MSc Social Responsibility & Sustainability (Part-time/Distance learning)

Why choose this course?

  • Study at a world-class business school with flexible learning routes, a real commitment to ethics and the social and natural environment*
  • Develop intellectual, subject-based skills to become an informed and self-aware individual
  • Engage with the UN Global Compact Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRiME).
  • Flexibility to balance study with professional and personal obligations
  • *Awarded 1st Class in the UK by the People & Planet Green League 2015 and a Green Gown Award finalist in 2014

MSc Social Responsibility & Sustainability adopts a trans-disciplinary approach, enabling you to explore social responsibility and sustainability from multiple perspectives in a business context. We utilise academic and practical activities together with a variety of philosophical and grounded perspectives that offer you the opportunity to acquire detailed knowledge and understanding of social responsibility and sustainability.

Studying this programme will allow you to develop the capacity to work in a cross-disciplinary and inter-professional manner. You will acquire valuable and enhanced lifelong learning skills and personal awareness, enabling you to work independently and reflectively allowing you to give added value to business practices at international, national and local levels as well as to the wider society. 

This programme combines both academic and practical perspectives and is suitable for those people interested in working in roles related to CSR and Sustainability in commercial business, the public sector, social enterprises or the not-for-profit and charitable sectors.  

It provides the opportunity to study a specialist MSc for those currently working in this area as well as those who aspire to do so.

The programme aims to:

  • Adopt a transdisciplinary approach, enabling you to explore social responsibility and sustainability from multiple perspectives in a business context
  • Engage in intellectual debates that reflect core issues and dilemmas and explore theories and practices relating social responsibility and sustainability
  • Provide flexible, comprehensive programmes of study that meet the ideas and needs of local, national and international students enabling you to learn by the exchange of experience as well as formal academic study
  • Provide you with an excellent learning experience that develops intellectual, subject based and transferable skills through drawing on the research and experience of academic staff at Aston and beyond
  • Ensure relevance by maintaining and enhancing the School’s links with business, professional, public and third sector organisations
  • Combine both academic and practical perspectives relating to this area to enable you to be prepared for roles related to social responsibility and sustainability in commercial business, the public or third sectors
  • Enhance life long learning skills and personal development to enable you to work with self direction and contribute to business and society at large
  • Enable you to develop your capacities as an informed and self-aware individual contributing to progressive organisational and social change

Learn more about the Distance Learning MSc Social Responsibility & Sustainability in Dr John Blewitt's webinar.

Core Modules:

Optional Modules: (choose one)

The programme then concludes with a dissertation project 

Provisional Timetable

Programme Structures and Requirements

Study routes available:
This programme is also available via a full time learning route and as a postgraduate certificate. For more information please see:

Students of HKU SPACE who have graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Green Building Management are eligible to complete the Aston MSc Social Responsibility & Sustainability programme via distance learning, they will receive recognition of prior learning (RPL) of up to 60 credits. Find out more 

Professional Development Programme Module

Business skills for life: the essential Aston Professional Development Programme

The Aston Professional Development Programme (PDP) is an integral module that forms part of your MSc taught course from day one.This compulsory module runs throughout the academic year. We have designed it around knowledge through practice - to enhance your employability as you customise the PDP experience to suit your own learning goals and skills development needs.

We take a multidimensional, qualitative and individually tailored approach. Using reflective models, we integrate a competency-based framework into our existing academic programmes.  You will engage with different kinds of experiential learning, such as skills workshops, work-based experience, study abroad and develop your own unique skillset.  

This pathway between theory and the world of work brings together Aston’s faculty, careers practitioners and business and academic partnerships teams to help you step into your future careers as culturally aware, global professionals.

You will be assessed through a mixture of examinations and coursework. The taught element of the programme is then complemented by a substantial piece of research leading to the completion of a dissertation.

Part-time / Distance learning

Part-time distance learning will allow you the flexibility to take control of your own learning and balance study with professional and personal obligations.

Applying yourself to two modules per term, combined with the final dissertation, will allow you to complete the course in the recommended two year period.  However you are able to spread your study over a maximum of five years, affording you the opportunity to study at a slower pace or take breaks where necessary.

