Global Governance and Sustainable Development MA | Middlesex University London
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Global Governance and Sustainable Development MA

Learn about the course below
October 2019
January 2020
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£8,000 (UK/EU) *
£13,900 (INT) *
Course leader
Meri Juntti
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A topic of global importance since the late 1980's, 'sustainable development' refers to "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Brundtland Report, 1987). It encompasses responsible utilisation of environmental resources and the establishment of social and economic contexts which enable that. Sustainable development is at the heart of global policies such as Agenda 21, which emerged from the UN Earth Summit in 1992 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals enshrined in a UN resolution as recently as 2015.

Quality of governance is increasingly recognised as central to sustainable development, which requires achieving just and legitimate outcomes in major global socio-economic and environmental issues such as poverty, climate change, food security and biodiversity loss.

Why study MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development at Middlesex University?

With the rise of sustainable development as a major issue of the international policy agenda it is essential that global intergovernmental, as well as governmental agencies, have access to professionals that hold the necessary analytical skills to address these challenging governance issues in varying contexts. This master's degree aims to provide you with those skills and enhance your knowledge with respect to global governance approaches and instruments focused on environmental sustainability and social justice required to become such a professional.

You will explore various approaches to how intergovernmental and national strategies, policies and projects pertaining to these global governance issues are formulated, implemented and evaluated. The critical case study approach used in teaching will enable you to develop the skills required for working in the private sector or with global and national public or third sector agencies leading and managing change in a global environment.

Our staff, including renowned development and gender expert Professor Sarah Bradshaw and European policy specialist Dr Meri Juntti are experts in their respective fields who use their impressive research portfolios to inform their teaching.

You will have a number of opportunities to gain work experience through three different work placement modules offered as options through the programme. One of these enables you to apply to undertake an Erasmus-funded internship in an international organisation based in another European country.

Our international mix of students exposes you to a range of different cultural and national viewpoints, offering valuable insights and a genuine basis for informed discussion.

Course highlights

  • You may be eligible for related internship and work-based learning opportunities which gives you the chance to intern at institutions such as the United Nations, Global Union Federations and NGOs.
  • Learn from experts in the field of global governance and sustainable development
  • Gain practical experience on an Erasmus-funded internship.

Find out more

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What will you study on the MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development?


Four core plus two optional modules are completed over terms one and two, with a dissertation period in term three.


Each module is typically worth 20 credits, except the Dissertation, Work Integrated Learning and Practicum in International Organisations modules which are worth 60 credits each. The Work Integrated Learning and Practicum in International Organisations may be chosen to replace the Dissertation with prior agreement.

Additional optional modules available in Law

As well as the optional modules listed below, students can choose to study from a range of law modules in terms one and two.

  • Core modules

    • Global Governance for Sustainable Development (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This core module aims to provide you with skills and knowledge to understand and critique the notion of sustainable development and the many manifestations it takes in policy and governance starting with the global blueprint of Agenda 21. An increasingly popular term, global governance refers to the collaborations of state and non-state actors in advocating, making laws and policies for and undertaking practical actions to address issues that have global scope in terms of impact and/or causality. This module will help you to understand new and emerging theorisations of governance, power and evidence as well as the normative and institutional premises of governance for sustainable development. You will gain a critical understanding of a range of global governance issues such as food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and healthy cities.

    • Politics of Globalisation (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      In this module you will be asked to consider the implications in International Relations of the forces of globalisation, looking at international political processes and institutions at the level of politics, economics and culture. You will analyse the relevance of international organisations, and look at transnational politics and issues of global importance. Additionally, you will explore theoretical debates surrounding these issues and learn to critically evaluate the effectiveness of international policy. The aim of this module is to provide you with a platform to work constructively in groups, gain leadership skills and formulate arguments and coherent debates in a diverse international environment.

