MSc, 1 year full time/2 years part time
- Climate change and sustainable energy are perhaps the most important issues of our time. The challenge is to make a worldwide transition to a low-carbon economy, while at the same time providing modern energy services to a growing population and adapting to the increasingly substantial, but often uncertain, impacts of a changing climate. To meet these challenges, society needs professionals and policy-makers who understand the complex, multidimensional scientific, socioeconomic, technological and institutional challenges associated with sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and climate adaptation.
- Sussex is renowned for its agenda-setting, interdisciplinary teaching and research in science, development, and policy studies. Our climate change and energy policy degrees are designed to provide state-of-the-art training for this expanding professional market.
- You are taught by faculty from:
- the Department of Geography, which is a leading centre of geographical scholarship in the UK with particular strengths in climate science, impacts and adaptation
- SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit, which is the longest-established and largest academic body studying science, technology and innovation in the world, ranked second only to Harvard in terms of research impact on innovation studies (Research Policy, 2012). The Sussex Energy Group within SPRU aims to identify ways of achieving the global transition to sustainable, low-carbon energy systems.
- the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), which is ranked 1st university-affiliated think tank in the UK and 3rd in the world (University of Pennsylvania: Global Go To Think Tanks Report 2012). The Climate Change research group at IDS promotes collaborative research and policy analysis, delivery of high-quality research degrees, knowledge services, teaching and training. The team works closely with the University of Sussex and a strong network of partners in developing countries.
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111th in the world
Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015
1,600 km2 of South Downs
National Park area
students live on campus
700,000 books and e-books, and
30,000 journals in the library
students study at Sussex
Around 4,500 full- and
part-time jobs advertised each year
Over 900 paid internships
advertised in the last 18 months
300 careers events each year
£500-million future investment
in campus buildings and facilities
Over 95 countries across the world
are home to Sussex graduates
956 academic staff
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140 student societies and
over 30 sports clubs
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< 9 minutes to Brighton
< 30 minutes to Gatwick Airport
< 60 minutes to central London
< 90 minutes to Heathrow Airport
- Specialist facilities
Specialist facilities in the School of Global Studies
The University offers extensive computing facilities with a full range of data-processing and communications software. Office space is usually allocated to students taking research degrees. You have full access to the University’s main Library and its online collection.
Specialist facilities at IDS
IDS plays a lead role in the provision, development and support of information and intermediary services that build a bridge between development research and development policy and practice. The IDS Knowledge Services include both broad-based services such as the development policy, research and practice information online gateway Eldis, and specialist services such as BRIDGE (gender), the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC) and the Livelihoods Connect Network. IDS Knowledge Services also work in partnerships with organisations in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) is Europe’s most comprehensive research collection on economic and social change in developing countries. IDS students have full access to a wide range of online databases, CD-ROMs, e-books and e-journals in addition to the facilities at the University’s main Library.
Martin's faculty perspective
‘There can be few areas of science that directly inform policy to the extent that climate science does today. When I started my climate research career more than 20 years ago, climate science was a minority interest and climate change only a peripheral issue. Now it is at the forefront of the scientific, social, economic and political agendas and has a prominent media profile.
'Since climate change has moved out of the research labs and onto the front page, I felt I wanted to look outwards also. Coming to Sussex has enabled me to work with leading groups that work directly on developing policy on the shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy and on the impact of climate change on people in the developing world. It has highlighted the magnitude of the challenge society faces and the necessity for the multidisciplinary approach we are developing at Sussex.’
Professor Martin Todd
Chair in Climate Change
Climate change is already affecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, who often lack the robust systems and capacity needed to cope. This course equips both those new to the field and development practitioners with the key skills and knowledge to work on the implications of climate change for global and regional development.
You acquire specialist knowledge of the causes of climate change (taught specifically for non-climate specialists), the physical and human consequences, and efforts to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Throughout, the emphasis is on the specific implications of climate change for poverty in developing countries, the processes of adaptation, and policy responses. You can develop a specialist thematic or regional enquiry in the dissertation.
