Sustainable Development and History BA (Hons)

Course code D44H

What is special about this course?

If you want to explore the past, present and future of our changing world, this BA (Hons) Sustainable Development and History is the course for you.

Sustainable Development, from the local to the global, is essential if society is to tackle the challenges we currently face. With the prospect of a global climate emergency, decision-makers are grappling with understanding and responding to the corresponding pressures on our environment and society. The necessary changes will impact on every facet of society, culture and the economy, making this a critical moment to study sustainability. 

History involves the study of the past to create a better understanding of the present; this course will allow you to investigate the cultural, political, social and economic links between the Highlands and Islands, Scotland and the northern European and northern Atlantic regions.

You will develop a critical understanding of the three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, economic), learn the facts about climate change, explore the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and consider potential and emerging solutions such as the Green New Deals, the concept of ‘degrowth’ and the transition to wellbeing economies. You will also be introduced to the general study of history, from the medieval to the modern period, before examining, in-depth, particular topics, places, periods and themes which utilise the research specialisms of your teaching team. Through the combination of both subjects, you will consider the role of people and communities and how they shape their surroundings.

Special features

  • Exciting new modules based on the teaching teams' cutting-edge research are offered at upper level, including a flagship Public History module in the third year with a range of guest speakers
  • Benefit from collaborative discussions and activities with colleagues from a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Build on your analytical and research abilities each year through a series of skills modules
  • Opportunities to volunteer at local museums and archives, and meet with practitioners in the field, as well as voluntary field trips in the university's region which will enhance the experience of your degree
  • Delivered by tutors with years of experience of teaching by videoconference, online and at a distance, and can be studied from home, full or part-time to suit your circumstances
  • Individual modules can be studied for personal or professional development, which may be of particular interest to teachers looking to diversify their portfolio
  • Recent Sustainable Development graduates have careers in community economic development, local government, managing rural development initiatives, working for UN agencies, and working on international renewable energy projects
  • Learn from tutors with an excellent pedigree in research, with over two-thirds of the research conducted by the Centre for History rated at 4* and 3*, indicating ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, in the 2014 assessment of UK Research Excellence Framework. The impact of our research on the broader economy and society was ranked joint 8th, higher than Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh. We are also the highest ranked new History department in the UK
  • Our Sustainable Development teaching team are mostly located in the Western Isles, where 75% of people live on community-owned land,  setting the context for us to study community-based development, community empowerment and community and social enterprises, which can all significantly contribute to a more sustainable future.


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grades BBC or above or
  • 2 A levels at grades BC or above
  • At least 2 should be from the list of required subjects
  • Additional qualifications and experiences will be considered on an individual basis

Advanced entry

  • HNC Social Science (12 SCQF credits) with 3 additional SCQF credits at level 7, which is equivalent to 120 degree credit points, and at least grade C in the Graded Unit, will be considered for direct entry to year two

Year 1 - CertHE

You will study the following modules: 

  • Understanding sustainable development
  • Exploring economics in a changing world
  • What is history?

PLUS  one of the following:

  • People, power and protest: themes in modern British history
  • A middle age: Europe 1000-1500
  • Empire, environment and identity: Scotland 1600-2000

You will also choose two further option modules from other humanities subjects.



Year 2 - DipHE

You will study the following modules: 

  • Approaches to economic development
  • Empowering communities
  • A curious age: European society and culture, c1500-1750 OR Themes in American history
  • Historians and History

You will also choose two further option modules from other humanities subjects. 



Year 3 - BA

You will study one of the following modules: 

  • Advanced social research methods 
  • Public history

You will also study a further five modules, ensuring a balance of three Sustainable Development and three History modules in total. You may take one Scottish History module in place of one History module.

Sustainable Development modules may include:

  • Globalisation and sustainable development
  • Working with communities
  • Advanced social research methods
  • Climate change

History modules may include:

  • Queer Britannia: gender, sexuality and performative identities in Britain, 1800-1950
  • War and chivalry in medieval Britain and France
  • Public history
  • Crime, custom and conflict, 1700-1850
  • A study of things: material culture of medieval and early modern Europe

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

You will complete a dissertation in either Sustainable Development or History.

You will also study one option module from your chosen dissertation subject plus three option modules from the other subject.

Sustainable Development modules may include:

  • Geo-political development issues
  • The consumerist society
  • Social enterprise and the social economy

History modules may include:

  • Lordship, colony, kingdom: the making of Ireland
  • Reaching the estate of manhood in late medieval and early modern Europe
  • Death and destruction: the social impact of the Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648
  • The Norman diaspora: conquest, colonisation and assimilation

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • You will learn through a combination of video-conference lectures and tutorials, and online study via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE), with support from your tutors.

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years @ 40 hours per week
  • Part-time (structured): 8 years @ up to 20 hours per week
  • Part-time (unstructured): variable

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Argyll
  • Outer Hebrides
  • West Highland

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.


Study Mode2021-222022-23
Full-time (6 x 20 credit modules) per year £1,820 £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £645 £645
Part-time (unstructured) (per 20 credit module) £215 £215

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term-time address in Scotland studying this course full time, the following fees apply:

YearLevel2021-22 Full-time2022-23 Full-time
Full-time Year 1 CertHE £9,000 £9,250
Full-time Year 2 DipHE £9,000 £9,250
Full-time Year 3 Degree £9,000 £9,250
Full-time Year 4 Honours free free

4th year free only for students studying full-time, on continuous study, who have paid for the previous three years at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Part-time (per 20 credit module) - £1,542

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

This course is not currently available for international students (including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled status in the UK) requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study here. For students living in the UK and assessed as international for fee status, the following fees will apply:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Study Mode2021-222022-23
Full-time per year (120 credit modules) per year £12,360 £13,020
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £6,180 £6,510
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £2,060 £2,170

A no fee increase guarantee is available for self-funding full-time and structured part-time rest of the UK, EU and international undergraduate students for continuous study for the same award, up to the permitted standard time limit for the relevant award.



External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant UHI partner college for more information.

Additional costs

If you wish to attend an optional residential weekend, or to join other field trips, contributions will be required towards the overall costs incurred. The cost will vary depending on the event, your location and the amount of other funding available towards the event (for example, HISA contributions to the Student Society Residential weekend may reduce costs for individual students). Attendance at these face to face events is optional and not essential for completion of the course.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed your BA (Hons) Sustainable Development and History course, you might like to consider careers in: 

  • Government departments and development agencies 
  • Economic development departments of local authorities 
  • Community enterprises and community energy groups 
  • Community land initiatives 
  • Natural and rural heritage organisations 
  • Museums and heritage sector
  • Archive and Library sector
  • Voluntary sector development posts 
  • International non-governmental organisations 
  • Independent consultancy on sustainability 
  • International non-governmental organisations
  • Research in business and corporate sector 
  • Student association and related support roles

Apply for Sustainable Development and History BA (Hons)

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2023

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.