Introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals

About this course: The course introduces you to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is an introductory interdisciplinary short-learning programme to provide you with a basic understanding of and context to the SDGs (from South African and African perspectives), the reasons for their existence, how they fit together in a comprehensive framework, as well as critiques levelled against the SDG Agenda. The 17 SDGs will be engaged in four groupings: social, economic, biophysical SDGs and SDG implementation.

Specific requirements: This short learning programme is self-paced. Work on your own terms, at the times and speeds that are most convenient for you, over a semester window. The course is designed to be completed in about 50 hours. For example, you can complete it over five weeks by engaging in the course for ten hours per week or complete it over eight weeks by spending about 6 hours per week.

Those enrolling during Semester 1 (January until June), will have until 30 June 2023 to complete the course. Those enrolling during Semester 2 (July to December) will have until 12 December to complete the course.

A digital certificate will be issued on successful completion of the course that may be viewed and shared with third parties or possible employers through the UJ Digital Certificate platform. This achievement will also reflect on the top of your academic transcript.

Outcomes: On completion of this SLP, students should be able to:

  • Explain the origin, development and current context of the SDG Agenda.
  • Discuss what the various SDGs are.
  • Illustrate the interdependence between the social, economic and biophysical intentions of the SDGs, whilst also recognising the trade-offs.
  • Recognise the institutional infrastructure in place to implement the SDGs.
  • Reflect on the progress made with the implementation of the SDG Agenda thus far, the challenges to achieve the SDGs, as well as criticism against it.
  • Relate the SDGs to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and South Africa’s National Development Plan.

Contact details: Should you have any queries related to the course, please email [email protected].


  1. Log in to uLink: https://ulink.uj.ac.za/
  2. Go to ‘Online Courses’ on the homepage.
  3. Explore ‘Introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals’.
  4. Register for the course by clicking on ‘register’ at the bottom on the page.
  5. Await an email from uLink which will provide instructions on how to access the course.
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