Modules are assessed by essays, exam, short term papers, policy briefs, presentations and research proposal.
We continue to develop and update our modules for 2015 entry to ensure you have the best student experience. In addition to the course structure below, you may find it helpful to refer to the Modules tab.
Autumn term: Climate Change Science • Ideas in Development and Climate Change.
Spring term: you choose two modules from Challenges in Climate Prediction • Climate and Energy Policy • Climate Resilient Development • Low-Carbon Development • Political Economy of Climate Change. You also take a Research Methods and Professional Skills module, which provides training to prepare you for further research and a professional career, and includes training in GIS. This module is delivered as a series of workshops, including one that prepares you for your dissertation. We help you find a 12-week study placement for the summer term and vacation.
Summer term: you undertake supervised work on a dissertation and receive additional research methods training. We offer dissertation placements with a number of NGOs.
Please note that these are the core modules and options (subject to availability) for students starting in the academic year 2016.
- Ideas in Development and Climate Change
- Research Methods and Professional Skills (Geog)
- The Science of Climate Change
Challenges in Climate Prediction
Spring teaching, year 1
Climate modelling has strongly shaped the climate change issue. This course provides non-climate specialist students with a comprehensive overview of the science of climate prediction, and highlights many of the crucial applications of models.
You will covers the principles of climate modelling, recent development in seasonal-decadal prediction and then consider the development of Earth System Models for multi-decadal climate change projections. As such, you will consider the interaction between the different components of the climate system and our ability to model these.
The emphasis is on those components that may invoke substantial feedbacks within the climate system. This includes clouds, aerosols and sea/land ice and the bio-geochemical cycles of greenhouse gases involved in vegetation, soils and the oceans. There is a major emphasis on the global carbon cycle. You will also consider the likelihood of rapid and abrupt climate changes associated with various 'tipping points' in the climate system, and assess recent initiatives to quantify uncertainty in climate prediction. Throughout the course, there is a clear emphasis on how climate modelling relates to the mitigation policy agenda, for example through greenhouse gas stabilisation regimes, verification of mitigation policies, and to adaptation activities. The course is designed to be accessible to students from a range of academic backgrounds.
Climate Change and Energy Policy
Spring teaching, year 1
This course introduces you to the key concepts, theories, issues, challenges and debates within climate change and energy policy, together with the main social science approaches to this multifaceted subject. Primary emphasis will be given to economic concepts and techniques, but the course will also include insights from innovation studies and political science. The focus throughout will be the opportunities, challenges and constraints associated with making the transition to a low carbon energy system.
Key themes will include the physical characteristics of fossil and renewable energy resources, the process of transition and change in energy systems, the synergies and tensions between sustainability and other policy objectives, and both the rationales for and the limits to public policy intervention. Substantive issues to be covered include: energy flows, technologies, trends and options; perspectives on energy security; resource depletion and `peak oil'; energy market liberalisation; the regulation of network industries; innovation in energy systems; carbon/energy taxation and green fiscal reform; carbon emissions trading at the national and international level; policy support for renewable energy; the economics of energy efficiency; the `rebound effect' from energy efficiency improvements; and energy use and carbon mitigation in the transport sector. Most of the discussion and examples will relate to OECD countries, but one lecture will cover energy policy in developing countries. Relevant analytical techniques such as cost benefit analysis, decomposition analysis and energy modelling will also be briefly introduced. Assessment will be based upon student presentations, essays and briefings, together with participation in group exercises.
Climate Resilient Development
Spring teaching, year 1
The course analyses the overlaps between disasters, climate change and poverty, focusing on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction approaches and their contribution to achieving climate resilient development. This course introduces you to key concepts underpinning climate resilient development, including vulnerability, risk, uncertainty, and resilience, as well as the role of climate and disasters science in informing policy and practice. Lectures will balance theoretical debates with issues in international policy, particularly the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and practical case study examples from development policy and practice.
