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Harmony and Sustainability: Theory and Practice (MA)

At a time of planetary crisis, how do we move towards a more sustainable future? In 2009 the United Nations declared that we need to live in Harmony with Nature. In 2015 the United Nations then cited Harmony as a consequence of the successful implementation of its Sustainability Goals.

The concept of Harmony is found in western philosophy, Chinese thought, indigenous world views and other faith traditions and wisdom teachings. It sees the planet, including humanity, as part of a single organic whole. Recent variations on this theory include Deep Ecology and the Gaia Hypothesis.

This innovatory programme examines questions of sustainability, starting from the premise that people, society and nature are all part of a network of relationships in which no part can be understood separate to the whole. Study options range from ecology and spirituality to social justice and sustainable business and communities, allowing students to take a variety of approaches leading to a dissertation based on a supervised research project, contributing to our understanding of the ways to create a sustainable world.

The programme will be of value to professionals in sustainability and ecology who are concerned with integrated solutions and broad perspectives.

The programme is also part of wider developments at UWTSD, including its status as a Hub for UNESCO’s BRIDGES coalition, the aim of which is to better integrate humanities, social science, and local and traditional knowledge perspectives into research, education and action for global sustainability.

The programme is inspired by the need to consider the interests and wellbeing of future generations, embodied in the cutting-edge legislation of the Welsh ‘Well-being of Future Generations Act’.

See our key texts Harmony: A New Way of Looking at our Planet, by HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly, and The Harmony Debates, edited by Nicholas Campion.

Visit the Harmony Institute.


You can apply directly to the University using the Apply Now button at the top of the page.

For more information, please visit How to Apply.

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Tuition Fees 2023/24:
Home: £7,800
Overseas (distance/online): £10,400
Overseas (on-campus): £15,000
Fees are for the whole course

This degree will be of interest to individuals, both professionals and recent graduates, who wish to gain a wider theoretical perspective and practical context for work in sustainability and sustainable communities.

The blended and online learning features of this programme allows for flexible study in line with the principles of Harmony and Sustainability by reducing travelling and CO2 emissions. For students who wish to attend face-to-face or through blended learning, this will be accommodated through the use of the Hyflex classroom. Such classrooms allow for face-to-face and live sessions through Teams, while simultaneously recording all lectures for future asynchronous viewing.

What you will learn

Course Overview

This innovatory programme explores the problems facing our planet and our communities from a range of practical and theoretical perspectives. The programme is unique in its multidisciplinary nature, allowing students to adopt a variety of paths and perspectives.

Drawing on the United Nations’ document on ‘Harmony in Nature’ and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which defines Harmony as an outcome of successful sustainable policies, the programme examines what is meant by Harmony and asks how it can provide a philosophy for sustainability, placing all policy choices and behaviour into the widest possible contexts.

The philosophy and practice of Harmony recognises the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all things. It is “an expression of wholeness, a way of looking at ourselves and the world of which we are part. It is about connections and relationships." Harmony has deep roots in classical philosophy, is at the heart of Chinese thought, especially Daoism and Confucianism, is at the core of the world’s great spiritual traditions – Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and indigenous thought, in which human beings and the natural world are part of a single whole. The concept of interconnectedness and interrelatedness now finds expression through both the Gaia Hypothesis and the principles of’ Deep Ecology, in which people, nature and planet are part of a single ‘field’.

The emotional, intellectual and physical are all connected. We are connected to our environments, both built and natural, and all the parts of our communities and their environments are connected.

The syllabus emphasises both theory (how do we understand contemporary issues and problems?) and practice (how do we both as individuals and communities act to resolve these problems?). It deals with the social and economic environment (social justice, equal communities, the built environment, sustainable business models) and the natural environment (human participation in, and engagement with, the natural world).

The programme will allow you to take different pathways specialising in practical outcomes, such as business, community action, well-being and social justice, emphasising theory, and exploring your relationship with nature and the environment. We will touch on related issues such as health and well-being and food and farming.

You can enrol part-time (three or four years for MA) or full-time (two years for MA), and take a Certificate (two modules), Diploma (four modules) or MA (four modules and a dissertation).

Learn more in the PDF What is Harmony (September 2021)

Module Topics

Please see our module descriptions below and a PDF of suggested advance reading.

Part I (PGCert, PGDip & MA)

Harmony: Theory and Practice (30 credits; compulsory)

You will be introduced the key frameworks for Harmony in the world’s philosophical and religious traditions. You will consider the relationship between Harmony and Sustainability. You will explore the implications and consequences of  the implementation of Harmony principles in society, business, health and engagement with the natural world.

