Master's Programme in Global Environmental History

120 credits

The world is increasingly aware of the pressing concerns facing nature and humanity. This results in an increasing demand for highly qualified professionals with an interdisciplinary understanding of the relationship between human societies and nature. The Master's Programme in Global Environmental History prepares you to meet this challenge.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Environmental history is an interdisciplinary subject that explores the complex relationship between humans and nature throughout history. The focus is on historical changes, events, debates and analytical perspectives on the relations between human societies and natural environments. By analysing these relationships in environmental history we also have the ambition to better interpret, explain and debate contemporary issues of sustainability.

The programme provides an overview of long-term historical processes of interaction between human societies and natural conditions. You will gain a deeper insight into various aspects of how the relationship between humans and nature has changed both from a prehistoric perspective and from the perspective of the emergence of modern states and recent global power relations.

The Master's Programme in Global Environmental History intends to give you advanced theoretical and empirical knowledge of social scientific and humanistic analyses of relationships between humans and nature. The programme provides a good basis for further research studies, as well as for a labour market that increasingly demands broad and interdisciplinary skills in social analysis in the environmental and sustainability fields.

During the programme, you will critically and independently identify and analyse the key issues and debates in global environmental history and relate them to current problems of sustainability.

The programme concludes with a Master's thesis that is supervised by teachers and researchers from various disciplines.

Student profile

The Master's Programme in Global Environmental History is interdisciplinary and the student group is made up of students with different experiences and backgrounds. The programme is international. Swedish students make up about a quarter of the student group, with a large spread of nationalities from the EU and several other countries. The programme have hade 26 different nationalities represented thus far.

Students come from a wide variety of study backgrounds (social sciences, business and economics, biology and natural sciences, geography, history, archaeology, literature studies and humanities in their widest sense). The student group normally ranges between 10–20 students and the diversity of backgrounds in the student group is beneficial in seminars and discussion groups in which all students are expected to take an active part.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Arts (120 credits) with Global Environmental History as the main field of study.

The interdisciplinary programme is a collaboration between the Departments of Archaeology and Ancient History, Art History, Economic History, and Human Geography at Uppsala University, as well as the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS) at Uppsala University, along with the Department of Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

As a student in the Master's Programme in Global Environmental History, you will experience Uppsala University's broad expertise in this field of research, with teachers who specialise in aspects of African, European and Asian environmental history.

The first semester focuses on four compulsory courses:

  • Historical Ecology, 7.5 credits,
  • The Context and Process of Research 1: Theories and Methods, 7.5 credits,
  • Modern Natures: Conflicts and Transformations, 7.5 credits,
  • Changing Perceptions of Humans and Nature, 7.5 credits.

During the second and third semesters, you specialise through a wide number of elective courses (7.5 credits each) and have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork or do an internship outside academia.

You will start working on your Master's thesis no later than during the third semester. The thesis course includes several thesis elements. Fieldwork outside Sweden is usually done as part of the thesis work. As a student, you are responsible for establishing contacts with organisations where you want to do the fieldwork. You will get advice and support from the programme coordinator. The majority of our students who have conducted fieldwork abroad have done it at non-governmental organisations and they have often combined it with an internship.

Semester four focuses on the Master's thesis. You can choose to write a thesis of either 45 or 60 credits.

Instruction is in English and consists of lectures, seminars, discussion groups and independent work. As a student, you will have the opportunity to arrange and run workshops. We work with student active learning and teaching methods based on peer learning.

Courses are usually taken on a part-time basis and students are required to enrol in two parallel part-time courses. The compulsory courses within the programme amount to 37.5 credits. You can choose from a large variety of elective courses for the remaining courses.

Your Master's thesis is examined by the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History in Uppsala but is supervised by teachers with relevant specialist skills in one of the collaborating departments in subject areas such as Art History, Cultural Geography, and Economic History at Uppsala University, as well as the Department of Urban and Rural Development at SLU, and the Centre for Environmental and Sustainability Studies in Uppsala (CEMUS).

The programme coordinator is responsible for establishing an Individual Study Plan for each Master's student at the beginning of the programme.

The programme is especially suited to those looking for future careers in which knowledge of environmental analysis and the analysis of the human impact on the environment - or the conditions that nature provides for human communities - is important. This includes, for example, work in government administration on applied landscape management or planning, environmental conservation, heritage work or dissemination of these fields of knowledge.

Depending on your choice of courses and thesis topic, you may develop skills for interviewing, surveying and for analysing text. This opens up other potential career paths, such as:

  • employment in businesses engaged in environmental analyses or sustainability,
  • consulting as sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility advisors,
  • carrying out impact assessments and consultation processes,
  • employment as planners or in communication,
  • and/or in similar roles in non-governmental and international organisations where environmental and sustainability issues are central.

It is also a suitable education for future teachers of history and geography who want to broaden their competence in environment and sustainability. You will also graduate with a solid foundation for doctoral studies in environmental history and related topics, as well as for broad interdisciplinary research.

Several of our alumni (20%) have gone on to postgraduate studies in various fields (history of ideas, history, geography, business administration, global studies and interdisciplinary institutions). Other alumni work in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), in the development sector abroad, at environmental consulting companies, as teachers, or work practically with rural development to give a few examples.

Career support

During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career.