A bold new MSc for progressive business people who want to reposition their organisation for a better future. Learn how to build more ethical and sustainable business practices that align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Become a Sustainability leader in your organisation. Learn how to manage your entire operation through an integrated sustainability, ethical and responsible lens
This is not about greenwashing or tokenism. We’ll look at all key aspects of your business — strategy, leadership, the workforce, operations, marketing, finance and accounting, — so that you learn how to realign all aspects of your business in response to the environmental, social and economic global crises
Designed specifically for the global corporate market, it’s a seminar-led programme which combines know-how from business experts with leading-edge research from across many disciplines
You will apply everything to your own organisation through work-based learning, and you will also be challenged to look critically at your own behaviours, development and lifestyle
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.
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.
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:
the case for sustainable and ethical business practices
purpose and value-driven organisations
sustainable business models and responsible strategy
what makes a responsible leader and how to strengthen your personal leadership
tools for driving sustainable and ethical systems change
ethical and sustainable operations and marketing
green innovation and design
carbon reduction methodologies and carbon literacy
ethical consumerism and responsible consumption
greener financial management
triple bottom line reporting and beyond
managing your workforce and employees’ wellbeing more sustainably
strategies to embed CSR and wellbeing management within your organisation.
You will also consider some of the psychological barriers we need to overcome to move towards more sustainable and ethical business, such as:
How can you legitimately address global environmental and social values while maintaining a viable business?
How do you shift from fear and survival thinking into creative thinking in the face of crisis?
How do you make long-term decisions in short-term crises?
Where do you draw strength from as a leader when advocating and leading on responsible change?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Explore your digital postgraduate prospectus and find out what you need to know about studying with us. When you sign up, tell us what you're interested in and we'll send you a link to information put together just for you.
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 be assessed by coursework, which could take various forms, such as:
Practical projects focused on workplaces issues
Research investigations into practice
Management and technical reports
Reflective portfolios or collections of work completed through the course of the programme
Assessment based on simulations and case studies
Problem solving and scenario tasks
Varied writing tasks and oral assessment
Practical assessment of professional competence
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.
Our academic experts
Orla Kelleher is the Programme Leader for this MSc and Module Leader for two modules. 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.
Dr Elaine Conway is Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance and has written various publications in the areas of sustainable business and the development of corporate reporting.
Who will teach you
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.
You should normally have a good honours degree (minimum 2:2) in any discipline, or an equivalent level qualification together with relevant work experience.
However, we will also consider your application if you have:
an equivalent level of professional qualifications, or
work experience or a professional role that enables you to engage at the required level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.