Topics include: downscaling global climate data and dealing with uncertainty; impact modelling and sectoral planning approaches; seasonal forecasts and early warning; conceptual insights: vulnerability, risk, uncertainty and resilience; climate resilient development and international policy; community-based adaptation and national adaptation planning; climate change, migration and conflict; disaster risk reduction; mainstreaming and organisational change; adaptation delivery instruments; economics of adaptation and adaptation finance; and low carbon climate resilient development.
Dissertation (Climate Change and Development)
Summer teaching, year 1
This course provides you with the opportunity to complete under expert supervision a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choosing relevant to the programme themes. You will be embark on the preparation of your dissertation following the Research Methods course and submission of the Research Proposal/Plan (RSP). You will undertake a desk-based or original empirical study, enabling you to pursue in-depth research in an aspect of climate change and development or policy.
Dissertation with Placement (Global Studies)
Summer teaching, year 1
This module is designed to allow you to apply theories and concepts, as well as practical and research skills learned during the MA programme, to a work context in the UK or internationally. It takes the form of a 12-week work placement with an organisation working in a field relevant to the degree programme, normally undertaken from May-July after assessments on other courses are completed.
Ideas in Development and Climate Change
Autumn teaching, year 1
This course introduces you to the history of main ideas and themes within development and links these to climate change issues and debates. In the first half of the course, development concepts are introduced through an examination of different disciplinary perspectives on development studies, including anthropological perspectives, human development, political science, poverty and inequality, rights-based approaches, and globalisation.
In the second half of the course, you are introduced to the main themes around climate change and development, including the IPCC and UNFCCC, disaster risk reduction, adaptation to climate change, mitigation and low carbon development.
Presented by a range of senior research Fellows from IDS, the course aims to address theoretical and methodological perspectives on development, relating these to the challenges of policy and practice in the context of a changing climate. Each lecture will be followed up by a seminar in which you work further on the topics, relating development issues to climate change challenges with a tutor drawn from the IDS climate change fellows.
Low Carbon Development
Spring teaching, year 1
This course considers the implications of climate change mitigation policy and the transition to a low carbon development for developing countries. You will engage with critical debates in relation to climate change and economic development, including tensions and commonalities between developed and developing economies. These are definitive of the contemporary international policy debate and on-going negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
Topics covered will include: climate change scenario generation; greenhouse gas emission and stabilisation targets; technology and technology transfer; renewable energy, CCS and geo-engineering; low carbon pathways and transitions; carbon offsetting; energy models; carbon markets, CDM and post Copenhagen international market instruments; and forestry and REDD.
Research Methods and Professional Skills (Geog)
Spring teaching, year 1
This module provides you with training in social science research methods (generic as well as specific to your dissertation research) as well as with a set of professional skills that prepare you for a professional career. The module is run as a series of half-day workshops from which you select three workshops to match your specific needs, depending on disciplinary orientation, previous training and experience, future employment plans and personal interests.
The workshops will cover a wide range of topics. The social research methods workshops will include interviewing, ethnographic methods, participatory research techniques and questionnaire design. The professional skills workshops will include, for example, stakeholder engagement, sustainable livelihoods analysis, environmental impact assessment, project planning and private sector consulting. The professional skills will also help to prepare you if you plan to take a work placement over summer. As part of the module, you will also receive a workshop on dissertation planning and design.
The Science of Climate Change
Autumn teaching, year 1
This course introduces you to the physical science basis of climate change, recognising that the audience is comprised substantially of non-climate specialists.
The course provides you with an overview of how the global climate system operates. This includes explanation of the different components of the climate system and how they interact; the radiation budget and the concept of radiative forcing which is the main driver of climate change; the composition of the atmosphere, how heat is transferred around the planet through the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean; how the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is regulated by bio-geochemical cycles on land and ocean. You then consider the natural and human influences on the radiation budget over recent millennia and how we can attribute observed climate changes to these. You conclude by evaluating projections of the future climate and associated uncertainty.
