Understanding the complex relationship between development processes and the natural environment in urban and rural contexts is crucial to sustainable societies.

Coordinator: Associate Professor Simon Batterbury


In developing countries and in both urban and rural areas, there is a complex relationship between development processes and the natural environment. The Development specialisation analyses and provides skills necessary for the sustainable development of economies and environments. Understanding 'environment and development' draws upon inter-faculty expertise at the University of Melbourne.

Studying both rural and urban landscapes, students can look at issues including international development policy, carbon sequestration in the tropics, the political ecology of development, food security, biodiversity conservation, sustainable livelihoods, and urban growth and planning.

  • Designed for

    Students with an undergraduate degree from disciplines including arts and humanities, social sciences, management, health and education. It may also interest business and government professionals and those working in NGOs.

  • Example Career outcomes

    This stream is a platform for business and government professionals and those working or wishing to work in the non-governmental sector. Students will acquire skills for implementing sustainable development strategies in developing countries and in the western world.

View full list of Development subjects in the Handbook

Example study plan (200 point program)

Year 1

Semester 1

Environmental Sustainability

Political Ecology of Development

Development Theories

Civil Society

Semester 2

Environmental Risk Assessment

Monitoring and Evaluation in Development  

Social Impact Assessment and Evaluation  

Environmental Law

Year 2

Semester 1

Migration and Development

Management in Development A

Environmental Research Project

Semester 2

Partnerships for Sustainable Futures

Monitoring Environmental Impacts

Jemma Gray
Gemma Gray,
Program Administrator,
RedR Non-profit
humanitarian organisation

"I spent some time teaching in a volunteer organisation in Peru, and coming into the program, decided that I wanted to learn more about how societies develop and how this process can be improved. I have a background in Urban Planning and Design which I think really helped me to understand many issues in the environment but not the reasons behind them. I chose to focus on emergency management and disaster relief and am now working at RedR Australia delivering customised training in the humanitarian sector."