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Programme structure

The Master of Science programme in Global Sustainable Business Management is centred around the modules Sustainability Strategy, Responsible Leadership, Business and Sustainability Analytics, Ethics in Business, Circular Economy, Organising for Sustainability Transition and Research Methods. You will complete a master's dissertation on a real-life, business-oriented sustainability problem. Upon graduation, the programme confers a joint degree from AUAS and NU with the title of Master of Science (MSc).

Modules & Learning

Sustainable Strategy

This is a 15 EC module delivered in the first semester of the Master Global Sustainable Business Management. It is developed for those of you who have varying business and management subject experience and reflect some of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The aim of the module is to evaluate sustainable business models by utilising five streams: 1) Responsible Strategy, 2) Sustainable Marketing, 3) Socially Responsible Finance, 4) Corporate Governance and 5) Sustainable Operations. During your learning journey you will evaluate how each of the five streams contributes to the sustainable competitive advantage of a company in a responsible and sustainable way and hence enable the firm to achieve its multi-faceted strategic objectives.

A capstone activity within your learning is the away day ‘Strategy for a Sustainable Future’ offered by the Digital Society School (part of AUAS). In this workshop you’ll learn which skills and knowledge you need to develop as an individual and future manager in order to make a difference by taking inspiration from the UN SDGs. The content of the module comprises five key parts listed below:

  1. Responsible Strategy
    SDGs and Business Strategy; Theory of Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable Context; Sustainable Strategic Capabilities; Innovation and Sustainability; Value Creation; Social Entrepreneurship; Triple Bottom Line and Stakeholder Management; Corporate Social Responsibility. (SDGs 8, 9, 11, 12, 17).
  2. Sustainable Marketing
    Marketing Planning; Sustainable Marketing and Consumer Behaviour; Multichannel Management and Sustainable Customer Journey; Sustainable Marketing Promotion and Communication. (SDGs 8, 9, 11, 12).
  3. Socially Responsible Finance
    Sustainable Financial Investment; Corporate Reporting; SRI and Ethical Tests; Social and Ethical Dimension of Corporate Sustainability. (SDGs 1, 5, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15).
  4. Corporate Governance
    Global Business Governance Issues; Principles of Good Governance; The Role and Contest of Board of Directors; Accountability and Alignment of Interest; Local Corporate Government systems. (SDGs 8, 10, 16).
  5. Sustainable Operations
    Operations Strategy; Responsible Supply Chains, Lean, Agile and Resilient Supply Chains; 'Wicked’ problems: Climate Change; Carbon Footprinting; Green Manufacturing. (SDGs 7, 8, 11, 12, 13).

Responsible Leadership

The first part of the module will encourage you to work on the type of responsible leader that you might become. This module will address an area of leadership development that is often minimised in dominant literature: the relationship between one's identity, social systems, power dynamics, and one's leadership identity. You will demonstrate the ability to work in diverse teams, reflecting on your ethical values and the impact of individual or organisational decision making on social and environmental contexts by exploring contemporary leadership theories. In this module, you will develop new knowledge and skills in leadership and followership and how to apply them to your organisation. You will be challenged to critically reflect and develop relational qualities that you think are necessary to build sustainable relationships and cope with the complex leadership challenges in a global, uncertain and interconnected environment.

The second part of the module is focused on developing your leadership competence and provides you with a toolbox for gaining insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. This will equip you with critical thinking skills to successfully deal with complexity in a globalising world through introducing you to relevant concepts for becoming a responsible leader. In this part, the focus will be on topics such as: Dilemma Thinking and Reconciliation as an approach to dealing with complexity and tensions between stakeholders in the global business environment; Mindful vs Mindless leadership, Emotional and Cultural Intelligence. You will also learn about the application of neuroscience to leadership development and HR management. Based on your understanding of how the brain works, you will create a series of personal challenges in which you aim to explore in-depth knowledge, cultivate and improve specific aspects of your competence (e.g. resilience, emotional labelling, stress management or trust building).

Business and Sustainability Analytics

Throughout this module, you will critically examine and interpret the metrics driving the sustainability debate among various actors ranging from nations to individual businesses. This module will enable you to understand the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) through a variety of lenses at the global, regional, country and enterprise level. You will develop both analytical and solution modelling skills to support businesses in assessing and quantifying the cost, impact, and performance of their past and present sustainability initiatives - and anticipating future conditions and requirements - driving them to unlock hidden value and build a more resilient enterprise and sustainable future for all of us.

As such, the need for professionals capable of being able to structure, analyse and visualise data from myriad sources across a wide spectrum of sustainability-related factors is increasingly important. The demand for these skills is growing as companies seek to generate the deep insights needed to guide their sustainability-related initiatives and improve their overall SDG alignment.

Professional Reporting on Sustainability Issues

You will develop your academic and professional writing proficiency with a focus on the following: selecting, comprehending, analysing, evaluating and summarising academic texts, writing a critical literature review, structured thinking in communicating information about your research data, findings and professional advice, writing a consulting report.

