Sustainable Cities MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a natural, environmental, physical, management or social science subject.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.
UK fees
£13,000 (total)
International fees
£26,750 (total)

Course overview

Cape Town city aerial view

Cities across the world are facing huge sustainability challenges. While mayors and city councils pledge ‘zero carbon cities’ by 2040, a serious skills shortage means a new generation of sustainability leaders is needed.

Our Sustainable Cities MSc tackles this skills shortage by equipping you with the knowledge and tools necessary to become an urban sustainability leader. On this programme you'll experience urban sustainability first hand, blending concepts and theories with real-world problems and solutions.

You'll learn about energy systems, transport networks, housing provision, urban ecosystems and food. Using applied cases, you'll discover how these systems can be transformed to produce better economic, environmental, and social outcomes, meaning you’ll be fully equipped to pursue careers in city government, consultancy, NGO’s and beyond.

Throughout your course, there’ll be input from across several of our Schools – all of which conduct internationally excellent research that addresses and challenges global environmental issues, ensuring you’ll be learning the most topical and up-to-date information in this field.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Graduate with an MSc from a university that takes an active role in sustainability throughout our campus and beyond.
  • Learn the latest innovations in sustainability through our world-leading research, which feeds directly into this MSc and gives you the opportunity to interact with academics who are actively working on solving major global issues.
  • Advance your skills and understanding in critical areas sought after in industry, learning how cities work sustainably, with particular focus on energy, sustainable housing, mobility and urban ecosystems.
  • Experience expert theoretical and practical teaching, delivered by academics and researchers from across the School of Earth and Environment, School of Geography and the Institute for Transport Studies whose specialisms are closely matched to the content of the modules on this course.
  • Build your leadership confidence through your personal leadership plan, which is tailored to your strengths and development needs.
  • Get to know your course mates and teachers on a residential field trip to the Centre for Alternative Technologies in Wales, where you’ll work together on practical issues of sustainability.
  • Join one of our societies, such as SusSoc, where you can meet like-minded people at events such as socials and sports.

Join our online taster courses

Our five-part series of courses will show you how environmental management policies are developed and help you understand the challenges surrounding their formulation. Join today on FutureLearn.

View this video on Youku.

Course details

Our Sustainable Cities MSc is very much driven by the problems that exist within city systems, and the problems that they each face. The course blends the core concepts of sustainability and urbanism with applied, problem-based learning.

Your core modules will focus on the very systems that need transforming to create a sustainable city, such as: energy systems, housing, mobility, urban ecosystems and food. Throughout the course you'll study just one module at a time, allowing you the space to think and properly focus as you go into depth on each topic.

You'll progress through a seven-module structure, completing one module at a time. You'll complete the learning, activities and assessment for each module before the next begins. This way your MSc allows you to focus on one subject at a time, building into the big picture of urban sustainability by the end of the degree.

You'll also undertake a research project, which is one of the most satisfying elements of this course. It allows you to apply what you’ve learned to a piece of research focusing on a real-world problem, and it can be used to explore and develop your specific interests.

Examples of project topics include:

  • Linking up energy and transport systems with a project on electric vehicles in the city.
  • Undertaking public ‘visioning’ exercises for major sustainability developments.
  • Creating a mixed low-carbon housing development, by analysing alternative ownership and construction approaches.
  • Creating fuel forests in the city, linking urban parks with biomass production.
  • Developing city and regional climate change strategies around key systems.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Sustainable Cities MSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Cities and Sustainability 30
Research and Skills for Urban Sustainability 30
City Systems: Energy 15
City Systems: Sustainable Housing 15
City Systems: Mobility 15
City Systems: Urban Ecosystems 15
Sustainability Research Project 60

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Introduction to Sustainability 0

Want to find out more about your modules?

Take a look at the Sustainable Cities module descriptions for more detail on what you'll study.

