Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development MSc

London, Bloomsbury

Tackle unsolved challenges through this one-of-a-kind MSc programme that brings the technical side of Artificial Intelligence (AI) together with environmental and humanitarian issues. This is an incredible opportunity to find solutions to pressing problems in sustainable development. Taught at UCL, an international home of AI breakthroughs, this programme places graduates at the heart of a rapidly growing sector.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
Fees to be confirmed
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
Fees to be confirmed
1 calendar year
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 29 Apr 2022

Applications closed


Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics or natural sciences, or natural sciences from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Evidence should be included within the application to demonstrate suitable mathematical skills (to at least Mathematics A level), analytical skills and programming experience in a procedural language. The applicant must have good computational thinking skills as programming is a core part of the programme.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

An MSc programme that blends technical learning with an immense opportunity to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this degree will enable you to become an AI specialist, with a crucial awareness of how AI can be applied to benefit the environment and humanity.

This programme is taught at a global top 10 university, with UCL also receiving the highest percentage (96%) for quality of research in Computer Science and Informatics (REF2014). UCL Computer Science is renowned for its role in AI breakthroughs, such as being part of the development of AlphaGo – the first computer programme to defeat a professional human Go player. You will join other students to study machine learning and AI technologies, while learning what technology can deliver to enable sustainable development, reduce environmental impact, and support humanity. Delivered in the heart of London, this programme enables you to learn in the AI Growth Capital of Europe.

An intrinsically multi-disciplinary programme, you will learn from a variety of subject specialists and industry experts, gaining an in-depth understanding of why AI practitioners are also needed in sectors aside from big technology companies. You will work on an individual project in partnership with a stakeholder who is facing a sustainable development challenge, giving you hands-on experience of problem-solving using AI in this area. From delivering life-saving blood by drones in Rwanda, to optimising nutritional input in agriculture to increase tomato crops in the Netherlands, AI is already delivering world-changing concepts. By joining us, you will be part of the next generation able to use technology to find creative solutions to support global wellbeing.

Who this course is for

Not applicable.
This is a programme for new or recent graduates of computer science, mathematics, statistics, physical sciences, or a similar discipline. As well as equipping you with technical training in AI, the programme will show you how to apply it to real-world scenarios, making it particularly suitable for those who want to contribute to sustainable development solutions.

What this course will give you

The Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development MSc is run by UCL Computer Science, a department with an outstanding reputation in the AI world. As well as being a global home of a number of AI breakthroughs, our departmental links with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and other partners from across the world, mean you can access experts and possible project opportunities in a variety of fields.

Graduates of this programme will have gained a strong technical ability in AI, which could be applied to any sector. The focus on applying AI to sustainable development will give you a core understanding of the SDGs and how AI can be used to better control resources or intervene to create better sustainability solutions than are currently available. You will also become part of the conversation on AI ethics, developing an understanding of everything from evaluating impact, to the governance structures needed in the AI world.

Read an interview with Computer Science Professor and UNESCO Chair in AI, John Shawe-Taylor, to learn more about the programme.

The foundation of your career

As a graduate of this programme, you will have core skills in AI that will enable you to enter a broad range of employment. The focus on sustainability will make you particularly suitable to work for an organisation specifically targeting the SDGs, or to enter the fast-accelerating movement of start-ups in sustainable development.

AI is experiencing a time of exponential growth, as it spreads into all industries and sectors. The UK Government National AI Strategy shows that the gap between the demand and supply of AI skills is significant and growing. In 2020, there was a 16% increase in online AI and data science job vacancies, yet 69% of those jobs were hard to fill. As a graduate of this MSc, you will have core skills in AI that will enable you to enter a broad range of employment.


As a graduate of the Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development MSc, you will bring a range of relevant skills and knowledge to future employers.

You will have gained a strong foundational knowledge of the technical aspects of AI that is critically needed by employers, from big tech companies to small start-ups. Building on this, you will have developed a creative mindset when it comes to these technologies and will have applied AI to a range of opportunities and challenges in sustainable development. Through your dissertation, you will have demonstrated your solution-focused technical abilities and competence in communicating effectively with a range of stakeholders.