    • Research and Practice Skills (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module prepares you to complete either a dissertation or an assessed work placement or a work based learning project. You will attend a series of lectures and workshops and online exercises address research methodologies, skills and employability. You will undertake a series of formative and summative assessments developing your critical and practical skills and leading to either; i) the production of a research proposal or ii) a critical review of the work of the organization you are to be placed with or work with. The satisfactory completion of the module will then allow you to proceed to writing a dissertation of 10-12,000 words or to embark on a work placement assessed by production of a project report / paper and exercises reflecting on your experience.

    • Sustainable Development and Human Rights (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module will help you critically explore the key institutions and frameworks that govern human rights at the international level and of the international policy context that promotes sustainable development, to examine how the two interact. You will examine the notion of rights as competing, contested and co-opted and question their ability to function in crisis situations. It focuses on issues of inclusion/exclusion and reflects on how the rights and ‘development’ of three ‘marginalised groups’ have been promoted. You’ll focus in particular on indigenous peoples, the caste system and gender inequality. The aim of this part of your studies is to question if current legal approaches to human rights are sufficient to bring sustainable development to groups currently marginalised.

  • Plus one of the following

    • Dissertation (60 credits)

      The module aims to enable you to undertake a substantial academic research project focussed on a key issue within your programme. It requires you to apply methodology, research design and method to the practical processes of undertaking a chosen research topic and presenting the findings. The dissertation requires you to draw upon the prerequisite module Research and Practice Skills but encourages you to demonstrate independence and self-discipline in researching a topic of interest and relevance to you and manage an extended project from conception to completion.

    • Work Integrated Learning (60 Credits) - Optional

      The module enables you to apply theoretical knowledge and research to anticipate and respond to challenges in a selected workplace experience. The workplace experience may be undertaken as an internship that you negotiate yourself or in your current workplace or an existing voluntary role. It also aims to foster sustainable long term learning by requiring you to take responsibility for your own learning, design and negotiate learning goals and make informed judgments about your performance across the programme of study. The module asks you to engage as an active subject in the assessment process, thus enhancing your capacity for transformative learning. By selecting a topic of interest grounded in your own workplace experience you’ll be called upon to demonstrate reflexivity, self-regulation and self-assessment in your journey towards personal and professional development.

  • Plus two optional modules from the list below

    • Environmental Crime and Green Criminology (20 Credits) - Optional

      The aim of this module is to enable students to evaluate different perspectives on green crime, and crimes against the environment (including animals). Contemporary perspectives on green offending, the regulation of environmental problems, global perspectives on green crimes, green criminality and the effectiveness of justice systems in resolving environmental problems are a major focus.

    • Environmental Law and Governance (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will provide students with an in-depth understanding of environmental governance and the central theoretical approaches on which its principles are based. The module introduces the idea of the governance spectrum ranging from a coercive mode and legal instruments to approaches that rely on the agency and knowledge of environmental resource users themselves.

    • Environmental Policy and Ethics (20 Credits) - Optional

      Through this module the student will develop skills and knowledge to understand and evaluate contemporary environmental policy and the ethical challenges that such policy needs to address. The module also enables an understanding of environmental responsibility and social constructs on 'care' for the environment and the various contexts on being accountable for harm or environmental wrongdoing. The module critically examines ethical traditions and how these traditions inform particular forms of environmental policy and action; in particular the conflicts between continued exploitation of the environment and the contemporary environmental protection 'movement'.

    • Foreign Policy Analysis: Geopolitical Perspectives (20 Credits) - Optional

      The aim of this module is to analyse foreign policy practices as crucial sites of political agency and choice in the contemporary geopolitics of international relations. This course will draw on the advanced classical and critical theories of international relations and geopolitical perspectives applied to the study of the foreign policy traditions, strategies and practices of the key actors and cases in global politics. The module is designed to encourage and qualify an international group of postgraduate students who may wish to further their specialised study of foreign policy analysis and or employment in fields related to governance, business, politics and diplomacy. The overall aim of this module is to create a multidisciplinary, multicultural learning environment that is reflected on the teaching practice and research of the module leader and receptive to the diverse needs and views of students.

