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MSc Moral Economy & Sustainable Development

Delivered in partnership with and awarded by Abertay University.

  • Tuition fees: UK - £7,500 | Overseas - £15,000
  • Programme level: Masters
  • Start date: January 2023 / September 2023
  • 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 in public service, NGO/charitable and private sectors at national and international levels and in areas of ethics, sustainable development, academic research, policy making, management and consultancy.

The specialist units in moral economy and sustainable development 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 programmes begin with a 2-week foundation module to bring all students up to a common minimum standard. The foundation module also introduces students to important learning resources within Abertay University and Al-Maktoum College and 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 Moral Economy & Sustainable Development is designed to provide students with the knowledge required to encounter and address challenges facing decision makers in the fields of human development, social work, environmental protection, policy making, and sustainability.

This programme is designed to:

  • Equip students with an understanding of theories and practices of moral economy and sustainable development. It explores sustainability through the lens of morality and social responsibility and in a variety of fields from governance, civil society activism to policy making.
  • Provide students with a critical understanding of sustainable development theory and practice, and the skills required to tackle interim challenges facing humanity from climate change, economic crisis, and the underlying degradation of ethics.
  • Allow graduates to acquire the necessary tool and skills to pursue a successful career in sustainability-related fields in international and government agencies, non-governmental
    organisations (NGOs) and corporations.

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

MSc Moral Economy & Sustainable Development graduates will be provided with in-depth knowledge necessary to solve the challenges facing our planet, society and the environment, as well as the interdisciplinary and transferable skills to tackle them.

The programme equips students to work in sustainability-related fields in international and government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporations.

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 therefore provide the necessary skills for understanding current debates and events in the fields of ecology, economic development and sustainability.

Political and Moral Economy

The unit develops a critical understanding of the origin and evolution, concepts and aims of the political and moral economy at micro and macro levels. It also examines the history and evolution of political and moral economy from different perspectives.

The unit is essential for students to gain a critical understanding of political economy and its axioms which defines the frame, methodology and institutions for sustainable development. The module covers a number of themes including; an overview of the foundation of moral economy and economic analysis of the prevailing theories, macroeconomic theories and the major structural themes of moral economics related to the voluntary sector, prohibitive elements in market transactions, and finally the appraisal of the factors of production from an ethical perspective.

Environmetrics Data Modelling

This unit utilises statistical data analysis and quantitative methods to model socio-economic-environmental problems for sustainable development agenda. It will focus on practical training on quantitative computer software to design and control sustainable development programmes necessary for theory and policy development while considering prevalent economic, ethical, ethnographic and legal axioms.

Students will use computer software to simulate environmental and socio-economic problems to monitor sustainable development programmes and design experiments for real-world application. Study variables include natural and financial resources; population dynamics; microeconomics of consumption and utility; environmetrics; econometrics; and sociometrics. The main aim is to enable students to embed sustainable development values in development policy contexts.

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 Political/Moral Economy and sustainable development. 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.

Corporate Governance and Management

The unit provides an overview in relation to the developments and changes that have taken place in management science and practice leading to the management models we have in the world now. By using the ontological sources and epistemological approach, religious principles in relation to management will be identified.

Sustainability and Ethics

As social responsibility is a central value in every business and an important concept in sustainable development, this unit provides a critical understanding of the debates around sustainable development and social responsibility (and corporate social responsibility). In particular, the unit examines the implications of environmental, social and governance (ESG) dimensions of sustainability for responsible organisation/business, including responsible financial investment and accounting. It provides a conceptual foundation for exploring the role of responsible organisations/businesses in tackling the challenges of sustainability.

This unit critically evaluates the influence of ESG issues on shaping responsible organisation/business 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.

Civic Institutions and Sustainable Development

This module explores the role of civil society organisations (such as charities, religious institutions, community, education, environmental and women organisations) in promoting good governance, advocacy, policy change and service/programme delivery related to sustainable development.

Detailed issues examined in the unit include the extent to which civil society organisations contribute to localising sustainable development goals (SDGs), awakening the intellectual and social competence of the masses, acting as a voice for the discriminated and poorest, acting as a watchdog, and challenging public policies and programmes that hinder sustainable development.

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