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University College for Interdisciplinary Learning

Creating a Sustainable World: Applying the Sustainable Development Goals

Course Unit Code

UCIL20612 (20 credits)

Course Unit Details

This unit has been designed specifically for online learning and offers a unique interactive experience.


These units are ONLY open to students who have previously completed the 10 credit Creating a Sustainable World unit (UCIL20311).

They are NOT OPEN to students who have already completed the 20 credit unit (UCIL20412).

  • Level 2
  • 20 Credits
  • School of Environment, Education and Development


"The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change." - Greta Thunberg

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call from the United Nations for all countries to tackle, by 2030, the global challenges faced by humanity. The SDGs cover a wide range of challenges, with 17 goals backed up by 169 indicators.

You already have the foundational knowledge of what the SDGs are, and a good understanding of six of the 17 Goals. You have applied your skills in data analysis and sustainability communication to begin to effect change for sustainable development.


This unit is available as 20 credits and offers you the opportunity to extend and deepen your existing knowledge of SDGs by studying some of the SDGs that you didn't study last year. Each SDG is explored through its own module, drawing on cutting-edge research carried out by world-leading experts across The University of Manchester, together with input from external experts and international policy-makers and practitioners. In this unit, particular emphasis lies on effecting change for sustainable development through interdisciplinary partnership.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit you will be able to:

  • Describe in depth the key interdisciplinary concepts and theories that underpin sustainable development, as presented by the SDGs
  • Analyse ways in which sustainable development plays out across different spaces and scales, including policy spheres, everyday lives, and infrastructures
  • Collaborate in interdisciplinary groups to view problems from new perspectives and communicate this in a public space through a blog
  • Apply disciplinary knowledge to the SDGs, undertake desk-based research and produce materials that could contribute to the unit in future years


You will refresh your knowledge of the two core modules:

  • Core Module 1: Sustainability and GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goals
  • Core Module 2: Sustainable Development Goals

You will then study the ten Sustainable Development Goal modules, listed below, that you didn't study last year.

Sustainable Development Goal Modules

  • SDG Module 1: No Poverty
  • SDG Module 2: Zero Hunger
  • SDG Module 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG Module 4: Quality Education
  • SDG Module 5: Gender Equality
  • SDG Module 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG Module 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG Module 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG Module 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • SDG Module 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG Module 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG Module 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG Module 13: Climate Action
  • SDG Module 14: Life Below Water
  • SDG Module 15: Life On Land
  • SDG Module 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

To find out more about each of the 17 Goals go to:


  1. Ongoing module assessment. These are 'big picture' discussion questions, administered through Blackboard (20%)
  2. Individual sustainability project proposal (for the assignment below) developed with an interdisciplinary student partner. 600 words (20%)
  3. Individual end of unit applied sustainability project set by an external partner - 2000 words (60%)


To take this unit you MUST have completed the 10 Credit Creating a Sustainable World unit (UCIL20311) last year.

UCIL units are credit-bearing and it is not possible to audit UCIL units or take them for additional/extra credits. You must enrol following the standard procedure for your School when adding units outside of your home School.

If you are not sure if you are able to enrol on UCIL units you should contact your School Undergraduate office. You may wish to contact your programme director if your programme does not currently allow you to take a UCIL unit.

Teaching Staff

The unit is led by Dr Jennifer O'Brien (School of Environment, Education and Development) and features over 80 expert contributors including Professor David Hulme (Global Development Institute), Khalid Malik (The United Nations), Professor Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research), Dr. Manisha Anatharaman (Saint Mary's College, California), Professor Amanda Bamford (Division of Evolution & Genomic Sciences), Carly Koinage (UN Habitat), Dr Susie Miles (Manchester Institute of Education), Professor James Evans (Manchester Urban Institute), Professor Michael Shaver (Manchester School of Materials) and Professor Paulo Bartolo (School of Engineering)

Teaching and Learning Methods

The unit is delivered entirely online via Blackboard. All students will refresh their knowledge of the two core modules and will then study ten SDG modules that they didn't study last year. Students will engage in fortnightly discussions, drawing upon material they have studied that week. Like the SDGs, a strong ethos is placed on partnership. Beyond the assessed discussion groups you will be encouraged to engage with each other's ideas to the benefit of your own.

The 60% assignment draws on projects set through the University Living Lab ( These are projects set by external organisations who need that insight for their sustainable development work. You can choose your project from around 100 different research projects set by charities, NGOs, businesses and councils locally, and globally. You can tailor the project to your own disciplinary perspective and preferred methodology.

20% of the assessment is for a research proposal that you will co-construct in an interdisciplinary way. You will receive one-to-one feedback on your research proposal before you undertake your research. Research reports that achieve 65% or over are returned to the organisation who set them. The organisation will share with us any impact that your research has had on the real world, which we will send back to you. So far two students have been employed by organisations that they did their research for and many more attribute their employment to this experience - plus, your assessment could affect change for sustainable development. Students' work has shaped municipal climate policy, advised health strategy, supported international NGOs, visualised air pollution and included bee hives on high end urban infrastructure.

Each module is led by a leading researcher from across The University of Manchester and features leading contributors from around the world. The unit is highly interactive and uses case studies, imagery and video to deliver the learning material.



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