University of Chester

Programme Specification
Sustainability for Community and Business MSc
2014 - 2015

Master of Science

Sustainability for Community and Business

Sustainability for Community and Business

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year (full time); 2 years (Part-time)

6 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Geography and International Development


Institute of Economic Development

Geography and Development Studies

Friday 1st June 2012

  • To offer suitably qualified students the opportunity to explore and critically examine, within the framework of a taught postgraduate programme, the advanced study of sustainability in the context of communities and businesses and particularly, the areas where they interact.
  • To be informed by, and contribute to, the broad continuing academic debates surrounding sustainability, its definitions and practice through the investigation of its application in community and business contexts.
  • To provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop an independent extended piece of scholarly research into some aspect of sustainability exploring the links between theory and practice.
  • To make available to students the particular benefits which come from the wide range of resources and the extensive network of contacts developed by the University of Chester for research on sustainability.
  • To prepare students for postgraduate research in sustainability at Master/Doctor of Philosophy level and beyond as self-directed scholars and researchers.
  • To equip students with the knowledge, skills, practical experience and contacts to pursue or develop a career involving leadership within the field of sustainability.

Knowledge and Understanding

Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the contested nature of sustainability and a critical awareness of the roles of world view and personal values in its interpretation.
Demonstrated a systematic understanding of relevant knowledge about organisations, their external context and how they are managed.
Demonstrated a critical awareness of current issues in sustainability which is informed by leading edge research and practice in the field.
Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of selected resources and a critical understanding of the academic debates surrounding resource use and sustainability.
Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of project development, from initial concept and stakeholder identification through to appraisal and evaluation.
Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Demonstrated an understanding of appropriate techniques sufficient to allow detailed investigation into relevant sustainability issues.
Demonstrated a conceptual understanding that enables the student to:
- evaluate the rigour and validity of published research and assess its relevance to new situations.
- extrapolate from existing research and scholarship to identify new or revised approaches to practice.
Demonstrated the capacity to plan, conduct and present a programme of original research.
Practical Skills

Demonstrated creativity in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to develop and interpret knowledge in sustainability.
Demonstrated an ability to acquire and analyse data and information, to evaluate their relevance and validity, and to synthesise a range of information in the context of new situations.
Demonstrated an ability to conduct research into sustainability issues that requires familiarity with a range of data, research sources and appropriate methodologies, and for such to inform the overall learning process.
Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Communicated effectively both orally and in writing, using a range of media.
Operated effectively in a variety of team roles and took leadership roles, where appropriate.
Analysed quantitative data effectively using appropriate techniques.
Took responsibility for continuing to develop their own knowledge and skills.
Transferable Professional Skills

Demonstrated well-honed project skills in stakeholder analysis, objective setting, project planning, project appraisal/business case preparation and project evaluation.
Demonstrated an ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to a range of audiences.
Was proactive in recognising the need for change and showed the ability to manage change.
Demonstrated adaptability, originality, insight, and critical and reflective abilities, which could all be brought to bear upon problem situations.

MSc  Sustainability for Community and Business (180 credits): Students take the six 20-credit taught modules: GE7002 (The (Un)Sustainability Challenge), GE7003 (Sustainable Communities), GE7004 (Sustainability and the Business Environment), GE7005 (Resource Sustainability), GE7006 (Researching Sustainability) and GE7007 (Leadership for Sustainability), and the 60-credit module GE7008 (Sustainability  Project).

PG Certificate (60 credits) and PG Diploma (120 credits) are available as Exit Awards
PG Certificate is available as an exit award to those who decide to withdraw having successfully completed three taught modules (from GE7002 to GE7007).

PG Diploma is available as an exit award to those who decide to withdraw having successfully completed six taught modules, i.e. GE7002, GE7003, GE7004, GE7005, GE7006 and GE7007.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
GE7002 7 The (Un)Sustainability Challenge 20 Comp
GE7003 7 Sustainable Communities 20 Comp
GE7004 7 Sustainability and the Business Environment 20 Comp
GE7005 7 Resource Sustainability 20 Comp
GE7006 7 Researching Sustainability 20 Comp
GE7007 7 Leadership for Sustainability 20 Comp
GE7008 7 Sustainability Project 60 Comp

Possession of a good second class degree in a relevant discipline or equivalent qualification/experience is required. Equivalence will be reviewed by an interview panel (advised by the Programme Team) and prior experience in sustainability within a public, private or third sector context will be taken into account alongside academic qualifications. The interview panel also reserves the right to ask potential candidates to submit a piece of written work for consideration, if appropriate. Decisions concerning the allocation of credit, either for admission or advanced standing, will be the responsibility of the Credit Allocation Panel. Credit will be given for appropriate certificated or experiential learning completed within the previous five years and through which an applicant can demonstrate prior achievement of learning outcomes related to one or more of the programme’s modules. A student seeking advanced standing must apply before enrolment.

