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Name of qualification

Master of Philosophy in Sustainability

ECTS Credits

120 ECTS

Full-time/Part-time

Full-time

Language of Instruction

English and Norwegian

Semester

Autumn

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.

Required Learning Outcomes

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

Knowledge

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.

Skills

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.

Competencies

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.

Admission Requirements

Prospective students for the Master's Programme in Sustainability must have obtained an undergraduate degree or Bachelor's degree of at least three years' duration at a recognised institution. The applicants must document Admission requirements specific to each field of specialisation:

For Global challenges the programme requires Bachelor's degree or similar, with special competence equalling one and a half years of study (80 ECTS) in a field or specialization relevant for the programme. 

For Climate and Energy transitions the programme requires Bachelor's degree or similar, with special competence equalling one and a half years of study (80 ECTS) in a field or specialization relevant for the specialization, and at minimum introductory course levels in mathematics (equivalent to 10 ECTS).

For specialization in Marine Sustainability the programme requires Bachelor's degree or similar, with special competence equalling one and a half years of study (80 ECTS) in a field relevant for the specialization, and at minimum introductory level biology courses.

Applicants will be ranked according to their academic results, based on the grades in the specialization in their Bachelor's degrees. The overall composition of students' disciplinary background will be considered by the program board.

Language requirements:

Compulsory units

SDG310 Introduction course: Interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability (15 ECTs)

SDG311 Ways of Knowing (5 ECTs)

SDG312 Systems thinking and modelling for sustainability (10 ECTs)

SDG350 Master's thesis (60 ECTS)

Or

SDG349 Internship (30 ECTS) and SDG351 Inernship-based Master's thesis (30 ECTS)

The students can choose between a theoretical thesis (60 ECTS) and internship combined with  a written report (30 ECTS). Both versions will run in parallel and intersect (i.e. in bi-weekly seminar) in the 3. and 4. semesters.

Specialisation

Either

Climate change and energy transitions

 Or

Marine sustainability

Or

Global societal challenges

Recommended electives

The list is not exhaustive, as work is under way to include more courses. In addition, all courses openly taught at the University of Bergen are eligible as electives (presupposed relevance to the specialization as approved by program supervisors).

Climate Change and Energy Transition:

  • SDG213 Causes and consequences of climate change (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • SDG207 Energy Transition (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • ENERGI200 Energy Resources and Use (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEO330 Theories of Sustainable Land Use (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEOF347 Seminar on Earth System Science for Sustainable Studies (5 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modeling Process (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • AORG212 Climate, Crises and Societal Security. The Management of Wicked Problems (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • CET201 Sustainable Innovation (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • ENERGI210 Energy Physics and Technology (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • GEO337 Discourse, Politics, and Place: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • JUS271-2-C International and Comparative Energy and Climate Law (20 ECTS, Spring)
  • KLIMA200 Climate Stories (5 ECTS, Spring/autumn (irregular))
  • SDG215 UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land (10 ECTS, Spring)

Marine Sustainability:

  • BIO213 Marin økologi, miljø og ressurser (10 ECTS, Autumn. Only in Norwegian)
  • BIO341 Biodiversity (5 ECTS, Autumn)
  • BIO382 Aquatic food production (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • SDG213 Causes and consequences of climate change (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modeling Process (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • BIO208 Environmental Impact of Aquaculture (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • BIO212 Marine Community Ecology - Organisms and Habitats (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • BIO339 Ecosystem and Fisheries Assessment Models (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • BIO356 Stock monitoring and responsible harvesting (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • JUS293-2-A Law of the Sea and its Uses (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • SDG214 UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below water (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • SDG215 UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • FIL336 Environmental Ethics (10 ECTS, Spring)

Global Societal Challenges:

  • JUS276-2-C Human Rights and Welfare Policies (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • SDG303 Global Health - Challenges and Responses (15 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEO330 Theories of Sustainable Land Use (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modeling Process (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GLODE301 Critical approaches to development (20 ECTS, Autumn)
  • AORG212 Climate, Crises and Societal Security. The Management of Wicked Problems (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • GLODE305 Gender in Development (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • INTH344 Migration and Health (3 ECTS, Spring)
  • JUS250-2-C Health and human rights in the welfare state (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • HEFR342 Resource approaches to health and wellbeing (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • GLODE306 Foundations of Health Promotion related to development (10 ECTS, Spring)
  • GEO337 Discourse, Politics, and Place: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance (10 ECTS, Spring)

Sequential Requirements, courses

First semester

Climate Change and Energy Transition

10 ECTS from electives:

  • SDG213 Causes and consequences of climate change 
  • SDG207 Energy transition
  • ENERGI200 Energy Resources and Use
  • GEO330 Theories of Sustainable Land Use (10 ECTS, Autumn)
  • GEOF347 Seminar on Earth system science for sustainability studies
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modeling Process

Marine Sustainability

10 ECTS from electives:

  • BIO213 Marin økologi, miljø og ressurser
  • BIO341 Biodiversity
  • BIO382 Aquatic food production
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modeling Process
  • SDG213 Causes and consequences of climate change

