Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to review and highlight some recent examples of embedding education for sustainable development (ESD), within science and related curricula in ways that are meaningful and relevant to staff and students and reflect on different embedding strategies and discourses. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A review of recent selected UK and international teaching and learning practice drawing on an expert workshop and link to wider debates about student competencies and embedding ESD in the curriculum. Findings ‐ There are a number of practical ways of bringing sustainable development into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related subjects. Successful implementation requires linking teaching activities to the core activities of the STEM discipline. Reformist approaches to curriculum re-orientation are more likely to be successful than calls for radical, transformational models. Practical implications ‐ Embedding ESD into the core curricula of STEM subjects is potentially difficult. This paper highlights practical ways of doing this which can be adopted and introduced within the mainstream of STEM curricula and have a greater chance of being taken up than bolt-on approaches. Originality/value ‐ The treatment of ESD in STEM subjects is relatively under-developed compared to social sciences, humanities and subjects allied to environment. The economic and social significance of STEM subjects means that STEM-related subjects are integral to sustainable development and therefore STEM education must be re-oriented to sustainable development.