Environmental Sustainability – Master of Sustainable Development Goals

This qualification will give you an advanced grounding in the theory, practice, and application of the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to environmental sustainability.

Where you can study

Distance and online
Manawatū campus (Palmerston North)

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students on campus in New Zealand, or studying online outside New Zealand

Specialise in Environmental Sustainability for your Master of Sustainable Development Goals at Massey

The Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Environmental Sustainability) is a 180-credit taught degree focusing on the theory and practice of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The qualification addresses the most pressing imperative facing humanity and the planet: sustainability. This degree is unique in Australasia.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The SDGs are the UN’s ambitious macro-level plan for humankind’s development and sustainability. The goals address global challenges including those related to poverty and inequality, climate and environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice.

Follow your interests

You’ll take two core courses in sustainable development. The first will introduce you to theories of sustainable development and the SDGs. The second will focus on multi-disciplinary frameworks. They will also focus on how to measure progress against the SDGs, as well as paradigms of indigenous knowledge and practice in the field of sustainability.

Then, you’ll take courses related to your subject of environmental sustainability. These practical taught courses focus on you as a practitioner, working in an area related to environmental sustainability. The courses cover topics such as environmental management principles and practice, environmental policy, land system science and zero waste.

Real-world experience

The final component of your degree is a student practicum during which you will work in a relevant organisation and gain experience in the implementation of the SDGs. If relevant and viable, you may be able to complete your practicum in your current place of work. Alternatively, you may choose another organisation or ask the Massey staff to help you find an appropriate agency for your practicum. International students can choose to stay and complete their practicum in New Zealand, or travel back to their home country and complete it there.

A Master of Sustainable Development Goals in Environmental Sustainability is a good fit if you:

  • want to address sustainability problems facing both people and the planet
  • seek skills in applying environmental sustainability in an organisation
  • are interested in alternatives to the dominant Western paradigm.

Planning information

The Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Environmental Sustainability) is a parts-based qualification. That means you must complete the first part, before moving to the second.

Part One is coursework and Part Two is a student practicum.

For progression from Part One to Part Two, you must achieve a Grade Average of at least a B over the 120 credits of the Part One courses.

If you study full-time, you’ll take 120 credits per year or 60 credits per semester.

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Postgraduate Degrees, Postgraduate Diplomas, and Postgraduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Courses you can enrol in

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Core courses for the Master of Sustainable Development Goals

As well as the specialisation courses listed below, this qualification has core courses that you will need to complete.

Master of Sustainable Development Goals core courses

Environmental Sustainability courses

Part One Subject courses

Choose 60 credits from
Course code: 188707 Environmental Management Principles and Practice 15 credits

This course uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine contemporary environmental issues. Key environmental management principles and practices are introduced and explored through a series of applied case studies.

View full course details
Course code: 188708 Land System Change 15 credits

The consequences of the processes and activities that pertain to human use of the land are considered. The patterns and distribution of land use and land cover types and the methods for measuring, recording and managing information about land use and land cover and how it changes over time are evaluated, and the implications of land system change are investigated.

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Course code: 188751 Advanced Zero Waste for Sustainability 30 credits

An in-depth exploration of the life cycle and environmental issues of solid material resources upon which all economic production depends. Zero Waste is examined as a resource management paradigm shift in philosophy, policy, technology and practices focused on sustainable development.

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Course code: 188765 Advanced Environmental Management II 15 credits

This course examines current environmental issues and explores alternative approaches to environmental management. A case study approach is used to develop critical thinking skills, and an in-depth understanding of complex human-environment interactions and possible solutions to environmental problems.

Restrictions: 188763

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Course code: 235701 Māori Values and Resource Management 15 credits

In this applied course students will learn about Māori concepts and values associated with the management of natural resources. Students will gain an appreciation of the importance of indigenous values, and in particular Māori values and management approaches to sustainable resource management. Case studies will be undertaken to develop skills in the management of natural resources.

Restrictions: 188704

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Course code: 238700 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Footprinting Principles 15 credits

The concept of life cycle thinking and its application to support decision-making for product systems. The course will provide an overview of the principles and methodology for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) according to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, and introduce related environmental footprinting approaches (carbon and water footprinting).

View full course details

Part Two

Choose 60 credits from
Course code: 131810 Sustainable Development Goals Practicum 60 credits

Advanced study in the application of the Sustainable Development Goals, involving 320 hours of professional work in an approved agency. As an integral part of the course, students will critically analyse how this work can be understood in relation to current literature on the SDGs and sustainable development.

Prerequisites: 131704, 131709

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Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

To enter the Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Environmental Sustainability) you will have been awarded or qualified for a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with a grade average of at least B in the highest level courses.

You will need to provide copies of all official academic transcripts for studies taken at all universities other than Massey University.

English language requirements

To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Scholarship and award opportunities

Search our scholarships and awards

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

The challenge of achieving the SDGs requires a new genre of professionals, who can confront dynamic and complex problems with innovation, creativity and inclusivity.

Increasingly, civil society, government and the private sector will require people willing and able to work in ways that are true to the collaborative and inclusive aspirations of the global SDGs. These emphasise the importance of understanding content and context, the ability to embrace a diverse range of knowledge frameworks (mainstream, alternative and Indigenous) and the skills of measuring and monitoring progress towards the SDGs.

There is strong demand in the global marketplace for workers with the skills to translate, implement, monitor and report on the SDGs. In addition, sustainability positions, such as Sustainability Directors, Managers and Advisors are being appointed at record rates.

The SDGs are already facing challenges. How are the goals’ macro-level aspirations, collected through multiple rounds of global consultation, translated into everyday community settings such as:

  • international development
  • environmental management
  • sustainability in business
  • education
  • the workplace.

Employees with these skills are in demand in both public and private organisations.

International students

New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.

Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.

As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.

Accreditations and rankings

QS Ranking - Development Studies

Massey is ranked 30th in the world for development studies in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

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