Education for sustainable development (ESD) espouses student-centred, transformative pedagogies that promote learning through active, participatory and experiential learning. Yet, traditional lectures provide limited opportunities for engaging students in such pedagogies. This article reports on the inclusion of sustainability pedagogies within the constraints of a traditional lecture to investigate the effect on pre-service teachers’ self-reported ESD self-efficacy. A quasi-experimental, pre–post test design with a non-randomized control group was applied whereby lectures in the treatment group adopted sustainability pedagogies, in addition to the more traditional teaching methods employed in both groups. While a significant improvement was observed in pre-service teachers’ ESD self-efficacy in both groups, there is no evidence to suggest that the inclusion of sustainability pedagogies is more effective for enhancing pre-service teachers’ ESD self-efficacy than traditional, teacher-centred pedagogies alone. Participants reported that an increase in their knowledge and understanding of sustainability concepts most strongly influenced their ESD self-efficacy.