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MSc Governance & Sustainability

Delivered in partnership with and awarded by Abertay University.

  • Tuition fees: UK - £7,500 | Overseas - £15,000
  • Programme level: Masters
  • Start date: September or January
  • Study mode: Full-time
  • Duration: 1 year

What will I study?

The programme offers a valuable learning experience and opens employment opportunities and career development possibilities in public service, NGO/charitable and private sectors at national and international levels and in areas of ethics, law, sustainable development research, policy, management, consultancy and development

The specialist units in governance and sustainability have been developed by subject specialists at Al-Maktoum College and complement the units on offer at Abertay University.

Units are taught mainly at Al-Maktoum College with some teaching taking place at Abertay University; students will have full access to both campuses.

The programme begins with a 2-week foundation module to introduce students to important learning resources within Abertay University and Al-Maktoum College. It also starts the process of encouraging students to work in teams and to see their fellow students as an important learning resource over and above the resources available at the University and the College.

What will I learn?

The MSc Governance & Sustainability is designed to provide students with the knowledge required to encounter and address challenges that are associated with law and regulation as they apply to sustainable development.

This programme is designed to:

  • Equip students with an understanding of theories and practices of law and sustainable development. It explores sustainability through the lense of law, policies and legal practices and in a variety of fields from environmental law, sustainable housing law to corporate social responsibility
  • Provide students with advanced and specialist knowledge in key areas of environmental law and liability and housing law, together with a detailed understanding of corporate governance It explores this vital area of law and addresses the struggle to achieve a desirable long-term balance between economic and sustainable developments against a backdrop of global politics and the more immediate regulatory issues surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU
  • Allow law and non-law graduates to acquire the necessary tool and skills to pursue successful career in the area of law and sustainable development

Programme information

Entry requirements

  • A good (at least a lower second class Honours degree or equivalent) first degree

English Language requirements 

Teaching takes place solely in English and you must demonstrate that your English language proficiency is at a level that will allow you to follow your intended programme successfully.

If English is not your first language you must hold a qualification as evidence of your English language skills. Full details of the qualifications we accept, can be found here.

Student Visa requirements for study in the UK

The UK Government approves certain English language qualifications as being Secure English Language Tests (SELT). These meet the government’s requirements for visa applications.

Al-Maktoum College will accept the following:

  • IELTS – 6.0 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component and 6.0 in writing) or equivalent
  • LanguageCert – B2 or equivalent

Full entry requirement information can be found here

The MSc Governance & Sustainability would benefit those who are interested in maintaining or securing a professional managerial or legal job within the corporate sector.

In particular, it may suit:

  • Corporate managers
  • Recent graduates
  • Newly trained lawyers

There are PhD opportunities available to students.

Students have full access to the Abertay Careers Service.


Each 20-credit unit compromises 200 hours of learning; this is made up of 40 hours of teaching and 160 hours of independent study. 

Classes are made up of lectures, seminars and tutorials and you will have 2 hours of contact teaching per week. 


You should apply directly using the College online application system and your application will usually be assessed within 3 working days. We my contact you to provide further information or to invite you to a short informal interview.

Please make sure you have the following information before starting your application:

  • Academic transcripts and qualification certificates
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if required)
  • Passport details
  • Referee details

We consider all aspects of the application: academic qualifications, personal statement and references.

All correspondence will be sent from after an application of study has been submitted and you should direct any questions there.

Compulsory unit information

Sustainable Development: Discourse and Policy

The unit enables students to define and critically evaluate the concept of sustainable development and the key issues and debates relating to The United Nations Development Program’s warning in its Human Development Report 2007/2008 that the current economic model, following the footsteps of rich industrialised nations in growth and consumption, is ecologically unsustainable.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) acknowledge the need for a universal action plan with equal responsibilities amongst all nations, yet the field of sustainable development is still immature and requires further critical examination. The unit will also provide the necessary skills for understanding current debates and events in the fields of ecology, economic development and sustainability.

Corporate Environmental Liability

The unit draws attention to the conflicting goals of corporate law (i.e. the limitation of liability) and environmental law (i.e. ensuring that polluters pay for damage caused) and encourages students to consider and develop solutions to this problem. Whilst the unit focuses on UK, EU and international environmental law, many of the concepts covered are relevant to other jurisdictions.

