare you to recognise opportunities, and to implement innovation and enterprising ideas. The ability to make informed and timely decisions will be an important aspect of this, and the module will use a start-up business simulation to encourage this.

Managing Contemporary Operations: Fundamentals and Challenges^^

Contemporary operations management is introduced through the vehicle of lectures and case studies. Topics include:

  • fundamentals of operations management: operations as a transformation process, the context of operation strategy, how operations add value and enable businesses to compete and/or deliver effective services, differences between services and goods and the goods-service continuum, the role of operations management (strategic, tactical, operational)
  • performance measures: developing performance measures for operations and benchmarking (including customer facing)
  • types of production (ETO, ATO, MTO, MTS), P:D ratios, role of inventory within operations and supply chain, process design including standardisation, order fulfilment processes and their management
  • managing key operations variables: defining capacity and capability, reconciling demand and capacity, handling variety, mass customisation and postponement, service quality vs. cost trade-offs
  • 'push' vs. 'pull systems', theory of constraints, JIT, including Toyota production system (TPS)
  • detection and elimination of waste and the lean philosophy, practices and techniques
  • quality and quality initiatives, unconditional service guarantee
  • step and continuous improvements, issues associated with implementing initiatives and change in general

A factory visit will be organised early on in the module to provide you with some exposure to industrial operations.

Managing Organisations**

You will be provided with concepts, theories and illustrations which will help you a become effective manager in a rapidly changing world. To enable this the following issues will be considered:

  • Organisational design: in particular the alignment of strategy, structure and environment
  • The management of organisational processes: organisational culture; organisational change; decision making; power, conflict and control; knowledge management
  • The relation between organisational design, management and organisational performance
Procurement and Purchasing

The module covers:

  • sourcing strategies and structures
  • supplier selection and segmentation
  • services procurement
  • retail buying
  • negotiation
  • supplier involvement
  • public sector procurement
  • sustainable procurement
Strategies for Responsible Business

This module provides an introduction to the manner in which social and environmental problems are incorporated into corporate strategy. Enterprises are having to adapt to governmental regulation, however they often are going above and beyond the standards required by regulation.

The first part of the course will introduce the theoretical foundations for the critical analysis of the integration of responsible business into core strategy, and the second part of the course will be an in depth analysis of responsible business in the workplace, marketplace, community and environment.

The relationship between business responsibility and sustainability will be explored, as will be the relationship between responsible business and firm performance.

Supply Chain and Operations Strategy and Practice^^

Module content is divided into three major parts:

  1. Strategy, context of supply chain and operations strategy. The range of strategic decisions within and between operations. The impact of competition on operations and supply chains. Supply chain strategies for coordination and integration. Collaborative forecasting, planning and replenishment. Strategic perspectives of operations in the virtual and extended enterprises.
  2. Performance measurement, concept and importance of performance measurement within supply chain and operations management. Financial, non-financial, single and multi-factor measures. Approaches and techniques for developing customer facing and internal measures including Balanced Scorecard and Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model. Selection and application of key performance indicators. Importance of intra and inter-organisational benchmarking and approaches to target setting.
  3. Current practice, current supply chain management, logistics, and operations management approaches in specific industries/sectors. Pertinent issues and drivers of change in practicing supply chain and operations management.
Supply Chain Planning and Management

Module content is divided into three major parts:

  1. Fundamental supply chain concepts; The importance of supply chain management and logistics; Classification approaches; Buyer-supplier relationships and sourcing decisions.
  2. Supply chain management processes; Forecasting for supply chain and production management: qualitative and quantitative approaches (regression and causal modelling, time series methods); Inventory: forms, functions, decisions, and models. Inventory positioning. Supply chain dynamics and the bullwhip effect.
  3. Planning and control approaches, Aggregate planning. Hierarchical planning and control. MRP-based planning and control. Capacity management strategies. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Just-In-Time (JIT) and Theory of Constraints (TOC). Methods and techniques for planning and control.
Technology Entrepreneurship

The aim of this module is to offer you an appreciation of the entrepreneurial actions involved in the commercial exploitation of new science and technology inventions. This type of activity is increasingly recognised as vital for the commercialisation of technology from universities and research institutes into knowledge-driven organisations. Political and sociological debates about the significance of technology transfer from universities will also be considered. The importance of intellectual property and patenting as a key asset in technology entrepreneurship will feature strongly in the module.

You will gain practical experience by researching and devising entrepreneurial strategies for commercialising novel science and technology ideas. This will require working with real patents and patent searching to critically examine contextual (for example, between industrial sectors and countries) and strategic differences (for example, licensing deals, collaborations and new venture creation). Technology entrepreneurs, Science Incubator managers and related professional services (for example, IP lawyers, investors) will assist with the module at appropriate points.

Tourism and Sustainability

This module is concerned with providing an understanding of the theoretical and practical issues relating to environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability in tourism. A day long field trip may form part of this module. Topics covered include:

  • tourism and the environment
  • sustainability and biodiversity
  • impact of tourism on physical and cultural environments
  • eco-tourism and heritage
  • international case studies in environmental tourism

* Required for Corporate Social Responsibility pathway.
** Required for Management pathway.
^ Required for Entrepreneurship and Creativity pathway.
^^ Required for Supply Chain and Operations Management pathway.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Career destinations for our postgraduates include accountants, finance and investment analysts, higher education teaching professionals, investment bankers, IT business analysts, management consultants, marketing professionals, public relations professionals and university researchers.

Postgraduate careers team

Taught students benefit from the support of our postgraduate careers team who will help you to explore your career options and develop your career management skills. Our weekly MSc Advanced Career Leaders Programme is complemented by individual careers consultations, networking events and access to a wide range of employer presentations, volunteering activities and work experience opportunities.

Through a combination of your academic studies and the careers support on offer, you will be in an excellent position to enhance your career prospects and move onto the next stage of your career.

Employability and average starting salary

82.1% of postgraduates from Nottingham University Business School who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £28,500 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £50,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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