Postgraduate Course

Sustainable and Ethical Business Management (Block Delivery)


Course details

Study options

Part-time: 2 years

Course level




Start date


The highlights

MSc Sustainable and Ethical Business Management

View MSc Sustainable and Ethical Business Management video transcript

Change how the world does business

New for 2021, this master's in Sustainable and Ethical Business Management is your opportunity to play a part in changing the way the world does business, forever. We need people who believe in putting purpose and deeper values at the heart of business; people who want to lead businesses and teams that create environmental and social value, as well as economic value.

We’re looking for senior professionals with the mandate to lead on change within their company — you might head up the sustainability agenda, be a business owner or director, or you might manage a specific function such as operations, HR, finance or marketing. Ethics and sustainability are global issues which require global solutions, so this programme has been designed to suit learners from any country.

Derby is the first UK city to sign up to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and their Global Compact Cities Programme, so by studying here you will be surrounded by sustainability pioneers.

The urgent need for this programme

There is now widespread consensus that we are approaching a converging global crisis in terms of climate change, reduction of biological diversity and habitat destruction. Scientists believe that the action we take within the next ten years will ultimately determine whether we can meet a key goal of the Paris Climate Agreement: to keep the planet’s average surface temperature from rising beyond 1.5–2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Governments, businesses and individuals need to act now to start shifting towards a low or zero emission economy, and to look for developments that are climate-resilient. This programme can help you become one of the changemakers.  

In addition to the environmental crisis we are facing, the ethics of some business practices has been called into question regularly over the last two decades — think of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the recent furore over poor working conditions and pay in Boohoo’s factories, to name just a few. 

High profile cases such as these have led to corporate governance becoming a key strategic issue in the last 20 years and to new legislation being created, such as the Modern Day Slavery Act 2015.

Most recently, the Coronavirus pandemic has further exposed the huge inequalities in our society, and forced us all to reassess our priorities. It’s led to mass behaviour change at a scale and speed that hasn’t been seen before, proving just what is possible when governments and communities put their minds to it.

Illustration showing different sources of clean energy

Key areas of content

What is unique about this programme is that it looks at the core aspects of managing an ethical business in a way that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. So you will learn how for example to reposition your business to take into account environmental and social considerations such as reaching Net Zero Carbon by 2050 and integrating the UN SDGs within your business strategy.

You will look closely at specific topics, such as:

You will also consider some of the psychological barriers we need to overcome to move towards more sustainable and ethical business, such as:

You’ll emerge from the programme with a sustainability mindset, a clear understanding of the concept of being a global citizen, and the skills and knowledge to persuade and lead others to make a significant change.

Three piles of coins are lined up against a green background in soil. Each of them features a small plant growing out the top of them.

Sustainable Business and Clean Growth Research

Our Sustainable Business Research Cluster has developed a strong track record of researching how low-carbon and pro-environmental business responds to the clean growth agenda.

Find out moreFind out more

Carbon Literacy Certificate

If you would like to gain the Carbon Literacy Certificate awarded by the Carbon Literacy Project, we can help you do this. In partnership with the Carbon Literacy Project, our programme contains the necessary training you will need to complete and we can also help you collate the evidence required. Certification applications are assessed and awarded by the Carbon Literacy Project itself however, not by us.

Learning together

Unlike traditional university courses, this MSc is seminar-led. You’ll take part in smaller seminars delivered in ‘blocks’ to fit around your work commitments, which will encourage plenty of debate, discussion and ideas sharing. 

You will hear from businesses, industry specialists, academics and researchers from around the world who are advancing our knowledge of different aspects of sustainability and ethics in business. For instance, you will hear from a speaker representing the Finland Futures Research Centre (FFCR) — one of our partners that are at the forefront of business foresight, future studies and responsible business.  

We’ll bring in expertise from many disciplines — not just business and management — such as environmental sciences, law, engineering and psychology.

However, your input is vital too. We want to hear your experiences, thoughts and ideas around how we shape a new sustainable future for business. After all, no-one has all the answers. Innovation, collaboration and the co-creation of learning are essential tools which will help us all move forward.

Making change to your professional practice

Work-based learning is an important part of this MSc because we want you to apply what you learn to your own practice and organisation and use it to make significant change. You’ll be continuously asked to apply what you are learning to your own organisation and there will be several tasks which allow you to do this in depth. Notably, the final stage of the course includes the option to investigate a sustainable leadership or responsible management challenge or write a journal article researching a particular aspect of ethical or sustainable business. 

How to apply

To find out more information about the course, including how to apply, please contact the Programme Leader directly -

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New Derby Business School in the city centre

We're building a new Derby Business School, serving as an international centre of excellence. The superb new teaching facilities will build on our established reputation for inspirational teaching and research excellence, as we shape the next generation of qualified business leaders.

Find out more about our new Derby Business SchoolFind out more about our new Derby Business School
Multi-Faith Centre, Kedleston Road

Postgraduate Open Event

Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.

Book your Postgraduate Open EventBook your Postgraduate Open Event

What you will study

The programme structure is comprised of the following modules:

  • The Case for Sustainable and Ethical Business - 20 credits
  • Sustainable & Ethical Business Strategy - 20 credits
  • Leading Sustainable & Ethical Change - 20 credits 

If a learner exits at this point in the programme, the highest award they can achieve is a Postgraduate Certificate in Leading Sustainable & Ethical Change (60 credits).  