Environmental Law and Regulation

This unit explores this vital area of law and addresses the struggle to achieve control of environmental problems against a backdrop of global politics and the more immediate regulatory issues surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU. Environmental problems, a warming planet, growing rubbish piles, the destruction of habitats and increasingly unbreathable air, are amongst the most complex faced by today’s societies. These problems also pose multiple challenges for legal control and regulation.

Ecosystems are understood only subject to significant scientific uncertainty and environmental issues as a whole tend to cross jurisdictional and disciplinary boundaries, involving problems of collective action often seemingly at odds with private interests and the generally anthropocentric approach of legal responses. Therefore the unit explores how the law responds to these challenges.

Research Methods

This unit provides an opportunity for students to develop further as independent learners through the completion of a supervised study, which can include some elements of research carried out in a fieldwork context. The first part of the unit covers the research approaches in business studies. It aims to prepare students to produce a project proposal. This part of the unit examines strategies, design, ethics, and methodologies with particular reference to both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The unit explores various methods appropriate to a range of disciplines, including organisational learning, business excellence, future foresight, innovation management, and sustainable development. It aims to develop students’ analytic skills, essential for conducting an independent research project that leads to a dissertation or consultancy report.


Students are expected to submit a dissertation of 15,000 words long. The dissertation carries 60 credits. This is usually submitted after all the modules have been completed.

The dissertation could be research-based or industry-based. In the first route, students are expected to conduct a research project in one of the three areas of specialism, focused on law and sustainability. In the second route, students are expected to carry out a consulting project at one of the organisations guided by the body of knowledge they mastered in the taught units.

Optional unit information

Development Policy and Application

This unit explores the complexities, constraints and debates surrounding the development policy process. It examines the process of making, implementing and/or evaluating development policy.

It also explores the politics surrounding development policy; the competing interests trying to influence the agenda and design of development solutions; how different political forces, ideas, religious values, and ideologies, policy instruments and institutional pressures, interact to shape the way in which policies are formulated, implemented and evaluated.

Sustainable Governance and Democracy

This unit draws on the body of classical writings on political and governance systems, the role governments play, and the legacy systems left by European governments in some countries after colonial rule, to develop a critical understanding of the contemporary debates and challenges facing sustainable development professionals working under a range of political systems and regulatory institutions.

This analysis would enable a deeper understanding of the political, cultural and regulatory impediments that hinder the development of morally conscious states.

Sustainability and Ethics: Corporate Social Responsibility

This unit will critically evaluate the influence of ESG issues on shaping responsible organisation/business and finance operations (particularly SRF – socially responsible finance – and SRI – socially responsible investment). In addition, it examines how ESG issues can be employed with financial metrics to assess the risks and opportunities of responsible investment decisions.

Law of Corporate Restructuring

This unit explores the philosophy, nature, rationale, mechanisms, procedures and practices of the UK corporate insolvency law. It critically discusses the role of corporate insolvency in establishing a delicate balance between the two seemingly contrary goals of business efficiency and the sustainability of the business at times of financial distress or crisis.

The unit examines the purposes of corporate insolvency law and the various rules and procedures for dealing with insolvent companies under the Insolvency Act 1986 and the subsequent insolvency legislation in terms of the three procedures available under the Act— liquidation, administration, and company voluntary arrangements.

Corporate Governance Module

The module provides an overview in relation to the developments and changes have taken place in corporate governance science and practice leading to the governance models we have in the world now.

Various theoretical frameworks for corporate governance will be discussed as a base to present and rationalise corporate governance models.

Students will learn the foundations, theories, principles, models, laws and regulations and practices of Corporate Governance as a key element of Governance and Sustainable development programme.

Corporate Governance of business and financial institutions has made it essential that anyone interested in the area of private, public and third sector organisations is conversant with the fundamentals, core concepts, and practical operation, control system and regulatory framework of Corporate Governance.

The unit will cover the differences between private, public and third sector organisations and the corporate governance foundations, theories, principles, models, laws and regulations and practices that such organisations rely on or operate based on.

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