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IEMA Diploma in Sustainable Business Practice

The diploma will benefit managers, advisers, consultants and others with a specialist environmental or sustainability role, who wish to build their strategic knowledge and skills. It addresses a wide range of environmental and sustainability issues and topics, including environmental and social risk identification, strategies for improving performance and personal effectiveness to instigate and lead change.

The programme enables delegates to gain the knowledge needed to progress to full membership of IEMA, (MIEMA) and Chartered Environmentalist status (CEnv). It is delivered in three one-week modules.

This course has been developed to provide learners with detailed sustainability knowledge and tools that are needed to be an effective sustainability manager and to develop an effective sustainability strategy.

Whilst the Diploma does not give an automatic right to Full membership, the IEMA Dip in SBP will help demonstrate the required knowledge and understanding within the context of Full Membership and Chartered Membership Competencies and is recommended as a follow on course for members looking to move on to Full membership

The Guided Learning Hours (GLH) for the IEMA Dip SBP course is a minimum of 600 hours of guided learning hours (excluding breaks and written assessments). The hours are spilt between 120 hours of classroom based learning and an addition 480 hours of guided self-study to complete three written assignments.

The course will normally be delivered across 3 taught modules .The modules are:

Module 1: Impact of Global Sustainability Megatrends on Business
Module 2: Sustainable Business Practices
Module 3: Leading Sustainable Change

The full course should be completed within 24 months.

This course is aimed at learners who are managing sustainability and require detailed knowledge of sustainability principles, management tools and skills to effectively deliver positive change.

The course is delivered at Level 7 (Master level). Learners attending this course are therefore expected to have at least a foundation level of environmental / sustainability knowledge gained through work experience or a relevant course e.g. the IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management or equivalent, although Practitioner membership of IEMA or equivalent experience is preferred.


Assessment of each module is a workplace based assignment, giving delegates the opportunity to combine work and study directly as the assignments will be of benefit to employers.

Select specific date to see price, venue and full details.

Learning Objectives

The learning outcomes and recommended Guided Learning Hours (GLH) for each module are:

Module 1: Impact of Global Sustainability Megatrends on Business (40 guided + 160 self-study)

1. Understand and critically assess the implications of global trends for business and understand 
2. Identify and explain the sustainable megatrends in the context of their organisation and identify the potential risks and opportunities that they may present in the short, medium and long term.
3. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the dynamic nature of interrelationships between the global sustainability megatrends in a business context
4. Content covered includes:
Pressures on ecosystems, climate change, resource scarcity, energy and water, urbanisation, globalisation, disruptive technologies, population trends.

Module 2: Sustainable Business Practices (40 guided + 160 self-study)
5. Critically evaluate and organisation’s position with regards to sustainability maturity.
6. Demonstrate a clear understanding of sustainable business practices
7. Explain and critically assess sustainable business practices in the context of their organisation
8. Content covered includes:
Global Compact, Modern slavery, human rights, child labour, sustainable business models, sustainable procurement, sustainable design, reporting, GRI, saliency.

Module 3: Leading Sustainable Change (40 guided + 160 self-study)
9. Analyse and apply relevant change tools, techniques, systems and practices.
10. Understand and analyse how organizational and team structure can influence change within organisations.
11. Develop a business case for a sustainable business change
12. Content covered includes:
Ethics and leadership, organizational and team structure, communications, financial tools, motivational theory, change management

A number of Command Words are used within the Learning Outcomes and associated Assessment Criteria to help learners understand the level of detail required. These include:

  • Identify/Recognise: Stating the name or identifying the characteristics/main point of something. Normally a name, word or phrase will be sufficient, provided the reference is clear.
  • Outline: Stating the most important features of something. Equivalent to a thin description but involves more than simply listing.
  • Describe: Providing a thorough description and enough detail about an item for a learner to have a clear picture of it.
  • Explain: Providing a detailed response (definition and explanation). ‘Explain’ may involve giving reasons for something, linking causes and effects, drawing parallels, pointing to relationships or showing how theory can be applied.
  • Assess/Analyse: Subject something to critical analysis in order to make a judgement about its value, use, suitability, integrity or accuracy.
  • Critically assess/Interpret: Interpret a set of data by describing the main trends, highlighting any anomalies, then providing an explanation of the data based on knowledge and understanding of the particular subject area which may challenge current thinking.
  • Monitor: Observe and check the progress or quality of (something) over a period of time; keep under systematic review.
  • Demonstrate/Show: Provide a practical exhibition and explanation of how a skill, task, tool, technique or system is performed.
  • Apply/Implement: Carry out or put into practice a specific skill, task, tool, technique or system.
  • Deliver: Produce the promised, desired, or expected results.
  • Challenge: To question the validity of something e.g. a practice, behaviour, system or rule


Prospective candidates should be aware this is a professional level qualification approximately equivalent to Masters’ degree level (level 7).