With the ability to blend technological know-how with a critical mindset, and applying it to social, economic, and environmental issues, you will graduate with a set of skills that are essential in today’s world.


Not applicable.

Teaching and learning

You will be assessed through a range of methods across the programme, including individual and group projects, written research reports, other coursework, programming tests, and a final research project/ dissertation. The dissertation is an opportunity for you to work on a specific topic that is of particular interest to you, supported by an academic supervisor. Many of our MSc dissertations are run in collaboration with partner organisations, including local companies, charities, and start-ups, which gives you the opportunity to work on an AI-powered solution to a real-world sustainable development challenge.

Contact time takes a variety of forms, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, project supervisions, demonstrations, practical classes and workshops, visits, placements, office hours (where staff are available for consultation), email, videoconference, or other media, and situations where feedback on assessed work is given (one-to-one or in a group).

Each module has a credit value that indicates the total notional learning hours a learner will spend on average to achieve its learning outcomes. One credit is typically described as being equal to 10 hours of notional learning, which includes all contact time, self-directed study, and assessment.

Each module has a credit value that indicates the total notional learning hours a learner will spend on average to achieve its learning outcomes. One credit is typically described as being equal to 10 hours of notional learning, which includes all contact time, self-directed study, and assessment.

The contact time for each of your 15 credit taught modules will typically include 22-30 hours of teaching activity (classroom based and/ or online) over the term of its delivery, with the balance then comprised of self-directed learning and working on your assessments. You will have ongoing contact with teaching staff via each module’s online discussion forum, which is typically used for discussing and clarifying concepts or assessment matters, and will have the opportunity to access additional support via regular office hours with module leaders and programme directors.

Your research project/ dissertation module is 60 credits and will include regular contact with your project supervisor(s), who will guide and support you throughout your project. You will dedicate most of your time on this module to carrying out research in connection with your project and writing up your final report.

Module descriptions:

Previews of new modules included on the programme are available on the department's website. Other modules are listed in the UCL Module Catalogue.



The Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development MSc is a one-year programme.

In term 1, you will study topics including probabilistic modelling, deep learning, as well as foundations of machine learning models and sustainable development. These topics will set the foundation for the whole degree, preparing you for further topics and your research project/dissertation.

In term 2, you will get exposure to real-world applications of AI and to transparent, fair and responsible AI techniques.
You will also begin preparation for your final research project and dissertation.

In term 3, you will focus on any examinations that take place in the main examination period and undertake your final research project/ dissertation.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: UCL Computer Science

Join us for a virtual information and Q&A session with UCL Computer Science. We will have a brief overview from the Head of Department with the opportunity to ask questions. This will be followed by breakout sessions in MSc subject group areas. We will have Programme Directors, Admissions staff and students available to answer your questions about studying an MSc programme in our department. The event will take place via Zoom meetings.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

The Applying to UCL for graduate study session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Graduate Admissions and Student Recruitment teams, provides helpful information about the process of applying for graduate study, as well as offering an insight into what we consider to be a competitive application.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) Fees to be confirmed
Tuition fees (2022/23) Fees to be confirmed

Additional costs

Students will require a modern computer (PC or Mac). The minimum specifications should be 8GB RAM and 500GB SSD storage. A computer with the stated specifications will cost approximately £500.

Some students run Linux on their PCs while others run Windows with Linux Virtual Machines installed.

Not applicable.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For more information about funding opportunities for Department of Computer Science taught postgraduate programmes, please see the department's scholarships webpage.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Brown Family Bursary

Now Closed for 2022/23
Value: £15,000 (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

DeepMind Scholarship (Computer Science)

Value: UK Home fees, maintenance grant, plus travel and equipment grants (1 year )
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development at graduate level
  • why you want to study Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to elaborate on your reasons for applying to this programme and how your interests match what the programme will deliver.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes in any application cycle.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.