Universiteit Leiden

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Governance of Sustainability (MSc)

About the programme

Governance of Sustainability is a two-year programme, worth 120 European Credit Transfer System points (ECTS).

Study guidance

The personal classroom atmosphere within our programme allows close interaction between you and the teachers who are always happy to help you with course-related questions. As all of our teachers are researchers, you can of course also discuss possible (thesis) research topics with them.

In addition, the programme have two study advisors, Sammy Koning and Lieselotte van Dijk, who are the go-to-persons for questions about the programme, study progress, electives, etc. The study advisor also monitors the study progress of all students and contacts students when progress is found to be insufficient.  

The curriculum of the Governance of Sustainability programme consists of:

  • Transdisciplinary skills (6 EC)
  • Four thematic courses (48 EC, combined)
  • Qualitative Research Skills (6 EC)
  • Quantitative Research Skills (8 EC)
  • Sustainability Challenge (10 EC)
  • Electives (12 EC)
  • Thesis Research Project (30 EC)

For an up-to-date course overview, please visit the Prospectus.

Educational methods

We use a variety of educational methods, such as:

  • Lectures
  • Working groups/tutorials
  • Practicals
  • Group and individual assignments
  • Guest lectures

In the first year, four 12 ECTS thematic courses are offered. These four courses cover environmental sustainability themes that represent the most urgent sustainability challenges in terms of the extent to which planetary boundaries are being surpassed:

  • Materials and Circular Economy
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystems
  • Climate change and Energy Transition 
  • Water and Toxicity

In addition, the programme distinguishes overarching governance themes that are covered in the thematic courses, such as:

  • Institutions and Policy cycles
  • Decision making and Governance networks
  • Global governance and multi-level analysis
  • Policy framing

In each of these themes, the interplay between the different key actors such as scientific experts, citizens, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policy advisors, politicians, and companies is central.

The goal of these four thematic courses is to create a ‘shared language’ and to bridge the differences between students related to their various disciplinary backgrounds. In these courses, theory and concepts will be taught mostly through lectures. During the lectures the need and demand for understanding of sustainability mechanisms in a governance setting and vice versa will be put central.

In addition, each thematic course has a practical skills component, making you acquainted with for example Environmental Input-Output Analysis,  Spatial Analysis and ecotoxicology lab experiments.

Another important component of each thematic course is the Integrated Group Assignment (IGA). For each IGA, you will form a team with fellow students and work on an assignment based on real life cases. These cases will translate the knowledge and skills directly into hands-on assignments that resemble what you could be confronted with in your future work environment. Moreover, these group assignments give you ample opportunities to practice skills like critical thinking, synthesizing, reflecting, arguing, debating, collaborating and intercultural skills.

Next to the thematic courses, academic and transferable skills are trained throughout the programme. The programme kicks off with training transdisciplinary skills (6 ECTS) related to reflecting, debating, and consideration of different sources of knowledge. Given that it is a research master, specific research skills are trained in two courses, one of qualitative research skills (in the first year, 6 ECTS) and one on quantitative research skills (in the second year, 8 ECTS).

Concepts and skills taught during the first year are put  into practice in the second year course ‘Sustainability Challenge’ (10EC) where you work on a real-life case, connecting different governance and sustainability themes, provided by an external commissioner.

Next to the already mentioned course on quantitative research skills, you can choose your own electives (12 ECTS in total). Finally, in the second semester of the second year, you work on your thesis research project (30 ECTS).

Programme Overview

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