  • Sustainable & Ethical Business Operations & Marketing - 20 credits
  • Sustainable Workforce and Wellbeing - 20 credits
  • Sustainable & Ethical Finance & Accounting - 20 credits

If a learner exits at this point in the programme, the highest award they can achieve is a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable & Ethical Business Management (120 credits).

  • Independent Study - 60 credits

If a learner successfully completes the full programme, they will be awarded an MSc. Sustainable and Ethical Business Management (180 credits).

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

In light of the ongoing pandemic and our aims to run this programme sustainably, we plan to deliver our face-to-face teaching sessions online for the foreseeable future. There will typically be around four to five days of face-to-face teaching per 20-credit module, which will be delivered in blocks. 

In addition, each module will require 10 weeks of directed study, during which you can get support from your tutor as needed, as well as a range of online materials, including professional journals and e-books.

Work-based learning is also a key aspect of this programme, so you will undertake real work-based projects and be asked to apply what you are learning to your own organisation and role. 

Although you will learn online, there will still be a strong focus on collaborative learning including group work. Think of your fellow students as co-developers of knowledge! 

You will also have opportunities to get involved in virtual events run by our research centres and networks such as the Low Carbon Business Network and PRME network

How you will be assessed

You will be assessed by coursework, which could take various forms, such as:

In the final stage of the course, you will need to complete an independent study worth 60 credits (a third of the total number of credits). This gives you two options, firstly an Independent Study to address a sustainable leadership or responsible management problem or secondly to prepare a Journal Article on a particular aspect of ethical or sustainable business.

Wind turbines on top of a building

Our academic experts

Orla Kelleher is the Programme Leader for this MSc and Senior Lecturer in Responsible Management. She is also the Sustainability Champion for College of Business, Law and Social Sciences. Orla specialises in work-based learning, working primarily with corporate organisations on talent development and organisational change. Before she joined academia, Orla was director of her own executive training company and a senior business consultant, working extensively in the public and private sector in Ireland. She is also a member of the UN PRME UK and Ireland network and the UN PRME working group on Sustainable Mindset, and is carbon literacy certified. 

Dr Fred Paterson is Associate Professor for Sustainable Business and leads the Sustainable Business and Clean Growth research cluster. He works closely with regional, national and international academic and policy organisations in the arena of enterprise support for pro-environmental business.

Colin Hanson-New is Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management. Before joining the University, Colin spent over 45 years working for several global organisations, so has a wealth of commercial experience that he brings into his teaching. His research interests include the importance of sustainability issues for operations and the supply chain, and how this will affect organisations in the future. 

Dr Barbara Tomasella is Lecturer in Marketing. Before joining the University, Barbara worked for 15 years as a professional in sustainability marketing and she now acts as a mentor for young CSR industry professionals. Her research interests include responsible business management, social entrepreneurship, CSR, sustainable tourism and hospitality. 

Louise Buxton is a senior lecturer and teaches on various programmes, in areas such as consumer behaviour, experience design, operations management, academic study skills, sustainability, and workplace wellness. Her research interests fall into two main areas: consumer experiences, which is the focus of her current PhD studies, and workplace wellness.

Who will teach you

A head shot of Senior Leadership and Strategy Lecturer, Orla Kelleher standing by a bookshelf

Orla Kelleher
Programme leader

Orla is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Strategy, who works in the Executive Education and Enterprise Development Department of the University's College of Business, Law and Social Sciences.

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Entry requirements

You should normally have a good honours degree (minimum 2:2) in any discipline, or an equivalent level qualification, together with a minimum of three years’ work experience in a mid-level or senior management role that is relevant to the outcomes of the programme.

However, we will also consider your application if you have:

You must be able to demonstrate you have effective communication and learning skills and the motivation to succeed.

If English is not your first language, we will need to see that you have English language capability of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

The Programme Leader, supported by a panel of staff, will review all applicants. Typically, we will review what relevant qualifications and/or work experience you have, the applicability of the programme to your job role, or career development opportunities and access to appropriate learning opportunities within your organisation. To help us conduct this review, you will be asked to attend a virtual interview and provide a letter of endorsement from your employer.

Interview information

Fees and funding

2024/25 (August 2024 - July 2025)

Type Full-time Part-time (Block delivery)
UK N/A £11,200 for the full course
International N/A £15,450 for the full course

Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.

Additional costs and optional extras

Alumni discount for Derby graduates

We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.

Find out about the Alumni discountFind out about the Alumni discount

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.


We expect this programme to change how you approach business, forever. You will become an innovative and responsible leader, capable of balancing economic and sustainability goals. This is one of the most critical challenges facing all businesses at this time — there are now numerous global targets aligned to this including the Paris Agreement (2015), the 2030 Agenda as well as key national industrial strategies (e.g. UK and other nations pledging to be carbon neutral by 2050). So by completing this qualification, you will significantly enhance your career prospects across all business sectors. 

While the programme looks at how to run a successful business specifically through an integrated sustainable and ethical lens, it will also improve your overall leadership and business management capabilities, enabling you to deal with critical current and future scenarios.

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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† Additional information about your studies

The course is majority online but there may be options for residentials in Derby.

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

Included in your fees
Optional costs not included in your fees