There is strong emphasis on how climate influences society and livelihoods, for exemplify through extreme climate and weather events. Throughout, you will gain an understanding of the methods and tools used in studying climate, notably climate datasets and climate models. You will document the history of climate change science, and exemplify the structures which steer science including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).The course is specifically designed to be accessible for students from a range of academic and professional backgrounds.
UK entrance requirements
A first- or upper second-class undergraduate honours degree in either a social or natural science. Professional work in a developing country or in development-related work is highly desirable. Applications must be accompanied by a detailed, two page personal statement and a full CV.
Overseas entrance requirements
- Overseas qualifications
If your country is not listed below, please contact the University at E firstname.lastname@example.org
The following table is given as a general guide for our taught postgraduate degrees requiring a first- or upper-second class undergraduate honours degree. If you have any questions, contact the University at E email@example.com
Country Overseas qualification Australia Bachelor (Honours) degree with second-class upper division Brazil Bacharel, Licenciado or professional title with a final mark of at least 8 Canada Bachelor degree with CGPA 3.3/4.0 (grade B+) China Bachelor degree from a leading university with overall mark of 75%-85% depending on your university Cyprus Bachelor degree or Ptychion with a final mark of at least 7.5 France Licence with mention bien or Maîtrise with final mark of at least 13 Germany Bachelor degree or Magister Artium with a final mark of 2.4 or better Ghana Bachelor degree from a public university with second-class upper division Greece Ptychion from an AEI with a final mark of at least 7 Hong Kong Bachelor (Honours) degree with second-class upper division India Bachelor degree from a leading institution with overall mark of at least 60% or equivalent Iran Bachelor degree (Licence or Karshenasi) with a final mark of at least 15 Italy Diploma di Laurea with an overall mark of at least 105 Japan Bachelor degree from a leading university with a minimum C/GPA of at least 3.0/4.0 or equivalent Malaysia Bachelor degree with CGPA of at least 3.3/4.0 or B+ Mexico Licenciado with a final mark of at least 8 Nigeria Bachelor degree with second-class upper division or CGPA of at least 3.5/5.0 Pakistan Four-year bachelor degree, normally with a GPA of at least 3.3 Russia Magistr or Specialist Diploma with a minimum average mark of at least 4 South Africa Bachelor (Honours) degree or Bachelor degree in Technology with an overall mark of at least 70% Saudi Arabia Bachelor degree with an overall mark of at least 70% or CGPA 3.5/5.0 or equivalent South Korea Bachelor degree from a leading university with CGPA of at least 3.5/4.0 or equivalent Spain Licenciado with a final mark of at least 2/4 Taiwan Bachelor degree with overall mark of 70%-85% depending on your university Thailand Bachelor degree with CGPA of at least 3.0/4.0 or equivalent Turkey Lisans Diplomasi with CGPA of at least 3.0/4.0 or equivalent depending on your university United Arab Emirates Bachelor degree with CGPA of at least 3.0/4.0 or equivalent USA Bachelor degree with CGPA 3.3-3.5/4.0 depending on your university Vietnam Masters degree with CGPA of at least 3.5/4.0 or equivalent
If you have any questions about your qualifications after consulting our overseas qualifications, contact the University at E firstname.lastname@example.org
English language requirements
IELTS 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each section.
For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?
Visas and immigration
Find out more about Visas and immigration.
For more information about the admissions process at Sussex
For pre-application enquiries:
Student Recruitment Services
T +44 (0)1273 876787
For post-application enquiries:
University of Sussex,
Sussex House, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
T +44 (0)1273 877773
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Fees and funding
Fees for studying on courses available on a part-time basis will be charged at 50 per cent of the full-time fees listed below.
Home UK/EU students:
£14,450 per year1
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £14,450 per year2
Overseas students: £14,450 per year3
The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2015.
