Name of qualification

Master of Philosophy in Geographies of Sustainable Development

ECTS Credits

Two year programme (120 ECTS credits)

Language of Instruction

All courses are taught in English.

Objectives and content

The aim of the programme is to provide the candidates with theoretical and methodological skills enabling them to qualify for a Master's Degree. The programme addresses environmental, social and economic sustainability challenges in a global perspective. The topics are related to issues of relevance for the study of livelihoods and environmental problems in the global South. The courses aim at introducing the candidates to contemporary scientific discourses on human-nature relations and development, and provide them with analytical skills and critical thinking. The thesis is normally based on data produced though fieldwork in the global South.

Required Learning Outcomes

A candidate who has completed his or her programme should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The candidate

  • can analyse and present advanced knowledge in geographical research in relation to themes such as sustainable development, migration, gender, food security, climate change, political ecology, environmental discourses, governance and institutions in the global South
  • can analyse geographical issues on the basis of history of geographical thought and theory of science
  • can apply contemporary theories, methods and interpretations in geography, and work independently and in teams with practical and theoretical problem solving


The candidate

  • can establish and develop professional relationships with relevant actors in society
  • can choose and delimit a researchable theme for a MasterĀ“s thesis and develop a research problem which can be carried out within the time limits and resources available for the study
  • can select and evaluate relevant methods for collection of empirical data, and give an epistemological account of the methodological choices.
  • can delimit, plan and carry out collection of empirical data through field work
  • can search systematically in libraries, scientific and other data bases and interpret and evaluate data and literature critically
  • can discuss and analyse different sources of information critically, analyse empirical data and present geographical arguments and analyses
  • can write a research report within given time and resource limits, apply geographical terminology and good academic writing, with exact, updated and systematic use of references, with due credit to secondary sources

General competence

The candidate

  • has the ability to carry out field work and treat data in accordance with good ethical norms and Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) practice
  • has the ability to complete a project
  • has the ability to disseminate research results as publications, articles in media and oral presentations

Admission Requirements

In order to apply for the Master's Programme in Geographies of Sustainable Development you need a bachelor's degree of 3-4 years' duration, or an equivalent educational background.

  • The degree must include at least 1,5 years (80-90 ECTS) of full-time studies in geography or other relevant backgrounds such as environmental studies, development studies or political ecology with a social sciences perspective.

You also need to document (general entry requirements):

Master thesis credits

The thesis is normally based on field collection of data in a country in the global South, carried out between the first and second year of study. The master's thesis itself, and course options, will be adapted to the individual academic backgrounds and interests of the students.

Sequential Requirements, courses

The programme consists of the following courses. All courses are compulsory and must be taken in the order listed.

Autumn 1st semester

  • GEO308 Theory of Science and Research Design for Geographers (10 ECTS)
  • GEO310 Writing Course and Project Description (10 ECTS)
  • GEO330 Theories of Sustainable Land Use (10 ECTS)

Spring 2nd semester

  • GEO306 Methods in Human Geography (10 ECTS)
  • GEO337 Discourses, Politics and People: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance (10 ECTS)

And one of these two courses:

  • GEO316 Practical Skills in Remote Sensing and Spatial analysis (10 ECTS)
  • GEO324 Geographies of the Green Economy (10 ECTS)


  • Fieldwork

3rd and 4th semester

  • GEO350 Master's Thesis in Geography, 60 credits

The courses (60 ECTS) must be completed before the thesis can be submitted. The students must also accomplish and pass 3 milestone seminars before submitting the master thesis.

  • 1. Milestone (1st autumn): GEO310 - Project presentation for the supervisor and an opponent. Fellow students, PhDs and academic stab can also be present. Takes place the 2nd week of December.
  • 2. Milestone (1st spring): Presentation and discussion of theory, research design for the master thesis and the planned field work in a research group. Takes place in April/May.
  • 3. Milestone (2nd autumn): After fieldwork. The student shall produce a short report of data, main findings and methodology. Poster presentation and discussion in a research group. Takes place last week in September.

Study period abroad

The field work is normally conducted in a country in the global South.

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching consists mainly of lectures and seminars with assignments.

Assessment methods

Department of Geography uses a variety of assessments.

  • Written exam
  • Oral exam
  • Take home exam, often in combination with oral exam
  • Portfolio

Grading scale

At the University of Bergen the student's academic performance is assessed both through final examinations as well as various term assignments.

The grading system has either

  1. a descending scale from A to E for passes and F for fail, or
  2. pass/fail

Grading A-F is most commonly used.

Administrative responsibility

Department of Geography