    • Global Criminology and Policing (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module aims to engage students in exploring criminological issues from a global perspective, particularly in respect of contemporary debates on the policing of transnational problems and the development of global policing. The module considers policing in a wide rather than narrow context identifying that the changing nature of crime and crime control in a 'globalised' world and the emergence of crimes which transcend national borders requires a globalised approach to crime and justice.

    • Global Security (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module analyses changes in the global security agenda since the end of the Cold War, both empirically and theoretically. The meaning of security is explored and competing theoretical perspectives in the discipline are compared. The transformation of military security threats is then analysed with particular emphasis on the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the significance of global terrorism. The module then explores the rise of non-military issues of human security including environmental change, crime, disease, poverty, and disasters.

    • Migration: Theories & Approaches (20 Credits) - Optional

      In this module you will look at the relationship between migration, politics and policies from a comparative and European perspective. This relationship is both ‘top down’, with migration becoming an object of contention amongst political parties and migration policies being largely shaped by political divisions, and ‘bottom up’, with the growing presence of NGOs campaigning for migrant rights and migrant activism. First, you will be asked to comparatively examine migration policies, their regulatory role in the attempt to manage and control migratory flows, and how they have been affected by political debates over migration.

      Secondly, you will look at the growth of anti-immigration politics and how anti-migrant mobilisations have become a constant feature at European level, not only for marginal groups but also for mainstream government parties. During this part of the module you will also investigate the growing conflicts between migrants and natives over the uses of space and the distribution of welfare resources. Thirdly, you will look at different forms of migrant participation in the public sphere, from self-organized migrant protest around issues such as freedom of circulation, citizenship rights and labour rights to more institutionalized forms of participation through unions and NGOs.

    • Political Violence & Terrorism (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will introduce you to key debates about political violence and contemporary terrorism. You’ll be required to consider a range of perspectives emerging from the study of the different forms of political violence, including terrorism and war. It also adopts a critical approach to theoretical and contextual debates on the use of the term terrorism as shorthand for a range of issues relating to political violence. Both institutional and anti-institutional violence will be discussed, along with critical analysis of the controversies surrounding the definitions of violence and terrorism in the different epochs. In the module you’ll examine in detail the contributions of the major schools of thought, along with the most recent sociological-criminological analysis of authorised and unauthorised political violence. The module requires you to critically examine theoretical concepts and practical considerations in contemporary political violence and terrorism discourse drawing on a range of case studies.

    • International Organisations and Dispute Resolution (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module aims to provide students with a systematic understanding of the rules and principles of International Law and International Relations to the extent that these are relevant towards explaining the legal personality and activities of International Organisations. Special emphasis will be placed on defining the role of International Organisations in the settlement of international disputes including in relation to their involvement in armed conflicts. The course will provide advanced conceptual insights into the legal, political and structural issues that underpin dispute resolution at international level within International Organisation through a thematic focus on issues such as labour, trade, title to territory, and international peace and security. The module will enable students to think strategically about different means of settlement of disputes and their applicability to existing or potential conflicts.

    • Business and Human Rights (20 Credits) - Optional

      The Bhopal disaster, the tragedy of the Niger Delta and the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory are all examples of what appears to be systematic corporate human rights abuses which are not being adequately prevented or remedied. This module enables students to understand how the sub-discipline business and human rights challenges State-centred architecture of international human rights law and delves into the responsibility of non-state actors such as multinational corporations in the area of human rights. It also challenges the idea that only individuals can commit international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes looking into corporate criminal and civil liability for human rights violations

    • Urban Social Justice (20 Credits) - Optional

      The module addresses the concept of social justice and situates it more particularly within the city and urban life. The social justice addresses the topic of social inequality and how it can be dealt with. A majority of you will be working in different professional sectors that are related to addressing social inequality and social justice in an urban context. Indeed the module addresses a range of issues from housing and homelessness through to secularisation and exclusion by way of crime reduction and policing space for instance. It offers exciting opportunities for research at a Masters level and rich points of discussions that will also find real world applicability.