The funding sources listed below are for the subject area you are viewing and may not apply to all degrees listed within it. Please check the description of the individual funding source to make sure it is relevant to your chosen degree.
For more information on scholarships go to the Scholarships web pages.
Dr Alexander Antonarakis
Lecturer In Global Change Ecology
Research interests: Carbon Capture and Storage, Carbon cycles and land use land cover changes, Environmental modelling, GIS Mapping, Remote Sensing & Earth Observation, River Hydraulics, Terrestrial ecology
Dr Robert Byrne
Research interests: climate policy, Developing Countries, Development studies, energy policy, Innovation for sustainability, Low carbon development, Renewables, Socio-technical transitions, Strategic niche management
Dr Adrian Ely
Senior Lecturer in SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Research interests: Agro-ecological agriculture, biotechnology, Chinese science & innovation policy, Food Security, Innovation for sustainability, Research and innovation governance
Dr Mick Frogley
Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography
Research interests: Climate change, Palaeoenvironments, Quaternary Science
Dr Florian Kern
Research interests: Climate change, Energy, Innovation policy issues, Politics, Science and technology policy, Sustainability transitions
Prof Dominic Kniveton
Professor of Climate Science & Society
Research interests: Africa, Climate change, Development, Migration, South Asia
Prof Gordon Mackerron
Professor Of Science And Technology Policy
Research interests: Nuclear power
Dr Mari Martiskainen
Research interests: community energy, Energy Efficiency, energy policy, Fuel poverty, Grassroots innovations, Sustainability transitions
Prof Erik Millstone
Professor in Science & Technology Policy
Research interests: Food Safety Policy, Obesity prevention policy, Science and Policy-Making, Science and technology policy, Sustainable agriculutral development
Prof Julian Murton
Professor of Permafrost Science
Research interests: Arctic, Ice Age Britain, Periglacial geomorphology, Permafrost
Dr David Ockwell
Senior Lecturer in Geography
Research interests: Climate change, Energy
Dr Karoline Rogge
Lecturer In Energy Policy And Sustainability
Research interests: climate policy, eco-innovation, ecological economics, energy transition, Environmental economics, eu emission trading system, Innovation studies, policy mix, Renewables, sustainability
Dr Pedram Rowhani
Lecturer in Geography
Research interests: Climate Impact, Food Security, GIS Mapping, Land Cover Change, Land Use Change, Remote Sensing & Earth Observation
Prof Adrian Smith
Professor of Technology and Society
Research interests: Grassroots innovation, Innovation studies, Politics of technology, STS, Sustainable development, Technology and society
Prof Steven Sorrell
Professor of Energy Policy
Research interests: Climate & Climate Change, Energy, Energy Efficiency, energy policy, rebound effects, resource depletion
Prof Benjamin Sovacool
Professor of Energy Policy
Research interests: Climate change adaptation, Climate change mitigation, energy justice, energy policy, energy security, Energy Supply, Sustainability: Environmental
Dr Lee Stapleton
Research interests: Applied Statistics, Ecosystem Services, Energy economics, Environmental economics
Prof Andrew Stirling
Professor of Science & Technology Policy
Research interests: diversity analysis, ecological economics, energy policy, innovation democracy, multicriteria mapping, participatory appraisal, precaution, risk, Science And Technology Studies, science policy, Sustainability transitions, technology assessment, uncertainty
Prof Martin Todd
Professor in Climate Change
Research interests: Aerosol Generation, Africa, Atmospheric sciences, atmospheric aerosols, Climate and climate change, climate and development, Climate change, Climate change adaptation, Climate modelling, Climatic Effects, Climatic Effects (Water Engineering), Climatology, groundwater, Water In The Atmosphere, Water Resources
Dr Yi Wang
Senior Lecturer in Climate Change
Research interests: Carbon cycles and land use land cover changes, Climate and climate change, Climate change adaptation, Climate change mitigation, Climate modelling, climate policy, Earth and environmental, Earth system sciences, Flood Risk Assessment, Global carbon cycles, Hydrology
Careers and profiles
There is a rapidly expanding market for climate professionals. This course prepares you for employment in a wide range of government, non-government and academic organisations, as well as private companies in the areas of climate change, development and energy policy. This MSc is designed to provide state-of-the-art training for professionals in these fields. We offer dissertation placements with a number of NGOs.