The programme is designed to cater for distance learners and is supported online with a sophisticated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), with each module being designed specifically to cater for the needs of online distance learners.

Personal Development

We have an established global reputation for offering a unique educational experience. We provide a high quality education and emphasis is placed on personal and professional development through knowledge and skills gained during the programme and personal reflection. We put you at the heart of what we do - providing a truly transformational learning experience. We develop future leaders, encouraging you to be the best you can be, and to be an inspiration to others.

Through the Social Responsibility and Sustainability MSc you will develop and demonstrate valuable transferable and practical skills including: presentation skills, negotiation, team work, report writing and ICT skills.

Course directors

Dr John Blewitt
BScEcon, MA, MEd, PhD, FRSA
John is a Senior Lecturer (Sustainability and Media Communications) teaching issues in communication, sustainability theory and practice, urban sustainability and education. His research interests include urban sustainable design, new media affordances, sustainability communications, and the spatial dimension of inclusive economic development. He is a Distinguished Schumacher Institute Fellow and member of the thinktank, Green House.

Dr Helen Borland
BSc, PhD
Helen is senior lecturer in business sustainability where she is responsible for teaching strategic business sustainability to MBA, MSc, and PhD students. Helen’s research and teaching stem from her knowledge of the ecological sciences and philosophy behind sustainability and how these can be taught and researched in a business context. Her development of a unique strategic typology for business sustainability is gaining attention in a number of academic and commercial circles. 

Teaching staff

Teaching staff are drawn from a range of different disciplines within and beyond the Business School. External speakers also provide insights that add to the applied nature of the programme.

Teaching staff include:

This programme will prepare you for roles in commercial business, the public sector, social enterprises or the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. Recent graduate positions include:

  • Associate in Sustainability Services – KTMG Consulting
  • Product Developer – AZB: Competence Centre for Future Oriented Building (Germany)
  • Social and Environmental Consultant – Deloitte (France)
  • Social Innovation Manager – MindSpace Ltd (Hungary).

Our international alumni ambassadors share their experiences of studying at Aston Business School with students all over the world who consider applying for a course at Aston. Feel free to contact our ambassadors if you have any questions about 'Aston Life', the Campus, the courses or living in the UK/Birmingham.  

As an Aston student, you get the best of both worlds: a green, well-equipped, friendly campus in the centre of a vibrant city. Find out more about Aston campus here.

Only a 10 minute walk from campus, Birmingham is a city with many sides. Find out what living in Birmingham is like here.

One of the following:
  • A UK honours degree.
  • Equivalent overseas degree recognised by Aston University.
  • A degree equivalent professional qualification.
  • Consideration will be given to equivalent professional qualifications and in exceptional circumstances those qualified by extensive relevant experience. Candidate interview would be required for those with non- standard qualifications and experience.
As well as:
  • Two professional references – at least one must be from an academic referee.
  • An official academic transcript of your university grades to date.
  • A completed application form.
  • GCSE or equivalent standard in maths.
For International Students:
  • An overseas degree recognised by Aston University.
  • An official academic transcript, with an official English translation, of your university grades.
  • Students whose native language is not English will also need to satisfy our English language requirements Pre-sessional English language programmes are available for good applicants whose English qualification falls just short of these requirements.
Consideration will be given to equivalent professional qualifications and in exceptional circumstances those qualified by extensive relevant experience. Candidate interview would be required for those with non-standard qualifications and experience.

Duration of programme: Part-time / distance learning 2-3 years                                     
Start date:
September, January& April


UK/EU:          £9,450 
International:  £15,650 

Scholarships for 2016/7 entry are now open. Find out more here

Contact details: 
Aston Business School Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0) 121 204 3200
Email: abspgenquiry@aston.ac.uk

Green Gown Awards

Open days & visits

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Nicole Ortler

Nicole Ortler

"I got acquainted with the concepts of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability and soon realised that this was a topic I really cared about."

Career and personal development

Career and personal development

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Funding your study

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