Global Environment & Society Academy

Online course in Sustainability and Social Responsibility launched for 2016-2017

In 2015-16 the Global Environment & Society Academy, along with CSE, CAHSS, and the VP Learning and Teaching, funded the development of a new university-wide online course.

The course is a 20-credit level 8 course open to every student in the University, with the bulk of students taking the course expected to be year 1 and 2 UGs. It is a joint initiative from the School of Geosciences (Dave Reay) and the Moray House School of Education (Pete Higgins) and has been approved by the Boards of Studies in both Schools.

SRS course

This interdisciplinary initiative draws on the expertise of colleagues from across the University and all four Global Academies, providing insights for our students into everything from sustainable business and health, through to engineering and design.

Aims and Vision

Our vision is for this online course to be a truly Institution-wide learning experience that provides a template for development of other cross-cutting themes (e.g. data handling, research ethics, employability) that can enhance the student experience and help deliver core graduate attributes.


  • provide students right across our Institution with a solid grounding in what sustainability means in a context relevant to them and their area of degree study
  • allow them to reflect on what sustainability means to them, their lives and their careers beyond Edinburgh
  • explore the synergies and antagonisms inherent in achieving a sustainable future in a highly complex 21st century world
  • to give our current on-campus students a really positive and engaging experience of online study at Edinburgh so that they look to return online study at Edinburgh throughout their post-graduation careers


Students will have the opportunity to look at case studies from work happening across the University of Edinburgh in these areas and explore how we can all make positive, more sustainable and socially responsible lifestyles choices. The learning outcomes for the course address all of the mind-sets and talents of the University’s graduate attribute framework and will give students the tools, knowledge, and confidence to address the global issues.


Using a ‘flipped classroom’ approach with videos and other interactive content, students will explore the topics on their own time and then join in weekly tutorial group sessions for discussions and activities relating to each week’s materials. Assessment for the course involves a footprinting evaluation exercise, a group project on the Circular Economy, and the creation individual video piece reflecting on their learning and the importance of sustainability and social responsibility within their degree area.


Via access to this course, and in collaboration with the Development & Alumni office, we also plan to extend the graduate attributes of learning for sustainability and online education to the whole global community of UoE alums (and so to enhance alumni relationships with the University).

Find out more

Course development  was completed in July 2016 and the course will run for the first time in semester 2 of the 2016-17 academic year

You can watch an introductory video about the course here:

All course details available on DRPS at: