Choose the right sustainability course for you + 10 to get you started


I just started a sustainable development course and my head nearly exploded. So I thought I’d share some tips with you guys to make sure you choose the right course for you and your head stays nice and head shaped.

Here are my 5 top tips and 10 courses I found online.

1. How much do you already know?

When it comes to sustainable development I am very much at the bottom of the class and I think it’s important to recognise where you are. I didn’t study this at school or University and my only training in this area was on my voluntary placement with Raleigh International.

So, I’m a total noob, which brings me nicely to my next point…

2. What are your objectives?

Because I’m a total noob my objectives are to learn the basics about how the world works, including globalisation, the economy and our natural resources.

You might already specialise in one of these areas and want something more specific – like urban development. Or you might know that you need a specific qualification for a job you’re applying for.

Having objectives set at the start of your search is important because it’ll help you choose the right course to meet them.

3. How much can you afford (in time and money)?

Be realistic with how much money you can spare to make it worth it, and how many hours a week you can dedicate to learning.

If you get this nailed you won’t be cramming in the long hours after you get back from work when the closing date draws near, eating jam sandwiches because that’s all you can afford now.

Or maybe you just like jam sandwiches.

4. What’s your learning style?

If you’ve been lucky enough to have enough experience to know your learning style, that’s great – you’ll already understand the benefits of choosing the right material for you.

I know I’m a visual learner so a list of facts stop me in my tracks. But give me a video or a relatable story around the facts and I’m on the train to bigbraincentral.

If you don’t already know your learning style take this free quiz at

5. Do your research

There are a lot of online course out there these days (how lucky are we!?) so do a little investigating into ones that are credible and have good reviews. Some things that might be important to you could be:

  • access to online support
  • learning with others in real time (so you have a community group)
  • regular quizzes throughout

Luckily for you I’ve already done a bit of research that might help (I’ll take that jam sandwich as a thank you)…

10 sustainable development courses

Here are 10 courses I found with all the info you need.

1. Diploma in Sustainable Development (level 3 – 16 CPD points)

Who: Study365
Where: available at
How much: £29 (reduced from £199).
How long: 20 hours with access for a year.
What you’ll learn: Life cycle costing methodology, governance, integration, social life cycle analysis and countries involved in sustainable development.
Material: Study 365 claims to offer audio, visual and written learning. However, this happens to be the course I’m doing and so far it’s all written apart from a couple of illustrations (mind = blasted). There’s a multiple choice test at the end.

2. Introduction to Sustainability

Who: University of Illionois at Urbana-Champaign
Where: available at
How much: FREE or £36 certified
How long: 8-10 hours per week over 8 weeks
What you’ll learn: Key knowledge areas of sustainability theory and practice, including population, ecosystems, global change, energy, agriculture, water, environmental economics and policy, ethics, and cultural history.
Material: 5 videos, 5 readings and 2 practice quizzes

3. Global Warming – the science and modelling of climate change

Who: The University of Chicago
Where: available at
How much: FREE or £36 certified
How long: 52 hours
What you’ll learn: The science of global warming and the forecast for humans’ impact on Earth’s climate. Insights and perspectives from physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, and some economics.
Material: 71 videos, 5 readings, 56 quizzes

4. Our Earth: It’s Climate, History and Processes

Who: University of Manchester
Where: available at
How much: FREE or £36 certified
How long: 16 hours
What you’ll learn: A greater appreciation for how the air, water, land, and life formed and have interacted over the last 4.5 billion years.
Material: 65 videos, 20 readings, 5 quizzes

5. Sustainability, society and you

Who: University of Nottingham
available at 
How much: FREE or £37 certified
How long: 5 hours per week over 6 weeks
What you’ll learn: The knowledge and skills to investigate sustainability from multiple angles, exploring the small steps you can take to have a real impact. Activities such as measuring your water footprint, conducting a waste audit and researching.
Material: Videos, readings, activities and discussions.

6. Sustainability in everyday life

Who: Chalmers University of Technology
Where: available at
How much: FREE or £36 certified
How long: 6-8 hours per week over 6 weeks
What you’ll learn: How to make more informed choices about your ecological footprint and how your choices impact on our world. The five key themes are: chemicals, globalization, climate change, food and energy.
Material: Archived – future dates to be announced

7. Urban Water – innovations for environmental sustainability

Who: The University of British Columbia
Where: available at
How much: free or £38 certified
How long: 3-4 hours per week over 6 weeks
What you’ll learn: The water-related dimensions of environmentally sustainable urbanism. The course features Vancouver, one of the world’s leading cities for green design.
Material: Archived – future dates to be announced

8. Concepts in Sustainable Development: An introduction to the key issues

Who: University of Leicester
available at
How much: free or £42 certified
How long: 3 hours per week over 6 weeks
What you’ll learn: The conceptual foundations of sustainable development. The flow of energy and materials worldwide; social and political issues; wealth inequality; the impact of geography, history and culture on sustainability today.
Material: Videos, readings, activities and discussions.

9. Sustainable Living Diploma Course (150 CPD points)

Who: Centre of excellence
Where: available at
How much: £49
How long: 150 hours
What you’ll learn: The unsustainable ways in which we use our natural resources and the steps that we can take, as individual consumers and as a global community, to change this through various practices (including your own wellness products).
Material: Not described in detail, but 7 modules with tutor support.

10. Globalisation and Sustainable Development

Who: Curtin University
Where: available at
How much: free or £75 certified
How long: 2-3 hours per week over 4 weeks
What you’ll learn: Theoretical and real-world insights into why and how globalisation can be used as a conduit for sustainable development. The impact of the UN Sustainable Development Goals on current and future economic, environmental and social trends.
Material: Readings, videos, discussion and interactive learning.

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