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Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Environmental Sustainability)

Key facts

  • Available at Manawatū
  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Available for international students studying in NZ or via distance learning

Turn your passion for the environment into a career

Massey’s Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Environmental Sustainability) will give you an advanced grounding in the theory, practice and application of the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to environmental sustainability.

Find out more about the Master of Sustainable Development Goals parent structure.

What is it like?

The Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Environmental Sustainability) is a new 180-credit taught degree focusing on the theory and practice of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme addresses the most pressing imperative facing humanity and the planet: sustainability. This degree is unique in Australasia. It presents a unique opportunity to showcase Pacific and Indigenous paradigms of sustainability as alternatives to dominant western paradigms.  

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, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. UN member countries, including New Zealand, began to implement the SDGs in 2016; they will run until 2030. The goals are relevant to both “developed” and “developing” countries.

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, how to measure progress against the SDGs, and paradigms of Indigenous knowledge and practice in the field of sustainability. This will have a strong international flavour.

Then you’ll take courses related to your endorsement in Environmental Sustainability. Your endorsement has contemporary relevance to local, national, regional and global wellbeing. You don’t need any prior knowledge of this subject. 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. 

This programme integrates perspectives from environmental policy, environmental management, land system science and zero waste management. You’ll gain important insights into key elements of SDG 15 (Life on land), SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (Climate action). 

Real-world research

The final 60-credit component of your degree is a research practicum. You’ll identify an agency, corporation or institution with which to work towards policies or practices guided by the SDG framework in environmental sustainability. You’ll then conduct research on and analyse the environmental sustainability work undertaken by that organisation.

Get ready for the workplace

This qualification will give you:

  • the skills to establish appropriate, collaborative working relationships with professionals in the sustainable development sector;
  • an advanced ability to understand and apply the tools and approaches used in the theory and practice of sustainable development under the framework of the SDGs;
  • critical skills to evaluate the success of particular SDGs in their application to real-world problems;
  • a sophisticated understanding of alternative frameworks for the successful application of the SDGs; and
  • the ability to reflect critically on multidisciplinary approaches to the SDGs, their interaction with one another, and their application to complex real-world problems.

Study to suit you

The degree will be taught full-time or part-time over three academic periods (trimesters), with contact workshops on one of our three campuses.


Massey’s Sustainable Development Goals Scholarship will support students who plan a career in sustainable development.

Massey is ranked in the world’s top 250 universities for environmental sciences by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking.

Master of Sustainable Development Goals: Disaster Management

A good fit if you:

  • Have a degree in any subject
  • Want to address sustainability problems facing both people and planet
  • Seek skills in applying environmental sustainability in a private sector, government or civil society organisation
  • Are interested in alternatives to the dominant western paradigm


There is strong demand in the global marketplace for workers with the requisite new skills to translate, implement, monitor and report on the SDGs.

The SDGs are already facing challenges on how the goals’ macro-level aspirations, collected through multiple rounds of global consultation, will be translated into everyday community, health, education, and workplace settings.

Employees with the skills to implement and measure progress against the SDGs are much in demand in both public and private organisations.

Lecturer profile

Professor Diane Pearson

Environmental Sustainability

Diane is a Professor in Environmental Management. She is interested in environmental sustainability and transdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem-solving and natural resource management. Her expertise lies in land system change, sustainable landscape management and working towards sustainable landscapes and livelihoods.

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