Get introduced to the expectations and opportunities for sustainable business management, this online course will help you explore the emerging tools to facilitate leadership in the creation of a positive future.

The Future of Sustainable Business: Enterprise and the Environment is certified by CPD UK’s (Continuing Professional Development) Certification Service.


Eight weeks (3-5 hours of study per week recommended)


May, August, October 2024

Next start date:

3 August 2024 (deadline 1pm (GMT) on 2 August 2024)


£1,500 (including VAT)*

*Discounts are available to alumni, those working in the public sector and certain geographical regions. Register your interest to learn more.


Online short course


Certificate of completion

CPD logo that reads: CPD CERTIFIED - The CPD Certification Service

About this course

Throughout this Future of Sustainable Business course, you will build your understanding of the scale and potential severity of the challenges we face, but also be empowered to adopt a mindset of seeing these as opportunities for change and a renewed focus on sustainability leadership.

  • You will see the diversity of impacts from climate change and unsustainable development framed from different organisations and global perspectives.
  • You will be introduced to the latest thinking about economic systems, technologies, finance, and policies to accelerate a sustainable transition.
  • You will gain insights into navigating the multiple often conflicting objectives sustainable business strategy demands.
  • The course prepares you to understand, participate in, and create a future in which the businesses that contribute to sustainability thrive.

Watch our video for an overview of the course:

Five themes underpin our approach to this course:

  • 1. Intellectual curiosity: keeping an open mind, appreciating diverse worldviews, perspectives and possible solutions to the net zero and sustainable development (NZSD) challenge.
  • 2. Application in practice: being able to understand business sustainability concepts and apply them practically, with confidence.
  • 3. Integration and application of interdisciplinary knowledge: understanding and accounting for the way in which the NZSD challenge – and possible solutions – intersect across multiple disciplines.
  • 4. Personal connection and purpose: finding your unique connection to NZSDG – both personally as well as within your domain of professional practice.
  • 5. Leadership for complex challenges and impactful solutions: leading impactful change within enterprise – and beyond – to tame wicked problems relating to business sustainability.

Learning outcomes

During this Future of Sustainable Business course, students will:

  • understand the nature, trajectories and basic scientific principles of the net zero and sustainable development challenge (NZSD);
  • identify the broad range of socio-technical drivers that can accelerate progress to NZSD;
  • examine the role of enterprise and its relationship to environmental and development challenges across a range of risks, technological innovations, investment opportunities and policy responses;
  • learn about the expectations for sustainable businesses of the future and understand the enablers of these changes;
  • develop confidence in your ability to communicate about net zero and the business and sustainable development goals; and
  • explore the opportunities and skills necessary to develop sustainability leadership for yourself and/or your organisation.
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Upon completion of this Future of Sustainable Business course, you will receive a certificate that will help to showcase your sustainability leadership credentials and open up career opportunities.

This programme is also certified by CPD UK. Learners will be able to request their CPD certificate after successfully finishing the course, using their certificate of completion as proof of eligibility. The course has an estimated 40 hours of learning, equating to 40 CPD points.

Note, the onus is on students to request these CPD certificates at the end of their studies. The University and partners accept no responsibility, and cannot be held responsible, for the claiming or validation of hours or points.


Each week your assessment tasks will vary but each module gives you the opportunity to test your sustainable business management knowledge with knowledge check questions, ensuring you’re on track with your learning targets. You will also be able to join discussions specific to your interests with peers and a course Facilitator.

In your final assignment, you will demonstrate your understanding of the various business sustainability concepts that have been considered during this course and use them to develop a pitch about how you would like to lead strategic change. You are encouraged to choose how you present your pitch by either submitting it as a written document or recording yourself presenting in an audio or video format.

Learning experience

This course, including all activities and assessments, will be delivered flexibly and entirely online without any need to come to the university.

In addition to learning from our expert, world-leading academics, you will also benefit from a Facilitator who will provide academic guidance throughout your learning journey – from beginning to end. The Facilitator will be present during weekly discussions and provide guidance and feedback on project tasks and assessments.

We would recommend on average 3-5 hours of study per week. This may vary by individual and topic.


Fees and funding

The total cost of this short course is £1,500 (inclusive of VAT), with discounts available to Oxford University alumni and those working in a public sector role (evidence is required).

It is possible to pay your fees in two instalments, laying down a deposit (and reserving a space) before settling the final balance and securing your place on the course ahead of its start.

For more information about our deposit scheme or discounts you may be entitled to, please feel free to email us.

Academic expertise

Dr Caitlin McElroy Lead academic, The Future of Sustainable Business

Dr Caitlin McElroy

Co-lead academic, Future of Sustainable Business

Dr Caitlin McElroy is a Departmental Research lecturer in Enterprise and the Environment at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) and the School of Geography and the Environment. Her research addresses improving the sustainability and development of resource driven economies, advancing the circular economy of mineral resources, and the complicated relationships between finance, equality, and environmental services (cooling and water) in developed and developing economies. Caitlin is an economic geographer and her research has engaged with institutional theory, financial geography, science and technology studies, and environmental justice. Current research includes leading on Circular Resourcing, a related circular economy focused workstream as part of the Future of Cooling programme, and ongoing research on Sharing Resource Prosperity. She is also involved in partnerships to create tools to assist corporations, governments, and investors in the management of their environmental and social risks and opportunities such as with DAMSAT, a satellite-based dam monitoring project funded by the UK Space Agency. Support for her research has also come from the Oxford Martin School, The John Fell Fund, and as part of UpGro (NERC/ESRC/DFID).

Caitlin holds a BA (with Honours) from the University of Pennsylvania in History and Environmental Studies, an MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy (with Distinction) and a DPhil in economic geography (Clarendon Scholar), both from the University of Oxford.

Dr Laurence Wainwright Co-lead academic, The Future of Sustainable Business

Dr Laurence Wainwright

Co-lead academic, Future of Sustainable Business

Dr Laurence Wainwright is Course Director of the MSc in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment and a Departmental Lecturer. A teaching and learning oriented academic, Laurence has a decade of experience in lecturing, facilitation and supervision across universities in Australia, Sweden and the United States and United Kingdom. Laurence is passionate about the holistic development of the students who he teaches and helping them to develop into well-rounded individuals with a mindset of intellectual curiosity and courage, continuous self-improvement, and service to a mission beyond themselves. He has received several prizes and citations for his teaching, as well as appearing on lists recognising high scores in student feedback surveys.

Laurence completed his doctoral studies in Business Administration at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Laurence’s PhD thesis used the contextual domain of the Swedish fishing industry in order to consider how contests to organizational legitimacy manifest around sustainability debates. Eighteen months of this programme was spent at the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business, and an additional six months across multiple universities in China, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands.

Laurence also holds a Master of Science in Sustainable Development from Uppsala University, a Master of Education from the Queensland University of Technology, and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Bachelor of Accounting and Bachelor of Business (Honours) from the University of Technology Sydney.

Frequently asked questions

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