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Modules & Tracks

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The programme consists of two general modules (1st and 3rd semester):

basics in sustainable development and integration module, which follow the same structure at all consortium universities, of specialisation tracks (2nd semester), which specialise in a particular area of sustainable development, and of the Master's thesis module (4th semester).

1. Basics in Sustainable Development

All students of the Joint International Master in Sustainable Development must take the introductory module ‘Basics in Sustainable Development’ (1st semester) at their chosen entrance university. By attending the basic module you gain a comprehensive overview of the concept of sustainable development, ranging from local to global processes, including the history of the concept and various ways it can be operationalised. You also acquire a basic knowledge and skills in policy analysis and policy evaluation, as well as of various relevant scientific disciplines and understand their contributions to the field of sustainable development and the ability to integrate them.

2. Specialisation track

Each specialisation track (2nd semester, mandatory mobility) pays attention to the theoretical background, appropriate research methodology, and intervention methods of a specialised field within the framework of sustainable development. You specialise in natural or social sciences (or a mix of both) depending on your academic background. You deepen that basis by attending further optional courses from the curriculum. Check out the track descriptions in the Specialisation Tracks section.

3. Integration module

The integration module (3rd semester) combines the different scientific approaches, involves you in inter- and transdisciplinary case studies on sustainable development, and prepares you for the Master's thesis in the fourth semester through its strong research orientation. For information on the courses offered at the respective institutions browse through the course guide.

4. Master's thesis module

The Master's thesis module (4th semester) comprises 30 ECTS credits. The thesis reflects your mastery and academic development at a sufficient level and is an essential training, which involves a variety of academic activities: formulating a research objective and question after reviewing the literature; sorting, interpreting, and synthesising information; collecting/analysing measurements/observations; and presenting oral/written reports of findings, if required by the respective regulations of the entrance university. A research traineeship may be part of the final thesis project. Details about the Master’s thesis can be found in the course guide. Information on the role of second readers in the Joint International Master in Sustainable Development is available in the download section.


  • For your electives, you may choose additional courses from your specialisation track or courses from other tracks. Please note that your choice of electives may be restricted. This will be clearly stated in the 'letter of admission', which is based on your academic background (Bachelor’s degree) in social or natural sciences. Some specialised courses cannot be taken without prior academic knowledge in the respective subject area.
  • You must successfully complete at least 60 ECTS credits at your entrance university (degree-awarding university).

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