The Outer Hebrides (also known as the Western Isles) are located to the north-west mainland of Scotland with a total population of around 28,000.  Our Sustainable Development and Geography course team are mainly based in our Stornoway campus in the Isle of Lewis, the most northerly island in the Western Isles.  It is in this context our courses on Rurality, Geography and Sustainability are delivered and so our staff's everyday experience often feeds into their weekly teaching and research output. 

Our location throws up many issues which are at the heart of studies of Geography and how people interact with the environment, including:

  • Migration and depopulation
  • Transport and infrastructure provision
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Adaptation, such as peatland restoration and adapting to rising sea levels
  • Renewable energy development

With 75% of people in the Western Isles living on community-owned land, our courses focus on how communities, especially rural ones, can shape more sustainable forms of development.  We are ideally placed to guide our students through real-life examples of community-based development, land reform, community empowerment and community energy projects, which can all contribute to a more sustainable future.  

Our lecturers are all involved in different ways in their own local communities, from membership of local community organisations to run their own community interest company, to involvement in Gaelic culture or crofting, and we bring these experiences, as well as our academic skills in climate change, geography, economics, rural development, politics and public policy, to our teaching and research. 

As UHI’s first-ever degree programme and its first fully online programme, our team are highly experienced in offering online education, with most having been teaching online for over 10 years.  Our courses rely on electronic library resources which you can access from anywhere.  Our Lews Castle College UHI Student Services, Library and Registry team are also experienced in working with online students and are ready to assist you throughout your course.  

We have alumni who work across the Highlands and Islands, Scotland, and the world, in sustainable and rural development.  We draw on these contacts to provide opportunities for our current students, such as through 

  • Guest webinars
  • Sharing job opportunities
  • Networking events at our annual (optional) residential weekend which takes place each May in the Highlands and Islands  

Despite being online and spread across many different locations, our students are very much part of our own Sustainable Development community and our staff are here to support them every step of the way.