Our graduates have been very successful in finding employment after completion of their courses. Among others, our MSc alumni work with:
- international organisations and agencies (including the UN Environment Programme, UN Development Programme, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank)
- various NGOs (including International Federation of the Red Cross, Renewable World, African Wildlife Foundation, Action Against Hunger International)
- national government ministries and development agencies (including UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, DFID, GiZ)
- national environment agencies across the world
- a wide range of private-sector organisations (including energy utilities, renewables sector, re-insurance and construction companies, consultancy companies) and public-sector organisations (universities and not-for-profit organisations including think-tanks such as ODI or Green Jobs Alliance).
Blanche's career perspective
‘The attraction to study at the University of Sussex was the interdisciplinary nature of the course that included the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), School of Global Studies, and SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit.
‘This provided me with a fundamental grounding in climate change science and the implications this has for development and energy policy issues. This led me towards an interest in low-carbon development. This is where adaptation and mitigation intersect, and my particular interest is in the application of low-carbon technologies in developing and emerging economies.
‘The course also provided me with the opportunity to take up research assistant posts at IDS, which led to a few publications. Overall the experience helped my career development, not only through exposure to world-class teachers and researchers, but also to the varied academic and job experiences of classmates, which contributed to dynamic and exciting debates.’
Senior Specialist in Biotechnology,
Department of Science and Technology, South Africa
Nella's student perspective
‘I chose the MSc in Climate Change and Development because I wanted to study a course on climate change with an awareness of development issues at its core.
‘The sense of community and the many opportunities to interact with staff and students make this course really special and the fact that it is run jointly by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Sussex means that you have a big academic network to draw on.’
MSc in Climate Change and Development
Gloria's career perspective
‘Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of my MSc is the chance it offers its students to benefit from the expertise at Sussex, at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and at SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit. As a result, this course gave me a thorough overview of the subject while particularly encouraging me to question where climate change and development meet..
‘What really made the course were the other students and their varied global perspectives. They were not simply trying to learn about either climate change or development, but together we jointly questioned the very tenets of what climate change and development is, and what it could be. This interaction created an environment where you could really explore and expand your interests and curiosities in the field.’
School and contacts
Professor Martin Todd,
School of Global Studies,
University of Sussex, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9SJ, UK
T +44 (0)1273 873723
Discover Postgraduate Study information sessions
If you cannot make it to our Postgraduate Open Day, you are welcome to attend one of our Discover Postgraduate Study information sessions. These are held in autumn, spring and early summer and enable you to find out more about postgraduate study and the opportunities Sussex has to offer.
Other ways to visit Sussex
We run weekly guided campus tours year round.
You are also welcome to visit the University independently without any pre-arrangement.
Our online campus tour can also give you an excellent introduction to the University.
Meet with Sussex staff in your country at exhibitions, visits to schools and universities, and at a wide range of other events. Forthcoming visits are planned all over the world:
Bahrain • Brazil • Brunei • Canada • China • Colombia • France • Germany • Ghana • Greece • Hong Kong • India • Indonesia • Iraq • Italy • Japan • Kenya • Kuwait • Malaysia • Mexico • Nigeria • Norway • Pakistan • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Singapore • South Korea • Spain • Sri Lanka • Taiwan • Thailand • Turkey • UAE • USA • Vietnam.
In the International Office, we manage a network of overseas representatives who have been trained to support international students with their application to study at the University. Services representatives provide can include pre-departure information, support in submitting your housing application and advice regarding applying for a UK Student Visa.