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.

Please see our FAQ sheet for further information on this course.

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
  • You will benefit from access to recognised experts on the academic staff in both disciplines, whose own research interests are reflected in the modules they teach
  • You can specialise in Scottish History at the upper levels to enable you to exit with a Sustainable Development and Scottish History degree
  • 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

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:  

Sustainable Development

  • Understanding sustainable development (S1) 
  • Exploring economics in a changing world (S2) 


  • What is history? (S1)

Plus, one of the following modules:

  • People, protest and power: themes in modern British history (S1)
  • A middle age? Europe c. 1100-1500 (S2)
  • Empire, Environment, and Identity: Scotland 1600-2000 (S2)

You will also choose two further option modules from other humanities subjects (including the history options above).



Year 2 - DipHE

You will study the following modules:  

Sustainable Development

  • Approaches to economic development (S1) 
  • Empowering communities (S1) 


  • Historians and history (S2)

Plus one of the following:

  • A curious age: European society and culture, 1500-1750 (S1)
  • Court, kirk and burgh in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland (Semester TBC) 
  • Themes in American history (Semester TBC)

You will also choose two further option modules from other humanities subjects (including the history options above). Please note that if you are a direct entrant to second year, we strongly advise that you take the Level 7 core module, What is History?, as one of your options. Please contact to discuss this further.



Year 3 - BA

You will study one of the following core skills/project modules: 

  • Advanced social research methods (S1)  
  • Public history (S2)  

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

Sustainable Development

Modules may include:

  • Assessment of the environmental impacts of development (S2)  
  • Climate change (S1)  
  • Sustainable tourism and the environment (S2) OR Advanced social research methods (S1)


Modules may include:

  • A study of things: material culture of medieval and early modern Europe
  • Alps, hills and plain? Central Europe to 1918
  • Crime, custom and conflict, 1700-1850
  • Crown-Magnate relations in later medieval Northern Scotland 
  • Queer Britannia: gender, sexuality and performative identities in Britain, 1800-1950
  • Scots in North America 
  • The Jacobites: patriots, rebels or opportunists? 
  • War and chivalry in medieval Britain and France
  • Dynastic decline and religious violence: Valois France, 1550-1610

Students wishing to specialise in Scottish History at Level 10 and exit with a BA (Hons) Sustainable Development and Scottish History are advised to take at least one Scottish history module, plus undertake a Scottish topic for their Public History project, or two Scottish history options.

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

You will complete a dissertation in either Sustainable Development or History. This is a double-credit module that runs across both semesters.

You will also study one option module from your chosen dissertation subject plus three option modules from the other subject. Please see notes below if you wish to specialise in Scottish History.

Sustainable Development

Modules may include:

  • Geo-political development issues (S1) 
  • The consumerist society (S2) 
  • Sustainable agriculture systems (S2) 
  • Social enterprise and the social economy (S1) 


Modules may include:

  • Death and destruction: the social impact of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648)  
  • Fight the power: music and the politics of Black America
  • The Scottish Highlands before Culloden (1603-1707)
  • Chaos and conflict?: 'Civil Wars' in high medieval Scandinavia
  • Reaching the estate of manhood in later medieval and early modern Europe 
  • Noble, rebel, king: Robert Bruce and medieval Scotland 
  • The empire strikes back: how the British Empire shaped Scotland 
  • The Highland wars: origins, aftermath and interpretations 
  • War cruel and sharp: a military history of the Hundred Years' War 

If you wish to exit with a Sustainable Development and Scottish History degree you must undertake a Scottish History dissertation plus one further Scottish history or history module OR if you are undertaking a Sustainable Development dissertation, two of the three History modules must be in Scottish history topics.

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
  • North, West and Hebrides
  • This fully online course can be studied from anywhere in the world
  • Students based near to one of the listed campuses should apply to, and be enrolled and supported by, their local campus
  • All other students should apply to, and will be enrolled and supported by, UHI North, West and Hebrides

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.
  2023-24 2024-25
Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £1,820 £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £915 £915
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £305 £305

Rest of the UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland) or assessed as rest of the UK for fee status the following fees apply:

  2023-24 2024-25
Full-time online per year (120 credit modules) £6,120 £6,120
Part-time online (per 20 credit module) £1,020 £1,020

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK studying online from their home country, or living in the UK but assessed as international for fee status, the following fees apply:

This includes EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled status in the UK and EEA and Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

  2023-24 2024-25
Full-time online per year (120 credit modules) £6,540 £6,960
Part-time online (per 20 credit module) £1,090 £1,160

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


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

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

If you are considering studying at UHI, I would say don’t hesitate! The course is interesting and well-structured, the support from lecturers is excellent and there are many varied opportunities to work with other students while studying online. The best part about being in the Highlands is that it is a fantastic place to live – either in the city or rurally. It really does have the best of both worlds!

Louise studied Sustainable development at UHI North, West and Hebrides.

Apply for Sustainable Development and History BA (Hons)

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2024

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.