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HomeCourseIntroduction to Sustainable Finance for Policymakers (online)

Introduction to Sustainable Finance for Policymakers (online)


University of Oxford

Course overview

There is significant and growing interest from both policymakers and practitioners in aligning finance with sustainability and mobilising capital efficiently for the transition to net zero carbon emissions and to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Rapidly achieving this alignment of finance and sustainability is a necessary condition for tackling climate change and the other environmental challenges that face humanity.

The course aims to provide policymakers with a foundational understanding of sustainable It will arm participants with knowledge of key concepts, theories, and topics to successfully navigate developments across this emerging field. It will also equip participants with the ability to identify and mobilise levers of change, particularly in the run up to the UN Conference of Parties meeting on climate change in 2021, known as COP26.

Course structure and content

The Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford has created this online course and it is hosted on the Apolitical platform.

The course is made up of seven modules, which are delivered to participants’ inboxes over seven weeks, while also being available on Apolitical’s interactive platform. It is further complemented by an online community and virtual live sessions, which give participants the opportunity to network and think about how to apply their learnings to the opportunities created by COP26. These live sessions are hosted by Dr Ben Caldecott, the Director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme and COP26 Strategy Advisor for Finance to the Cabinet Office.

The course is approximately 20 hours, including reading and group work. Participants will receive a certificate from the University of Oxford upon completion.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the purpose of finance and the structure of the financial system. They will examine the investment chain, asset classes, and finance professions, putting finance into a broader framework that can help them navigate sustainable finance.
  • Analyse the role of public policy in motivating investment into sustainability and how sustainable finance is shaped by public policy. They will also compare the motivations of policymakers internationally and investigate what has or has not worked.
  • Assess how and why policies, regulations, and supervisory expectations related to sustainable finance are evolving in different jurisdictions and their direction of travel, and examine the opportunities this creates.
  • Evaluate what it means to have impact through sustainable finance and what kind of impacts are likely or possible. They will analyse what the challenges and opportunities are associated with seeking positive environmental and social impacts through finance.

Teaching and assessment

The approach is backed by years of user research and unique data and insights from tens of thousands of policymakers. Our pedagogic methods include:

  • Continuous bite-sized learning.​ We embed manageable, regular interactions into busy policymakers’ work days, allowing people to start learning immediately and avoid the challenge of having to put up to three whole days aside to be in a classroom.
  • Informed by behavioural science.​ We use nudges, gamification, and recognition to increase engagement. We use delightful email nudges as an extension of the platform, understanding that policymakers predominantly work out of their inbox.
  • Social and peer-led. ​Learners see who their ‘classmates’ are and interact with them through online convenings and mediated emails, which makes learning more memorable and inspiring.
  • ​ We break up the learning with functional activities that can be done alone and with team members. Allowing learners opportunities to apply the ideas helps ensure they stick.
  • Flipped classroom​. Learners absorb content in their own time and use interactions to engage with ideas together, making better use of civil servants’ precious time.

Entry requirements, fees, and application

In 2021, we plan to run this course regularly with an option for public servants to book onto it as individuals or for a government organisation to purchase a number of seats onto an existing international cohort of public servants. Price TBD.

We are able to include additional virtual live sessions that are tailored to the group’s specific needs.

Prior to the course start date, we will provide licences, which the selected participants can redeem on the Apolitical platform, allowing them to access all course materials.

Career opportunities

This course will help policymakers to gain a critical understanding of sustainable finance, which can be directly applied in their roles and will help them to succeed in navigating the complex terminologies and concepts of sustainable finance used by practitioners in this field. This course will further equip policymakers with the skills to master challenging responsibilities related to sustainable finance and to seize new opportunities in this growing field.


For course related enquiries please contact:


We can provide bespoke versions of this course for organisations. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this opportunity further.

Course Features:

Online Course
Part time
Executive Education
Oxford, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
20 hours
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