    • Law & Policy of the World Trade Organisation (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will examine the international legal framework for international trade provided by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The importance of the WTO has dramatically increased in the last two decades, shaping the global trade regimes and regulatory governance. This module is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding and knowledge of global trade regimes: an overview of globalisation and contemporary international economic relations; the regulation of international trade through the WTO; and the relationship among international trade, harmonisation of the law and trade-related issues. This course aims to deepen students understanding of the origins, structure, rationale and scope of the global trading system. Its objective is to enable students to demonstrate their legal and multidisciplinary knowledge, analytical skills and understanding through extended writing in a cogent and appropriate writing style.

    • Citizenship, the Right to Nationality and Statelessness (20 Credits) - Optional

      The module will analyse how international law addresses the nexus of statelessness and human rights, and the importance of citizenship and the right to a nationality for the enjoyment of human rights. It will span the standards, recommendations and jurisprudence of UN and regional human rights systems as they pertain to statelessness, focusing on its causes and consequences and the measures that can be taken to prevent and remedy it.

      The module will promote an interdisciplinary approach focused on practical solutions to statelessness.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are not offered on every course. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How is the MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development taught?

Students' cognitive skills are developed through interactive lectures, workshops, seminars, directed reading and coursework. More practical skills are acquired through computer-based exercises, workshops, interactive learning, and the preparation for and delivery of presentations.

Intensive weekend 'master classes' give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge learnt in lecture sessions to real life scenarios from their chosen specialism and help them develop their subject specific practical, problem solving skills. Those students who chose to take a work placement and produce a project report will have further opportunity to enhance their practical skills.


Students' knowledge and understanding is assessed by a variety of assessment methods including essays, reports, reviews and a research proposal.

  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK & EU
  2. International
  3. Additional costs

How can the MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development support your career?

This degree will enhance your knowledge and skills with respect to global governance approaches and instruments focused on environmental sustainability and social justice. Graduates of this master's can expect to be suitable for employment in national and global NGOs as well as private and public sector institutions delivering on social and environmental policy targets.

As well as access to the University's Employability Service, students are offered guidance by the Programme Leader and other contributors to the course teaching, including on how to enter and pass recruitment processes for national and international organisations. Staff members teaching on the programme include world-renowned scholars who combine instruction in core topics with the fruits of their current research. Students will benefit from their networks of contacts, notably as regards internship opportunities in national and international organisations such as the United Nations.

Dr Meri Juntti
Programme Leader

Dr Meri Juntti has a track record of research in European environmental policy and she has undertaken case studies on policy implementation and sustainability in a number of European countries. She has authored a range of publications on the role of evidence and the representation of environmental values and problems in environmental policy and planning. Her recent funded research includes developing an evaluation framework for the environmental impact of corporate investment in rural land resources, and developing the notion of 'experienced quality' of urban environments so that it can be integrated into the ecosystem services approach in environmental assessment.

During this course, you will may have the opportunity to participate on the Practicum in International Organisations.

Recent graduates, Fernanda and Mike were both able to take part. Fernanda spent six months working for the international migrant observatory, MOAS, and Mike spent six months working at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment in The Hague. Here’s what they had to say about their experiences and how it impacted on their studies at Middlesex University:

  • MOAS Fernanda Carrion

    Fernanda Carrion

    MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development (was MA Global Governance and Public Policy) Graduate

    The experience supported my studies by giving me an international outlook and it helped me in the transition from student to professional. It is often difficult to get an internship or entry-level job and the Practicum gave me the guidance I needed to begin my career.

    Read more of Fernanda's experiences.

  • Global Governance Practicum

    Mike Sipps

    MA Global Governance and Sustainable Development (was MA Global Governance and Public Policy) Graduate

    The experience definitely enriched my studies at Middlesex. By putting theory into practice, I have a gained a better understanding of concepts such as globalisation and international relations. At the Ministry, I improved my writing and organisational skills, and I also had the opportunity to develop skills such as communication - skills that will be very useful in my life beyond Middlesex University. Employers often ask for work experience, so I can tick that box

    Read more of Mike's experience.

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