Leeds sustainable curriculum

At the University of Leeds our award winning curriculum reflects our wider approach to sustainability. It’s about looking at the whole picture and how research and teaching fits together across disciplines rather than simply carrying out individual projects.

This approach means that all students leave the University knowing what sustainability is and how it applies to their discipline.

Sustainability is so successfully embedded into our curriculum, we received the Whole Systems Approach Award at the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) conference in São Paolo, Brazil. This award recognises our excellence in integrating sustainability into our culture, education, research and operations.

Sustainability through your degree

Discovery modules

The Creating Sustainable Futures Discovery Theme provides a wide variety of sustainability modules to broaden knowledge and enhance employability.

Sign up for a Discovery Module.

Embedding through coursework

A great example of this is happening at the Leeds University Business School, where students have been able to integrate sustainability into the Commercial & Professional Skills Module.

Dissertations and research projects

The Sustainability Service has a list of potential research projects and case studies and can support students in developing research through the Leeds Living Lab. You could showcase your work through the annual Student Sustainability Research Conference and get published in the student-led research journal, Discovering Sustainability.

Get in touch to find out more about research projects: sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

Degree programmes

A huge variety of degree programmes develop knowledge, skills and experience of sustainability.

Use the University of Leeds Course Finder to help find what you are looking for.

Embedding sustainability into teaching

The Sustainability Service can support any member of staff who wants to integrate sustainability into their programmes and modules.

Mapping the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)

We have developed a process to map programmes and modules against the UN SDGs. This will help you to understand where you are already touching on sustainability, and where you could do more. We are currently piloting this in Leeds University Business School and will share the tools, guidance and learning here soon.

Tools and resources to integrate sustainability

The Leeds Sustainable Curriculum Working Group coordinates a suite of tools and guidance documents to support teaching staff in embedding sustainability into their programmes and modules.

UN SDG Academy

Free educational resources from some of the world’s leading experts on sustainable development. The SDG Academy creates and curates free massive open online courses and educational materials on sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

EAUC Sustainability in Higher Education Developers (SHED) Group

SHED is the leading cross-sector Community of Practice in the UK for Education for Sustainability (EfS). The University of Leeds are members of the EAUC.

University of Leeds FutureLearn courses

The diverse range of FutureLearn courses developed by the University of Leeds will allow the exploration of new and different ways to provide online education. In particular, see the following courses:
• Environmental Challenges
• Ecology and Wildlife Conservation
• Food Science and Nutrition: From the Farm to You
• Discovering Science
• Causes of Human Disease
• Innovation: the World’s Greatest
• Transport Systems: Global Issues and Future Innovations
More courses can be found at: https://www.futurelearn.com/partners/university-of-leeds


A curated library from Taylor and Francis to support the UN SDGs.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular Economy Higher Education Resources

Resources designed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for academics and students to build knowledge and stimulate dialogue around the circular economy. Videos, publications, podcasts, workshop activities and guides are available.

World’s Largest Lesson

Creative tools for educators and action-focused learning experiences for young people that build skills and motivation to take action for the SDGs. Each year the organisers create campaigns and challenges to keep student learning engaging and relevant. We support these with local activations to make sure no one is left behind.

From Art to Zoo Management: embedding sustainability in UK higher and further education

The National Union of Students created the guide “From Art to Zoo Management: embedding sustainability in UK higher and further education” to highlight the meaningful examples of different academic disciplines including sustainability in their curriculum.

UN SDG Learn

UN SDG:Learn is a United Nations initiative that aims to bring relevant and curated learning solutions on sustainable development topics to individuals and organizations. Self-paced e-learning courses, interactive presentations and webinars.

FAO e-learning Academy

The FAO e-learning Academy offers free access to content on a variety of topics of global interest, available in a range of formats, including e-learning courses for self-paced learning, blended learning programmes, massive open online courses (MOOCs), technical webinars, online tutored courses and mobile learning. Courses are closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and FAO strategic programmes and are peer-reviewed, by a wide range of experts, to ensure content accuracy, quality and coherence.

SDG Helpdesk Knowledge Hub

E-learning courses, videos and publications on the SDGs with a focus on the global South.

UN CC:Learn

Publications and good learning practices on climate change: https://www.uncclearn.org/resources/
A curated list of e-learning and knowledge sharing platforms: https://www.uncclearn.org/resources/learning-platforms/

UVED (Virtual University for the Environment and Sustainable Development) Resources

The Virtual University for the Environment and Sustainable Development (UVED), one of the eight French Thematic Digital Universities, promotes free access to knowledge, education, the dissemination of knowledge and the training of all stakeholders in the field of the environment and sustainable development. [Website and resources are in French].

AdvanceHE Sustainable Development Toolkit: Tutor Resource and Student Activity Series
This toolkit includes a series of lesson plans to help you introduce sustainability into any programme including outlining the intended learning outcomes of each session.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities: A guide for universities, colleges, and tertiary and higher education institutions

Accelerating Education for the SDGs in Universities is a new guide from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) that aims to help universities, colleges, and tertiary and higher education institutions implement and mainstream “Education for the SDGs” within their institutions. The guide is accompanied by a website, blogs.upm.es/education4sdg, with almost 50 examples of how universities around the world are already accelerating their implementation of Education for the SDGs. View the guide at https://resources.unsdsn.org/accelerating-education-for-the-sdgs-in-universities-a-guide-for-universities-colleges-and-tertiary-and-higher-education-institutions?mc_cid=57cd628037&mc_eid=c9c210475b

If there is something missing, or you have ideas to add, please contact us at sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

Leeds Sustainable Curriculum Working Group 

The Leeds Sustainable Curriculum is guided and advised by a Working Group to ensure the University achieves the strategic aims of:

  •  Enhance and embed provision of sustainability learning and content across all levels of the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum.
  • Provide the resources required to enable cultural change amongst staff and students.
  • Enable students to learn across disciplinary boundaries without difficulty and ensure a permanent sustainability teaching offer by integrating with the broader curriculum strategy and governance systems.
  • Develop sustainable ways of delivery, assessment and infrastructure for the Leeds curriculum.

To find out more or get involved, please get in touch: sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.

Other ways to get involved

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to guide our activity. Our work on the Leeds sustainable curriculum is linked to all of the SDGs.

Find out more about our impact on the SDGs.