Ethics in Business

After undertaking this module you will be able to identify the normative presuppositions involved in ethical dialogue and use this in your analysis of ethical issues. This will enable you to better understand conflicts over such issues as executive pay, prompt payment, workplace rights, privacy, positive discrimination and many others. When developing organisation policy, representing the organisation in the media, negotiating agreements and otherwise undertaking work with an ethical dimension, this will enable you to anticipate and plan for objections, to identify weaknesses and contradictions in your interlocutors' arguments and your own and thereby enable you to better manage ethical conflict at work. Through this process you will also improve your internal ethical dialogue. Clarifying your own normative presuppositions, values and virtues and better understanding their implications and exclusions will enable you to reflect upon the coherence of your own moral agency.

Research Methods

In this module you will learn about a variety of different research methods. This will equip you with the knowledge and practical skills necessary for you to conduct research at Masters' level and prepare you to complete a Masters’ Dissertation. By the end of the module you will know how to apply both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis techniques. In quantitative techniques you will learn about sampling, questionnaire design, statistical inference, and hypothesis testing while qualitative techniques covered will include methods such as interviewing and focus groups. Analysis methods such as content analysis and thematic analysis will also be covered. In addition, you will gain some understanding of research philosophy (positivism and interpretivism) and Research Ethics and you will be able to write a research proposal to bring these ideas together.

Circular Economy

This course provides you with conceptual and practical tools for analysing and evaluating linear business practices and models from a circular economy perspective, and in turn innovating and designing circular economy-based business opportunities. Real-world business practices and case studies will be used throughout the course as you evaluate linear business products and practices. This material will cover national and international issues, cases and organisations. Further, you will conduct team-based projects that concern both domestic and international organisations working in commercial and social sectors.

Mid-way through the module (week 6), you will have the opportunity to interact with Northumbria University students in the UK. You will be joined, both virtually and in person, by postgraduate students from the Design School at Northumbria and will work with them on a Circular Economy Design Sprint. Through this you will learn the ‘theory’ of design thinking, and explore a real-world challenge posed by one, or more, of our partnering organisations. The facilitated sprint will give you an opportunity to learn about design thinking whilst benefitting from a broader diversity of cultural experience and disciplinary expertise. The outputs of the Design Sprint week will form the core of your team-based project, which will span weeks 7-12 and be conducted with a partnering external organisation. Online and face-to-face project tutorials and coaching will support your learning and assignment preparation during this latter part of the module.

Subject areas include the following:

  • The differences between linear and circular economies;
  • What value chains look like in circular economies, and how to identify circularity challenges in linear value chains;
  • How the circular economy is a biomimetic system, and how biomimicry is a source of innovation for transitioning to circular economy business models;
  • What circular business models are, and why they are needed to implement the circular economy;
  • The role of systems thinking in understanding and adopting circular business models;
  • The role of technologies in supporting circular economy business practices;
  • What design thinking is, and how it can help companies transition from linear to circular business models.

Organising for Sustainability Transition (OST)

This course provides you with conceptual and practical tools for analysing and evaluating collaborative arrangements for sustainability involving private and public sector organisations and civil society. Academic research and real-life examples will be studied through invited keynote speakers, business cases, role-plays and mini-research projects. You will also conduct a team-based project to launch a partnership yourself that addresses an issue of concern (e.g. litter in your neighbourhood). This learning-by-doing component of the course will allow you to experience the role of network orchestrator in governing partnerships and gain the necessary skills and capabilities in orchestration work. Online and face-to-face project tutorials will support your learning and assignment preparation during this project. 

Topics that we'll cover in this course include the drivers behind collaborative arrangements to address sustainability challenges, the different types of partnerships and collaborations, the different motivations of participating actors and the inherent tensions involved when collaborating with multiple actors from different societal sectors and the need to govern these tensions through network orchestration if the collaboration is to create value and facilitate private value capture.


The Master’s Dissertation is an individual project. In the dissertation, students have to research a real-life, business-oriented sustainability problem, draft the theoretical framework to address this problem, analyse the problem on the basis of this theoretical framework and draw conclusions about solutions to the problem. In previous modules, students are introduced to research methods and techniques to prepare them for the research work to be done in the Master's Dissertation. Students come together in small groups to review and comment on each other’s work. These cycles are meant to mimic collaboration settings in professional practice.

Teaching methods and learning

Your tutors will use a variety of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. As this is a postgraduate level programme, we expect students to develop their independent learning and self-reflection competences. Teaching is enhanced by a well-designed student and pastoral support process that helps to ensure a successful learning journey. We make sure that feedback, from both tutors and peers, is built into the programme.

Our assessment strategy is based on our understanding that everyone has different needs, strengths and enthusiasms. Assessment methods include assignments, presentations, exams, and the Master’s Dissertation.

Research-rich learning

As a Master’s student you’ll develop your knowledge and research skills to a new, higher level. Your Master’s Dissertation supervisor will support your learning during your 15,000-word Dissertation project.

Throughout the programme you will be an active participant in the research-rich environment and agenda that is at the heart of Northumbria University and AUAS. With conferences and research events regularly taking place, and with staff discussing their own research as it relates to the topics you’ll study, there’s a strong emphasis on engaging you in up-to-date enquiry-based learning.

Title and diploma

Upon graduation, the programme Global Sustainable Business Management confers a joint degree from AUAS and NU with the title of Master of Science (MSc).

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