Sustainability, master's, 2 years

  • Years2 years
  • ECTS credits120

Main content


Objectives and content

Sustainable development for the 21st century requires knowledges, institutions and forms of action that go beyond the fragmented perspectives analysed by single academic disciplines. The purpose of the master's in sustainability is to provide the students with the knowledge, skills and competencies required for understanding, analyzing and shaping solutions to wicked problems in ways that are societally, ecologically and economically sustainable.

Using systems thinking and modelling approaches, the program will teach methods for analyzing and interacting with complex systems. The program will provide an introduction to the evolution and contents of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how these are embedded in legal and regulatory frameworks at local, national and international levels. It will highlight differences and similarities in the ways in which different knowledge forms (such as law, science and politics) analyze and deal with complex problems, and introduce students to real-life decision making processes involving conflicting interests, and demands and mechanisms for improved democratic participation.

The study program consists of mandatory and specialization courses, leading up to the work on the master's thesis. The specializations will take place within one of the following thematic fields:

  • Global societal challenges
  • Climate and energy transitions
  • Marine sustainability

The objective of the specialization is to give the student expertise in interdisciplinary approaches to dealing with Global societal challenges, Climate and energy transitions, or Marine sustainability. The general approach of all aspects of the specialization is to provide the students with in-depth knowledge of a specific sustainability topic, which uses the knowledge provided in the mandatory courses. The program is designed so that students continuously bridge between the generic course topics and the specialization: during the introductory (compulsory) courses, students should start to identify a topic of specialization, and be guided towards appropriate supervision and elective courses. The specialization begins in the first semester and continues in the 3rd and 4th semesters. The specialization includes a 10 ECTS course on Methods (either quantitative or qualitative) and two 10 ECTS electives from the list of appropriate electives. In addition, the specialization includes a 60 ECTS research thesis researching a subject related to the specialization, or a 30 ECTS internship plus 30 ECTs practice-oriented thesis on a topic closely related to the internship. The workload will be similar within the two models. Both models include a seminar series reiterating main topics from the mandatory courses and applying them to the thesis specialization of each student.



What you Learn

Required Learning Outcomes

On completion of the programme the candidate should have achieved the following  knowledge, skills and general competences:


The candidate

  • can analyze main concepts and institutions involved in sustainability science, legal and governance frameworks, including their historical emergence.
  • can organize and manage different forms of interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships.
  • can analyze co-productions of sustainability science with democracy, rights and justice frameworks.
  • can apply systems thinking and analysis, including multi-criteria and modelling for policy.
  • can account for core concepts relating to climate change, marine sustainability or global development.


The candidate

  • can deal critically with knowledge from different sources, and place them in relation to sustainability issues.
  • can account for main scientific, policy and legal developments in the areas of climate change, marine life or global societal challenges.
  • is capable of working in interdisciplinary teams.
  • is capable of applying systems thinking, modelling, scenarios and storylines to complex policy problems, including relations and trade-offs between different SDGs.
  • is capable of recognizing and situating risk, uncertainty and ignorance in scientific and applied settings, and in own prior knowledge.
  • can formulate a research problem and an appropriate research design, and carry it out.


The candidate

  • can critically reflect upon the role of different knowledge forms for the development of more sustainable societies.
  • can solve real-life problems in interdisciplinary teams.
  • can discuss, deliberate and communicate complex issues, including their legal, regulatory and scientific dimensions.
  • can integrate terms and concepts from multiple disciplines to solve complex problems.
  • can communicate complex ideas both orally and in writing.
  • can carry out an independent research project following appropriate research methodologies and in accordance with applicable norms for research.

Study Period Abroad

Study period abroad

In connection with the internship and master's thesis courses, students have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to study abroad.

More information

About the programme

See full study plan