Practitioner level Membership of IEMA or equivalent practical experience in an Environmental or sustainability role would be preferable.

Course Content

Module 1: managing environmental media and issues

  • Biodiversity and natural capital
  • Natural cycles
  • Global environmental issues
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Carbon footprinting
  • Energy security
  • Resource security
  • Stranded assets
  • Water risk

Module 2: sustainability for business

  • Social aspects of sustainability
  • The business case for sustainability
  • Sustainability good practice
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Eco-design
  • Circular economy
  • Resource efficiency/management systems
  • Transparency and reporting

Module 3: Personal effectiveness for change

  • Ethics and leadership
  • Corporate governance – strategic risks
  • Organisation structure and culture
  • Managing change
  • Communication skills
  • Financial modelling
  • Building effective teams


How much study time should the student prepare for in addition to the actual classroom time?

- during the classroom weeks the work for modules fit into the scheduled day...there is scheduled time for preparation and group exercises.

Are there any exams, or is the course just assessed by assignments?

- there is only 1 assignment per module and in addition to these no exams but for module 1 an assessed group presentation to be given on the Friday, module 2 has 2 assessed group exercises and module 3 has an individual presentation and piece of work to be completed by the Friday.

When would each assignments be completed for?

- delegates have 8 weeks to complete the assignment

On average how much time would be needed to put aside for this?

- the average time varies by delegate but we have suggested 160 hours of self study per module (this together with the 120 hours of classroom study makes up the time for a level 7 diploma).

Is there any tutor support available outside of the classroom dates?

- The majority of delegates don't need further support outside of the classroom but the delegates can contact the course tutor if needed. 

What experience do I need?

- it is very beneficial to have completed the Environmental Cert (PIEMA) as this introduces the main themes...huge experience is not essential but delegates do need ideally to be working in a business and have access to information as the assessments are very much workplace based.


Exams & Certification

On successful completion of the course delegates will gain the IEMA Diploma SBP qualification (DipSBP).

The programme enables delegates to gain the knowledge needed to progress to full membership of IEMA, (MIEMA) and Chartered Environmentalist status (CEnv)


The assessment for modules 1-3 of this course is through assessed group work, presentations and individual written assignments. The assignment packs and marking guidance for each module are provided and marked by our training partner.

The course is assessed in English.

Candidates for whom English is a second language are advised that their reading and writing skills should be equivalent to at least Level 6 of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Test for Non-Native Speakers of English. Candidates may obtain information on this language testing service from the IELTS website (www.ielts.org).

Candidates for whom English is a second language may also apply for a Reasonable Adjustment (see below).

Learners are registered with IEMA on successful completion of the assignments.

Where necessary, we endeavour to make reasonable adjustments for candidates with particular requirements to enable them to have access to fair assessment and to demonstrate achievement.

Candidates may require reasonable adjustments for a number of reasons including a permanent (long term) or temporary disability or medical condition; communication and interaction needs; where English is an additional language.

Reasonable adjustments are made to ensure that candidates receive recognition of their achievement without compromising the equity, validity and reliability of the assessment. They are not concessions to make assessment easier for candidates, nor advantages to give candidates a head start.

Candidates requiring reasonable adjustments for their assessments must notify us at the earliest possible opportunity and no later than 15 working days (three weeks) prior to the Assessment of Competence submission date, except in exceptional circumstances, e.g. injury in the days leading up to the course.

Special consideration may result in an adjustment to the marks of candidates who have not been able to demonstrate attainment because of exceptional circumstances during an examination/assessment.

Candidates requiring special consideration for their examination/assessment must submit a Special Consideration Application Form within five working days of the assessment.

The fairness of the assessment depends upon all parties acting in good faith and adhering to the highest professional standards of conduct. Any evidence of deviation from such standards may lead to disqualification of candidates. Plagiarism and using third parties to complete assessments are considered to be malpractice.

Candidates may re-sit the module assignments.

For each module only one resubmission is allowed. The resubmission marks will be capped at 50%.

In addition to the trainer requirements set out in the policy manual of the Guide to becoming an IEMA Training Centre, trainers are required to be a Full member of IEMA, or as a minimum have equivalent knowledge and experience that has been assessed against the IEMA Environmental Skills Map at the managerial level.

Trainers must have practice experience of sustainability, environmental management or assessment and maintain subject and training expertise through Continuing Professional Development.

Trainers should have assessor/verifier qualifications when marking and standardising assignments or be able to demonstrate effective marking and standardisation through relevant experience and procedures.

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