Learning and teaching

Our groundbreaking research feeds directly into teaching and you'll have regular contact with staff who are at the forefront of their disciplines through lectures, seminars, tutorials, small group work and project meetings.

Independent study is also important to the programme, as you develop your problem-solving and research skills as well as your subject knowledge. You'll also have opportunities to work with industry and professional contacts.

You'll be assigned a personal tutor, who will maintain contact with you throughout the year and offer pastoral guidance. They will help you to settle into the university and clarify any procedures, as well as helping you prepare for employment upon graduation.

Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.

You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.

Active research environment

Our world-leading research informs the content of our Sustainable Cities MSc and gives you the opportunity to interact with academics who are at the forefront of major global issues.

You'll be taught by academics whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. This course draws on our expertise in a range of fields such as critical approaches to urban development , energy use and low carbon societies, self-repairing cities, transport issues, social justice, cities, citizenship and sustainable urban mobility planning.

Programme team

The wider programme team is made up of academics and researchers from across the School of Earth and Environment, School of Geography and the Institute for Transport Studies.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


You'll be assessed using a range of techniques including essays and presentations, with further assessment of problem-based learning sets. The problems set will be drawn directly from real-world challenges facing cities and are excellent preparation for professional practice.

You'll have the opportunity to choose how to tackle assessments yourself; whether that be through the creation of a website, a presentation or more traditional methods.


Entry requirements

A bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a natural, environmental, physical, management or social science subject.

We welcome students, from a range of disciplines, who want to engage in new thinking around sustainable cities. You are highly likely to benefit from this MSc if you have a background, interest, or a qualification in: geography, town planning, earth and environment, architecture, sustainability, engineering, business and management, sociology, politics or public administration.

Applicants with a 2.2 will be considered on a case-by-case basis, where applicants can demonstrate relevant work experience or aptitude in a relevant specialist field. Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional experience in the sector will also be considered.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information, please contact the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

We operate a staged admissions process for this course with selection deadlines throughout the year.

Please read our Staged Admissions page for full details, including application deadlines and what to include with your application.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Earth and Environment
School of Geography
Institute for Transport Studies

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment Postgraduate Admissions Team



UK: £13,000 (total)

International: £26,750 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with compulsory field trips are covered by the university.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

Almost every organisation of any size now has a net zero strategy, and they need people to deliver that. That's why the demand for qualified specialists in this field is only going to grow, with a large scope of exciting career opportunities available.

This course will give you the practical skills needed to pursue a career in city or urban governance and planning, infrastructure and sustainability consulting, policy analysis and development, environmental and urban consultancy, corporate social responsibility, environmental management and management systems, sustainability NGO’s, or PhD study.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 10 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2023, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field. We offer extra support and activities to help you stand out in your chosen field and achieve your career goals.

Here’s a snapshot into some of the job positions and organisations previous graduates in sustainability-related MScs have secured:

  • Procurement Operations Coordinator, South Pole
  • Sustainability Programme Lead, Pierce County
  • Sustainability Consultant, ARUP
  • Energy and Sustainability Specialist, Bulb
  • Industry Consultation Manager, Network Rail
  • Energy Research Analyst, N-ERGY Power Solutions
  • Sustainability Project Manager, City of York Council
  • Sustainability and Climate Change Consultant, WSP Global

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons our graduates are so sought after by employers. The University’s Career Centre is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.

  • Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications, our School’s dedicated Employability Enhancement Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
  • Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including the School of Earth and Environment Careers Fair, with employers who are actively recruiting for roles and a dedicated Industry Recruitment Day, giving you the opportunity to network with industry sponsors. 
  • MyCareer system — during your course and after you graduate, you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
  • Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.

Find out more at the careers website.

Student profile: Rhian Ebrey

This course is unique with its problem-based learning, diversity of work-related assessment methods and one module at a time learning, which allows greater immersion in the topic.
Find out more about Rhian Ebrey's time at Leeds