Global Societal Challenges

10 ECTS from electives:

  • JUS276-2-C Human Rights and Welfare Policies
  • GEO330 Theories of Sustainable Land Use
  • GEO-SD304 System Dynamics Modeling Process
  • SDG303 Global Health - Challenges and Responses
  • GLODE301 Critical approaches to development

Second semester

Climate change and Energy Transition

  • SDG312 Systems Thinking and Modelling for Sustainability

20 ECTS from electives:

  • AORG212 Climate, Crises and Societal Security. The Management of Wicked Problems
  • CET201 Sustainable Innovation
  • ENERGI210 Energy Physics and Technology
  • GEO337 Discourse, Politics, and Place: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance
  • JUS271-2-C International and Comparative Energy and Climate Law
  • KLIMA200 Climate Stories
  • SDG215 UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land

Marine Sustainability

  • SDG312 Systems Thinking and Modelling for Sustainability

20 ECTS from electives:

  • BIO208 Environmental Impact of Aquaculture
  • BIO212 Marine Community Ecology - Organisms and Habitats
  • BIO339 Ecosystem and Fisheries Assessment Models
  • BIO356 Stock monitoring and responsible harvesting
  • JUS293-2-A Law of the Sea and its Uses
  • SDG214 UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below water
  • SDG215 UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land
  • FIL336 Environmental Ethics

Global Societal Challenges

  • SDG312 Systems Thinking and Modelling for Sustainability

20 ECTS from electives:

  • AORG212 Climate, Crises and Societal Security. The Management of Wicked Problems
  • GLODE305 Gender in Development
  • INTH344 Migration and Health
  • JUS250-2-C Health and human rights in the welfare state
  • HEFR342 Resource approaches to health and wellbeing
  • GLODE306 Foundations of Health Promotion related to development
  • www.uib.no/en/course/GEO337GEO337 Discourse, Politics, and Place: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance

Either

Third and fourth semester

  • SDG350 Master's thesis (60 ECTS)

Or

Third semester

Fourth semester

  • SDG351 Internship-based Master's thesis (30 ECTS) 

Study period abroad

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

Teaching and learning methods

The programme combines different forms of teaching and educational tools, including lectures, seminars, and workshops; student active methods include inquiry-based learning focused on real-life problems, colloquiums and student-led lectures. Digital teaching methods are also employed and enable guest lectures from experts around the world. Emphasis is placed on developing students' ability to read critically their own and others' work, and on developing their academic writing and presentation skills, and on solving real-life problems in interdisciplinary teams.

Through lectures the program will provide insights into main sustainability concepts, their interrelations with rights, democracy and justice, and their manifestation in each thematic area (SDG310). The lectures will also be central to convey understanding about the knowledge dimensions of sustainability, including systems thinking (SDG312) and the relations between different fields and disciplines (esp. SDG311).

Seminars and workshops will be utilized to teach systems thinking and its application to practical problems, to interdisciplinarity in practice and theory, and for learning to integrate concepts from different knowledge and practice fields.

Student active learning will be deployed in combination with lectures and seminars / workshops to create capacity to formulate research problems and carry them out, and to discuss, communicate and deliberate complex sustainability issues. This will be combined with both digital and physical arenas for learning to which the students themselves contribute, for instance by making a video on a given topic, or co-organising a lecture or public debate.

Assessment methods

Students will experience different forms of assessment, both individually such as portfolio writing assignments, reflection papers, oral presentation, take-home exam, and the master's thesis and in groups such as presentations. In addition, students will give feedback to their peers and receive feedback from their peers. These assessment forms will be combined into both formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments will encompass feedbacks from teachers ('for learning') and from fellow students (assessments 'as learning'). Summative assessments (grades) will be provided for each single course.

Grading scale

Two grading scales are used:

1) A-F

2) Pass/fail

See the course descriptions of the specific courses.

Diploma and Diploma supplement

The Diploma and the Diploma Supplement will be issued when the degree is completed.

Access to further studies

A Master's degree in Sustainability may qualify the student for further studies at PhD level.

Employability

A Master's degree in sustainability gives the candidate broad competence in interdisciplinary problem-solving and qualifications for employment in a broad spectrum of local, regional, nation and international organisations and agencies, and in different parts of national and local public administration. All students who complete the programme satisfactorily will be qualified for public and private positions that require entry-level skills in sustainability programme planning, implementation and evaluation, related to their specialization in either climate change and energy transition; marine life or global societal challenges.

Graduates of the programme will have demonstrated skills in interdisciplinary teamwork and will know how to build, participate in and manage teams with members from different professional backgrounds, and from community organisations. Graduates will also be qualified to work as research assistants both in industry and in the public sector. Students with superior performance in the programme may be qualified for further academic work, including doctoral study.

Evaluation

The course will be evaluated in accordance with the Faculty of Humanities' routines for participatory evaluation and the University of Bergen's Quality Assurance System.

Programme committee

The program board has the main responsibility for academic contents, the structure and design of the program and for the quality of the study program (including on-going assessments of goals, teaching methods and assessment forms).

Administrative responsibility

The Center for the study of the sciences and humanities (Senter for vitskapstori, SVT) is administratively responsible for the program.

Contact information

studieveileder@skok.uib.no