Leeds sustainable curriculum

At the University of Leeds our award-winning curriculum reflects our wider approach to sustainability. Our vision for student education is to provide a transformative, research-based educational experience for students from diverse backgrounds, who develop the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and make a positive impact in the world.

Through this vision we are committed to:

  • Becoming a world-leading institution for sustainability and climate change learning and teaching, reflecting and supported by our world-leading research portfolio;
  • Providing our students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to contribute solutions to global challenges in an equitable and just way, and;
  • Further extending the inclusion of sustainability in our educational engagement and outreach activities

Sustainability has been embedded into the Leeds Curriculum for many years. Our Leeds Sustainable Curriculum is unique and has been developed by the University of Leeds to provide a holistic approach to embedding sustainability across every discipline and provide opportunities for all students to learn about sustainability and get involved. Our approach to “broadening” won a UK Green Gown Award in 2015, our holistic and integrated approach across curricular and co-curricular activity received the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) Whole Systems Approach Award in 2020, and our Living Lab approach won the ISCN Partnership Award in 2021.

Sustainability through your degree

There are many ways that every student at Leeds can develop knowledge and skills in sustainability as part of your degree, whatever the discipline. Through the Creating Sustainable Futures Discovery theme you can access hundreds of sustainability related modules, you can participate in the Leeds Living Lab, or you could do your dissertation or assessed project on sustainability. Follow the links below to access further information and support.

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

The School of Medicine have integrated sustainability into their Population Health module through developing a course on Planetary Health.

Leeds University Business School 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. The tool is available to all staff seeking to better understand their module or programme’s relationship with sustainability. Leeds University Business School are currently mapping their full curriculum against the SDGs and are sharing their learning through the Sustainable Curriculum Working Group.

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.

QAA and Advance HE Education for Sustainable Development Guidance

In March 2021, QAA and Advance HE launched revised guidance intended to help UK higher education institutions incorporate ESD within their curricula, following on from the first edition in 2014. The updated guidance document can be downloaded at  https://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code/education-for-sustainable-development#

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.

EAUC ESD Resources

Following the launch of the new guidance on Education for Sustainable Development in higher education, jointly published by QAA and Advance HE,  EAUC present a selection of resources and event opportunities that will provide further support to help you to incorporate Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) within the curricula: https://www.sustainabilityexchange.ac.uk/esd_new_eauc_resources

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

The Institute of Engineering and Technology: 150 Show – Green Edition

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

Sustainable Careers

The University’s Employability Strategy has sustainability at its heart, ensuring students are provided with an experience that means they are able to provide a meaningful contribution to society and that they have the skills and attributes required to address global issues through their careers.

The University of Leeds is proud that, in implementing their sustainability skills and knowledge, our alumni are involved in delivering all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You can read about some of their experiences on the Big Get Together webpages.


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

  • Enhancing and embedding provision across all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum (highlighting how learning aligns to the UN SDGs)
  • Providing resources to build staff and student knowledge and capacity to enable change
  • Enabling students to learn across disciplinary boundaries and ensure a permanent sustainability teaching offer
  • Developing sustainable ways of structuring, delivering and assessing the Leeds curriculum
  • Supporting all students – regardless of discipline – to conduct independent study with a sustainability-focus
  • Enhancing sustainability content in our educational engagement programmes to inspire and support young people in widening their educational opportunities and empowering them to create change
  • Enabling an increase in global understanding, dialogue and capacity to support delivery of the UN SDGs

The Working Group reports to the University Executive Group via the Sustainability Steering Group. It forms a key element of the Curriculum Redefined Programme.

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

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.