There is currently no specific Master's Level Benchmark Statement for Sustainability but that for Master's degrees in Business and Management (2007), Type I: Specialist master's degrees, provides the closest fit for this programme and selected, relevant sections have been used as a foundation for its design.

Acquisition of core knowledge of themes and debates is achieved through lectures, seminars, group discussion, role-play, workshops, tutorial support and private study, supplemented, where appropriate, by field visits. The balance of these delivery methods will be tailored appropriately for each module. The focus will be on encouragement of debate and discussion, particularly in the light of keynote presentations. Workshops and field visits will engage students with exemplars of contemporary practice. 

The research project will be taught largely by one-to-one tutorial supervision following initial introductory sessions. This will occur face to face, by email or by online video conferencing. All delivery and private study will be enhanced by the use of structured online resources (via the SharePoint Portal), email correspondence and online discussion groups, each of which will provide opportunities for formative intervention.

The programme contains a wide range of assessment methods in accordance with proven customary practice for University of Chester undergraduate programmes in Geography and Development Studies. Assignments include essays, reports, presentations, project funding bids, consultancy briefs, case studies and a 12,000 word project report.

On completion of this programme, a successful graduate will have acquired a range of communication and transferable skills (as embraced by both the educational aims of the programme and the programme outcomes - see above) valuable to their current or potential employers.  Graduates will have acquired a sound knowledge and understanding of sustainability, its contested nature and its contemporary practice in a range of community and business settings. They will have experience of analysing practice in the light of theory and of evaluating the factors underlying successful and unsuccessful practical applications. They will also be aware of the role of leadership in this field. The typical graduate will be able to apply their knowledge, deal with complex issues and make sound judgements. They will be adaptable and proactive in recognising the need for change. They will be self-directed and able to take responsibility for continuing to develop their own knowledge and skills. 

In light of these characteristics, graduates from the programme will be well placed to take up leadership and management roles in sustainability within the public, private and third sectors.  Recent years have seen a growth in opportunities for sustainability professionals, with companies and institutions appointing sustainability officers and managers and the establishment of similar posts within a number of existing and new charitable organisations.  As community sustainability groups with a wide range of objectives, from community energy development to the promotion of local food and travel, become increasingly professionalised and move toward incorporation further opportunities are arising. The programme will also prepare students for further research at Master/Doctor of Philosophy level in terms of both key skills and subject knowledge.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

The Department of Geography and Development Studies respects the standard University policies regarding admissions, widening access and participation, equal opportunities and APL, as applied centrally by the University.  Consistent with the University's commitment to widening access and participation, the programme conforms to the University's flexible approach and welcomes applications from mature students and groups normally under-represented in higher education. The University of Chester values the diversity of its student body and aims to promote equality of opportunity in all its activities.  All suitably-qualified students are welcome on this programme irrespective of race, gender, disability or age. Every effort will be made to accommodate students with specific learning or physical needs and to ensure that all students benefit equally.  Each case will be examined individually and the University's Inclusion Plans will provide guidance and support, as appropriate. International students who meet the admission requirements are welcome and will enrich both the programme and the postgraduate community at the University; support and guidance are provided for international students at the institution, particularly through the International Student Welfare Officer.

Unique Selling Points The USP  of this programme resides in its currency (staff expertise and involvement of professionals and practitioners), its delivery pattern and its focus on the interaction between communities, business and public/third sectors to address issues of common concern in the era of ‘Localism’ and an emerging ‘Big Society’.  

Student Support and Guidance All students are issued with a comprehensive Programme Handbook and a Module Handbook at the commencement of each module. Students needing further advice are welcome to consult the Programme Leader (who acts as Personal Academic Tutor for the students on the programme) or individual Module Tutors. 

Learning Resources In addition to the extensive library resources available at the University of Chester all students are able to access - via the SCONUL and NOWAL schemes - a wide range of other academic libraries in the north west, including those at the universities found in Liverpool and Manchester. VLE resources will be utilised fully in accordance with proven customary practice for University of Chester undergraduate programmes in Geography and Development Studies and Chester Business School.

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