UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Sustainable Resources: Economics, Policy and Transitions MSc

Learn how to analyse resource use and transform it towards greater sustainability.

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Programme overview

Dramatically rising and unsustainable resource use is among the core challenges of the 21st century, with potential negative consequences such as ecosystem collapses, resource scarcities and political instability. The Sustainable Resources MSc will give you the tools to work towards more sustainable, efficient, equitable and circular resource use. Based at the Bartlett’s Institute for Sustainable Resources, this degree equips students with the skills and knowledge to become leaders in a field that is increasingly critical to business, policymakers and civil society around at the global and local levels. You will benefit from a truly interdisciplinary approach to the economics, policies and strategies of sustainable resources and first-hand experience from leading experts in the areas of the circular economy, resource efficiency and sustainable resource management.

Learning outcomes

As a Sustainable Resources MSc student you will be equipped to become a leader and entrepreneur in your chosen area of specialisation. The programme also includes a careers event with speakers from a variety of organisations.

This exciting multi-disciplinary programme includes contributions from:

  • Economics
  • Political science
  • Development planning
  • Engineering
  • The natural sciences 

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Student views

Sustainable Resources MSc Class of 2019
Sustainable Resources MSc Class of 2019

Harald Helander 

Class of 2019

It is a very versatile programme that covers the societal issues around sustainability through modules on resource economics, policy and governance, but also helps you develop a strong quantitative analytical toolkit."
Read more ... 

"I have immensely enjoyed my year at the MSc in Sustainable Resources at the Bartlett School. It is a very versatile programme that covers the societal issues around sustainability through modules on resource economics, policy and governance, but also helps you develop a strong quantitative analytical toolkit. The interdisciplinary approach of the MSc is great since it means that the people on the course come from varied backgrounds and that there is something to learn from everyone. Being surrounded by researchers who are in the top of their fields is truly inspiring, especially since they are very down to earth, encouraging and have a lot of time for the students. The possibility to select your own modules for the second term means that you can adapt the programme to suit your interests and where you want to go professionally after graduation."

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Course structure and content

The curriculum of the MSc programme fully reflects the global and multi-dimensional nature of the subject of resources. You will gain in-depth expertise of the environmental, social and economic aspects of the management and governance of resources from both public policy and business perspectives. The programme proposes a combination of innovative approaches to the sustainable management of resources, which includes key concepts such as resource efficiency and the Circular Economy, the resource nexus and sustainable supply chain management.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of five core modules (75 credits), three optional modules (45 credits) and a dissertation project (60 credits).

Compulsory modules

Introduction to Sustainable Resources: Challenges and Principles

This module introduces the principal issues surrounding sustainable resources. Lectures examine basic issues such as `limits to growth', `equity' and geopolitics. The roles of a range of actors are considered, particularly businesses (with a focus on decision-making), and this forms the basis of a structured group exercise. This module includes an overnight field trip to give first-hand experience of some of the key issues.

Introduction to Resource Economics and Policy 

This module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the international supply of key natural resources, and how the supply is influenced by economic conditions, economic instruments, policies and governance factors. It includes a theoretical foundation of resource and environmental economics, with examples, through case studies, of how different factors affect resource availability and prices. It also considers the role of governance, law and international institutions.

Policies for Sustainable Resources

This module provides a comprehensive overview of how to use policies for managing natural resources in a more sustainable way.  It teaches how to critically analyse existing policies and to develop improvements. 
Students learn about a broad range of different policies and how to effectively combine them into policy mixes. Theories of policy instruments and processes are applied to a diverse set of case studies encompassing a variety of environmental resources and geographic locations.

Tools for Assessing Sustainable Resources

This module will introduce you to some of the key methodological tools for understanding the flow of resources through the economy and assessing the sustainability of resource use. It equips you with general knowledge and hands-on experience in the use of tools such as life-cycle analysis (LCA) and material flow analysis (MFA), as well as indicators, integrated assessments, and foresight and scenario analysis. It also provides an introduction to the general principles of simulation and optimisation modelling, and gives an overview of modelling frameworks.

Future Resource Pathways and Visions

This module discusses future sustainable resource management strategies and critically examines future pathways and visions. It explores potential future resource pathways for key countries and markets, and their implications for sustainability. It identifies important policy pillars and you will learn how to use assessment tools to assess the sustainability of different options in order to improve decision-making.


All students undertake an independent original research project, which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Optional modules

  • International Commodity Trade
  • Metrics, Modelling and Visualisation of the Resource Nexus
  • Resource Governance and the Global South
  • Eco-Innovation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship
  • Earth Resources and Sustainability
  • Climate Risks to Hydro-Ecological Systems
  • Industrial Symbiosis
  • Environmental and Social Sustainability Risk Management in Natural Resource Projects 

For futher information please visit the module catalogue.

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The Bartlett Master's Scholarships

The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, offers 10 scholarships for MSc, MPlan, MRes, MA and MArch students, each worth £10,000, to be used either as partial fee remittance for study or as a bursary to cover living costs.

Other sources of funding

There are a range of other scholarshipsloans and other funding opportunities available to help prospective students with their studies.


Programme Lead

Nino Jordan
Teaching Fellow
Email: nino.jordan@ucl.ac.uk

Programme Administrator

Dele Antony
Email: bseer-studentqueries@ucl.ac.uk

Other teaching staff 

Lorenzo Lotti
Teaching Fellow in Economics of Energy and the Environment
View Lorenzo's profile
Email: l.lotti@ucl.ac.uk

Will McDowall
Lecturer in Eco-Innovation
View Will's profile
Email: w.mcdowall@ucl.ac.uk

Julia Tomei
Lecturer in Energy, Resources and Development
View Julia's profile
Email: j.tomei@ucl.ac.uk

Raimund Bleischwitz
Chair in Sustainable Global Resources
View Raimund's profile
Email: r.bleischwitz@ucl.ac.uk

Catalina Spataru
Associate Professor in Global Energy and Resources
View Catalina's profile
Email: c.spataru@ucl.ac.uk

Nino Jordan
Teaching Fellow in Sustainable Resources and Circular Economy
View Nino's profile
Email: nino.jordan@ucl.ac.uk

Why choose the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources?

The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) has a world-leading research portfolio in the area of sustainable use of resources, economics and the environment. ISR is particularly strong in modelling approaches and analysis related to economics driving use of resources and policies.

The QS World University Rankings (2020) places The Bartlett, our faculty, as the #1 for Architecture/Built Environment studies in the UK and #3 in the World.

The exciting multidisciplinary programme includes contributions from economics, law, political science, development planning, engineering and the natural sciences as appropriate for a systemic approach to the complex set of elements shaping patter of use and consumption of resources and understanding planetary boundaries, the role of people and governments and new integrative approaches such as the resource nexus and the Circular Economy.

The programme also offers excellent opportunities for networking with key figures of academia, government and industry. The residential field trip offers a valuable experience and interesting visits to companies and a unique opportunity to strengthen student-staff interaction. Regular seminars are held across UCL and you will be able to undertake industry-focused dissertation projects.

Students become members of the Sustainable Resources: Economics, Policy and Transitions MSc alumni network and will be invited to attend alumni events and benefit from additional networking opportunities with fellow students.

Further information

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