Suggested advance reading:

The Philosophy and Practice of Social Research (30 credits; compulsory)

You will examine the theory and practice of qualitative research, which seeks to understand individual experience,  as opposed to quantitative research, which deals with numerical data.  Having taken the module, you will be prepared to conduct your own research.

Suggested advance reading:

  • Creswell, J. W. (2013) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed).  London: Sage Publications Ltd. 

Sacred Geography (30 credits; optional)

You will examine how we create or identify sacred in the space natural and built environment. We ask whether there is a difference between sacred and profane space? You will be able to conduct a supervised research project examining a place or space or  your choice.

Suggested advance reading:

  • Tilley, Christopher, A Phenomenology of Landscape (Oxford: Berg 1994).

Ecology and Spirituality (30 credits; optional)

You will explore our engagement with nature and ecological issues through a spiritual lens and examine key texts and theories. We introduce the concept of the ecological self and ideas about personal activism.

Suggested advance reading:

  • Hunter, Jack (ed.), Greening the Paranormal: Exploring the Ecology of Extraordinary Experience (Milton Keynes: August Night Press, 2019).

The Social (Re)Production of Inequality (30 credits; optional)

You will examine issues of equality, fairness and social justice. We consider recent theories such as intersectionality.

Suggested advance reading:

  • Atkinson AB (2018) Inequality, Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Sustainable Communities (30 credits; optional)

You will look at strategies to deal with the impact of climate change and globalization on economic growth and communities and the implications for social and environmental justice. You will encounter different theories of the environment including social ecology, eco- feminism, eco-socialism and  deep ecology.

Suggested advance reading:

  • Agyeman, J. (2005) Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice. New York: New York University Press.

The Challenge of Sustainability (30 credits; optional)

How do we create a more sustainable planet? You will explore issues around what sustainability is, and how we can achieve it in different contexts.

Suggested advance reading:

  • Brundtland, G.H. and Khalid, M. (1987). Our Common Future. New York.

Part II (MA)

  • Dissertation Project: Harmony in Practice (60 credits; compulsory).

Although the course is formally based at Carmarthen, a range of modules are only available online, and as such do not require attendance in person; this is due to the multi-disciplinary content of this degree. You can view A table giving details of teaching medium per module.

  • No Exams
  • Written essays
  • Online presentations
  • Reflective Accounts
  • Seminar Presentations
  • Blog/Online Report
  • 15,000 Dissertation or Project

Harmony and Sustainability (MA)

Key Information

Entry Criteria

The programme has its own Admissions Policy which adheres to the requirements of the University Admission Policy and the University’s Policy on Equality and Diversity. A robust planning system is undertaken with Support Services for those students with identified disabilities and additional learning needs.

The traditional entry route requirement for students is normally a 2:1 or 1st class honours first degree or the vocational qualification equivalent and relevant experience. The School encourages students with a range of vocational qualifications and relevant experiences to apply; this may require a written submission to indicate suitability for level 7 work prior to admission.

General Requirements

  • an initial degree of the University of Wales;
  • an initial degree awarded by another approved degree awarding body;
  • a non-graduate qualification which has been deemed to be of a satisfactory standard for the purpose of admission;
  • a non-graduate may also be admitted to candidature provided that he/she has held, for a minimum of two years, a responsible position which is relevant to the scheme to be pursued.

Every application is considered on its own merit, so places may be offered on the basis of non-standard entry qualifications and criteria, including maturity, professional qualifications and relevant experience. Applicants with non-standard qualifications are advised to submit a short curriculum vitae with their application form.

Career Opportunities

This programme aims to develop students’ intellectual independence and critical engagement in connection with harmony and sustainability through exploring evidence and practice. Although it is not primarily a vocational programme, it does prepare students to move in a vocational direction. Graduates exiting from this degree will be well placed to enter a range of careers, including, for example:

  • Planning Officer
  • Equality Agenda
  • 3rd Sector and Voluntary Organisations
  • Policy Makers
  • Education and Lifelong Learning
  • Sustainable Practice
  • Businesses
  • Multiagency context
  • Working with
    • Children and Young people
    • Communities and Groups at Risk of Exclusion
  • Social Justice
  • Community Regeneration
  • Advocacy
  • Entrepreneurial Practice

Graduates may also choose to go on to complete postgraduate research degrees e.g. PhDs and Professional Doctorates.

Additional Costs

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study. If students wish to undertake data collection as part of their dissertation this may require a DBS prior to data collection. There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

  • Books
  • Clothing
  • Fieldwork
  • Printing and copying
  • Stationery
Bursary / Scholarship Information

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries section.

Further Information

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions related to the University or to this course in particular.